One of the most protracted debates in Ghana has been whether or not we have a founding father or founding fathers. Like well sought after fruits in Ghana such as mango and the famous alasa, this argument has its season. It comes and goes with the dates of the calendar. One of such dates is 6th March, Ghana’s independence day. The other is 21st September, the birthdate of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. The latter also coincides with a public holiday in Ghana set aside to be celebrated as Founder’s Day.
Given that the holiday is tagged as Founder’s Day and not Founders’ Day, it seems safe to assume that the debate has been settled. But once you realize the party that passed legislation to recognize a Founder’s Day, you would know that a change in that name to Founders’ Day is not far away given the current government in office. The Independence Day speech by H.E. Nana Akufo Addo gives us an inkling to that.
This argument would never be settled so long as the status quo of Ghana’s political scene is maintained. But what can be settled is the facts of the matter. History books would provide you with laborious reads on the matter. Your social studies course back in high and middle school most likely was very sparse on the matter. Sadly, we barely have any well produced movie or documentary on the birth of our nation. Even if we do, it is most likely covered in dust on the shelves of some bureaucratic agency and only gets dusted off once every four years on the eve of a swearing in or once a year just before cadet corps and students march in the sweltering heat of the March’s sun.
The most consummate and accurate representation of Ghana’s struggle for independence which someway somehow manages to be funny is Wogbejeke. What is more, Wogbejeke is about more than just the eve of independence. Imagine you were in a time travel portal that began its journey when Ghana of old was still thriving. All of a sudden, you start to glean from the many tunes and different dances how the Ashantis got their iconic golden stool after Okomfo Anokye reportedly summoned it from the heaven. You then see Ndewura Sumaila Jakpa’s significance to the people of Gonja land. Your portal continues to travel and you are entreated to a sensational experience of the escape of the Ewes from the clutches of King Agorkoli. You do not stop there! Homowo begins to make meaning to you. Even though you have not come to the end of your journey, the story of Ghana’s major ethnic groups now make sense to you.
In less than an hour, Wogbejeke, the Ga word which means we have journeyed from afar to get here, takes you from a point of shallow understanding of history to an appreciable level of awareness on Ghana’s origins. The Wogbejeke Time Travel portal does not stop just yet. It has hundred more years to cover. In doing so, it fuses history with anachronism whose importance is to make it all appealing while retaining its academic relevance to the audience.
The portal minces no words and actions on the tragedy slavery and colonialism were while continuing its journey down Ghana’s history. The coming of the Europeans is certainly one of the darkest epochs in our country’s history. From oppression to exploitation, that chapter in our story as a people continues to be a blot. Do not expect Wogbejeke to odiously list the “benefits of colonialism” like our JHS lessons subjected us to.
The beauty of Wogbejeke lies in its ability to switch the mood of the audience between dolefulness when a slave has his soliloquy on stage and jolliness when a native soldier who fought for the British inspects his regiment in a hilarious fashion. It lies in how it gets the crowd booing in disapproval, the many coup d’états that setback our experimentation with democracy in one scene but applauding the virility of JJ Rawlings when he shows up in his army camouflage attire in the next scene.
The casting is a very lively bunch. From the dancers who move rhythmically to the sounds of the drummers, to the choir that provides excellent vocals to each scene, Wogbejeke gives you enough reason to keep your eyes and ears away from your Facebook timeline for the best part of two hours. How can we forget about the actors and actresses? Especially the guy who plays the role of Nkrumah!!! His absent hairline and eerily familiar voice sends shivers down your spine when he repeats the “Ghana, our beloved country, is free forever” we have all come to attribute to Nkrumah.
True to its name, Wogbejeke takes you to “here”. Here being 2017 Ghana. So in as much as you are treated to the UGCC-CPP days, post Nkrumah era with its several coup d’états, and the Rawlings years through to the 2000s, your time travel portal brings you back to modern day Ghana. It stops in the parking lot of Nana Addo’s presidency.
This parking is not done until the audience feels the pinch and itch to dance its feet off. Wogbejeke is not only about the politics of our past. The music, movies, and sports of our story are well meshed into this play. You are treated to good old music from Osibisa, you would feel nostalgic after hearing a line or two from the well acclaimed Inspector Bediako and then be dejected after hearing the name SUAREZ!!!! You would be off your seat when Ofori Amponsah’s Emmanuella comes on and your shoes might be half way transforming into dancing shoes with Sarkodie’s “You Go Kill Me’’. But once the theme song of the NDC’s 2016 election campaign Onaapo comes on, how can you not give in to your inner self?
Wogbejeke is worth your last penny. It probably would not give you the requisite grades for high school social studies or a university course in Ghanaian history, but it is an apt substitute for the two. Wogbejeke would entertain you while educating you on Ghanaian history, something teachers have been struggling to do for eons. Chief Moomen, the man who gave us Wogbejeke, deserves every second of the standing ovation he and his crew get at the end of every production!