This is the concluding part of the story told by rapper Akan on his album ‘Onipa Akoma’. We published the Part 1 and 2 of the story last week. You can read here
PART 3: The Clarity
The voice, as haunting and distressed as it sounded on ‘Anadwo Y3 D3’ pricked something in Akan. He found some level of clarity, like a man regaining consciousness from a spell. The voice burst that cocoon of meaningless frivolities that have blinded Akan from realizing that his main purpose in life isn’t to be reckless but achieve something greater. And our first encounter of this new phase is on ‘Helebaba’.
‘Helebaba, Helebaba. The kiddie mess up Holy Father’. This lyric, as confessional as it sounds, unties Akan from all the ‘worldly enchantments’ that blinded him. It’s akin to the confessional ceremonies of the Catholics. ‘Helebaba’ is a slang describing the Charismatic Church practice of exorcism. For Akan, the exorcism process is his first steps toward a new phase. His demons have been cast out. His old skin (life) is being shed. In its place is a new man with renewed purpose and energy to achieve his goals in life. That clarity leads him to the realization of his own intelligence and wisdom; something he believes those who performed the exorcism don’t have. Akan sees his greatness right in front of him and as he says on the interlude: ‘you’ve not seen what we are about to do/ y’all will follow our lead/ A young king is about to rule’. It’s interesting to hear him describe himself as ‘a young king’ since that has been his intention from the onset, especially on the first song of the album.
They say I mess up, Holy Father/ Helebaba/Helebaba/Helebaba
With his new found clarity and renewed purpose, Akan begins to think about how to live a better life. This time, he allows his mind and heart to dictate what should be central to him. ‘Akoma Ne Adwen’, (The Heart and Mind) is a pitching contest, with each making a strong case on why it should be chosen. Its human nature for us to let our thoughts and heart wander when in a state of dilemma. The ‘battle’ of the two usually provoke a synthesized idea(s) or solutions to helping solve the challenge. Going by the same approach, Akan weighs the unique attributes of these two elements- ‘the heart tells him what’s beautiful’. His heart tells him ‘what’s best or important’. ‘The heart tells him to fall in love’; his mind ‘advices him to stand in love’. In the end, Akan listens to his heart because ‘you can’t have life without a heart’.
Love is the subject treated next on ‘Daben’ (When?) Akan wonders when his lover would come and join him where he is. Remember, he lost his lover once he lost all his riches. On this track he makes it clear that, critics won’t dissuade him from going after the one he still loves. He also points to how matured he is now, how he has worked on his own flaws and how he is prepared to be the best lover for her. He wouldn’t mind doing menial jobs to cater for her.
Akan knows that life isn’t a race. That, patience is the vehicle needed to navigate this turbulent thing called life. Of course, there would be bumps on the way but, one shouldn’t be hurried to make decisions with the potential of ruining one’s future. That’s the theme of ‘Ehuru A 3bedwo’ (literally means there’s calmness after the storm). If you remember, his mom stressed on the need to be patient in life. The story woven on this track- about a farmer who lost the treasures (gold) on his farmland when the drought season went beyond expectation affirms his mother’s advice. The farmer’s impatience, in my estimation, is Akan’s own voice of conscience reminding him to take things easy and live one day at a time. Chasing wealth is good, but what is great is being content with what you have in hand. The pitfalls in the life of Yaw Atakora (the protagonist in the story) are the holy keys guiding Akan’s steps in his journey towards success.
My foolishness is my security for longer life
There’s a saying that, we live for death. That’s, our existence and struggles for a better life shall come to an end one day when we meet the cold blooded angel of death. No man is immortal. Like the living beings that we are, we need to think about our mortality. Having found a new purpose, fixing his flaws and realizing how important patience is in life, Akan mulls over his own mortality on ‘Awufo Som’ (Requiem Mass). This, he does by considering the various stages of the funeral ceremony- birth, work, success and finally death. Death has its own peculiar rites that need to be observed by the family of the deceased before the final interment. These are the themes Akan explores on the track.
He expands on the theme on the next track, ‘Asem No’ (The Matter/Truth), where he takes a leaf from the saying that, knowledge acquired overtime must be shared with all. Akan talks about life, death, good deeds, bad decisions, legacy, wisdom and the end of humanity. Clearly, he knows there’s a journey to be taken after this one on earth. It is therefore, up to us all to make up their minds, straighten up our lives and be thoughtful of each action they take. Life may be uncertain in many ways. However, death is certain.
The clarity phase ends with ‘Kae Kwabena’ (Remember/Pray for Kwabena), where Akan admits his own human frailties. ‘I’m not righteous. I’m not an angel. I’ve never seen heaven; and never seen what’s beyond our world’, he raps. ‘Kae Kwabena’ is a plea to God to afford him the strength to ignore the desires of the flesh and of the earth since they amount to nothing in the end. A contrasting picture is seen between this track and the opener, ‘Odaamanii Abissadee’. Whereas ‘Odaamani Abisadee’ had Akan outlining his dreams and hopes in material terms, ‘Kae Kwabena’ is more introspective; where a wise Akan sees living a meaningful life and impacting his clan and humanity as paramount in life. Leaving a legacy through his good deed outlive banal acts.
Doing good doesn’t immune you from being evil. Likewise, being evil doesn’t mean you can’t be good
Akan, on ‘Onipa Akoma’ delivers a compelling story through 15 tracks. And as you’d realize, the album is laden with much depth and knowledge. He traces the dreams and aspirations of a young man who’s desires success. But, in chasing this success, there’s the temptation to lose your focus. It is often the case to find people who had notable intentions derail from what used to matter to them. As you chase the dream, be mindful of the fact that, you need full doses of patience. One needs to run this race of life at their own pace and time and with an open mind. Those who tend to not follow these simple life instructions tend to miss their goals eventually.
These are the nuggets on ‘Onipa Akoma’. How much of the story is based on personal life experiences and how much is fiction? Only Akan could tell.