‘Let me remind you again, (that) money is not a beast as they proclaim, money makes a man, money is blood (life)’.
The opening words on one of the most beautiful composed, well known highlife song of all time. ‘Sika Y3 Mogya” (which translate as money is blood) happens to be, arguably the biggest song by legendary highlife crooner Pat Thomas. For those born in the 80s and early 90s, the song was a soundtrack to their lives by virtue of it being the theme song of the then popular National Lotteries sponsored TV show. An apt song choice if you ask me.
“Sika Y3 Mogya” sounds like a response to the well-known mantra of ‘money being the root of all evil’. Pat Thomas challenges this notion by underscoring the point that, money isn’t evil. Rather, it is blood; it’s a livewire to man’s existence and sustenance. And that, all must strive to be financially comfortable.
He makes this very clear by highlighting the ‘magic’ that (a) bag of money conjures: good health, good relationship, respect, and finest things in life. He further points out a very interesting fact: when misfortune strikes in a family, all decisions and suggestions are put on hold till the opinion of the wealthiest family member is heard. This sad truth holds since as the Akan saying goes ‘for all that would be said, it takes money to do it all’.
The song’s title doubles as the album title of his six track LP. Recorded in 1991 at the Oketeke Studios, the qualities of the song rise beyond the central theme of being rich as expressed by the ‘Golden Voice of Africa’, Pat Thomas. It’s your quintessential highlife sound: the unmistakable warmth of the Yaa Amponsah guitar rhythms (defining instrument in highlife), the seductive mellowness, the sparsely arranged instruments and the generous ‘dance time’ on the song.
Even though Pat Thomas used ‘blood’ as a metaphor in his song, the significance of blood in Akan culture can’t be overlooked. In the Akan concept of ‘Man’, three elements constitute the make of human beings (Nipa): the Spirit (sunsum), the Okra (soul) and mogya (blood). According to the Ghanaian philosopher Kwesi Wiredu, the blood, despite science pointing to it as essential in man’s survival (through the supply of oxygen and other essential nutrients to vital organs), is nothing but a family lineage determinant. In the Akan cultural system, kids inherit maternally and by custom belong to the woman’s family since the child inherits the mother’s blood. But, Pat Thomas, a Fante (an Akan) wasn’t referring to the significance of blood in the Akan composition of humans as stated earlier. Rather, his reference seems to draw from the scientific perspective where blood matters very much if you are to scrap it off any metaphorical reference.
“Sika y3 mogya/)nsh3 wo ho a na 3yare” (money is blood/ you feel sick when you don’t have it), he expresses his observations with such open candidness. Indeed money is life. Money is important. Money is essentially why we work hard. Money guarantees comfort. In short, money matters.
This Pat Thomas release is and shall remain such a classic song not only because it’s based a poignant statement of fact and exquisite production works. “Sika Y3 Mogya” is a sampler’s four course meal.