Once upon a time, news broke that one of Ghana’s topmost musicians was getting married. Was that news? Yes, it was. When a celebrity is dating, it is news. When they are getting married, it is news. When they have children, it is news. If their children turn out to be geniuses like Okyeame Kwame’s son, it is news.
If the children are bad, it is news. If celebrities cheat in marriage, it is big news. And if they divorce, it is headline news. Why? They are public figures. And, in reality, public figures have no private lives. Period.
But there were two reasons that made Stonebwoy’s marriage even newsier – the woman he was getting married to and how his fans played on the rivalry between him and his fellow dancehall artiste, Shatta Wale.
Those who spoke or wrote about Stonebwoy’s marriage put emphasis on the bride’s profession. He was not marrying and ordinary woman, they boasted. He was getting married to a MEDICAL DOCTOR! A DENTIST!
Is there anything special about marrying a dentist?
Oh yes, it is! Medicine is one of the most prestigious professions in our country. It is the most competitive programme in the university. To read medicine, you must have a good head, a head full of golden brains. Recently, when it was revealed that the best secondary school student in the whole of West Africa could not get admission to read medicine in Ghana, it set the nation talking for weeks and made headlines in all the media houses that matter.
But Stonebwoy’s bride was not just a dentist. She is an exceptional one. Dr Louisa Ansong, for that is the bride’s name, is the Chief Executive Officer of Denkyi African Sole. She graduated from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)with enormous success. She won six out of nine awards during the school’s graduation ceremony in 2016. So she is an exceptionally brainy woman.
You see, anybody can be born beautiful. Beauty is an ascribed status, even though some people believe it can be bought in cosmetic and make-up shops. But academic brilliance is an acquired status that requires diligence and hard work and dedication. Even in beauty contests, they look out for intelligent and talented women. So if an award-winning artiste is marrying and award-winning dentist, one cannot downplay their qualities. Never mind those qualities do not always guarantee a successful marriage.
The brilliance of Dr. Louisa Ansong was, however, not the only reason the emphasis was placed on her. The announcement of Stonebwoy’s bride stoked the fire of rivalry between him (Stonebwoy) and Shatta Wale, another award-winning Ghanaian dancehall artiste. Stonebwoy’s fans had the bragging rights here. They pitched Stonebwoy’s bride against Shatta Wale’s wife, Shatta Mitchy. Stonebwoy was marrying a decent intellectual while Shatta Wale was married to a woman who was fond of exposing herself, they said. They compared and contrasted the women of the two artistes with words and photographs that showed how dissimilar they were in their outfits.
What Stonebwoy’s fans forgot or did not know was that their idol’s dancers often dressed like Shatta Wale’s wife in his videos and during some live performances. So if you turn around to taunt someone who dresses like your idol’s dancers, then what are you telling those dancers? It is important to note that, Shatta Wale’s wife is also into showbiz and has performed with her husband on stage a number of times. So why should her outfit be used against her when Stonebwoy’s dancers were not any different? What were they telling the dancers? This was what prompted me to put a sarcastic post on Facebook.
And this is what I wrote:
“When you do your music, you tell us to dress almost naked and feature in your videos. We twerk and do all the things you want us to do. When it was time to marry, you went for a dentist, whose dress code is so decent, so different from what you make us portray to the world. What are you telling us?”
Who was I addressing this message to?
Stonebwoy? Hell no! Not amount of alcohol or madness will make me tell someone to marry someone from his or her profession. If that was my thinking, then I should have married a journalist.
Was I addressing dancers in general? Hell no! I was not addressing all dancers. There is nothing wrong with someone who chooses dancing as his or her career.
“Naked” dancers? Yes! I was referring to the women who jump at the least opportunity to strip almost naked and shake their “goodies” in videos and during live performances. They do this even when the songs they dance to have nothing to do with sex, love or even romance. Their male counterparts hardly dance naked. I’m yet to find someone who will convince me about the philosophy behind this practice. But I suspect they want to do that to attract and please, the audience the male audience. But why would anyone even think this way when we don’t expect same from male dancers?
When a male artiste mounts the stage to perform, we want to focus on his talent. If Kwabena Kwabena appears on the stage to perform his erotic song ‘Adult music’ but is dressed like the Pope conducting Easter Sunday Mass, we have no qualms about what he wears. If his lyrics and music are appealing, we applaud him and dance along.
But that is not the same with their female counterparts. A female performer must show something apart from her talent. She must show her breasts or butts or stomach or something to arouse the senses of men. We are often made to know that it is part of show business. But if is show business, why don’t the men show their balls or mini cobras as part of the trade? If showbiz is about how sexy one is why don’t we parade men with six packs as dancers?
I hear some dancers who did not understand my post went livid because they claimed I insulted them. When some radio presenters pointed out to them that I seemed to have problems with dancing almost naked, they said it comes with the profession. Really?
If you are a professional dancer and you mount the stage, what do you want to show? Your skills or your flesh? And if you dance half naked, where do you think the attention of your audience would be? Your moves or your body? Is that what the Michael Jacksons of this world are remembered for when we praise their dance?
Celine Dion, Adele, Westlife and a host of musicians can boast of some of the most romantic and globally acclaimed hit songs. I don’t think their success has anything to do with parading naked videos. Some of the videos that accompany our music actually cut away some audience. A family with children cannot watch some videos together, when there is nothing about the song that is profane.
I cannot tell anybody what to wear on stage. But I have the right to share my thoughts on the matter, don’t I? To the extent that Shatta Mitchy’s showbiz dress code is being compared and contrasted with another woman’s intellect means when it matters most, the same people who encourage women to do what they do use it against them. Last Friday someone told me the story of a young lady who recorded a music video almost naked, but the video didn’t come out until she was in the law school. She felt embarrassed when the video went viral among her colleagues.
Sadly, when women want to contest for public office, such images are reproduced and used against them. In the 2016 election, the NDC parliamentary candidate for Tema Central, Ebi Bright, suffered this fate. In the heat of the campaign, a photograph she took at her birthday party, which showed her panty, was released on social media and used by her political opponents against her.
Feminists and gender activists are seriously campaigning against the portrayal of women as sex symbols. But how can they win when, even at boxing bouts when it is all about two men hitting one another, we still get bikini-wearing women to display the rounds board? Nobody asks women to do what they do at gunpoint. They do it willingly and they have the right to do that. But they should remember there are consequences for every action under the sun.
For commenting on this issue, I know it has consequences.
The writer, Manasseh Azure Awuni, is a journalist with Joy 99.7 FM. He is the author of two books “Voice of Conscience” and “Letters to My Future Wife”. His email address is [email protected]
The views expressed in this article are his personal opinions and do not reflect, in any form or shape, those of The Multimedia Group, where he works.