On July 24, John Atta Mills passed away. To simply call him the President of Ghana would be an injustice given how much he turned the country around since he came to power in 2009. Following economic troubles in the 1990s, Atta Mills enjoyed rapid growth and praise for his democratic and peaceful ways during his time in office as vice president. In the run up to the election, many worry that his death will disturb the peace that he so long fought to sustain.
The new presidential elections are set to take place on December 7 and the musicians of Ghana are rallying and pushing for a peaceful election period.
The Musicians Union of Ghana (MUSIGA) was founded in 1975 and is now a 5000-member union. Aiming the collect as many peace-themed songs as possible in the run up to the election, they launched the MUSIGA Song Contest. Of these songs 12 are set to be compiled into an album and released during MUSIGA’s November peace campaign week to coincide with the International Day of Tolerance on November 16.
MUSIGA are not the only ones to produce a peace-related album in the bid to prevent violence. In the Volta region of Ghana Stars of Volta Preach Peace, a 14-track album, was launched at a memorial for former President Mills among other major Ghanaian parties. Artists such as Tony D, Israel Maweta and Mama Grace were featured on the album and will also be playing a variety of free, peace-promoting concerts before the elections.
Many musicians have also taken the campaign into their own hands, emphasising the importance of a peaceful election. Be Black, one of Ghana’s biggest hip-hop artists condemned bribary and criticised apathetic voters, urging people to understand the significance of their vote.
The driving force of musicians is sure to influence the mood of the country in the weeks leading up to the election. One can only hope that the legacy John Atta Mills left is not in vain and that people use their vote to keep the country prospering while its surrounding neighbours still struggle.
Words by Rebecca Neofitou