I was in my first year at Junior Secondary School when my dad called my siblings and I to talk about the deadly disease AIDS. That was around 1996. It was the first time he ever talked to us about sex, its consequences on life and our future-something many parents did. At that time, the statistics was frightening-about 200 people were getting infected every day according to the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation (GSMF); the government supported body spearheading the stop AIDS campaign.
So, when the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation , with sponsorship from the John Hopkins Foundation decided to use the medium of music to educate and sensitize the Ghanaian public about the menace of AIDS, it was deemed an excellent move.
The song has aged to become a classic. A true bop. The caliber of artists featured on the song were the best in the country at that time and spanned every genre of music – rap, reggae/dancehall, gospel and highlife.
The featured artists included Tic Tac, Chicago, Cy Lover, Cecil Pesewa (of NFL), Friction (of VIP), Reggie Rockstone (representing hiplife); Shasha Marley, Black Prophet, Ras Kobby (for Reggae/dancehall). Gyedu Blay Ambolley, Felix Owusu and Dasebre Dwamena doing it for highlife music, and the gospel wing of Ghana music was ably represented by Stella Dugan (Seal), Diana Hopson and The Shepherds. The soulful hook of the song was performed by Eddie Guinan or EQ, a singer/songwriter who was also responsible for the many radio jingles for then Vibe FM.
The theme of the song was to advice for people to use protection (condom) during casual sex. With 200 people being diagnosed with the virus daily (as the information at the end of video indicated) and unprotected sex being a major mode of transmission, seeing celebrities of such caliber – young, old, ‘worldly’ and ‘godly’- joining voices in the advocacy was very impressive.
Listening to the song, one must give props to the producer who pieced it together on the soundscape of the record: how seamless the genres blend into each other. The initial beat was hip hop soul, with those record scratches by DJ Rab (dude in cap who came on after Shasha’s intro), then segued into a reggae/dancehall vibe before veering back to its soulful tone. The beat programming went with the tone of voices on the song as well. The renditions of Stella Seal, Ras Kobby and Felix Owusu are standouts in my estimation. It exuded this calming effect on the listener.
The AIDS pandemic is under control, thanks to advance in medicine resulting in the birth of anti-retroviral drugs. The campaign, however, is still on-going. Considering how menacing AIDS was in around the 90s, this campaign song was timely and very relevant; even today.