In Ghana, there’s this widely known phrase, “Ghanaman time” which is used to describe the habit of lateness from invited individuals to events.
The most widely known explanation is “the audience isn’t large enough” — the excuse that artistes would want to perform to the largest and most energetic audience. Hence, the need to come very late when the crowd is at its fullest.
However, one may cast questions about contractual obligations and why this issue still pertains even though the event is well organized.
For example, Tidal Rave 2023 had everything going well for it, except for the fact that almost all artistes booked to perform came on stage after 12 a.m. The time the event itself was supposed to have ended.
Why aren’t organizers strict on time? Why can’t artistes show up on time? Why do they respect timing in other countries but not in Ghana?
To answer these and more, GhanaWeb Entertainment Desk sat down with Martin Kwadwo Asare, an event consultant and a producer/ TV producer at Joy Prime. He gave some insightful reasons why this happens.
- Organisers beg a lot
Rapper Edem, in an interview in October, had made a statement, “the industry moves with favours”
In Ghana’s entertainment industry, many agreements are based on “Do for me, I do for you”, mutual favors rather than formal contracts.
Martin explains, “In Ghana, a lot of begging happens. For example, before an event even goes through, you sign a contract with Shatta Wale to perform for GHC70,000.
Shatta says, “Okay.” Now you tell him, “Shatta, the event is between eight to ten, but you are likely to perform at nine, but I need you to be there at eight.”
He says, “Okay.”
Now, because Shatta told you, “I will charge you 150” and you beg him down to 70, You are being forced to also make room for him. So instead of him being there at eight, he can tell you, “Charlie, you 8:45. I’ll be there. Don’t worry, I’ll be there.” 9 o’clock Shatta is not there, but you paid the money already.”
Most artistes end up doing the event organizers a favour by coming at reduced prices due to budget constraints. This compromises the artist’s commitment to punctuality, as they may arrive late, and organizers can’t sanction them because they aren’t receiving their full payment.
- What about contracts? Why are they not being enforced?
Let’s say a deal has been struck. The contract has been signed and the artiste refuses to show up at the agreed-upon time. Why not sue for “breach of contract?” one may ask.
Martin provides another simple answer: “You can sign a contract, but the first person who goes against the contract is the event organizer.”
Even when contracts are in place, artists may breach them by arriving late. However, event organizers often fail to fulfil their obligations, such as providing changing rooms, preparation rooms, and other facilities for the artists.
“If you decide to take this person to court, trust me, in Ghana here, if you get a good lawyer, you are going to even pay twice his charges to him. Because the things you’re supposed to provide for him to come and perform, you have not done any of them. When you book an event, I mean an artist for an event, you’re supposed to provide a changing room, a resting room, and make sure the person is comfortable.” he explains.
As a result, attempting to take legal action against the artist for contract breach becomes complicated and costly, as the organizer is also at fault for not meeting their end of the agreement.
“So you have to beg, and because we keep on begging. There is no contract that can bind any of them,” Martin says.
- Even the organizers are late
Event organizers themselves contribute to the problem by being late in setting up the event.
“An event is scheduled to start at 6 p.m., and they (the artistes) are supposed to be backstage at 06:00. At 06:00. The artists will get there, and they are still setting drums. They will do a sound check at 9 p.m.
The first artiste will be on stage at eleven. So, imagine you do that to Sarkodie this year. Next year, if he agrees to come, he will get there at 12:00 a.m. And you can’t say anything. So, we don’t respect our contracts,” Martin divulges.
So, to round up
The root of the problem lies in the lack of discipline in how events are organized and the failure to uphold contractual agreements.
Until there is a shift towards respecting contracts and enforcing them, artists will continue to arrive late, and the issue of punctuality in Ghana’s entertainment industry will persist.
As Martin Asare concludes, “We don’t respect our celebrities and artists. And so that is what we’ve gotten into. Till someone says, “My event is this, I’m going this way”, and somebody goes against it and it’s taken to court, nothing is going to happen.”