“By all accounts, she had a very promising career.” Those were the words of President Akufo-Addo, joining in the chorus of tributes to Ebony Reigns following her tragic untimely death last week.
Ghana was thrown into a state of grief early Friday morning (February 9, 2018) as reports of the dancehall artiste's demise kept trickling in amidst doubts.
Confirmations were sought from different quarters with the hope of hearing that it was a hoax but to the nation’s utmost dismay, the reign of Ebony Reigns had ended in a gory accident on the Sunyani-Kumasi highway – a few days before she was scheduled to start a European tour.
A military officer and a female acquaintance identified as Francis Atsu Vondee and Frankie respectively, who were also on board the Jeep which clashed with a VIP bus died as well. The Jeep was mangled!
The gravity of the news muted an expectant discussion on the State of the Nation Address which was delivered a day before, to the extent that the Minority in Parliament observed a minute’s silence for the departed souls before the commencement of a scheduled Press conference.
According to a report from the Ghana Police Service, Ebony, and the two others in the Jeep, lost their lives after their car collided with an oncoming VIP bus, as their driver tried to avoid a heap of sand in their lane.
The police said the sand was meant for the maintenance of the road.
Whereas the occupants of the bus escaped unhurt, the Police in their report said only the driver of the Jeep whose names was given as Chartey Oko Pinehad, aged 29, survived the accident, and was receiving treatment at the Bechem hospital. The prophecies As many found it difficult to come to terms with Ebony's sudden demise, some prophets were not so surprised as they claimed to have prophesied that the artiste had a short life and would die in a gory accident. Audio and video clips surfaced confirming the prophecies but that was not news to RuffTown Records, management of Ebony as they averred that the artiste and the entire team were aware of what was ahead of her and did their best to avert it. Prophet Nigel Gaise, Head Pastor and Founder of the True Word Prophetic Fire Ministry; Prophet Badu Kobi, Leader of Glorious Wave Church International; Rev Owusu Bempah, Founder and leader of the Glorious Word Ministry International; Sound Engineer, Kaywa and Prophet Richard Gyimah all predicted the death of Ebony, known in real life as Priscilla Opoku Kwarteng. “The first day I met Ebony, she disclosed to me that she met a certain woman who told her that she [Ebony] will encounter Ruff and Smooth, God will use them to push her music, she will become a big star to the point that Sarkodie and the likes will call and ask for collaborations,” Ricky Nana Agyemang (Bullet), the distraught manager of the late artiste says. “But she will not live long; she will die at the peak of her career. God is my witness. Wherever Ebony is, she is my witness. “She always told me she would not live long and I asked her to stop making such utterances. Everything she said came to pass and at a point, I asked if she remembers the prophecy. I told her that all except one is yet to come to pass and we have to break it. We fasted and prayed severally. We did all we could…”
Despite the numerous prophecies, Ebony’s father, Nana Opoku Kwarteng maintains that his daughter exited the world because her time was up. While expressing great disappointment at the loss of his daughter, Mr. Kwarteng (who describes himself as Ebony’s biggest fan) said speculations about the cause of the daughter’s death were “irritating” and appealed to all to put a stop to it.
“Like I said earlier, mission accomplished. When you are done with your calling, you must go back and give account,” he told journalists. “She has paid her dues and I wouldn’t want people to attach this superstition to it. I will appreciate if they put an end to it. It’s so irritating. She accomplished her mission.”
Nana Opoku who granted interviews to the media without dropping a tear sung praises of his daughter.
“For now, mourn with me because the real queen, an asset, a real Ghanaian, stood for Ghana, a queen. I am not going to beat my chest with pride and say she was the queen where dancehall was concerned but we both know that Ebony was really a queen,” he said.
His posture was the complete opposite of that of Madam Beatrice Oppong, Ebony’s mother, as she was visibly devastated by the news. In a video circulated on social media, she was captured wailing and calling on God for a miracle.
