Thursday, November 20, 2008

To Wyclef or not to Wyclef: the 026 Zain Experience right here in Accra

It is offical: Wyclef Jean is performing in Accra courtesy of Zain; a new mobile phone company in Ghana clearly trying to make a grand entrance. At first I was a skeptic and a firm believer that this concert was not going to take place. After all, wasn't Michael Jackson set to perform a few years back? 'Ol Michael was a no-show but I hear he was beamed by satellite link right into the Accra Internationl Conference Centre...hence the skepticism.
Don't get me wrong. We do get big names down here in GH...After all Fat Joe and Sean Kingston performed earlier this year. Whoa! Sean Kingston, (I almost forgot) was another no-show. Apparently his mummy said he should not take yellow fever shots. I read somewhere that Master Kingston is being sued in a New York court by the concert that true? I know Fat Joe was definately around since my boss boss sat near him on Delta Airlines back to the US or told us "Big Joe" was with him on the flight.
Ah yes, I do recall the big bruv quite enjoyed the Wayne Wonder + Kevin Lyttle concert some years back. Although he did admit that once Mr. Wonder started on a Forever Young cover, it was time to head for the door....A clear case of 2 hits between 2 artistes.
Anyway, I digress back to Wyclef.....I have been a fan of Wyclef, Lauryn Hill, Pras, the Fugees, Refugee Allstars etc. since The Score. It was actually in the first line-up of CDs I orderd in that too-good-to-be true Columbia house deal that many US college students fall prey to..."Buy 12 CDs for $0.99" I spent my entire time in college paying off the 12 CDs which ended up costing anything but $0.99!

Aside from the music, Wyclef is an icon in other ways. Right from the beginning, he has been a mouthpiece for the long-suffering Haitian immigrant in the US. Being Haitian was not always popular. When I was in college, one of my good friends who was Jamaican described her shock and horror when a Haitian woman asked her innocently if she was Haitian. "H--e---ll no!!!!" was her curt response. Wyclef and the 'Fugees made being Haitian cool. I remember seeing a news item on tv about Haitian-Americans kids in Boston who felt proud of their heritage for the very first time in their lives all because of the Fugees. My man Wyclef is also very active in humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

His first solo album the The Carnival is still a favorite in my collection. It was also obtained through the afore-mentionned longstanding bittersweet relationship with Columbia House. I still remain convinced
that everything Wyclef touches turns to gold. He has an uncanny ability to collaborate with the most unlikely people to produce masterpieces. He remastering Guantanamera with the late Cuban great Celia Cruz and that was a hit.
Or how about producing Carlos Santana and the Product G&B on Maria, Maria and then there is the unforgettable Hips Don't Lie with Shakira. I almost forgot the socially conscious Diallo with Youssou N'Dour. His latest album shows he is still has that popular appeal.
See how I can ramble and praise sing all about Wyclef...
Anyway, back to him and the 026 experience. Even though Wyclef has been my idol for a while....*alas* I'm having doubts about whether I should attend the concert because:
  • Hustling with the whole Accra in an open air stadium in a mosquito-endemic country just does not seem too appealing
  • Staying up beyond 3am is a struggle coz you know that Wyclef will only grace the stage after hours and hours of local artistes...
  • Overtly corporate sponsored events just do not sit well with me...does this mean I have to have to have to get a 026 mobile line?
Apparently, it is not only Wyclef who is coming; there is Eve and Mario. Now, the only think I really know about Eve is that 'okay' TV series and it is not like she is coming for the acting. Mario?? Is that like Mario Winans who sang that song I Don't Wanna Know? That song that someone I REALLY would like to forget used to play in his car? Well, as I contemplate to go or not to go, I really would like to see evidence that Wyclef is in Ghana which may help me along with my decision. You never know, The 026 experience may mean beaming him out via satellite....did someone say Michael? Mmm...


Charlotte Mutesha said...


I love Wyclef, back from the Fugees days in the 90s. I actually posted a video of my cutie boyfriend covering "Sweetest Girl" on Youtube here.

And don't you love this song? I love the cross-culturalism going on here.

Your photos remind me of my trip to Ghana last May. I'm Zambian, and the differences between West and Central are amazing! Beautiful.

Next time I go I'm totally hittin you up! Great blog.


Abena said...

Hey Charlotte, thanks for stopping by and for the links. Your boyfriend does a mean cover of Sweetest Girl! I hope you enjoyed Ghana..your pictures are amazing and do come back! The differences all across Africa are quite amazing. Although I'm Ghanaian, I was born in Lesotho and lived in Southern African for the major part of my life. Never made it to Zambia but some of my closest friends are from there.

Qué? said...

Great write up. I've read your Silverbird post, so it looks like you didn't go... probably a good thing: I heard it was a blow-out but really want to hear it from someone who was there...

Abena said...

Thanks Que! Interestingly I also heard the show was a bit of a blowout. Apparently the Ghanaian crowd was as usual (un)enthused and catatonic..but then again, this was a second-hand account. A real shame..