The Locals Acquired A Foreign Accent

I am back again with all the vim I have. All those who don’t understand vim should make me aware and I will explain it. Maybe you can ask in the comment section below this post. I know I have readers from all over, United States, Iceland, England, Japan, Kenya and the rest so you won’t understand some of the slangs I use in my post. I am ready to help.

I didn’t know what to post today even though I have loads of things to talk about, well I went through the subjects in my thoughts and selected a perfect one. If you follow me on twitter (@mutombodapoet), you know that I have talked about this several times and I do so because it bothers me whole lot. It’s also sad to see ‘brainy’ people do this, denying their own.

Why do people who have lived nowhere apart from Ghana try to sound American? This is something I want to understand and I pray that one day, it will all make sense to me. We call such practice in Ghana, ‘Locally Acquired Foreign Accent’ (LAFA) and it is very common among the youth in this country and funny enough most of them have never been to America before. We need to remember that there is a difference between ‘lived in America’ and ‘been to America’ and to ME you have to live in America for more than 5 years straight before you can say, ‘I have lived in America.’ I know some people who have visited America for some few weeks and came back with an ‘American accent’, with those people when they speak, you can find ‘potholes’ in them. I wonder why people do this, do we really hate how we sound? Is it really that bad for you to switch your accent just like that?

I will focus my attention on a new genre of music that recently arrived in the country called ‘GhRap’, and I wish I had the courage to show you some videos from youtube but I know I will be attacked since most of these peeps know where they can find me. It is a beautiful genre and I personally have some friends who are trying hard to put this genre on the map, they want it to be on the same level with highlife and hiplife which are also other genres in Ghana. Hmm…they have a long way to go! This genre is just like rap/hiphop but by local artistes and I am not happy to say that most of these local rappers are sad, very sad indeed. I love hiphop/rap and have been following a couple of foreign rappers for a very long time, I am into the conscious kind of rap, I mess with Talib Kweli, Common, Nas, Typical Cats, formally known as Mos Def and I can go on and on. I get amazed with the way all of these rappers market the country that they hail from. If it wasn’t for rap, I wouldn’t have known so much about things going on in America especially their lifestyle because I have never been there.

Now, back to these GhRap guys, what are they doing with their music? Highlife has made Ghana travel worldwide and I know with time hiplife will do same, but is ghrap going to sell Ghana at all? No, I don’t think so because these rappers are already faking their identity. They don’t sound Ghanaian to me even though they are from here. I can say for a fact that about 98% fake their accent. Is this right?  Let me give you an example of how a Ghanaian sounds like, just listen to how Kofi Annan talks (look for his videos on youtube), now that is how the Ghanaian accent sounds like. He has worked abroad for over 30 years but still echoes the Ghanaian sound where ever he goes.

These rappers don’t portray their identity at all and my heart weeps when I hear some of the things they say. I am sure all of them want an international appeal and a simple way of doing that is by ‘repping’ where you are from. What I mean by this is, talking about how you live, what goes on in your country or community and things like that. Why do you think we all know the alcoholic beverage Alize and even make ‘noise’ about it? It is because the Jay Zs and Kanyes used them in their rap songs. I have heard some of these ghrap songs, I have listened carefully and I know some of the things they say in their lines. It’s sad to say that they are copying blindly. These rappers are good, no doubt about that, I can name a few of them but I really don’t want to include any names in this post. I have heard rappers in Ghana say things like, ‘…I’m cold as snow….’ I live in Ghana, and I have never seen snow before, cant they use lines/metaphors that I can easily relate to? Can’t they replace ‘snow’ with, let’s say ‘ice water’ since more people here in Ghana can relate to that than snow? We have drinks like asana, pito and palmwine here in Ghana, cant they replace the Jack Daniels, Alizes etc with these. And in doing so, they are promoting what you have here in Ghana like what all those other rappers do for their countries. I hope I am making some sense here. I might be wrong though and pardon me if I am.

All I am saying is we should use our art form to promote our land, this is a responsibility of every artist in a country.  With such an accent, where would you belong? Let’s say a kid in China hears their song, he will say the rapper he is hearing is from the States and this is false. He will say so because of your accent which has done well to confuse him. Let’s say another kid in America hears their song, he will know that the artiste behind the song he is hearing is definitely not from America because he knows how a true American sounds like. Where is the identity here? You are lost, you have nowhere to belong. Am I lying?

I have lots of things to say but I hear you people don’t read a post when it’s very long, is that true? Ok, before I sign off, have you asked yourself why Reggie Rockstone introduced hiplife? He lived out of Ghana for a very long time but yet, came back and introduced this genre. We should stop faking and be true to ourselves.



27 thoughts on “The Locals Acquired A Foreign Accent

  1. It’s true we don’t like to read posts when they’re too long. But it’s because we’re ghanaians and ghanaians don’t like to read. But i do so i’m proud to say i read the whole thing. And it’s all true.

  2. I agree with you to some extent,but i disagree with your notion of what the ghanaian accent is.i’ve never been abroad and yet when i speak,people claim i sound foreign.Thanks to that,i’m stuck with pidgin as I wanna avoid being branded as speaking ‘lafa’

  3. heck sometimes i just shut up neighbors for example have never been to school nor been outside the country and yet they all sound british

  4. HA.. hilarious and completely apropos. Id like to bring up another pet peeve of mine. Call it a sub-genre of LAFA, which is the LAJA.. or Locally Acquired Jamaican Accent. I NEVER hear anyone talk about this one; how does someone born and raised in Ghana, grow out their locks and suddenly acquire a Jamaican accent to go with it. Like any other language, jamaican patois isn’t acquire by diffusion (listening to hours and hours of bob marley, or smoking copious amounts of the high grade). I dont want to do a name and shame here, but i personally know quite a few of our local reggae/ragga artists whose accents make me cringe. What is that about?

  5. it’s not only the language that is funny, i once saw a musician perform wearing a winter coat and holding a baseball club.

  6. ppl say we speaking Japlish! but I found am chameleon! ei! cuz i spoke spanish in mexico, spoke twi in sunyani, now following pidgin…..ewurade onyankopon…K. wil speak out of my yellowness cuz ppl always talkin abt black/white! like photography! (K, wil do more sepia!)

  7. Originality takes you places. a foreign accent makes u lost. Thank you Mutombo for addressing this.

  8. Mutombo u nailed it…hehe hope am not been Americana cos most carpenters happenx to come from Africa..or e nor be so..?…..Sup ma guy Tikal this 1luv

  9. hmmmmm everyone wants to be recognized…….when u watch tv or listen to the radio most of the presenters have accents. a typical Ghanaian who knows and remembers where he is coming from would keep his local accent to go places.unfortunately for these people when u listen to their songs it doesnt make sense as compared to the foreign songs, rap music, gospel,country all make sense.Gh rap its another topic to be discussed for another day. I get so irritated when they diss themselves in music.and to those who acquire the accents and come to gh……..ur destiny would never change u are still a black man and would forever be. instead of isnt it…they say aint it.hmmmm its a shame everyone wants to be Kwasi Broni when Kwasi Broni himself is struggling to survive.

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