Posted in Ghana

Edem f. Sway “The One”

The video “The One” by Ghanaian hip hop artist Edem, featuring Sway tells an alternate story of the Gold Coast’s (now Ghana) interactions with Europeans. The video’s story begins in the Gold Coast in 1482 and shows European exploration of the region. The video shows powerful images of European exploration of Africa and the attempted enslavement of Africans.

Showing quotes such as: “The man in chains will break free from his captives & overcome his struggle” and “…this will never be repeated”, the video is a visual revolt against slavery. The video appears to be shot in one of the castles along the southern coast of Ghana. In the video the Africans break their chains and take back their freedom.

In one especially important scene, the video shows a man who is king looking out onto the ocean at the ships of Europeans in the distance. We next see him as a captive, captured and enslaved by Europeans. Instead of giving up and accepting his enslavement, the man stands up to his captors. Handcuffed, he stands up and attacks a European to save a fellow enslaved African from being killed. Even though the Europeans have stripped him of his crown, the former king leads a revolt and escape, in which others who have been captured take their freedom.

The video fits with the song in an interesting way. It’s a show of African men, refusing to submit and taking their freedom and maintaining their dignity in the face of European power. Given the historic impact of slavery on what is today Ghana, the use of this story in the video of two Ghanaian artists shows the importance of this history to Ghana today. It also shows that while Europeans invaded the people in the region, the dignity of the people remained, allowing Edem and Sway to stand and represent for those who stood tall in the face of European oppression.

One of the most important points of the video is that the Africans do not give up and they do not beg for freedom. As an African and an activist this is an important lesson for African youth, especially today. We are no longer enslaved or colonized, but we are still being oppressed. In the media, and even in other videos by African artists, artists try to be as European as possible and not to love their culture and what they have. It is good to see African artists representing our culture so strong.

Author:

Assistant Professor in the African Studies Department at Howard University. Professor of the course Hip Hop and Popular Culture in Africa. Researcher and photographer of hip hop in Africa.

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