Monday, October 29, 2007

Ade Bantu Treats Ghanaians To Fufu Sound

Dede Mabiaku at the concert in Accra with Ade Bantu supported by dancers. Pix by Ololade Adewuyi


(First published by The Guardian, Lagos on 28-10-2007.

NIGERIA's neighbour, Ghana, is home to a huge community of Nigerians and this was made very evident during the week of the celebration of the country's 47th Independence anniversary as many Nigerian performing artistes took to the stage in the capital city, Accra.

First were superstar twins, P Square and Koko master, D'Banj (a last minute replacement for Tuface Idibia who had been unfortunately shot in a car jacking incident a few days earlier) at a concert aptly dubbed Night With Naija on Friday October 5, at the National Theatre.

The two acts had been supported by fellow MCs Mode Nine, Azadus and Baba Dee who all thronged Accra in what is fast becoming 'the invasion of the Nigerians' according to locals. It is not far fetched why Nigerian artistes have found a second home in Ghana. The cultures are similar and their works have become massive hits here. In August, three Nigerian stand up comedians, Julius 'D Genius' Agwu, Basketmouth and I Go Die headlined a sold out night of comedy in Accra which was sponsored by telecommunications company, MTN.

The popularity and general acceptance of Nigerian pop culture, her music and comedy is very evident when one turns on the local TV and radio. And for an increasing number of Nigerians, Ghana is becoming more like home with each passing day. If one can enjoy all the best of Nigerian culture right here in relative peace, why go back, they ask.

But Afrobeat musician, Ade Bantu, who was invited by the German Goethe Institut to perform in Accra answers this his own way.

Adegoke who seeks to provide "conscious music to create solutions" believes that "a lot is expected from us (Nigerians) to promote originality and not mediocrity in Africa".

"One out of four Africans is a Nigerian, so our arts cannot but be generally accepted," he said, minutes before he took to the stage to dish out his 'Sound of Fufu' to a mixed audience of expatriates and Ghanaians at the W.E.B. Du Bois Centre in Accra on the night of Saturday 7th October.

Ade Bantu, who is of mixed Nigerian and German parentage, grew up in Ogba, Ikeja, listening to the music of abami eda, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He speaks Yoruba, English and German fluently.

"My father played Fela's music all the time and it helped awaken my consciousness", he said referring to his choice of Afrobeat even though it is laced with some funk, hip hop and dance hall elements.

"My music is based on Afrobeat but I want to be Bantu because I cannot beat Fela at his own thing.

"I want to enlighten my people to contribute to the dialogue between Diaspora and Motherland. I want to celebrate Blackism".

Bantu, which stands for Brotherhood Alliance Navigating Towards Unity is the platform on which Ade aims to reach the world with his positive mental attitude (PMA) message.

"I was raised with love. I took the best of both worlds as my ideology", he says referring to his tolerance which he got from living in an inter-racial environment which built a lot of patience in him.

Ade Bantu came to Accra with half of his multinational band (which consists of an American, a German and a Burkinabe) and assisted by a local cast, to promote his music. In 2005, he won KORA Award (Best Group West Africa and Best Group Africa) for his collaboration with Fuji music legend Adewale Ayuba. Prior to his arrival in Accra, there had been a massive promotion of his single 'No Vernacular' on TV and it was no surprise to see the huge turn out of fans on the night.

Afrobeat life timer Dede Mabiaku also made a guest appearance, as he is wont to do in anything that involves Afrobeat music. Dede has become a household name due to his role as a judge on the hugely successful West African Idols talent show. He performed Fela's all time greatest hit 'Lady' to the delight of the crowd who chanted 'Yea yea' at his beckoning.

It was to be Ade Bantu's night of baptism into Ghanaian groove as he held the audience spell bound with his athletic dance moves on stage which belied his imposing lanky six feet five inches frame. The 'sound of fufu' belted out all night accompanied by his beautiful back up singers.

As the revellers made their way home after a massive week of Nigerian Independence celebrations, Ade's final words reverberates; "We need to discover our heritage, we have forgotten to value who we are, our culture, our music... it is what makes us unique."

Even Fela would be happy to see that the music he created has not been restricted to the immediate family after all.

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