Last year, Flex newspaper profiled Ghana's Master Drummer, Okyerema Kontor. In our recent interview with him, the said drummer and musician seems to be going through an inward emotional conflict.
"I need international music promoters! Drummers like myself are not respected in this country (Ghana)! Meanwhile our Ghanaian drums and traditional music percussions are what other continents want to see, hear and enjoy! We (Africans) have organic music for the West!
What do musicians in Ghana get after all our sleepless nights of composing songs and promoting them here in Ghana? I am a master drummer! All my drums are there! No event organizer calls me for gigs; meanwhile, events are organized in this country every now and then! We rather take delight in bringing foreign musicians and pay them more than our own!
“I have been disappointed by my own people; journalists, DJs, radio presenters, so called managers, promoters, and others! I want to go out there to sell Ghana with drums just as Ghanaba did, so that those Westerners or Europeans, Asians, Australians would know that Ghana has got the best of musical percussions!
Okyerema Kontor started playing drums at the age of 10! He is the first Ghanaian to introduce Jazz into Juju music in Nigeria! He can play 18 drums at the same time! He teaches many Caucasians how to play traditional drums in Ghana! He has performed in almost all countries in East Africa! Kontor has played extensively with Nigerian celebrated Afro pop musician, King Sunny Ade's band - Sunny Ade and African Beat.
Okyerema spent most of his active music days in Nigeria and East Africa. With pressure on him to marry, he came back to Ghana and married Yaa Gyamfuah – biological sister of Ghana's Black Stars coach Kofi Appiah.
Okyerema once went to perform in Kenya. He returned home (Nigeria) only to find partially and stark naked Ghanaian ladies who sojourned Nigeria to engage in prostitution, asleep in his room together with his wife. In his fumed state of asking his wife what those prostitutes were doing in their matrimonial home, his wife dashed out of the room.
Before Okyerema could sack all the prostitutes from his house, his wife, in the company of the police, came and arrested him. His wife had gone to make a report to the police that her husband – Okyerema Kontor, threatened to kill her and that all the ladies were her witnesses.
He was put behind cells overnight and later discharged. Innocent Okyerema returned home only to find an empty room – furniture, bags, shoes, dresses, money, etc. all gone. Okyerema asked his neighbour of his wife's where about only to be told she packed bag and baggage and left for Ghana with their 3 children.
With virtually nothing left to show for it in life, Okyerema had no option than to return to his motherland – Ghana in 1991 as a star but a pauper. He came back to Ghana in T-shirt, trousers and a pair of slippers scornfully known in Ghana as “chale wote.” Since then, the talented drummer lives from hand to mouth.
If you are a music and event promoter in and outside Ghana or Africa, you can please call the number below +233-265-068979 or email: [email protected] and his publicists shall get in touch with you.
Source: Flex Newspaper
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