‘Beyond the Return’ Masterclass Equips Ghanaian Artists With Music Business Knowledge

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The second edition of ‘The Return Conversations’ Masterclass was a success as it once again brought together Ghanaians and the diaspora for important discussions meant to build relationships that lead to future collaborations.  It took place on 23rd November 2020 at the Accra Tourist Information Centre with invited industry creatives in attendance.  Music Industry experts from the diaspora were streamed into the panel discussion virtually.

The theme for the event was ‘The Business of Music: Finding Ways to Market Ghanaian Music to the Rest of the World.’  The panel discussion was moderated by Frank Osuwu (Franky5), who is Head of Operations at the Creative Arts Council, Ghana.  The panel featured music industry experts including, Glyn Aikins, President of Sony Music label Since ‘93,  Dontae Winslow, Music Producer, Composer, Trumpeter and Educator,  Vasti Jackson, Composer, Guitarist and Producer, Coriya Burns, Senior Integrated Media Specialist, Radio One,  Malcolm Xavier, Award-winning DJ, and Mark Okraku-Mantey, President of the Creative Arts Council Ghana.

The event was coordinated by Ghana Tourism Authority and the Beyond the Return Secretariat in conjunction with The Creative Arts Council and The BridgeZone.  Annabelle McKenzie, Manager of the Beyond the Return Secretariat, spoke before the discussion began saying that ‘The Return Conversations’ are a series of panel discussions designed to help bridge the gap between Ghanaians and our diaspora communities. Some of the creatives in Ghana who attended the event in-person included Urban Gospel Artist, Jo Church, Hiphop & Afrobeats Artist Amerado, Fashion Designer Jennifer Cole, Hiplife & Afrobeats artist Krymi, Urban Gospel Artist Kobby Salm, Gospel Artist Jayana, and Afrobeats Artist Nankym.

The purpose of this event was to create opportunities to collaborate and to teach about the business side of music.  There is a lot of talent in Ghana, but many artists lack the much-needed business knowledge to put themselves on an international platform.  “Consider that this discussion we’re having here is about the business,” said Vasti Jackson, who has been in the music industry for nearly 50 years.  “Every artist in Ghana is a corporation, every artist in Ghana is a business.” He stressed the importance of understanding that it’s not only the executives who have to look at the business side.  Artists need to focus on that too or they won’t reap the financial rewards. “It makes money or it doesn’t make sense,” he said.

In Ghana, like in many other countries, DJs play a significant part of the music business.  They are often headliners at parties and major events and have the power to bring in a lot of capital to businesses.  Frank Owusu asked Malcolm Xavier, “What are some of the things a DJ can do so that they expand their brand?”  Xavier responded, “I always encourage DJs to venture out and do their own parties.” He said that DJs often don’t see the back end of money made at large-scale events, so when they promote and organize their own, the earning potential is far greater. Glyn Aikins, who started his career as a DJ as well, spoke on how his career evolved into what it is today at an owner of a record label.  His career showed Ghanaian artists that you don’t have to remain in the same place, but can grow and develop your career to become someone of influence on the business side.

Dontae Winslow, who played a piece of music on his trumpet from his personal studio on the virtual panel, said it was important to be creative and always be learning, but to be mindful of business as well.  He shared a personal story of how he sold CDs during a concert tour several years ago, in Europe and that he was earning money through CD sales alongside the salary of his performances.  Winslow also spoke about the importance of building an audience where you come from before trying to jump into new territories.

 

Traditional radio has played an important role in the success of artists over the decades, especially in African markets where radio seems to have more influence than television.  Coriya Burns, who works with Radio One was asked how involved Radio One plans to be in Africa.  “Not nearly enough, but I believe that the role I play today will get us closer to that,” she answered.

Mark Okraku-Mantey was one of Ghana’s music pioneers having been one of the artists/producers that helped lead the genre of hiplife music during the nineties.  He has seen the evolution of music throughout his career and reiterated that change is inevitable.  He said that artists need to learn to identify the needs of your audience and sell to them because you’re not producing for yourself. This is part of understanding the business, it’s about selling what people want, not what you want.  He also suggested that artists master their art. “Make sure that you pay attention to mastering sound, because even if the song doesn’t become a hit, whenever the song is played, you can be proud that you produced it.”

The biggest takeaway from this event was how much artists need to learn the business side and not leave it solely in the hands of others, in order to build your own success.

Ghana receives global Safe Travels Stamp from World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)

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Ghana has become the latest recipient of the world’s first-ever global Safe Travels Stamp, (formerly safety and hygiene stamp), launched recently by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

The stamp created by the WTTC in May this year, allows travellers to identify destinations and businesses around the world which have adopted the global standardised health and hygiene protocols.