Later, it emerged that when Ebony was leaving her mother’s home after paying her a surprise visit, she was worried about the daughter’s decision to travel late but several attempts to get Ebony to rescind her decision and leave the following day proved futile as the artiste explained to her that she had to return to Accra to complete preparations for her first international tour.
The Zylofon Media brouhaha
In the wake of Ebony’s death, the Chief Executive Officer of Zylofon Media, Nana Appiah Mensah was hit with a barrage of criticisms over what some described as an insensitive tweet.
Expressing his condolences to Ebony’s family, NAM1 as he is affectionately called, indicated that Ebony wanted him to bail her out.
"We had a fruitful meeting and reached an agreement just last Tuesday. "Please help me pay him for my bail out. I want to be free". I hope you're free now & finds absolute peace in the bosom of the almighty God. Let's pay CRITICAL ATTENTION to our female artists. #RIPEbony", were his words on the social media platform, Twitter.
The backlash led to a clarification of the matter with the Zylofon boss jabbing critics for sullying their comments with emotions rather than logical reasoning.
“In our discussion, she emphasized and it was agreed that before she goes out of the contract, she has to satisfy a termination clause in the contract by paying her record label Ruff Town Records an amount of USD$100,000 of which Zylofon Media was ready to fulfill. That was what she termed as a bail out and there was no way we could do that without reaching out to Ruff Town Recordz,” Nana Appiah’s defense read.
This attracted a sharp rebuttal from Bullet who was shocked by the development and felt insulted by the amount quoted.
“Ebony was not in bondage,” Bullet retorted. “She was an artiste who I can say was even dictating to management. She wasn’t under any strict management. The amount invested in Ebony was even more than $100,000. The biggest artiste in Ghana now; her bail out is $100,000? To respect her value as an artiste, you shouldn’t even mention $100,000. I don’t get it. Bail out in which way?” he asked on Okay FM.
Ebony in heaven?
Her provocative dress code and sexual innuendos from day one instigated so much controversy and with her passing, some questioned her ‘final destination’; most of the comments being judgmental and concluding that hell is most likely where she’d end up.
But these suggestions were counted by two persons who maintained that Ebony could spend eternity with her creator in heaven.
“I personally led Ebony to Christ,” claims sound engineer, Kaywa. “She prayed the sinner’s prayer, and she accepted Christ as her Lord and personal savior, and I know she started church. I know that there was a drastic change about Ebony.”
“I said Ebony is in heaven because if going to heaven means knowing the Lord as your personal saviour then she did it,” the founding president of the Worldwide Miracle Outreach, Dr. Lawrence Tetteh, says. “The impact of the encounter was very strong and you know there are some people that God loves there are some people who you will meet in heaven and be shocked.”
For Gospel musician, Sonnie Badu who defended Ebony on countless occasions when she was alive, “whoever was behind [her death] has taken all [her] iniquities and given [her] a free ticket to heaven because [her] blood will be demanded from them.”
Arguably, Ebony faced no competition in 2017. Having released ‘Dancefloor,’ and ‘Kupe,’ in previous years, Ebony shot to fame in 2017 as her songs, ‘Poison’, ‘Sponsor’, ‘Hustle,’ ‘Maame Hwe,’ and ‘Date Ur Fada’ garnered massive airplay.
Her level of dominance, relevance and popularity was so glaring that she topped charts, performed at almost all the big events, making headlines wherever she performed.
Considering the successes she chalked in 2017, conversations about her chances of winning the ultimate Artiste of the Year at the Ghana Music Awards were rife before her sudden demise.
Many analysts in the music industry suggest that there has never been a time in Ghana when a female act has had five hit songs in a year nor had an audience appeal like Ebony did.
It's rather unfortunate that death laid its icy hands on Ebony Reigns at the peak of her career. She was one artiste who was known for her risqué on-stage acts and suggestive performances as well as her marvelous vocal delivery.
Her fashion sense was exquisite and even though she was criticised for revealing too much flesh, she was loved for her craft. The starlet maintained a solid brand which pushed her to an enviable pedestal.
Evidence to the assertion that she was a topnotch act and will be missed, is in the countless tribute songs recorded in her memory.