|Cover of Rocky Dawuni’s international hit album|
The first time I heard of Rocky Dawuni was on Ghana Television in the year 2000. I had graduated from high school about a year ago and was grappling with job hunting and still finding my feet on the playing field of the game of life. I already knew I wanted to become a journalist during my elementary school days and I followed up on this dream by majoring in History, English Literature and Governance in high school to prepare myself.
One day I returned home from one of my numerous job hunts in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, without making any positive leads towards likely jobs. When I got home, I was tired and a little disappointed at how the day had gone and did not bother to eat lunch immediately, I rather turned on the TV and after watching for a while decided to head out to the kitchen to prepare myself a sandwich when a voice on the TV drew my attention. It was Rocky Dawuni’s voice. By now my loyal readers will be aware of the fact that this is not my first piece on Rocky.
Anyway, when I heard the voice on TV, I first said to myself, ‘how come I never heard this one, I mean am a big time Bob Marley fan? Then in a split second am like wait a minute, this is not Bob Marley, it sounds like him and looks a little like him but it’s definitely not him. So I get back to my living room and stand in front of the TV to discover this new voice some more. Then about 4 minutes later a presenter appeared on the TV screen and said ‘that was Rocky Dawuni singing ‘In Ghana‘. That started the madness for me.
You see I was so impressed by what I saw on TV that day that I knew from then on that I was going to be a hard core fan of Rocky Dawuni. About half a decade later down the line after I had completed my studies with the London School of Journalism and practiced for about a year with the New Times Corporation in Accra Ghana, I told myself I was going to interview Rocky sometime in my career, so in 2007 when I earned a spot to intern with the English to Africa division of the Voice Of America radio (VOA) in Washington DC in the USA, I felt I was inching closer and closer to making this dream a reality.
However, in life sometimes, all that glisters is not gold. I realized only too soon that being in America doesn’t open doors of opportunity instantaneously. For a young ambitious journalist like myself, even an internship with the VOA doesn’t guarantee a job immediately or for that matter the possibility of interviewing one of my biggest idols –Rocky Dawuni. Yet despite being through hell and back, I have lived to tell Rocky’s story after bagging a couple of opportunities to interview him. So yes, I had my interview after waiting almost a decade for it.
It all started in March of 2010 when I received an email from Rocky’s Manager; Cary Sullivan, which was in response to my request to interview Rocky. In that email, Cary disclosed that they were in promoting ‘Hyms for the rebel soul‘, Rocky’s latest release at the time. She promised to get in touch as soon as they flew back into Los Angeles USA from Ghana and that is exactly how it happened. I was preparing to leave home for work on that day when my cellphone rang. I was expecting that call and so when I received it, I was like oh my gosh, am I talking to the man himself—Rocky Dawuni?
Yes I was and we had an insightful conversation over the phone. It was a real humbling experience for me. We talked about everything from the singer’s life and background in Ghana, how he became a musician, the number of albums he has released so far, his family life and ideologies, and what he has been doing to impact positively on lives around the world.
Of the many questions that I asked Rocky, there was one that I thought was going to be a little thorny, yet I went ahead and asked whether it was possible for (some) Reggae artistes to separate themselves from (smoking) the herb, or whether the herb was a requirement of Rastafarianism? So there you have it, I finally managed to pop the words out of my mouth and Rocky’s response was really interesting I thought. I wasn’t totally surprised by it since we had been talking on the phone for over half an hour and I had come to realize that almost every response I got from the musician was like a gem.
Here is Rocky Dawuni’s verbatim response to that question: ‘music is music and genres are just a means to categorize music but when an artiste comes to a place of non-categorization, it is when he begins to adopt to whatever he chooses his genre to be. I think Reggae music should be separated from the issues of herbs and Rastafarianism because those are three separate perspectives (he refers to Reggae, Rasta and herbs). It just happens that the light of Rastafarianism came through Reggae artistes as they were the main people propagating it.’
He continued: ‘Herbs too is really a very important part of Rasta beliefs mainly for the purposes of medication. Yet, for me, those are all separate things since not all Reggae artiste are necessarily Rastafarians because they come from all sorts of religious and spiritual persuasion. Irrespective of a people’s background, their sentiments must be expressed within that background without regards to whatever their religious persuasion is.’ On hearing this response, I laughingly jumped in to say: you don’t have to be dreads to be Rasta!
His response was handled in a somewhat ingenious way and at another point in time in the course of the interview, Rocky Dawuni almost sounded like a consummate politician when his response to my question about whether the Barrack Obama presidency was going to place Africa on the path of rising above the odds and making a positive impact on the global stage as dreamed of by the great Robert Nesta Marley. For Rocky, Africa had no other alternative besides doing just that—rising above the odds and making a positive image for itself on the world stage!
The believe is that Africa’s full potential as envisioned by Ghana’s first president; Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, can only be realized by a complete unification of the continent. This unification was to among other things help unravel and resolve the issue of slavery which is something that has really haunted this generation for a relatively long time. Slavery remains a core issue for Africans who also live in the diaspora. The election of Barrack Obama for Rocky provides a great window of opportunity for this generation to immediately run away with the chance to put Africa out there in a positive way on the world stage. This could be done by achieving the continent’s ultimate vision–a united Africa!
Rocky believes ‘if we loose track of the spirit of time as Africans and miss this opportunity through apathy or bickering amongst ourselves, then the world political environment is not going to be as favorable as we have it today and beyond Obama’s time.’
Words are cheap, so Rocky backs his with actions shown through his work with UNICEF and his charity organization called Africa Live. Mr. Dawuni sounds like a revolutionist to me who has the greatest weapon to enforce his revolutionary ideologies—MUSIC! I’m in love with this current album Hyms for the rebel soul and crazy about the track ‘Download the revolution‘ which is also obtainable on iTunes and happens to be a soundtrack on the FIFA 2010 video game.
According to Rocky, the opportunity and time is right now as it is vital to the survival of Africa as a continent known as the cradle of mankind. Europe has had its time to take on the world stage and so has America, and Asia. Very soon it must be the time of Africa to once again redeem Her past glories. It is up to the political leadership and mindset of the people to make this happen within the next decade or sooner!
One of my ultimate dreams is to meet Rocky Dawuni in the flesh very soon, by the way I also look forward to waking up to an Africa which doesn’t require me to obtain a visa to move from one part of the continent to another so long as I am traveling as an African within the boarders of the continent—Africa unite!
Written by Oral Ofori