And so even in death Ebony Reigns, reigns! Indeed the one week mourning of the death of the beautiful songstress (the budding showbiz diva) turned out to be a gathering of many Ghanaians of all walks of life: friends in the music industry, the clergy, politicians, academia and patrons of her works.
The turnout at the venue—the St. Martin de Pores School at Dansoman, Accra—of the one-week mourning was more of a carnival than anything else. Attendants shed tears all right; but refused to mourn; tears that were more of joy of celebrating the cruel short-lived works of Ebony Reigns on earth. Her life was cut short just one week before her 21sts birthday (February 16)—a year that many believe would have been the beginning of the bourgeoning musical career of Nana Hemaa Bony as she often refers to herself in her music.
The national conversation that her post-death is generating clearly suggests that the young diva is even REIGNING MORE in death than alive. Whoever gave her the name EBONY REIGNS might have done so relying purely on the dictate of what pertains in contemporary showbiz: to get a pseudo name, that patrons of the industry can easily identify with.
Often such names may determine the commercial direction of the artiste. But in the case of Ebony Reigns, known in private as Priscilla OpokuKwarteng, the Ebony Reigns name may not just be one of the ordinary aliases. It represents a steeled and gritty young woman who was determined to REIGN against all odds.
School Drop Out
One of the stigmas Ebony carried to her grave was her status as a dropout from the Manfe Methodist Girls Senior High School. Indeed she was suspended from the school for some wrongdoing and never returned after her suspension. She did not contest such unfortunate tag and regretted such stigma on her persona in many of her interviews on the subject. On similar platforms however, she expressed the desire to continue with her education. The issue however, might be when she intended going back to school, considering the fact that she was earning such an amazing fame and huge purse from his new found love.
After demonstrating a dogged determination against all odds, Ebony showed that she wasn’t an also-run or a faint-hearted upstart whose way of life in the industry could be prescribed by others who knew nothing about how showbiz runs. That is why she would have lived her word and continued with her education at a time she considered right. Education has no statutory limitation; and if many in the music industry, and others pursued higher education at their ripe ages, then certainly it would not be out of the reach for the 20-year-old to do same at a later date.
Ebony’s parents might have been very disappointed at their daughter’s decision on her immediate education just like the way other responsible parents would have felt let down in similar circumstance. Indeed that was the Ebony cross that her parents carried. Can any parent, especially those who overly criticised the young lady of being a bad influence on the younger generation, say they don’t bear a cross perhaps worse than that of Ebony’s?
For such people, what should have genuinely engaged their attention rather than the obsessed hatred for the young lady should have been “what Ebony did with her life after being dropped out of school.”
Ebony’s costume on stage brought her many enemies. Admittedly, some of her costumes on stage were highly exotic and insensitive to Ghanaian culture and values. But in a music world where the young lady had to square-up against some of the very crème de la crème and other stalwarts in the industry, perhaps her only survival and the gritty gusto to surpass the more established performers was to go the unorthodox way. She did just that and she gained the attention.
Whether that was earned negatively or the hard way, it’s that difficult path to stardom that has today earned her the front page of Daily Graphic, the leading newspaper in the country, even after her demise. That is branding for you. Better ask showbiz players and they will school you that branding an artiste comes in phases.
Ebony’s managers chose, if you like, the filthy and the sensual way for a purpose. As stated earlier, that was deliberately done for effect. And after achieving their target, they then adopted the more relaxed and conservative approach. Did anyone watch the dressing of Ebony, especially in the last quarter of the year on stage? Her dressing completely changed to what was more acceptable to even her critics. Again that is branding for you!
Expectedly, she paid a huge price for her most difficult branding that invariably brought her the recognition that she so much craved for. Perhaps it’s only through the many tributes to her memory that we find the true identity of Ebony: the exotic appealing musician and real Nana HemaaKwarteng.
What many highly judgmental “saintly” Ghanaians failed to distinguish was the stage acting Ebony, who such people harshly thought was a bad influence on her generation and perhaps those to follow; and the real Ebony who by her calm private disposition exuded modesty and respectfulness that people close to her say was the true definition of the content of her true identity.
Others who had met her in private eulogise similar traits of hers, although some jaundiced prophets would attempt substituting her stagecraft to her ideal strength in character just like they did when she was alive.
Such prophets and their ilk cannot decipher between Ebony, the musician who on stage is driven purely by passion, ambition and sheer determination to beat the array of more established names in the industry and the real Ebony who many attest to her well-cultured manners and behaviour. That was the two worlds of the musician that many of her critics either did not know or deliberately refused to find out.
…And what about the lyric of her songs? How profane are they? I don’t quite locate any profanity in her songs like Sponsor, Maame Hwe, Poison, Date your Fada among others. Instead I believe Ghanaians should rather give her credit for the poetic and regular Ghanaian everyday slangs in her lyrics. Indeed that made it possible for patrons of her songs to get along easily.
Should Ebony pay any price for the many profane twists that patrons of her works interpreted some of the lyrics of her songs? Ebony, you don suffer well…well…. But the young musician showed a true character in the face of all such blatant adversity. Her carefree attitude towards the many criticisms about her dressing gave her up as someone who was not bothered much about the Ghanaian societal scorn that is often associated with stage performers.
Indeed she became a symbol of a determined young diva prepared to brave the obvious odd that is often associated with the grotesque misunderstanding of the Ghanaian stage performer. Many budding musicians would have given up that easily. But not Ebony!
She withstood the barrage of unwarranted curses and showed that she was of a rare breed.
The kind of character needed to succeed in an “all-knowing but master of none” hostile Ghanaian environment. I say kudos to Ebony for standing firm to your belief.
For the so-called prophets, who claim they prophesised the short-lived life of Ebony on earth, their prophesies are nothing short of seeking a very cheap avenue to fame and by extension, wooing gullible Ghanaians whose faiths are driven more by mere superstition. Today the churches of such doomsday prophets are instantly beginning to swell in numbers; and why not? Largely the life of some Ghanaians is over reliant on prophecies rather than hard work. Many Ghanaians waste working hours in churches hoping and believing that their lives would be better off by the sheer pronouncements of such innocuous prophets.
Ironically, we find such beliefs in our national discourse where, especially politicians fall prey to such self-seeking prophets. So we find party people claiming a certain oracle is predicting an Akufo-Addo first round win; Nduom about to cause the biggest upset or Mahama retaining his seat, knowing very well that one of these persons will eventually emerge winner in a given election in the country.
Like a gamble, if one of the three presidential aspirants wins, it becomes a national meal for any of such gambling prophets and their tricked congregation to feed on for four years before the next elections. The prophet who predicted the eventual winner, then becomes a Messiah and trust me, his church would burst off the seams with uncontrollable congregation. This is Ghana for you.
Only a few are talking about the bad state of the very road that took away the life of Ebony and the three others. Many accidents have been recorded at that particular portion of the Kumasi-Sunyani highway; including that which occurred moments after the gory accident that took away the life of Ebony and the three others; yet we don’t seem to bother much about that obvious death traps on our roads.
Instead we are interested in what prophet A or B is saying rather than taking a realistic view about how many innocent Ghanaians might have lost their lives through such needless road accidents. These accidents would have easily been averted, if we had improved upon many of our bad roads including the highways.
Poor Ebony has sacrificed her blossoming career under such harrowing road experience and the best we could do to honour her memory is to pay proper attention to many of the country’s bad roads.
Indeed even in death, Ebony Reigns reigns. She has paid a high price; but who takes the blame?
Article: Richmond KEELSON