THE VODAFONE GHANA MUSIC AWARDS (VGMA) AND STRENGTHENING THE NATIONAL BRAND.

The Ghana Music Awards is the only platform that rallies all musical talents of Ghanaian origin to celebrate Ghanaian musical excellence every year. As the name suggests, one may think that such an initiative has direct support from the Government but this is not so. With this year’s edition marking the 20th anniversary of the awards scheme, the organizers, Charter House, are hoping that this time around some help will come. The Chief Executive Officer of Charter House, Mrs. Theresa Ayoade, is quite optimistic in the Government of Ghana as she believes they have shown some interest in the arts.

The Ghana Music Awards has received quite some support from the private sector in terms of sponsorship. Respected brands like telecommunications giant ‘MTN’ had their names attached to the event in the past. Currently, the event is known as the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards; as Vodafone has assumed full sponsor responsibilities of the event for some time now. These contributions have indeed grown the event into a more glamorous and more patronized one escalated by international media coverage.

But, many have argued that a national celebration of such magnitude and Influential repertoire should not be abandoned for the private sector to carry alone. During the VGMA,  Ghana is exposed to other African countries and even the West. The live coverage of the event on international television service provider, DSTV, allows potential visitors to see the vibrant musical culture of Ghana. Therefore, it’s continuity should be ensured in order for Ghanaian music to receive that encouragement and also Ghanaian musicians to have their ‘own play ground’ without intimidation from foreigner artistes.

Last year, President Nana Akufo – Addo supported the African Music Awards (AFRIMA) as he believed the event would give the Ghana tourism sector a boost. Ghana held the first of three editions of AFRIMA to be hosted in Ghana; a bid which was won by Ghana. The event brought some renowned personalities from all over Africa such as the legendary Yvonne Chaka Chaka from South Africa as well as other high profiled new from the African Music Industry. The event may have achieved its purpose by encouraging foreign tourists to come to Ghana, but the hype about AFRIMA died down very quickly few days after the event was over. Very little social media activity persisted on Ghanaian social media platforms as well as very low radio reviews on what went on and who won what. But, this is quite understandable since the nominees and most of the winners were not from Ghana. In fact, some of the artistes from Northern Africa received cold responses during their performance at the event which many attributed to the lack of knowledge of their music by the overwhelmingly Ghanaian audience. The same thing happened prior to the awards ceremony, when a rock band from Kenya and a singer from Swaziland, had the crowd at the independence square ‘frozen’ as they sang some of the hit songs during the AFRIMA Music Village.

But can music really affect the brand of a nation? A few years ago, Nigerian musician Idris Abdulkareem, painted a picture of Nigeria that received a lot of comments all around the world. The image of a dangerous and lawless Nigeria did not go down well with the then Nigerian government. The song, ‘Nigeria Jaga Jaga’ , elicited a derogatory remarks from the the President of Nigerian His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo. Though the song became very popular in Ghana, it created or reinforced the negative perception of Ghanaians about Nigeria.  But, with an awards scheme like the Ghana Music Awards, which upholds a reasonable amount of moral standards and Ghanaian culture as part of the criteria for nominations, Ghanaian musicians are being unconsciously persuaded to create material that will not tarnish the image and reputation of the Ghanaian. In previous times, the Ghana Music Awards has initiated , in collaboration with the World Bank, songs that encourage development in Ghana. Ghanaian group prayers once were recipients of this award.

The ‘National Brand’ is simply ‘how Ghanaians want people to see Ghana’. In other words, the National Brand is also like a general perception or mental image people have about Ghana. Perceptions are like corporate reputations; non – static. These are the way others see an entity based on the entity’s performance over a period of time. Such perceptions form a belief in people and this belief, when matured, influences their behavior towards this entity. Therefore, it is wise to create and maintain a good perception, or better said, brand for such an entity. And since such perceptions are not permanent, one must continue to reinforce a positive perception about such an entity in order to maintain the confidence and trust from others.

Jerry Wonder
1 Feb. 2018

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