The security of ordinary Ghanaians attending big social gatherings was tested on Saturday as a grand, 20th-anniversary celebration of Ghanaian music was marred by violence in Accra.

The dancehall artist Livingstone Etse Satekla (aka Stonebwoy) pulled a gun on stage because one of his arch-rivals in the music industry, Charles Nii Armah (aka Shatta Wale), walked on stage with his team just as Stonebwoy was about to deliver an acceptance speech.

He had been named Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year for the fifth year in a row.

Security lapses

Many people are questioning how the gun incident was possible after everyone attending the event at the Accra International Conference Centre – the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards 2019 – was thought to have been screened electronically and checked for weapons. Also in question is the manner in which the police handled the melee by firing tear gas into the crowd.

According to a security expert who spoke to the Daily Statesman, if the gun Stonebwoy pulled on stage is licensed, “Then of course he can have it with him so long as there is no law or security breach … but then being licensed is not a licence to commit crime with the licensed gun.”

He was however quick to note that Stonebwoy could have been cleared to carry his licensed gun in the perimeter.

“That is a question for our security to find out: did he outwit the security at the venue with the gun, or he was properly cleared to take it along?”

Although some people were disappointed that the police did not respond more quickly, Assistant Commissioner of Police Kwasi Ofori said he believes that officers’ actions when fighting between the rival groups of fans threatened to break out were right and in line with modern policing methods.

Reports late on Sunday night said Stonebwoy had been arrested in connection with the incident. Shatta Wale was also reportedly “invited” in for questioning.


The two acclaimed dancehall musicians threw caution to the wind and dragged the night into what will go down as one of the most embarrassing moments in Ghana’s music history.

Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy, both of whom command huge followings ‒ SM (the Shatta Movement) and Bhim Natives ‒ have nursed a long rivalry as to who is the real “king” of dancehall in Ghana. That feud is ongoing, and is what spilled over into the violence in the small hours of Sunday.

The event was meant to show who is who, especially with both artistes vying for the Artiste of the Decade title with the likes of Sarkodie, Samini, Efya, Becca, Tema-based R2Bees, Joe Mettle, No Tribe with Nacee and Okyeame Kwame.

Shatta Wale had already bagged two awards on the night ‒ Highlife Song of the Year for “My Level” and Reggae/Dancehall Song of the Year for “Gringo” ‒ and fans knew it was going to be a long, exciting night of competitioni between the two. But there was pandemonium shortly after Stonebwoy was named Reggae/Dancehall Artiste of the Year.

Guns and roses

After Stonebwoy collected his award, as he prepared to deliver his acceptance speech, Shatta Wale and his team stood up and started walking towards him. They were however stopped from going up on stage by Stonebwoy’s team. It was then that all hell broke loose.

Stonebwoy pulled his gun, security staff doused the stage invaders with pepper spray and there was a near-stampede as other guests rushed for the exit. The VIP area was cleared by security staff.

It is still unclear what Shatta Wale’s intentions were, though sources in his camp claim the “My Level” singer merely wanted to congratulate Stonebwoy. The fight disrupted the awards ceremony for almost 30 minutes.

Some observers say that what happened at the venue was not surprising, especially after Shatta Wale allegedly issued a strong warning to Charterhouse, the event organiser, not to make any mistake by “gifting” the award to another artiste.

He wrote: “People should always remember 2013 can repeat itself in 2019 but this time the iOS will be very smart and sharp – Shatta wale (shatta movement).”


Many voices in the entertainment industry have also criticised Stonebwoy loudly for breaching security and carrying a gun to the event. One such person who was unhappy about the behaviour of the “Top Skanka” hitmaker is Okyeame Quophi of Akyeame fame.

He said there was no need for Stonebwoy to pull a gun and that the police should lock him up for being in possession of such a weapon.

A post by Okyeame Quophi read:

“This is Absurd. Did security allow a gun into the VGMA auditorium? Stone boy, I am highly disappointed in you. You can never cover your fear with a weapon.

“Until Shatta’s intention was known, your gun pulling act for someone known to be cool and collected was very unnecessary. Bringing a gun was premeditated and it’s not cool. I don't know why Ghana police who were on site did not cuff you in the first place. You deserve an invitation to the police headquarters. Now I know Shatta is Violent by mouth and Stoneboy is violent by Weapons.”

Shatta, Stonebwoy react

Shatta Wale took to Twitter minutes after the incident asking the police to call Stonebwoy to order.
“You pull a gun on innocent people, Ghana police do your work. This is called insecurity … it’s a shame Ghana Music supports this arrogant people.”

Again on Facebook, after the incident, he wrote: “My crew had good intentions moving up there for us to prove that unity to make this 20years celebration a wonderful one but hey ,as usual Shatta Wale dierr Ibe dis , Ibe dat … so what happened just happen and the sensible ones saw how insecure music has made some people just to pull out guns.”

Stonebwoy on the other hand tweeted:

“Kindly help me thank the Ghana Police force, for keeping situations calmer and all cost ensured my safety up until I entered my gates. I was never arrested whatsoever as some media reporters have it. Thanks to the counter-terrorism commander and his team.”

Notorious BIG versus Tupac

Many commentators have urged the forces of law and order to call the two artistes to order before things get out of hand.

They cite the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry which led to the death of two of America’s top hip-hop artistes, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG, in the 1990s.

The infamous rivalry between the two led to Tupac being gunned down in Las Vegas in September 1996. Suspicion immediately fell on Biggie, but he strenuously denied any involvement. Biggie himself became the victim of a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles the following March.

Both murders remain unsolved.

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Last modified on Thursday, 13 June 2019 10:14


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