Bisa Kdei: 10 Things I Love About Ghana
Ghanaian star singer Bisa Kdei tells us his 10 favorite things about his home country, including waakye, local movies and, of course, highlife music.
In our “10 Things I Love” series we ask our favorite musicians, artists & personalities to tell us what they like the most about their home country.
In this latest installment, Ghanaian star singer Bisa Kdei tells us his favorite things about his home country, just in time for Ghana's 60th independence day celebration.
Breakfast in Ghana
If you're Ghanaian, you don't have to think about your scrambled eggs with sausage and tea. When you wake up in the morning, all you think about is waakye or your cocoa. The best place to get it is always by roadside. Every roadside you see a waakye joint or you see a cocoa joint.
Waakye breakfast on fufu table. Creative Commos image by PapJeff (via Flickr).
I like the fact that we created a genre of music, highlife music which I play myself, and that everybody in Africa is tapping into it. When you listen to the Congolese music, Senegalese music, music from other parts of Africa, it's influenced by highlife.
Ghanians created highlife music and we sold it to parts of Africa and Nigeria. I'm highlighting Nigerians because Nigerians tapped into highlife music to create afrobeat—that was Fela Kuti.
The whole highlife thing has an influence on African music in general. That's part of the culture. And that's what I like about Ghana. Fela came to Ghana and he listened to our highlife music. You know, the Ghanaian musicians used to go to Nigeria back in the day and it was amazing that the response that they got.
Because we're the originators of highlife music, we know how to do it better. When it comes to the instruments, we know how to put it together. The guitars, the clave, cowbells and the percussion, everything is so on point.
Compassion is part of us
Ghanaians are very compassionate. We like to accept and help people. We accept people from wherever they come from, even though we might not know them. Even if we don't know what they do or what they've done, we like to help them. That's Ghana. It's part of us.
Natural resources and beaches
We have gold. We have cocoa. We have diamonds. And don't forget our beaches. We have nice beaches. We have so many sightseeing places that if you're a tourist you can go to. It's just amazing.
For me, as a musician, if I want to take some time out I just go to the beaches. I love spots like Labadi beach.
Labadi beach. Creative Commos image by PapJeff (via Flickr).
Politics right now
I like the way we understand politics right now. Ghanaians are really into politics at the moment so, if you're a politician and you come out to say something and don't take your time or you didn't say it well, the next moment you will feel the drill. [laughs] We've elected a new president and things are going pretty well from what I'm seeing at the moment.
Sometimes when you're feeling lonely at home, I watch our local movies. They're very dramatic and hilarious. If you watch the local movies, you're going to laugh. You'll laugh your head off, trust me.
Me personally, I started working on movies through the movie producers abnd that's how I came out as a musician. I started doing soundtracks for a lot of movies and that's how I became a mainstream artist around 2012. I watch the local movies a lot. As Ghanians, we actually really relate to our movies.
I worked on a movie like Metanfo and wrote a song for it (also called "Metanfo") which is very, very big in Ghana. It was all because of movies that I made it very big. I also did the soundtrack for this movie called Big Boy Weezy and it was also very big.
We have 10 regions in Ghana and each and every region has their own language. And the fact that every region is trying to tap into everybody's language is just amazing. I like that about Ghana. Aside from the mother language, we're all trying to do tap into each other's language.
I sing in Twi most of the time because it's the mother tongue. But I have songs that I sign in Ewe. I have songs that I express myself in Hausa. I'm from the Eastern region and we speak Akuapem. In my new album that's coming out soon, I have a song in which I sing in my native language.
Social media and freedom of expression
I think in Ghana everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You can say anything you want, at any point in time, anywhere and nobody is going to ask you anything.
And right now social media in Ghana is everything. Technology in Ghana is growing, it's on the rise. So, you can say anything you want. I mean, if you say something today, the next moment you might have a whole bunch of people coming at you on the internet. [laughs] I think freedom is everything in Ghana right now.
I think one thing I've noticed about Ghanians is we like to express ourselves very well. We like to exchange words with people. Like, on the radio or when I see you personally, I would exchange words with you based on what I'm thinking. But I won't fight you. I'm scared to fight you. That's one thing I love about Ghanians. We just don't like to fight. We'll keep it to a verbal exchange. It's a peaceful country.
Fashion and festivals
We have a rich culture when it comes to our clothings, you know we have the kente, we wear the ahennema. When it comes to festivals, you know, you see all kinds of people coming to the festivals and it's just awesome.
Our women are, let me just say, physically endowed. Trust me, you walk on the streets and you see beautiful women everywhere in their African prints and their ahenema, you know? It's amazing. You know people who love African women, I personally love my Ghanaian women.
But, I love everybody as far as Ghana is in the picture. I love everybody in Ghana because we're trying to represent Ghana to the fullest.