Ghana’s credentials as one of the most ‘free-speech friendly’ countries in Africa seems to be fast eroding in recent times. In a rather bizarre move a popular Reggae artist Knii Lante was heckled off stage for performing a song that allegedly did not sit well with a Member of Parliament.
“We had played the first song, played the second song and we were on the third song that’s the 52 ambulance. We were just playing the song and a man walks on the stage agitated… telling the people to “get off the stage, get off the stage”,
The event was Bliss on the Hills, a street jam entertainment fiesta packaged for the people of Kwahu and held at Abetifi in the Eastern Region. The event featured some local artists as well as Jamaican/international reggae great Taurus Riley.
According to a member of the band, Knii Lante and his Big Hills band had just begun a set which was supposed to last 30 minutes; broken up into 10-minute instalments. The crowd was having a good time grooving along until the band launched into ‘52 Ambulances’, a song that decries the lack of medical facilities and other essential amenities in the country while taxpayer funds are spent on some less important things like luxury cars for politicians.
“We had played the first song, played the second song and we were on the third song that’s the 52 ambulance. We were just playing the song and a man walks on the stage agitated… telling the people to “get off the stage, get off the stage”
“We had played the first song, played the second song and we were on the third song that’s the 52 ambulance. We were just playing the song and a man walks on the stage agitated… telling the people to “get off the stage, get off the stage”, said a member of Big Hills Band.
He said the man, one Nat from National security and purportedly a close associate of Member of Parliament for Abetifi, Bryan Acheampong, wanted to take the mic from Knii Lante and kick the band off the stage immediately but the MCs stopped him from doing so and implored him to let the band at least finish that song in order not to create a scene.
The band thus continued playing and finished the song after which they were taken off the stage while Nat yelled at them to go back to their hotel, pack up and leave Kwahu immediately.
He said after being yanked off the stage, Knii Lante went to have a word with the MP, who was apparently also a financier of the event.
After this, according to our source, the man who had marched the band off stage (Nat) came back to their tent (dressing area) accompanied by 2 bodyguards from National Security and engaged Knii Lante in a heated argument for about half an hour. Nat reportedly said the event was for entertainment and by playing a song like ’52 Ambulances’, Knii Lante was trying to incite the audience and turning it into a political affair.
When Ghnewsnow got in touch with Nat however, he denied the incident happened at all.
“Those who came to perform, we know their songs; we know them. We interacted with them. We had several meetings with them before they came to perform. And so how can someone that we have paid to come and perform then the person is performing and we will go up there and stop that person?”, he questioned.
He challenged Ghnewsnow to contact the event organizers or better still “come down to Ghana” to check the veracity of the claims.
“If you think you can be up there and think and whatever happens you can just call anybody for information, it doesn’t work that way”, he retorted.
Strangely however, he insinuated that it was wrong for anyone to take advantage of their platform to become popular and then turn against them.
“If someone wants to be popular the person has to be popular by their act”, he said.
“If you are not popular and you and you come on our stage and you perform and become popular, you don’t come back and mar the event”, Nat said.
“52 ambulances for the people, 1000 V8s for the ministers”