Kwaku T: On To The Next Episode

There was a time when Kwaku T seemed to have done it all. He had a decent run on the Big Brother Africa Reality Show, his album with D Black was hugely successful, he had a hot radio show and he was living the ‘celebrity lifestyle’. However, fans seem to hear less of him after a while, and many wondered where exactly he had vanished to until news broke out of him relocating to South Africa. He currently works in Johannesburg, rocking both TV and radio and lives the life of a settled down family man. I caught up with him to find out more.

What have you been up to recently?
KT: Well, for two years I was on the flagship show for Planet Radio here in SA called The Daily Planet. I had to leave the show to develop my own personal projects for TV which I am working on as we speak. It’s a really exciting concept that will see me do stuff you haven’t seen me do before. It’s completely out of the Kwaku T sphere, so it will surprise a lot of people. I’m also working on my album. The first single on the album is called ‘Dear Teacher’ and is dedicated to my mother and all the real women around the world. I’m really excited about it. It’s definitely the most significant song of my career and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

You’re a family man now and seem to have settled down. How’s your new life treating you?

KT: It’s a blessing.  I’m loving every moment of it. I have two step kids, my daughter, MD, in the States, and we just had a baby boy called Kumi Michelangelo. For the first time in a long time, I know what it means to be selfless. Before I think of buying anything for myself, I think of the kids. I have started saving money for the future. It’s all about the kids now. My motivation is different now. Before, I could hustle on my own and it didn’t really matter if I got the deal or not. Now, my grind is 200. I have truly seen the work of God in my kids. I am grateful for all this. I went from party animal to two kids, and another, real quick. I’ve always been a family man, but it was a different dynamic. I was in a family where people were responsibly for me to being in one where I was responsible for others. The transition wasn’t hard. I found that it came very naturally to me.

What would you say are some of the differences between living and working in South Africa and Ghana?

KT: I guess for the most part, the weather!! The weather is on menopause. One minute it’s hot as hell, the next minute it’s freezing. Another thing is the xenophobia. It’s really hard to get a work permit in this country. It doesn’t make sense. They just don’t like us foreigners. The police will also stop you and heckle you when they see you are a foreigner. On the plus side, we don’t have any dumsor over here! (laughs) We might have some load-shedding sometimes, but we’re talking about two hours max! People still remember me from BBA, which is cool. I get into clubs easier. (laughs) I find that people tend to appreciate you more over here. South Africans treat each other with respect and push, encourage each other. My people in Ghana are always trying to pull you down. I was treated with a lot of disdain by people I was only trying to entertain. The hate was very real.

What do you miss the most about Ghana?
KT: I don’t really allow myself to dwell on missing Ghana. I consciously try not to deal with those thoughts. I miss my family, my boys in Peer Pressure, etc. I miss the food big time. I miss ‘waakye’. South Africans don’t really eat with hot pepper and I love my ‘shitor’! So that’s a bit hard. I learnt how to drive on the right side over here, which I never thought I could do. I’ll tell you what I don’t miss. I don’t miss the dumsor, the potholes, hypocrisy and the haters. (laughs) It’s not easy, because Ghana will always be my home and you can’t put a price on that!

GH music has come a long way since your days in Talking Drums. How would you describe its current state?

KT: I think it’s a bit disappointing. Not that we don’t make good music, but I think GH artistes are just too comfortable where they are. Maybe, it’s because I live elsewhere, and I see the dynamics of other music genres playing out here. We don’t get any love because our artistes aren’t ready to get out of their comfort zones and get their grind going in different places. It might have to do with marketing and PR, but it seems like Ghanaian music just stays in Ghana. Maybe it’s a cultural mindset, maybe it’s the language. Artistes these days are just too comfortable and content with where they are. They need to want bigger things for themselves.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced adjusting to life in South Africa?

KT: Well, getting my work permit took forever. Also getting my license to drive here took a lot of work. There is a lot of corruption out here. You need to pay for everything. Even if you pass your driving test, you still need to pay for the license. I didn’t expect this level of corruption which is institutionalised. You can’t get anything with a permit. Looking as African as I do is a problem because of xenophobia. Transport was an issue at first. The taxi system is not like Ghana where you can stand outside and flag one down. Here, you have to call the company. Your other option would be to take these cars that are like our ‘tro tros’. But the drivers drive crazy and they are all pack guns. You can’t even get into an argument with them for fear of catching a bullet to the head! (laughs) Of course the nostalgia and missing home was a challenge. But I got over that by remembering how I was treated like a stranger in my own country, which is much more hurtful that it happening in a foreign land.

If you could go back in time and relive your life, what would you do differently?

KT: I would have trusted some of the people that I trusted less, regarding business decisions. I wouldn’t have talked about my plans as much, because when they don’t pan out, too many people are happy about it. That’s why people these days don’t hear about my plans and actions. However, you can’t really dwell on those things. I’m in a good place right now and I may not have been here, had I made different choices. I give thanks for both the good and bad. I don’t stress on the past, but I have learned from it. Everything is good, because God is good.

Your last answer makes it difficult to ask my next question. What are your plans for the near future?

KT: (laughs) Well, more TV and radio. The ‘Dear Teacher Project’ is about to kick off. The album will drop. This has been 25 years in the making, so you can imagine how epic it will be. There are so many surprises on the way. All the hard work and patience is finally about to pay off. We are giving the Kwaku T brand a makeover. I have an anti-xenophobia project in the works. I have more of a corporate mindset now as opposed to being just an artiste. I want to go from dropping bars in the studio to dropping gold bars in the boardroom. I’m looking to developing young talents as well. Also, I hope to be the best father I can be to my kids!

A message to your fans?
KT: Without the fans, we wouldn’t be ****. They are family to me. The fake ones can **** off. I got nothing but love for the real ones. Don’t let someone’s opinion of yourself become your reality. Look out for #dearteacher. Ride with me. The journey is just beginning. It’s going down like gravity. God bless.

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