Paapa Yankson, C.K Man And Jewel Ackah
“Something has happened to me.
The things so great that I cannot weep
I have no sons to fire the gun when I die
And no daughters to wail when I close my mouth.
I have wandered in the wilderness
This great wilderness call life
The rain has beaten me
And the sharp stump cut as keen as knives
I shall go beyond and rest.
I have no kin and no brother;
Death has waged war upon our house” – Professor Kofi Awonnor of blessed memory
I am going to be brief today because I am short of words to describe how I felt when I heard of the death of Jewel Ackah. Imagine losing three good friends in a matter of three months! How will you feel? Sad? Dejected? Devastated or angry? Life was very fine and we were the easy going type. I was the youngest and yet the most daring. We travelled across the length and breadth of the country together and made people happy. They were musicians but I was not. I was simply the manager. Gyedu Blay Amabulley, Pat Thomas, Talata Heidi, Bessa Simon, Joe Brako, Carty Yelbet and a host of them were having their own way in a different way but we were “we”.
If you have ever heard of the term “the best comes from the west” it was not because we had huge factories like the Takoradi Veneer Factory, the Cocoa Manufacturing Company, the Paper Convention Factory, The Takoradi Cement Works, the Takoradi Flour Mill, the Pioneer Tobacco Company, the Chinese Factory, Bonsa Tyre Factory, Aboso Glass Factory, the Sameraboi Plywood Factory etc. It was all about musicians mentioned above which made the West the Best.
In those days, Anis Mubarak, a Lebanese had built Carousel Agogo where a cinema is located underground. Anis formed the Carousel 7 dance band led by C.K Mann with Paapa Yankson as the lead singer. Those were the days of Discothèques and we had a whole lot of them in T’adi like, Club Ampezzo, Harbour View, Mecado Club, the Pelicans etc. Mecado for example, was owned and managed by George Grant, a son of Paa Grant, one of the founding fathers of Ghana. That was where some of us learnt how to puff cigar because it was patronized by the elite in society like the late Justice Sarkodie who was among the three judges murdered by the PNDC
Good Lord, in those days even some Secondary Schools in the Western Region had dance bands. St. John Secondary School at Sekondi had the Mathew Chapter Five and the Bishops Candle Sticks dance bands. St. Louis Secondary School, a girls’ Secondary School had the “Woman Five” and Asankragwa Secondary School had the “Generation X” from where KiKi Gyan as the organist rose to become a member of the great Osibisa Band. There was no single region in Ghana that brazed that trail. In those days, music was not about making money but making fame. Those musicians I mentioned entertained the crowd at the expense of their own welfare. It is very unfortunate we eulogize them only when they are dead and gone. In fact some of them who are alive today cannot make ends meet and they are living from hand to mouth. Even though they spent their salad years entertaining us and bringing joy to our hearts we have continued to ignore them and shower praises on them only when they are dead.
The younger generation who are into music today and making huge sums of money should remember that music is dynamic and a time will come when their style of music will go with the wind but as sure as the One District, One Factory will come to pass, the music of Paapa Yankson and his contemporary musicians will withstand the test of time.
These musicians, I just mentioned, never took hard drugs and yet they were able to play their hearts out to the joy of all of us. They were unlike some of the current crop of musicians who promote the use of hard drugs. You listen to the lyrics in their music and compare then to what we are hearing today and you begin to think whether our current musicians are serious at all. Paapa Yankson, C.K Mann and Jewel Ackah belonged to a generation of fine gentlemen whose dress comportment whenever they mounted the stage was a delight to watch. Now that they are gone, may they continue to grow in our hearts. For now they belong to heaven and the stars spell out their names. In fact, their footsteps will always fall here along Ghana’s greenest hills. I am hunched with emotion because the death of these three gentlemen in a matter of three months looks like a night fall in a different world; looks as if I have a broken wing. What is consoling about the death of these gentlemen is that they reached advanced age before passing away. Kiki Gyan, for example, went gaga before his untimely death because he took to hard drugs but not so with Paapa Yankson, C.K Mann and Jewel Ackah
These new generation of musicians should learn from fallen heroes like Paapa Yankson and the others. These guys did not see music as a way of getting rich quick and so they will be remembered forever. Some of the music they recorded centuries ago are as relevant as they were many years ago.
Few men in American history had ever been more closely associated with the smoking of cigar than the great celebrity of the US, President Ulysses, the 18th President of the United States of America. It was said he smokes twenty cigars a day. And do you know his favorite cigar? It is called King Of Denmark. It is hand-rolled and takes long to burn out. These days this type of cigar is custom made and you can’t even get any in Ghana where people think only the rich and the affluent smoke cigar. Poor as you are, you can go in for Torpedo Maduro, one of the cheapest cigars in the world. So here I go, polluting the environment with Torpedo Maduro. After all life is too short.