Ghana since time immemorial has always been blessed with some wonderful talents who have over the cause of the decades made the nation proud in the world of Arts industry. Names like Osibisa, Rocky Dawuni and Sarkodie in recent times resonate through the world and bring pride to the Ghanaian.
While some stayed behind to nurture their talents and leave an everlasting legacy that would be foretold for decades to come, some simply sold their talent for traveling visas, vanished into the diaspora and were never to be heard again, whiles the few who later returned to the country and made an attempt to revive their career failed spectacularly.
We take a look at some wonderfully talented Ghanaians who in spite of all the fame and glory they enjoyed, decided to live as illegal immigrants in search of residency in other countries and are now out of sight or struggling to resurrect their careers.
Once upon a time in the late 80s, through the 90s to early 2000s, Samuel Kwadwo Buabeng, popularly known as Bishop Bob Okala, was by a mile the finest and most popular comedian in Ghana. There was hardly any comedy and concert that did not have him on bill. He dominated the screens for years and made people fall on the ground with laughter. He was the star of the once famous Key Soap Concert party which aired on GTV till the early 2000s. Bishop Okala to the surprise of many, left the shores of Ghana to live in Europe in the late 90s living behind all the fame and stardom he enjoyed. His departure according to many was as a result of some rape allegations leveled against him. He later returned in the early 2000s after almost a decade of absence in a bid to revive his career. He got a few gigs and stared in a few series, most notably Barber and Shoe Shine Boys. However he found it hard to hit the stardom and limelight he had once enjoyed prior to his departure from the country. He passed on to eternity on 13th March 2016 after collapsing on stage during a Joy Daddy concert in the eastern regional capital, Koforidua.
Yaw Donkor, known in showbiz as Nkomode, Just like his compatriot and fellow comedian, Bob Okala, enjoyed a lot of national fame and media spotlight as a comedian in the 90s, becoming a key member of the famous Key Soap Concert party. Out of the blues, Nkomode left the shores of Ghana and relocated to the United Kingdom in 2002 when he was at the peak of his career for reasons best known to himself. His return to the country a decade later did not yield much result in terms of screen success. He managed to get some minor roles in ‘Kumawood’ movies mostly as a gateman, a role which was unfit for someone who had once been touted as possibly the best comedian actor in the country. After battling illness for a while the once famous comedian passed away on 5th February 2016.
One big question that people still ask today is ‘why did FBS ever leave Ghana to go live in the United Kingdom? In 2005, the hiplife group basically had the world under their feet, enjoying all the stardom that any celebrity would hope for. Their music was doing well. And their hit single, ‘Oluman Boogie’ was topping charts everywhere in the country. However it seemed the lure of a good and beautiful life abroad was a temptation too strong for the trio to resist. They left Ghana and were never to be heard of again until 2012 when they decided to return and revive their ailing career. Even with that, only two of the members returned as the two later revealed in an interview that their third member had decided to stay over in the U.K because he thinks they could never have a successful comeback. The returning duo released a single titled Pay As You Go which enjoyed a good amount of airplay but it was quite clear by then that Ghanaians had moved on and the name FBS was a long distance memory to them. After that single, the public never heard of FBS again and up till today the group has gone missing in action.
Another musician who for unknown reasons sold his talent for a visa to stay abroad and faded into the wilderness, returned almost a decade later but failed to live up to expectations. In the late 90s, T-Blaze was held in such high esteem that people referred to him as the next big thing for the young hiplife genre. His first album came out in 1999 titled Life Line. It enjoyed a good amount of success and he followed it up with another album three years later. By 2001, T-Blaze was having a good career and had hit singles such as Secretary and Wosisi Ye Wo Ya, which became street anthems. T-Blaze did not stay behind to enjoy his success and build on his craft. He departed from the country and stayed in Europe for a number of years only to return in 2007 in a bid to re-launch his career. The move failed spectacularly after all his released singles failed to make any impact on the music scene. He has since vanished into oblivion.
Cynthia Appiah Kubi, known in showbiz as Cee became a national gospel icon after she participated in TV3’s Mentor in 2006. After the competition, Cee, together with Isaac Showboy and Great Ampong formed a great trio and released hits after hits from 2007 onward. The trio even managed to release an album together titled Osabarima. Their individual careers were also blossoming and Ghanaians were loving every bit of their songs. Cee however left Ghana to live abroad just when she was in the prime of her young and promising career. In 2017, she returned to Ghana and promised to release a couple of singles as part of her comeback. In a bid to relaunch her career, she changed her name from Cee to Adepa Cee. The nation is however yet to see her make any meaningful impact on her return.
