How Joe Mettle and Winneba Youth Choir healed my headache at MTN Festival

Source The Ghana Report/Manasseh Azure Awuni

When I walked into the Fantasy Dome last Friday for MTN Ghana’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, I had a headache.  I thought I knew the source of that headache.

I had had very little sleep the previous night. So, even though the spirit was willing, the flesh was succumbing to fatigue and sending signals that I badly needed rest.

Having patronised previous editions of the festival, and knowing the quality of the package that awaited the audience, I didn’t want to miss it.

Even if I could not stay the entire period, I had to enjoy part of it. It was certainly a better option than spending a couple of hours in the suffocating vehicular traffic that comes with the season.

The MTN Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is strictly by invitation. In Ghana, such programmes are often meant for VIPs. So my first impression was the diversity of the patrons: old and young, literate and illiterate, rich and not so rich – it was a true sample of the real Ghanaian. I’m still wondering how the selection was done to arrive at such a representative audience.

Foster Romanus

I arrived tired and a bit dull. So, even though the curtain-raiser could pass for peak performance at a regular gospel show, I could not warm myself into the charged atmosphere. Then, without any warning, the MC caused my headache to worsen.

His name is Foster Romanus, and he knows how to invoke laughter. Laughter and headache are not good bedfellows. But Foster’s witty moments were irresistible and I ended up helplessly increasing the rhythm of my throbbing head.

Cina Soul opened the main performance. I don’t know why she is called Cina Soul, but she has the aroma of cinnamon, a soothing balm for the soul. Her stagecraft is near perfect because her slender frame blends with the rhythm like the drumstick. She’s one of those who dance effortlessly.

Cina Soul

The audience, however, appeared torn between her costume and her splendid performance. She appeared to choreograph this divided attention when her one hand gripped the microphone, and the other tried to cover the triangular flesh shown by the designer. The back of the costume was designed like a brassier, or rather it was. She turned often. And that took something away from her sterling performance.

Ei! Me and this my mouth. Let me leave it here. I went to enjoy a concert not to mark costumes. Let’s go back to Fantasy Dome. Cina Soul is out.

Since I discovered eShun on YouTube last year, I have played her Christmas track not less than 20 times. Friday night, however, I saw her in person, as lively and jolly as the performer in the YouTube video. She engaged the audience very well and crowned the excitement with the gift she brought on stage.


Winneba Youth Choir

It was a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and one was bound to hear the carols in their various genres of music – choral, reggae, highlife and those that cannot be classified.

The Winneba Youth Choir made me pay attention to a carol which lyrics I had to revise that night. It is a stanza in Boney M’s Mary’s Boy Child:

While shepherds watch their flocks by night
They see a bright new shining star
They hear a choir sing a song, the music seemed to come from afar

The last line of the above stanza was what I revised when the Winneba Youth Choir sang. That was not the carol they sang. They performed “O Come Let Us Adore Him”.

This is one of the commonest carols. But this choir brought life into it. As I sat down, it was as though I was hearing it for the first time. The audience went silent as the choir sang, and their applause erupted like a volcano when it ended.

Members of the Winneba Youth Choir are not youth in the strictest sense of the description. Those I saw on the stage were children. And the voices that came from the stage did not appear to belong to those bodies opening their mouths.

So, I heard the choir sing a song, but the music seemed to come from above!

The Viva voices of MTN started with an anthem in an unfamiliar tongue. What most of us, including the MC, heard was “O na me kpokpo!” Their conductor’s abrupt moves were like someone who was being touched with a live wire at different parts of the body. The audience went wild before joining in the dance when the choir started the praise medley.

When the MC went to the crowd and randomly selected people from the audience to sing their favourite carol before taking their surprise packages from MTN, people laughed and cried.

It was a night of unadulterated entertainment. There was very little talk. MTN’s CEO, Selorm Adadevoh, gave a recorded message that was brief.

Like the proverbial miniskirt, which is short but long enough to cover the essential parts, Mr Adadevoh’s speech touched on the achievements and challenges within the year and thanked MTN’s customers for standing by the company and helping to come out of the challenges stronger and better resolved to offer superior services.

The carefully selected readers included comedian and actor, Akrobeto, who got everyone recording his scripture reading in English. That moment was indescribably hilarious.

Joe Mettle

Joe Mettle’s turn was not announced. And he did not announce his presence with his appearance. His voice cut through the serenity of the auditorium like a knife. By the time he got on the stage, everybody was standing without being prompted.

After one or two carols, he went into his elements, dishing out one soul-lifting gospel tune after the other from his repertoire of award-winning collections. When he raised a song, the dome thundered with a response from the audience, almost drowning his backing vocalists.

When Joe Mettle left the stage, I was also ready to leave. I had climaxed. My headache was gone.

There was more, but I had got enough for the night. I was not too greedy. As I made my way out, others were now entering. I wondered, if they would get a space, and what was left of the night for them.

When I followed proceedings on online streaming channels, I realised there was still a lot. Medikal performed. Kelvyn Boy was there to stoke the fire of excitement. And those who waited long enough till the end welcomed Kwami Eugene on stage.

Kelvyn Boy

After his carol, the “rockstar” set the dome ablaze with gospel praise medleys.

Kuami Eugene

It doesn’t happen often. One does not get the opportunity to have some of the finest singers in the country on stage at no cost. It was yet another befitting way to end the year, to burn the stress of 2019 and welcome 2020 with a refreshed mind.

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