The Diaspora as depicted in Wanlov the Kubolor’s “Smallest Time”

Emmanuel Owusu-Bonsu, also known as Wanlov the Kubolor, was born into a Ghanaian-Romanian family in Ghana. After years of living in Ghana, he moved to the United States to study Computer Science and Business Administration at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor. Two years later, in 2002, he dropped out in order to become fully immersed in his music career.

From his move from his hometown in Ghana to an entirely new continent and country, the United States, it can be gathered that this move was not an easy one. Knowing Wanlov’s background, the lyrics in his song “Smallest Time” are probably telling the story of his journey to a new place where he believed he would be afforded more opportunity, but instead it is the complete opposite.

The song begins: “Seems like just yesterday, left home so far away/ Memories remind us that destiny would find us…/ Africa I miss you…”. Already with the intro and into the hook, the listener is being exposed to a story of diaspora through Wanlov as he expresses how much he misses his home in Africa.

The next verse chronicles the obstacles that he faced as an immigrant in a new country which many people of diasporas face. Wanlov says: “US border, visa requiired/ College degree, unexpired/ No school fees, visa expired/ Funds wired, money perspired/ Now broke, day job desired/ You are hired, then I got fired/ Got married, green card acquired/ But now I am tired, so I retired”.

Following that verse lie more portrayal of Wanlov’s struggle to adjust to the loneliness that moving to a new country brings. He depicts this despair by saying: “I never know say there hard/ Sometimes I got so lonely, wanted to see my family/ Spent money on phone calls/ Voices helped me cross those pitfalls…/ I don’t know if I can make it through another day”.

Through learning a bit about Wanlov’s early life and decision to travel to the United States alone, “Smallest Time” begins to speak volumes for other people in the diaspora as well. Many immigrants experience the sense of loneliness and unhappiness on the journey of searching for the “better life” in a new country. “Smallest Time” was Wanlov the Kubolor’s way of being transparent with his audience about his journey to the United States and what strifes he encountered living here.

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