The Coarse Delight of “Bukom Banku Live”

The template for “Bukom Banku Live,” one in a string of newly announced additions to GHOne TV’s programme line up starting next month, is, in itself, not new. Over...
Bukom Banku is GHOne TV's latest anchor

The template for “Bukom Banku Live,” one in a string of newly announced additions to GHOne TV’s programme line up starting next month, is, in itself, not new.

Over at U TV, Akrobeto (Akwasi Boadi) enjoys incremental traction for something similar, hosting “The Real News,” a weekly satirical newscast whose appeal is driven, not by the Kumawood actor’s comedic gifts, but rather, his never–ending dust-up with English grammar.

The hook of Banku’s iteration, as read out in a teaser by the popular boxer-musician, sharp in a cream–coloured coat, an orange tie fastened with a lapel microphone, and a distinctive H–affected accent, is this: “the news has to be understood by all it affects. The news has to go down to the basics, but who brings the news to the people?”

He continued: “Our communities are often misunderstood, and we also misunderstand what is given to us by the way of [sic] news. So, I, together with GHOne TV, our favourite, have decided to bring you the news from our point of views [sic]…”

Subject the articulate, PR–perfumed verbiage to some scrutiny, and a number of things emerge. 

First, this is a ploy by the station to reclaim its market share after taking an economic hit that has led to the exit of some of their biggest talents. In media, as with many other business endeavours (more so in a time of COVID-19), adaptability and constant reinvention are the keys to maintaining a competitive edge, and overall survival.

When it first aired nearly two years ago, “The Real News” was an instant hit, clips of Akrobeto squinting at a big word, or butchering it altogether in pronunciation constantly fuelling Twitter fun. Today, the programme is one of the channel’s flagship offerings. Thus, with “The Real News,” U TV has shown that the sort of comedy that mocks one’s struggle with the English language is a working module capable of summoning audiovisual delight. Put differently, beyond their “first comer’s advantage,” Osei Kwame Despite’s establishment has exposed that news steeped in comedy that chafes against the principles of syntax can compete as effectively as, say, Mexican telenovelas, for copious eyeballs. This is a numbers game, after all.

The success of shows like “The Real News,” “Bukom Banku Live,” and to an extent, Joy FM’s “Weekend City Show,” for which the entry threshold for entertainment value are quite low, are a litmus test; how we can tell if Accra really likes something or not.

The Bukom Banku show is testament to the Bola Ray-led company’s desire to broaden its reach to not-so-traditional territory, particularly from inner cities, or as Banku labels it, “swag areas.” Things are no longer the same, and any company looking to remain relevant must head to the masses. In that regard, Bukom Banku is a modern TV Messiah.

Additionally, it reveals an interesting feature about what the Ghanaian finds funny. The joke is as valuable as the medium via which it is conveyed. In these parts, limping English is becoming an increasingly popular route. Comedy is a sensitive, sophisticated, and ever-evolving craft. If you are a Ghanaian practitioner, however, you often don’t need to enhance your storytelling; just ensure a steady deterioration in your use of decent English. Actors Lil Win and “Kejetia versus Makola” star, Lawyer Ntim are other beneficiaries of the “ailing English” method.

Of the new range of programmes on GHOne, “Bukom Banku Live” sparkles the most. For one thing, it is the most unique in the group; unorthodox in its form. The four other shows, if you’re a regular viewer, are not unfamiliar in their appearance. Banku’s show isn’t. What’s more, its star enjoys crass celebrity. Aside his boxing achievements, a loud mouth and raging persona, together with constant scandal, have contributed greatly to thirty-nine-year-old Banku, who was born Braimah Isaac Kamoko’s clout. 

Perhaps, but for the overhaul of editorial standards at GHOne, opportunities like this were a far cry for persons from backgrounds similar to Bukom Banku’s; with their limited formal education and modest daily ambitions. So, there’s a silver lining there, because it underscores the validity of everyone’s dream. 

Still, there’s also the tough question about whether viewers have been laughing with Akrobeto or at him. The same must be raised about Bukom Banku. Entertainment is entertainment, but must it come at the cost of one’s dignity?

Pop writer from Accra.

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