IT'S A FEW MINUTES PAST 7AM ON THURSDAY IN THE Ghanaian Capital, Accra. The arrival walkway of the Kotoka International Airport is somewhat busy, hosting the morning's batch of passengers coming in from different destinations. Majestically walking through the main exit point is D'banj, one of Africa's most revered music stars, with an incredible following that is almost turning cult. Signed to Kanye West's GOOD Music label, with international hit songs such as Oliver Twist and several multi-million naira endorsement deals under his belt, D'banj is arguably Africa's hottest music property.
Flanked by his manager, Tony Nwakalor, and three others, he is met by officials of the campaign and advocacy organisation, ONE, who are hosting him for the next two days.
The purpose of D'banj's visit to Ghana is to shoot a movie-style trailer for ONE'S 2014 Year of Agriculture campaign. The campaign will seek to push the African Union to commit to greater action and forward-looking strategic investments in smallholder farming. A formal case will be made during the upcoming AU Summit, in July 2014.
ONE'S activism is based on facts. If D'hanj is to be a true champion of the cause, he needs to understand first-hand what farmers' needs really are.
A two and a half hour journey to Asempanaye, a predominantly farming community in the Central Region of Ghana, sets the ball rolling for a fun-filled and activity-driven trip. It won't he too long before he familiarises himself with the local townfolk, visiting some demonstration farms in the process. "Today, I am one of you... today, I am a farmer," he tells a gathering of the village chief and his people.
He is soon joined by cocoa farmer Adam Yakubu, who takes him deeper into a cocoa farm to share with him the basic skills in harvesting cocoa. The trail leads them back to the village, where the popstar observes the process of treatment and drying of cocoa seeds before they are sent off to the processing plants. It is an eye-opener for D'banj.
Fondly called the Koko Master, the Nigerian icon shares a joke with one of the farmers about how he intends on changing his nickname to "Koko Farmer". "I want to change my name to the Koko Farmer, yes. The Koko Master has become the Koko Farmer."
D'banj engages some farmers in tete-a-tetes, prodding them on what life as a farmer means in the locality, and discovers that it is tough. Mostly a cocoa-farming community, Asempanaye is without running water and electricity. Though...