Review: The Ashawos – “Gbeke Gbonyo”
First, their name is intriguing and would have you raise a brow in surprise. The word ‘Ashawo’ carries with it a negative connotation. It is a local term used to describe a prostitute. So, for a trio to change their name from “The Others Band” to “The Ashawos” is quite interesting.
The reaction their name evokes reflect in their art. ”The Ashawos” is a three-man rock band from Ghana. (The trio has two guitarists- with one as the lead vocalist- and a drummer). They hail from La, one of the most known Ga towns and a cultural hub of Ga traditions. It is therefore not surprising to see “The Ashawos” reflecting these cultural traits in their art; first through the language used on ‘’Gbeke Gbonyo, their Wulomei costume and the choice of location for the song’s video.
‘’Gbeke Gbonyo’’, the song’s title translates from Ga to English as a ‘bad child’. The song is a social criticism of how society, especially the Ghanaian environment is intolerant of young people challenging the actions of grown folks. Any young person who calls out an elderly person for an omission(s) is labelled a ‘bad child’.
The crux of the song, is illustrated in the Wanlov and King Luu directed video for the song, where the retorts of the ‘’bad kid reveal uncomfortable truths about the older folks who question aspects of his behaviour or actions.
In the various scenes, this sharp-tongued kid would respond to an older woman’s criticism of his perambulations with ‘’why have you littered’, a comment that caused her shame. When the kid is confronted by a police officer on why he is without a face mask, he’d quickly remind the police officer, who is to enforce the rule on compliance with COVID-19 protocols was wearing none. When a pastor tried to mediate a fight between the kid and a group of boys, he would tell the world about the pastor’s pilfering ways. The Dada Ewu pallbearers who have become a viral sensation made a cameo in ‘’Gbeke Gbonyo’’.
The visual translation of the video aside, the exhibition of raw adrenalin by ‘’The Ashawos’ made ‘Gbeke Gbonyo’’ a compelling tune. Clearly, the element of traditional music fused with western rock elements –the guitar riffs elevate you to another plane- leaves you imagining how electrifying the atmosphere would be watching them play a live session. On the good side of music, we have another band that is extending the appeal of rock music charted by bands like ‘’Dark Suburb’’.