If you don’t know or care to know, Ghana is one of the few countries in Africa blessed with fecund literary writers who have written thousands of books over the years – with some dead and others alive.
Instead of Ghanaian filmmakers adapting some of these literacy books or folkloric tales, screen play them and shoot as movies, they rather take delight in stealing (technically called plagiarize) Hollywood and Bollywood movie stories and retell them as Ghanaian movies.
Below is a list of some local and internationally acclaimed Ghanaian literary writers and their respective works: Ama Ata Aidoo – Anowa, Changes, Our Sister Killjoy, No Sweetness here, Dilemma of a Ghost; Efua T. Sutherland – Marriage of Anansewa, Edufa, Voice in the Forest; Ama Darko – The Housemaid; Asare Konadu – The Wizard of Asamang, Woman in her Prime; Francis Selormey – Narrow Path.
The list goes on: Sekyi Kobina – The Blinkards; Ayi Kwei Armah – The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born, Fragments, The Healers, Kmt: In the house of life; Benjamin Kwakye – The Clothes of Nakedness, The Sun by Night; Kwei J Quartey – Wife of the gods, Children of the Street; Yaba Badoe – True Murder; Glover Boakyewaa – Circles; Ekow Eshun – Black Gold of the Sun; Bediako Asare – Rebels; Kwame Kwei-Armah – Statement of Regret, Fix Up, and others.
For instance, Marriage of Anansewa by Efua T. Sutherland, if adapted for a movie, will be a blockbuster movie produced from Ghana to the world – the story is intriguing! Most Ghanaians who studied literature in Sixth Form or Secondary School and read Marriage of Anansewa will attest to that. I hear our folkloric tale – Anansesem is being used by Disney World for Animation series or sequel.
The most annoying thing about those filmmakers who steal Hollywood and Bollywood movies is that, instead of adapting the story and telling it from the Ghanaian perspective, they rather either tell it from the original writers perspective and goof, or spoil the entire steam in the story and look stupid before the originator of the story.
One Ghanaian filmmaker who stands accused in this stealing galore is Venus Films Productions. When movie critics like me critiqued him some years back, he had the crust and balls to say “I don’t steal them, I twist them.” Can you imagine?
As a talented and professionally trained screenwriter, one thing I always take notice of in the opening title credits of Hollywood and Bollywood is, if the story is an adapted or based on an original story, they acknowledge: ‘based on the novel or play by….’ or ‘based on the book titled…. or written by …..’
Why can’t Ghanaian filmmakers do same with? If you are a filmmaker and you adapt another writer’s story and screen play, it does not take anything away from your production house or studio. The right thing is to seek the writer’s permission, give credit, and interpret the story well!
I’m very sure some Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers as well as authors might have seen some Ghanaian movies whose storylines are actually stolen from their movies, novels, or plays, but would go like ‘why sue a man of straws?’ I’m sure they take us as comic reliefs.
I will crave the indulgence of Ghanaian filmmakers to research about the aforementioned literary writers, seek their permission, strike a deal, and adapt their stories for movies. Advantages in using the stories of the above Ghanaian writers is phenomenal – their stories are original, well acclaimed in some parts of the world, won both local and international awards, and the writers are revered both locally and internationally.
So why go for a Hollywood or Bollywood movie story and retell as a Ghanaian filmmaker? When we have millions of true but untold stories in Ghana? Well, as a Ghanaian screenwriter, I have adapted one that I’m screen playing.
Some day when I get a movie investor, I shall do the right thing by contacting the original writer and strike a deal for the way forward. As the saying goes “A Nation, tells its own stories.” A word to the wise is enough for Ghanaian filmmakers! Until then…MOTWUM!!