Alumna Akosua Hanson Interviews M.anifest on Ghana's Creative Arts Industry

Radio Personality, Akosua Hanson has moderated a dialogue featuring award-winning Ghanaian rapper M.anifest on the theme, "The Creative Economy and Our Collective Future and Development."

The dialogue is one of the activities organised by the UG@75 Planning Committee to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the University of Ghana.

Akosua Hanson started off by asking the godMC what it meant being a Ghanaian, to which he responded, it is a complicated reality filled with rich history having been the first Sub-Saharan country to gain independence and Ghana having a potential not being fully realised.’ 

He stated that, ‘our rich history indicates we have been significant to the world with the recent heightened interest of Africans from the diaspora, yearly trooping into the country in a quest to discover their roots and connect with the history of their ancestors.

A cross-section of participants at the event

He did, however, add that there is no universal understanding of what it means to be a Ghanaian, and that now may be the time for the arts to help us define and understand who we are.

When asked about his connection to UG, M.anifest, who attended the University Basic School, then the University Primary School, reflected on his school days on Legon campus. He stated that his personal connection to the University predates his birth, because of his maternal grandfather, the renowned Emeritus Prof. J.H. Kwabena Nketia of blessed memory, who also composed the University anthem. He also noted that his father, Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, a renowned Ghanaian lawyer, was also a lecturer at the then University's Law faculty. 

Ghanaian rapper, M.anifest

Asked what he thought were the problems stifling the arts industry, the rapper mentioned the societal outlook on the arts and the long-standing condescending attitude toward its commercial viability as the first. He also cited a lack of institutional space and support for the arts.

M.anifest stated unequivocally that the average working-class artiste cannot survive solely on their art, and that this needs to change. This, he claims, will allow the artist to compete globally with other artists who have dedicated their entire lives to being creative and producing quality content.

According to the "Someway Bi" hitmaker, one way to achieve this is for artistes to be given impact grants and scholarships without benefactors immediately seeking Return on Investment (RoI), but focus on the development of the art.

A cross-section of participants at the event

When quizzed about alternative solutions for creating a viable market, M.anifest reiterated that success does not happen overnight. He described how the Korean arts industry began with an entrepreneurial approach years ago. And it has paid off, with the "K-wave" gradually taking over media spaces around the world.

Another possible solution, according to him, is a collective collaboration that brings together individuals, citing the Nigerian record label, YBNL, as an example of a collective collaboration that has opened doors for artistes with potential to thrive, with the result seen all over the Nigerian music scene at home and abroad.

According to M.anifest, all industry players must be deliberate about investing in and creating systems that will produce the anticipated results.

Akosua Hanson concluded by asking him what he thought about the place of the artist in the advancement of the country. According to M.anifest, artistes should be truly diverse in their work and refrain from addressing political themes merely because their followers expect them to do so. He continued by saying that because of vacant gaps, fans now anticipate political leadership from artists. 

The dialogue ended with a Q&A session. 

A participant asking a question at the event

Chair of the UG@75 Planning Committee, Prof. Akosua Adomako Ampofo presented UG branded souvenirs to both M.anifest and Akosua Hanson. Gabriel Amoako, an artist, a first year student studying Public Administration, and a M.anifest fan also surprised the rapper with a pencil portrait of him on stage.  

Gabriel Amoako presenting a pencil potrait to M.anifest

Also at the event were; Prof. Clement Appah, Co-Chair, UG@75 Planning Committee; Mrs. Elizier Ameyaw-Buronyah, Director of Public Affairs; Ms Pascaline Songsore; Senior Assistant Registrar, Public Affairs Directorate, Mrs. Joana Omaboe, Assistant Registrar, UG@75 Secretariat  as well as a cross section of students.

A group photo of M.anifest and other guests at the program