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Nkrumah’s overthrow plugged my family into poverty – Yaw Sarpong

Legendary gospel singer, Yaw Sarpong, says the National Liberation Council unconstitutionally ousting from office Ghana’s first President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, through a military and police coup made his family endure poverty.

Speaking on the Legends show on TV XYZ on Sunday, the gospel singer recounted how his father who was a parliamentarian was arrested after they overthrew the Nkrumah government and he subsequently died.

“My father was a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Nkrumah government when they toppled Nkrumah — shortly my father died. I was born at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. When I was about 3/4 years I was sent to Tonto Kokoben.

“After the coup he [my father] was apprehended. They arrested all members of the Kwame Nkrumah-led administration. He died after he was released from prison. I was about five years old when my father died.”

The multiple award-winning singer said life became extremely unbearable for his family which consist of eight children and his widow mother.

“We were in the village. My mother did farm work. I was young so I didn’t see. she’d hustle and bring food home. We’ve really suffered poverty.”

The ‘Wo Haw Ne Sen’ composer intimated that due to the sudden passing away of his father his siblings and himself couldn’t attain higher level of education.

“We attended school but couldn’t get higher level of education because of poverty. We could have gotten good education but my father died. If my father was MP at the time it means there was education in the family.”

Even though they could have reached out to President former President Kofuor who succeeded his father as the Member of Parliament in the Atwima Nwabiagya District for help, they didn’t.

Reason being that, the singer said, they belonged to rivalry political parties in the post-independent era.

“I didn’t really get to interact with him [President kufuor]. My father was a CPP member and he belonged to the UP [United Party]. So, those people brought problems.

But in 2008 when he left office as president I went to him. When he discovered my father was EM Opoku he queried why I didn’t look for him all this while.”

Music

Narrating his journey as a musician, he said he started singing with the Methodist Singing Band when he was a young man.

“It started with the Methodist Singing Band. I was young. I sang along during song ministration. They realized I was good so I was loved by everyone.”

Yaw Sarpong said he took inspiration to pursue his music career from listening to Ghanaian musicians in the 1970s.

“At Kokoben when the government decided to build the dam — they built a quarters called Asuofia for us. I was young. That was around 1972/73 we moved from the village [Kokoben] to the quarters. As a result our hometown became Asuofia.

“The government made Kokoben and its surrounding communities a forest there’s no trace humans ever lived there. When we came to Asuofia it was near the city. That was where I got access to music and radio to listen to many elders songs like King Oyina, Yamoahs, Nana Ampadu, when it comes to gospel Prof. Kofi Abraham.

Having released his debut album in 1981, the ‘Joseph’ singer said growing up there was nothing like a gospel musician,”In the olden days they don’t brand themselves as gospel musicians but the content of their songs was gospel. That is the reason why my gospel is on that lane.

“We had people like E. K Nyame. He wasn’t a gospel musician but the content of his songs was Christian-like. We also had people like Rhema Kandoh. I got the opportunity to listen to them.”

Talking about the inspiration behind his songs, Mr Sarpong, who was honoured with the 2019 Ghana Music Awards UK Lifetime Achievement of the Year, said it comes naturally.

“While growing up I realized that I heard different songs in my ears that were not sang in the real world. When it comes like that I had a little education so I take pen and paper then I write it.”

By: Bernard Ralph Adams/Mypowerfmonline.com/Ghana

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