A statement issued by the WTTC which represents the global Travel & Tourism private sector said the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has welcomed the Safe Travels Stamp, which places the safety and hygiene of travellers as a top priority.

The WTTC President & CEO, Gloria Guevara said: “Our Safe Travels Stamp continues to go from strength to strength and we are delighted to see even more popular countries and destinations from all corners of the world adopt our global health and hygiene protocols.

“The stamp also recognises the introduction of new measures by governments around the world which positively impact the Travel & Tourism sector, and to that end, we applaud the government of Ecuador for implementing new measures at Quito airport.

“The continued success of the WTTC Safe Travels Stamp demonstrates its importance not only to countries, destinations and businesses around the world, but crucially travellers, and the millions of people around the world who work in and depend on, a thriving Travel & Tourism sector.

“The stamp is critical to re-establish consumer confidence in our sector and ensure travellers can rest assured that enhanced standards of hygiene are in place and they can once again experience ‘Safe Travels’.”

Ghana’s Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon Barbara Oteng-Gyasi said: “We are delighted with this milestone of a Safe Travels Stamp for Ghana. Since March 21, 2020, when our borders were closed, we have worked on creating a safe environment for our Tourism and Travel practitioners. The protocols we have put in place are borne out of a shared responsibility to create a hygienic and safe destination.

“With the gradual easing of restrictions, we believe these measures will boost confidence in our tourism and hospitality sector. We congratulate the WTTC for instituting these Safe Travels protocols which is a welcome addition to the tourism industry.”

Since the launch of the WTTC Safe Travels Stamp, destination countries and cities, around the world have now adopted WTTC’s new protocols, including holiday heavyweights such as Tunisia, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Portugal, Kenya, Mauritius and Dubai.

As part of its Safe Travels protocols, the worldwide measures provide consistency and guidance to travel providers and travellers about the new approach to health, hygiene, deep cleansing and physical distancing, in the ‘new normal’ of COVID-19 world.

The protocols were devised following the experience of WTTC members dealing with COVID-19 and based on guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, during 2019, Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million total), making a 10.3% contribution to global GDP and generating one in four of all new jobs.

Source: Graphic Online

Back to the Motherland Documentary Now Streaming Worldwide

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Back to the Motherland is a documentary film produced by Pamela Sakyi that explores the steps needed for relocating to Ghana. In the film, she highlights the testimonies of many Ghanaians who are living in the diaspora and embarking on the possibility of moving to Ghana.

The movie was endorsed as an official Year of Return event commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the first documented ship of enslaved Africans to arrive in Virginia. The movie debuted in October 2019 in London. Unfortunately, there were many diasporans who didn’t get the opportunity to watch the film at the time. This is why it’s exciting to announce that this movie is available to stream online worldwide.

In the film Pamela also investigates her own family’s history in the town of Berekum and she aims to learn about the ways she too can migrate into Ghana’s local culture and make her own contribution to the community and Ghana’s economy.

The movie touches on the many conversations people in the diaspora are having after answering the call to ‘return home’ to Africa. The documentary features Dentaa Amoateng MBE, CEO GUBA Enterprise, HE PApa Owusu-Ankomah, High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland and Lorissa Akua of The Only Way is Ghana and Co-Founder of The VillageGH and many more.

The movie is just £2 and you can view it today by signing in using this link: https://gumroad.com/sparklelight.

By: Ivy Prosper

We Are Not Descendants Of Slaves But Descendants Of Survivors – Boris Kodjoe

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Celebrated Holywood African- American actor, Boris Kodjoe has voiced his opinion on the media’s depiction of Africa as a war-ridden continent. For him, the opportunity to showcase the other side of Africa to the world was not only to commemorate the 400thyear of the arrival of the first documented enslaved Africans in Virginia but to also help make that switch from the mentality of “Descendants of Slaves” to “Descendants of Survivors”.

According to him, they (Boris, his wife, his brother, Bozoma Saint John and his crew) wanted to show people the true side of Africa because the media’s narrative of Africa as a famine and war zone is quite disappointing and perpetuation of falsehood. He stated that Africa is not a country, as some people perceive. On the contrary, he stressed the fact that seven (7) out of the 10 fastest-growing economies are in Africa with a rich diversity in food, culture, music, people etc.

 

Speaking on the American talk show, THE REAL, the actor of Ghanaian descent asserted, “traditional media has painted a picture of Africa as a place of war and famine to Europe and it’s not true”. And we wanted to show people the True side of Africa”. He recounted all the fun they had with the huge crowds at the Afrochella festival and Afronation, which were two of the major events that took place in December in Ghana.

