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Feature: VGMA Board should stop ‘beating about the bush’ on Shatta Wale ban

The most relevant artist now in Ghanaian music, Shatta Wale, has not been part of the most relevant music awards scheme in Ghana, VGMA, for the past 3 editions and avid followers of both brands have bantered incessantly in trying to suggest ways the seeming impasse could be resolved.

After much talk, pleas and divergent analysis all hinged on this Shatta Wale-VGMA saga, many were almost giving up, until the artist granted an interview to host of the Pundits show on GHOne TV, George Quaye, who is also a VGMA Board member and Communication Head for organizers, Charterhouse.

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It was evident by his demeanor and utterances that, he (Shatta Wale) is interested in the VGMA and is willing to do anything to be part again and just last week in Thursday’s edition of Graphic Showbiz, Nii Ayite Hammond, Chairman of the VGMA Board, who was also the spokesperson for the awards last year, was reported to have said that, the only way Shatta Wale would be accepted back into the fray, is when he offers a public apology.

However, in an interview with Kwasi Aboagye on Peace FM’s ‘Entertainment Review’ on that same Thursday, Mr. Hammond, talking for himself and not the Board, as he made us to believe – rebuffed the report by Graphic Showbiz.

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In some bizarre twist to the matter, as we have all have known, Mr. Hammond stated that, the so-called request of an apology from Shatta Wale has never been the bone of contention, rather, the artist called the scheme not credible and must retract that statement.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hammond’s statement, together with declarations from other members of the Board and especially from the VGMA Board, has not been consistent. There seem to be some confusion amongst members on exactly what the ‘ban’ on Shatta Wale is all about and what exactly is required of him to get back into the scheme.

What Caused The Ban?

With the now irritating back and forth and the lack of consistency from the VGMA Board and its members, one is no longer sure of what exactly the reason is, for Shatta Wale’s no-inclusion in the awards.

In 2014, after making vile and obnoxious videos to denigrate the CEO of Charterhouse, workers at Charterhouse and the VGMA, Shatta Wale was dragged to court for defamation, a case that is still pending in court.

In 2015, in the heat of the grudge, Shatta Wale declared in one of his many social media rants that, his works should not be nominated in the scheme, otherwise, he would drag the organizers to court and surely, his works were not nominated.

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In 2016, after his perpetual production of hit songs and continuous dominance of the music scene and after some pressure from his fans (as he made us to believe), Shatta Wale decided to eat the humble, get some members of his team plus a few hangers-on – and made an application of his works, personally to the Offices of Charterhouse for possible nomination. His works are yet to be nominated!

Until Mr. Hammond’s statement on Peace FM, we have been made to believe that, the artist was being barred from the scheme because of the derogatory remarks he passed on Charterhouse and the scheme and that, he had to apologize publicly to make his way back.

Nii Ayite Hammond – VGMA Board Chairman

Total Confusion

Over the last couple of years, the VGMA Board, some of its members, whether they spoke in their personal capacities or not, have been floundering in giving the exact reason Shatta Wale was banned and what he has to do to make amends.

In January 2016, George Quaye, then the spokesperson for the scheme, speaking on Accra FM’s ‘Entertainment Capital’ show, said that Charterhouse had never had any intentions of excluding Shatta Wale from the award ceremony, but his behaviour left them with no choice.

“We never said anywhere that we will not nominate him, but the artist said we should not nominate him, so, why are you forcing us to nominate him?” he queried the host.

After this and other statements from other VGMA Board members plus, of course, pressure from the fans, Shatta Wale swallowed his pride, recognized the importance of the awards and how beneficial it is to the career of Ghanaian artists and decided to file his nomination.

After filing, this ensued:

In February 2016, the VGMA Board organized a press conference at the World Center in Accra and addressed the Shatta Wale issue.

“After two years of publicly campaigning about not wanting to be included in the awards, and recording and posting of materials that tarnished and denigrated the image of the scheme, he has presented an entry for nomination. The board, however thinks it is the first step to redeeming himself from the denigration of the scheme,” Mrs. Theresa Ayoade stated.

Wait, there’s more!

She also stated emphatically at the conference: “He has not completed the process, the board wants to encourage him to complete the process he has started, which would include a public apology to the board and the scheme, and thereafter we will move things forward.”

