On ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst’, Kendrick Lamar sang ‘When the lights shut off/ and it’s my time to settle down/my main concern/Promise that you’ll sing about me’
The chorus touches on a life coming to an end: Death. The lyric can have another interpretation: when the bright lights that once adorned the career path of a famous person finally dims, s/he gradually becomes a fading memory, spending the rest of his/her life virtually alone. Whatever befalls you, be it good or worse, does not receive the attention it once generated.
At that point, you come to the inevitable realization that you are alone in this world. It is even worse when you are financially unstable (broke as hell). The lights shut; darkness falls over you with just a little crack permitting a ray of light.
These past weeks, the truthfulness in Kendrick Lamar lyrics has resonated with some happenings within the Ghanaian showbiz front, on the back of reported incidents that had befallen two veteran showbiz personalities. The two are veteran actor William Addo and rapper Omahene Pozo.
William Addo was reported to be in need of GHc 5,000 to enable him undergo an eye surgery. The veteran actor has been diagnosed with glaucoma and an immediate surgical operation was being recommended lest he loses his vision. Those old enough will remember William Addo, also known as Akpatse, for featuring in the popular National Lottery commercial in the 90s. Following a public appeal for help, William Addo underwent a successful surgery.
Another story that hit the media pages was the plight of another veteran, currently in need of financial assistance. Omahene Pozo, a former member of the rap group Nananom, is now bound to a wheelchair, unable to move or speak with his family struggling to 5,000 Pounds to enable him undergo a brain surgery at the 37 Military Hospital.
The painful to read report carried by myjoyonline.com stated, in part, that Omahene Pozo looked ‘frail and can barely speak…uttering a few words is a luxury’. The report further said the ‘Kyenkyenbi Edi M’ewu’ hitmaker has ‘lost his ability to move on his own’. The dire financial straits has forced his family to sell his car and some clothes to help pay off his medical bills.
Whiles the comments section of some of the news portals that carried the story were sympathetic towards his plight, others were almost scathing in their comments, asking what these people did with their ‘riches’ when they were active? In short, what plans did they make for their future?
These questions and criticisms are legitimate. But, then again, the whole showbiz industry can be described as a ‘devils pit hole’. It is exciting, fun and beautiful yet short, rough and dizzying. To successfully navigate this rough and maze-like world of showbiz, one must have a very good chaperone; someone who has the genuine interest of the actor or musician at heart, one who would serve as a shield against influences or attitudes detrimental to the future of the artiste or actor, someone ready to safeguard the future of the artiste/actor by managing his/her finances right.
Perhaps, the two men being discussed and many other veterans having a hard time financially did not have a manager or a close friend(s) to handle properly this part of their lives. Perhaps, they had a manager who did not do what a good manager must do for them. Or, they did invest but the investments went burst. (Note, these scenarios are just conjectures).
It must be said also that, the concept of hiring very professional managers or getting proper financial advice on how to safeguard ones future through sound investments was not as popular a thing in the 80s through the 90s. Today, such services abound and entertainers concerned about a better future are seeking the services of these professionals.
Another issue worth pointing out is that, most of these entertainers performed-either as actors or musicians for the love of the art and not necessary financial rewards in the past years. The opportunity to act or sing and the praise they received from the public was more important to them than the money to be made. That is, the definition of ‘business’ in Showbiz was lost on them. They chose and cared more about the ‘show’ and less about the ‘business’ side of it.
Unlike their counterparts today, who are increasingly leveraging on their fame and image by securing six figure sponsorship deals as product ambassadors, TV ads and huge performance fees, most of these veteran entertainers did not enjoy such fortunes during their time. Today’s crop of entertainers are better placed to make better future plans for themselves than their predecessors largely because of the knowledge at hand.
The sad stories of Omahene Pozo and William Addo and many other veterans who once put smiles on our faces and got us dancing and singing their songs can befall anybody. And as is the case with life especially the slippery world of entertainment, securing your future is as important as the air you breathe. Once the light shuts on their illustrious careers and fade into darkness, people forget about you. The cheques from shows and royalties stop coming. You are left on your own. Remember, many won’t sing about you anymore.
Nothing captures the ups and down of Showbiz than this English saying: ‘One day you’re the cock of the walk, the next a feather duster’