What motivates these talented Ghanaians to throw away their talent and move to Europe or America is still a wonder. Rose Mensah known in the movie industry as Kyeiwaa symbolizes this very question. There was a time you will hardly see any Kumawood movie that did not feature Kyeiwaa. She was the viewers’ toast and they loved every bit of her acting but just like others before her, she sold her talent and career for a visa and now lives in the U.S.A. Gradually her name is fading out from the industry and the movie lovers are beginning to forget her. Whether she will return to the country to take off from where she left is unknown but like her predecessors, she faces a mountain task if she ever decides to return to the screens.
Another Ghanaian who sacrificed his talent to stay abroad is Akyampong Deeba, known simply as Deeba in the music fraternity. Deeba rose to fame in the late 90s and early 2000s. His most notable hit was a track self- titled ‘Deeba’. He became a national favourite for the hiplife and rap lovers. However it didn’t take long before he begun to struggle for hits as new faces such as Tinny emerged onto the scene. Instead of staying behind to nurture his craft, the young hiplife artiste took the all-too-familiar path of resettling abroad. He left Ghana for the United Kingdom around 2005 and was never heard of again. He later returned to Ghana in 2008 after being wanted in the UK for allegedly defiling his step-daughter. He made some moves to resurrect his career upon returning to Ghana. He was apprehended in 2013, after investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in collaboration with Interpol organized a music audition to swoop him out of hiding. He was sent back to the UK to face justice.
Nkasei became a household name in 2000 and by 2006, they were the kings of Ghana Music. The group which comprised of Isaac Mensah and Godlove Yeboah gave Ghanaians some of the most controversial songs in Ghana music history, chief among which was the ever controversial hit Tuobodom, released in 2005. In 2006, their album which contained the track Tuobodom won the Hiplife album of the year. From that point, their music career took a nosedive as they surprisingly vanished from the system, with no one hearing of them again. And again just like the others, they found themselves living abroad. One half of the group, Naa K later returned to Ghana in 2017 and said he had been living in the United Kingdom ever since. Naa K’s returned as a gospel artist. He released a couple of gospel songs in 2017 but all failed to make any impact. His other group member is rumoured to be a Soldier in the U.S army.
Reggie And Bolie
Some may argue that this two do not exactly fit the criteria to make the list but it is a well known fact that these two artistes who now make up a music duo were once national celebrities who plied their trade in the country before moving to the UK to form what is now known as Reggie n Bolie. Reggie was formally known as Reggie Zippy. He managed to get a couple of hits in the early 2000s as a dancehall artiste. Famous among his hits were ‘For Sale’ and ‘Virgin’, but after a couple of years in the limelight he was not heard of again until he popped up alongside another ‘stowaway’ Ghanaian artist known as Bolie at the X Factor audition in UK. Bolie just like Reggie made a couple of hits including the ever famous ‘You May Kiss Your Bride’ track before leaving to settle in the UK. The two artistes met in UK, teamed up and auditioned for the 2015 X-Factor coming in second at the end of the competition. They have since enjoyed some level of success as mainstream artistes in the UK under the name Reggie n Bolie. But the question remains: Have they been accepted back?
Kontehene was undoubtedly one of, if not the biggest artiste in Ghana. He released hits after hits and became a national music icon. In 2001 alone, he managed to release hits like Aketesia, Madamfo Pa Beko, Asesa and countless others. Such was his influence on the music scene that he was the man behind Kwabena Kwabena’s breakthrough into the industry, producing his hit single Aso in 2006. Unfortunately, Kontihene joined the Bandwagon of talented Ghanaians who preferred to sacrificed their career for a life abroad. Around 2008, he left Ghana to settle in Maryland in the U.S. bringing an end to what promised to be a sensational career and game changer. After years of self-exile, he returned and released a single, Dedeede in 2015, featuring Pappy Kojo and Yaa Pono. The song was successful but unfortunately that was all he had left. He was no longer the people’s choice and he no longer carried the same aura he used to possess.
The list goes on and on and is never ending. Promising talents have over the decades let themselves down by sacrificing their talent to stay abroad. Ama Boahemaa, Asem, Buk Bak, Akatakyie, OD4, Yogi Dogi, Stella Dugan, Mikki Osei Berko, Papa Sheee, Exdoe, Madfish and many more talented Ghanaians have made this mistake by choosing to stay abroad over a career in their craft. Today they are forgotten heroes who could have become celebrated legends like Obrafour, Daughters of Glorious Jesus and Grace Omaboe.