He made these remarks with regard while sharing his experience at the Essence Full Circle festival held in Ghana. He also spoke about visiting amazing Heritage sites in Ghana such as the Cape Coast Castle and many other heritage sites. He added that Africa was not just great for tourism but also great for business.

The Essence Full Circle festival was held in Ghana under the ‘Year of Return’ initiative, which was themed “Celebrating the African Resilience”. Thousands of people of African origin especially African Americans including several Hollywood celebrities visited Ghana for Christmas. Some of the stars include Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Akon, Rick Ross, T.I., Ludacris, Steve Harvey and several others from the diaspora who were all welcomed home to Ghana and will hopefully become one of the legacies which celebrate African resilience.

 

Also visiting Ghana in 2019 to partake in the celebration were the Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus, Kofi Kingston and also the Prime Minister of Barbados.

‘Beyond the Return’: Afro-Nation Festival to stay in Ghana for 5 years

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The Ghana Tourism Authority, on behalf of the Government of Ghana, and Event Horizon, Organisers of the Afro-Nation Festival, on Monday, 20th January 2020, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Ghana to play host to “the biggest urban music beach festival in the world” for the next five years.

The MoU, which was signed by Mr. Akwasi, CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), and Obi Asika, CEO of Event Horizon, was witnessed by the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in London, on the sidelines of the UK-Africa Investment Summit.

The signing of the MoU is part of a number of plans Ghana is putting in place, as it kick-starts the “Beyond the Return” project.

‘Beyond the Return’ aims to engage Africans in the Diaspora and all persons of African descent more positively in areas such as trade and investment co-operation, and skills and knowledge development.

The MoU will also allow the Ghana Tourism Authority and any governmental ministry, agency or authority it deems necessary to on behalf of the Government of Ghana, oversee all designs, content and production of Merchandise for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project.

The parties have also agreed, in preparation for the event every year, to establish a Local Organising Committee, comprising of representatives of each of the parties or their affiliates for the Afro-Nation Ghana Project with the LOC, amongst other duties, to be stated in the binding document responsible for securing additional sponsorship for the project.

In his remarks, after the signing of the MoU, Obi Asika stated that “Ghana is a welcoming destination, and we were happy with the warm reception we received since we took Afro-Nation to the country. The President’s commitment to the project is unparalleled, and we look forward to another successful event in December 2020“.

On his part, the CEO of the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Akwasi Agyeman said “Afro-Nation is amongst one of the key events on which we are anchoring the ‘Beyond the Return’ initiative. We want to make Ghana the number one entertainment destination in Africa. December in Ghana will never be the same again”.

About Beyond The Return

Beyond the Return” is a follow-up to the successful Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ campaign which commemorated the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first recorded enslaved Africans in Jamestown Virginia in 1619. The landmark campaign also celebrated the resilience of the African over the past 400 years and welcomed all people of African origin to return to Africa especially Ghana.

Beyond The Return

Akufo-Addo implores further support for “Beyond the Return”

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President Akufo-Addo wants Ghanaians to extend their supportive attitude portrayed towards the “Year of Return”, to this year’s “Beyond the Return” initiative.

President Akufo-Addo believes it was due to such an attitude that the year of return was a success and he wants to see same for Beyond the Return.

A statement from the Presidency indicated that, “the welcoming attitude and the warm Ghanaian hospitality proved to be the strongest attention to hundreds of thousands of our ‘kith and kin’ from the African diaspora, who thronged our shores to commemorate the year of return.

“I urge all Ghanaians to demonstrate this same level of excitement and commitment that characterised the “Year of Return,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo initiated the Year of Return to invite all diasporans back home to not only learn more but explore and even invest in the country.

Since this initiative began many African-Americans have made their way into the country to learn more about their history. Some include Steve Harvey , Samuel L Jackson , Anthony Anderson, Micheal Jai White, Boris Kodjoe, Nicole Ari Parker, Diggy Simmons and many others.

The President launched the now “Beyond the Return” initiative as a way to continue with and solidify relations between Africans and those in the diaspora.

He said the “Year of Return’, proved itself to be exciting, and afforded Ghanaians the chance to re-establish, intensify and solidify the relations between those of us on the continent and those in the diaspora.”

He further commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and other institutions and persons who made The Year of Return possible for “their sense of professionalism and dedication to duty, which enabled them to preserve the peace and security of our country in the course of the celebration.”

The President also urged Ghanaians to take advantage of all opportunities that the initiative will present as this “will entail that we engage in mutually beneficial trade, investment and cultural co-operation with the Africa Diaspora.”