Say, is there a Ghanaian gospel hymn; a single, melodic testimony that arouses faith and spiritual oneness better than “Oko Yi,” the 1994 single by the Yaw Sarpong-led Asomafo group?
For many, the answer is an easy “no.”
Taken off the Bless I, among the group’s earlier collections, “Oko Yi,” which translates from Twi as “this battle,” occupies hearts and local radio frequencies the same way a mother’s love typically does: with kind permanence.
As these are particularly extraordinary times, there’s little doubt that “Oko Yi” has taken on added relevance; a fixture on morning devotion playlists, an additive to daily prayer.
The number journeys solely on strings, and the rhythmic manoeuvrings of a triangle for time. Providing auxiliary harmony, the guitar plucking dawdles throughout the song, mostly in the background, popping forward for interlude duty, and a succinct solo to invite in the chorus one last time. The vocals, when they come in, after a brief guitar intro, do so with anthemic polish, supplying congealed choral comfort and harmonic healing in equal doses.
Lyrically, the song draws heavily from Biblical accounts, citing faith mavericks like Hannah and Elijah to emphasize the redemptive power of prayer: “When you’re faced with challenges beyond you, go on your knees/ for we wrestle not against flesh and blood/ Prayer makes everything possible,” verse 1 converts to English.
Prosperity theology is a popular route end-time preachers usually take in their sermons. Still, the message of hope, if delivered judiciously and in authentic purity demonstrated in “Oko Yi,” commands spiritual sanity effectively.
“Oko Yi” was updated with a video in 2017, twenty-three years after it was first released. The Kaay DiFILMER film stars fellow preeminent guests Tagoe Sisters, and Pat Thomas.
Having been in music practice for over four decades, the Asomafo discography (including the month-old Sarkodie-assisted Ahobrase3) can virtually be endorsed without exception. Still, “Oko Yi,” with its immortal grace, is a great entry point into the group’s library, and a welcome antidote to all this Corona chaos.
Be still, stay calm, for Jesus will fight for you/ because, this battle is not yours to fight/ therefore, be still.”