Freddy Meiway & Julius Agwu Sets Ghana Alight

Freddy Meiway, the famous Ivorian musician, whose musical navel is tied to the Ghanaian music industry, will set the stage alight as he performs alongside Julius Agwu, arguably the most popular Nigerian comedian at the 2011 Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum—Africa’s largest leadership gathering. The duo will be staging a performance at a gala night at the Accra International Conference Center to climax the three-day event, which brings together policy-makers, high-powered business people from all over the continent to deliberate on critical issues aimed at enhancing Africa’s business opportunities through effective private-public sector partnerships. The alluring story of Freddy Meiway, the Ivorian song bird, regarded by many as the ruler of dance floors across Africa, and acclaimed the ‘Monsieur of Zoblazo’, or the ‘Genius of Bassam’, born Frederic Desire Ehui in Grand-Bassam, in Abidjan, has really lived up to his middle name by finding his desire in the dance floors of rhythm and creativity, having allowed himself to be schooled in the free- range of his traditionally musical environment, and graduating to do what he loves doing best in the arena of entertainment. To say that Freddy Meiway’s journey to stardom was a rhythm set in motion on the rocky and bumpy path of life in humble beginnings cannot be disputed, as his own testimony as a child born to a family of music-loving parents set the pace for his eventual rise to stardom in the music industry. But Meiway’s exciting beginning as a junior high school boy, hopping after one musical band to another in the bid to consolidate his avowed penchant for music had ingrained in him a “never-say-die” tenacity that emboldened and refined the musical instinct in him. But the life of the Ivorian music ambassador went beyond just toeing a one-way music career. Freddy Meiway’s rise to individual fame never materialised until he went through this necessary rite of passage in the music industry. The inevitable happened, when the growing popularity of the Pace Band which the young Meiway was a member, won them the grand Podium Award in 1978. The eventual break-up of the Pace Band as a result of disagreement on how the prize money should be shared however, was a blessing in disguise for Freddy Meiway, who discovered his musical talent, dived deep into the deep oceans of his individual creativity and emerged with a showbiz brand name that set him apart from many other musicians of his calibre, earning him the ‘Zoblazo’ trademark that catapulted him across the boundaries of Africa. Many other events in the journey of Meiway had deepened his exploits as a seasoned musician with a message carved in lyrics that many listeners are willing to identify with. His journey to France, taking a job at a service station in order to make enough living, and eventually rising to the rank to become manager of the station, set the stage for his financial breakthrough to record his debut album ‘Ayibebou’ in 1989. Meiway’s return from France began the musical revolution that set the pace for his ever- popular Zo Gang Band, whose several collections have broken down the barriers of language, torn down geographical borders, and set a kind of unique dancehall tone that is making waves in many theatres, street corners, ghettos, and dancehalls on the continent of Africa. Freddy Meiway is a household name as a result of his hit albums. But what probably makes him a ‘homeboy’ in the Ghanaian music scene is his series of ‘ Zoblazo’ songs which evoke passion, carry much flair, and set people loose in dance floors. There are, however, many other reasons why Meiway’s Zoblazo records are best loved by Ghanaians and all other Africans—his music forms a mixture of several languages—the local Nzema language straddling parts of Ghana and Ivory Coast; his use of the Twi and Ewe dialects identified with by many Ghanaians; and his frequent use of folk rhythms and dance forms have endeared him to many in Africa. One other thing that sets the singer apart from all other musicians on the continent is the unique manner he names his records. The usual percentage point he attaches to his albums, for instance the ‘100% Zoblazo’ for his debut album, definitely sets your mind to knowing which number of album is ‘900% Zoblazo’. Indeed, as the second most decorated musician in Ivory Coast apart from Alpha Blondy, Meiway’s creativity has found expression in his music being loved by many, to the extent of performing at high-level state functions within and without his home country. Julius Agwu on the other hand, is neither a stranger to the Ghanaian stage comedy as his hilarious jokes send audience to tears in the pool of laughter in a manner that makes him a hottest performer on the comedy stage. Julius, the globe-trotting comedian, equipped with probably the highest sense of humour on the continent, makes a case for himself why he makes a living by cracking the ribs of audiences in theatres in America and Europe. But there are many qualities that make Julius Agwu not only a comedian but a performer, a compeer, actor, and of course a skilled entrepreneur whose humour, wit, and sense of purpose do not only make him a showbiz celebrity but also a role model to youngsters in his home country Nigeria. You cannot laugh your head off by the comedy of the master comedian and not afford to pick nuggets of wisdom from the real life issues, Julius explores in his comedy that bring you closer to the door step of knowledge. Meiway and Agwu are no strangers in Ghana as a result of their impact on the Ghanaian entertainment scene. But one of the greatest opportunities for the duo to sell their personal brands beyond the entertainment scene is their recent engagement to perform at the Vodafone African Business Leaders Forum—Africa’s largest leadership gathering. Indeed, the duo’s job at the upcoming event is to entertain and refresh the minds of participants, many of whom will be worn out by the mind-boggling deliberations required to turn the fortunes of Africa around; but it is also another big stage for them to make a case why they rank very high in their respective vocations.