Presspeep.com republish an article that was authored by Editor of Presspeep.com, Osarfo Anthony some years back – into how our folkloric arts are being protected and if Ghana is actually making money, in terms of royalties, from such art forms.
As a professional screenwriter, I did a screenplay (60 episodes but all lost though) of Kwaku Ananse stories and intended to collaborate with an animation company (in Ghana or outside) to invest in the story for a cartoon series to be shown on our television stations – instead of showing Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Do, Tintin, and other foreign cartoon series on our TV channels to our siblings.
Since NAFTI – National Film and Television Institute teaches animation, I got in touch with one of their animation graduates and disclosed my project to the fellow for possible collaboration – only to be informed that my project is belated. One Mrs. Sherrie Thompson, CEO of Solutions Africa, came to Ghana to reveal that Disney World in United States is doing a project on animation with Ananse – though they have never stepped foot in Ghana – the original homeland of Ananse.
Mrs. Sherrie Thompson also expressed surprise at the concept of Ananse folklore, because according to her, before she stepped foot in Ghana, she believed Ananse was a preserve of Jamaica, but she was shocked to hear of Ananse in Ghana. This means that a piece of our folklore, Ananses3m, survived the trip from Africa to the Americas and brave the storms of the slave trade period and till date remained intact in both its original place and elsewhere. Are you shocked?
Well I am not because I had a hint from a source at Copyright Office of Ghana in 2012 that, some Educationists and Writers from USA came to Ghana to collect many Ananse stories with the intention of translating them into standard textbooks for elementary schools/colleges in US and Canada.
We sit in Ghana and say Ananse was a perfidious character so Ananse stories should not be narrated to our children of today, yet foreigners come for the same story and make capital out of it.
Have you heard of National Folklore Board before? Well, through my research and consultations, I landed at the office of the National Folklore Board – a board inaugurated to administer, monitor, and register Ghana’s folkloric arts and had a long interview with the Director, Mr. A. H. Lemaire.
This is what he said: “We don’t respect what we have so foreigners will always come and take them away. As we speak, I have information that the ADIDAS Company in America wants to use the designs in Ghana’s ever popular “Fatia fata Nkrumah Kente” for their shoes.
“I am also aware of this Kwaku Ananse thing you are talking about. They (Disney) came to me and went back but have since not gotten back to me. Very sad we don’t appreciate our own.”
On the legal implication of foreigners investing in our folkloric arts without due permission to do so, Mr. Lemaire said, “However, any non-Ghanaian who uses any of Ghana’s folkloric arts for commercial purposes is by law supposed to pay royalties to the board on behalf of the President entrusted by the people of the Republic of Ghana for folkloric works.”
‘By the Fireside’ – was a Kwaku Ananse storytelling TV series on GTV initiated in the 90s to the early 2000 by the 31st December Women’s Movement, founded by Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings. It was hosted by Veteran actress, Grace Omaboe popularly known as Maame Dokono and produced by Madam Dzifa Gomashie (for 11 years) who is now Deputy Minister of Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts.
I got in touch with Maame Dokono, and asked her why she is not using her influence to bring back ‘By the Fireside.’ Maame Dokono said she does not have the exclusive right to do so – aside that, most of the footage of the show have been lost.
“My son, they are burnt oo! They got burnt when GBC caught fire some years back – so even if I lobby for the powers that be to bring back ‘By the Fireside,’ the question is, “na footage no w) he?” she revealed. Maame Dokono continued: “My son, it pains me this is the end of ‘By the Fireside.’
She concluded that “I’ve had several calls by people in Ghana and abroad – admonishing me to bring back ‘By the Fireside’ because it was very educating and entertaining.” This is very sad to know.
We always fail to make capital out of our own. For how long must we sit down for foreigners to come for our creative arts and make humongous monies out of them while we continue to welter in scummy indigence? We have a long way to go.