Michael Takyi-Frimpong also known as Lord Paper and often known for controversy, uses his musical art to confront one of the most entrenched stereotypes in Ghana: tribalism. The song cuts to the heart of this destructive practice and calls out the backwardness of holding onto such outmoded ways of thinking.
The video starts with a note that the song is based on a true story. Whether this is actually the case or not, it is symbolic of the many true love stories which have been cut short because of the harmful tribalism that rears its ugly head when the issue of inter-tribal marriage comes up. In other areas and eras, such discrimination based on origin reached disastrous proportions as seen in the Jim Crow era in the US, and Apartheid in South Africa where inter-racial sexual relations and marriage were banned.
The song opens with slow strings and piano, and the parents of his love, Dzigbordi, earnestly warning the lady to stay away from him. The reason being that he hails from an “undesirable” ethnic groups. Lord Paper responds to this unfortunate development with a fierce resolve to fight for his love despite the irrational opposition from his in-laws. He keeps reaffirming his love for Dzigbordi and declares that he loves only her. He sings in a soulful melody, sometimes speeding up the pace and eventually slows down to deliver the verse.
In Ghana, and most parts of the world, marriage is seen as a union between not just two people, but also their families. Thus, people with tribalistic tendencies usually kick against marrying from other ethnic groups. Lord Paper expresses his shock that this practice exists in the enlightened 21st century. The song uses an Asante/Ewe divide, as representation of the tribalism that plays out among the numerous tribes in Ghana and by extension, Africa and globally.
The video is set in three places, one of them being Dzigbordi’s house where her seething dad (played by a popular TV face) chases Lord Paper with a cutlass. The central scenes feature Lord Paper and his love. They can be seen frolicking, with an old Mercedes parked in the background. The use of this vintage car seems to suggest that though some old things may have a place in our lives, old and harmful relics like tribalism have no place. The choice of model that plays Dzigbordi is also very instructive: her very fair complexion contrasts with that of Lord Paper and visualizes the idea that it is wrong to reject someone based on their complexion or where they come from, and that it is okay to be in love with someone who shares a different color.
Love and marriage are ordinarily construed as things that bring people together. By highlighting how tribalism threatens to destroy this harmony, he highlights a critical issue: if this problematic tendency can exist in love and marriage, then how much more in polarizing situations like politics and religion, and even in less talked about areas like teacher-student relations.
In addition to touching on a key social issue, Lord Paper lays a powerful chorus over a slow jam beat and doesn’t make any sacrifices in his singing style. He finds a way to mix the heat of the issues with a cool sound and maintains a consistent vocal quality. The powerful message comes in an equally powerful packaging.
For all the times that his name has popped up for the “wrong” reasons, this is a topical issue which deserves attention and for that, Lord Paper deserves massive credit. Music, like other forms of art, should address our social reality and improve the listening experience.
Writted by Joseph Mireku