So, which is which? A public apology, a statement that has been reiterated by the likes of George Quaye, Mark Okraku Mantey and Nii Ayite Hammond on several platforms – or, a public retraction of the statement that, the award is not credible?

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What Exactly Did Shatta Wale Say?

The talk of his ban has hinged on what he said in the videos, where he is said to have tagged the VGMA as not being credible – videos that he recorded and posted on social media on the 23rd and 24th September 2014.

Yes, we know he blurted out some repugnant stuff on the CEO of Charterhouse and on GHOne TV, but on the awards, this is what he said:

“Hello, good evening Ghana people. I dey send this thing to Yola Adewade or Ayowade or Ayuwa… or anything Dadedade. You no dey respect eeh? You you come Ghana you want come do entertainment rules, you get sense? Or you feel say the music award they do you no want say they do kuluulu. Wey they no dey nominate Kumasi artiste, they not dey nominate Northern Region artistes, they no dey nominate Bolgatanga artists, they no dey nominate Takoradi artistes. Not even Volta Region, not our common Koforidua here.”

Clearly, the only disparaging thing Shatta Wale said about the VGMA in the infamous 2014 videos was the fact that, the scheme was ‘kuluulu’ – translated to mean – not credible/bias.

In 2015, Shatta Wale, also made a post, stating that, he was selling the VGMA awards he won in 2014, all for 3Ghc. Every other invective passed on the awards have been done on various stages of his performances, or in radio and television interviews.

Lack of Equity From VGMA Board

If Shatta Wale’s debarment from the VGMA is because of he called the scheme –‘kuluulu’ then something is amiss in the handling of artists who cast insinuations at the Board and the entire scheme. If saying ‘Kuluulu’ in public is the reason, then others have done similar stuff or worse but have had different outcomes.

Blakk Rasta called Charterhouse a bunch of cheaters and even rebranded the company name, calling them ‘Cheaterhouse’. He was banned and after a year or so outside the scheme, he was back in, winning awards.

Interestingly, he castigated the scheme publicly but I do not remember he rendering any public apology or retraction before his reinstatement.

In 2010, award-winning producer, Appietus, openly chided Charterhouse, calling them thieves, after losing out on the ‘Producer of The Year’ award to Richie.

“I have always said the organizers, Charterhouse are thieves. I clearly deserved to win ‘Producer of the Year’ award. I demand an apology and compensation.”

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Appietus was never instructed by the VGMA Board or any of its members to render a public apology or retraction; yet, he’s been part of the scheme since. He was also not banned!

The likes of R2Bees, Kwaw Kese and many others, at one point, criticized the awards, but went on to get nominations and even annex awards.

Let’ s take Kwaw Kese as an example: This year, he actually put his awards, plaques won over the years, in a wheelbarrow and took them to the Accra International Conference Center, where the VGMA was being held and openly declared he was selling them. With that exhibition, Kwaw made the awards worthless, showing gross disrespect to the plaques, the VGMA Board, the Academy and the voting public and whatever the scheme stands for.

It’s been months, yet the VGMA Board is yet to make any statement and come 2018, Kwaw will surely be nominated if his songs fit the requirements.

Effect The Rules Properly & Fairly

Institutions work with a set of regulations and it is only right that Charterhouse, as organizers of the highly prestigious scheme put some rules and regulations for the VGMA.

Under ‘Terms & Conditions’ for the VGMA, which is published on the website of the scheme, the rule is: “The VGMA Board has the right to dismiss, disqualify or bar any artist who abuses the scheme, the Board or any of its members or the organizing body with or without any just cause or puts the brand into any kind of disrepute. Charterhouse runs an open door policy where all grievances can be channeled and resolved without any such invectives being hurled.”

There’s no mention of how long an artist can be banned or disqualified, whether a year, two or indefinite and there’s no directive on what an affected artist should do to make amends. There’s no mention of public apology or public retraction whatsoever. Clearly, the rule is good but it becomes confusing when there’s a bias in its application.

Evidently, there’ s some of confusion on exactly what pertains to Shatta Wale and his ban and it would be of immense help if the VGMA Board starts singing with one voice and stop making very conflicting calls on one very simple matter!

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