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Humans · Arts

Saving Ghana’s environment, a rap line at a time

May 14th, 2018
in:Humans, Arts
by:Bob Koigi
located in:Ghana
tags:Eco rave, Edward Elikplim Ayikoe, environment, hip hop, rap, West Africa

In Ghana, many die of air pollution each year. Young people are taking the fight to it with music.

So serious is the pollution that in 2016 Accra was listed as the most polluted city on earth by numbeo, a website that monitors and grades countries based on pollution, crime and health.

Now a group of hip hop artists have decided to do something about it. Dumping the traditional lewd lyrics, flashy lifestyles and funky beats associated with contemporary hip hop, the new wave of musicians are weaving their messages around socio-economic problems that touch on the daily lives of Ghanaians. Environment is top of their list with a clarion call to the citizens of the West African country to take it upon themselves to nurture nature or perish. The music also takes a jibe at the government of President Nana Akufo-Addo for not doing enough to save the country from the menace of pollution.

Edward Elikplim Ayikoe, a renowned rapper who goes by the stage name Eli has been a frontrunner in this campaign with his hit song Gold Coast, released in 2016, attracting national and regional attention to a problem that won’t just go away. He, like other artists of his generation, questions the legitimacy of the phrase, ‘Ghana is the bastion of African democracy,’ coined by former US President Barrack Obama when he visited the country in 2009.

In the music video, Eli is seen on Labadi beach in Accra, the busiest along Ghana’s coast, next to mountains of plastic bottles and bags as he laments at the deplorable condition of the beach. “My country, no get basic amenitie...” he sings.

Wanlov the director of the video and an avid environmentalist is seen squatting naked as the face of President Mahama censors his genitals with the two rappers mocking the administration for paying lip service to a problem that has spiraled out of control.

Wanlov has been running a campaign to create awareness on the role of human beings to protect the environment through eliminating trash which in 2014 climaxed with Eco Rave, one of the biggest competitions on environment and recycling. The idea was to bring young people to the conservation debate. Hip Hop artists in the competition demonstrated vocal prowess and in-depth knowledge of Ghana’s environmental situation based on research. The installation artists who participated in the competition created towering interactive exhibitions from domestic waste including old clothes, water sachets and plastic soft drink bottles.

Efo Chameleon, another 28 year old rapper, has infused lyrics into the famous "Get ur Freak on" track by Missy Elliott to rap about poor drainage and chocking stench that greets anyone who arrives in Ghana’s capital in the song Keep Ghana clean. He then goes on to educate the listeners on effective ways of getting rid of plastic. “Everyone go get a basket. We are going to sweep Ghana. How much is a broom?.... Oh my God this place stinks. Look at the environment, everywhere is full of waste. Tell parliament, we need a Ministry for Sanitation,” he raps in the award winning track.

While majority of budding artists have over the years struggled to get their voices heard in Ghana due to a system that requires them to pay DJs and radio stations to have their music played, a new website Yoyo Tinz is now giving talented hip hop artists a chance to air their voices on the most pressing socio economic and political aspects of the country, providing more channels for the conservation debate.

This comes at a time when experts and numerous reports have warned that Ghana risks even more catastrophes if current trends are allowed to persist.

The Water Research Institute, an arm of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, says that Ghana may not have any treatable water source, surface or underground, by 2030 if the rate at which water sources are being polluted continues. The use of polluted water for agriculture, the institute further adds, is not only becoming harmful to human health but killing plants and risks turning the country into a Sahel.

But even as the situation looks grim, young people whose future this depends on, have taken the driver’s seat in advocating for an environmentally clean country; music, the language spoken by all, may save the day, one rap line at a time.

Article written by:
Bob Koigi
Author, Contributing Editor
Current Map: Our coverage
Embed from Getty Images
So serious is the pollution that in 2016 Accra was listed as the most polluted city on earth.
Embed from Getty Images
A group of hip hop artists have decided to do something about it.
Embed from Getty Images
Dumping the traditional lyrics associated with contemporary hip hop, the new wave of musicians are weaving their messages around socio-economic problems that touch on the daily lives of Ghanaians.

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