A banter has raged on social media platforms these few weeks dividing opinion down to the middle regarding the booming trade of Ghanaian celebrity look-alikes.
Celebrity impersonators dress and look like celebrities in an attempt to pass as them. Impersonators are sometimes referred to as wannabes, tribute artists, sound-alikes, look-alikes, impressionists, and imitators.
While popular musicians including Kidi, Sarkodie and Shatta Wale all have their doppelgangers, it had to take the look-alikes of Kuami Eugene, King Promise, Medikal and Mr. Drew to really evoke emotions.
Commentary on Facebook and Twitter seems to suggest folks are worried these celebrity impersonators will gain economic benefit at the expense of the original performers when event organizers book them for shows to pay little sums compared to the hefty charges of the known brands.
Others appear to not just be able to stand them pointing out gang leader in the mold of King Promise as being hungry and looking ill fed.
King Promise Look-Alike
King Promise impersonator, real name Richard Noglo also goes by his music name Robest. The Volta native from Akwadzi says he is a budding artist in his own right but needed the exposure to breakout. He informed Kwadwo Sheldon his new music is out title ‘Bokoor’.
Although he’s yet to meet King Promise in the flesh, when he put a request in for a phone, the 5-Star General who was then in Nigeria facilitated for him to get a new phone, a gesture he was grateful for.
Despite the cordial relationship, a management member has had cause to ascertain if he was charging fees to sing on their blind side, for which he responded in the negative.
Rather as they all chorused, because of the love they have for their respective artistes they promote their music digitally and also perform songs when requested without a charge.
“In the beginning, I had to learn the lyrics of his songs but upon releases now, the songs come to me naturally,” the bald bearded thin man submitted.
Kuami Eugene Look-Alike
Kuami Eugene look-alike also called Steve Kwams explained he is not building his brand in the image of the Fadama ambassador; but when folks around him started complimenting him on the similarities, he took the mirror and saw the facial semblance. The Tiktoker acknowledged threats from zealots coming their way but he is ready to brave the odds.
Whiles he’s also not met the ‘crypto currency’ hitman yet, he desires a verse form him for a song he’s composed. The Asuom Senior High product assures he’s good as a singer and performer.
Medikal vex 🤣 pic.twitter.com/DiPtGbEL0H— Jason⚡️ (@Jason_gh1) April 14, 2023
For Medikal’s celebrity impostor, it had to take 2019 and coming to the port city of Tema to begin hearing of comparisons with the Sowutoum rapper. Born Courage Abadzivor, the Akatsi Senior Technical product recalls drawing the ‘Puf-Puf’ man and handing the art work to him at the studio of Accra FM; having missed him at YFM. He says he’s a trained drawing-artist or pencil artist.
The 2017 SHS graduate has in an interview called on Medikal to offer succour in helping him set up a studio to produce more art works.
Chale, somebody should stop these look-alikes o, they sana want investors 😂— Sergio Manucho (@sergiomanucho1) April 12, 2023
Dema joint song not bad mmom.
Mr Drew Look-Alike
Mr Drew look-alike, real name Amoako Nicholas has his uncle who owned a pure water production company to thank as it was through delivery to clients that he started noticing the references to the singer and performer Mr Drew.
When he shaved his head and retained his beard, the uncanny resemblance was undeniable, so began the journey to seek fame.
The Abetifi Presby product has indeed met the original Drew at a Mallam concert where he was brought on stage and Drew’s mum came to check him out. The Obuasi native going by the Phewcha Official name with phewcha_official on social media channels can rap and sing is self-assured about becoming a bug deal in the country.
The four men realise the danger so say they don’t charge for performances of songs of their originals, rather charge when they perform their own songs. They add they have established the Look-Alike Association to welcome new members who get charged GHc500 and groomed to carry themselves well.
They all acknowledged this gig can only be short-term, so plan on using the attention to showcase their own unique kills of singing and rapping as well as pencil-drawing to make a living.
Kuami Eugene look alike start dey play shows o.— WithAlvin 🇬🇭🇺🇸 (@withAlvin__) April 13, 2023
That’s it, it’s over for the real Eugene 😂 pic.twitter.com/zp08uC8K10
Charges against the four Ghanaian celebrity look-alikes
While the Ghanaian celebrities might have found the emergence of the doppelgangers fascinating, King Promise and Medikel have now expressed reservations.
King Promise under management of Legacy Life entertainment remarked:
“Who is crazy enough to actually pay these guys to perform…and wait, and people actually pay..it’s the world we live in.”
He added in the interview: “It was funny to me in the beginning but now you go and pick up a mic in my name, obviously there’s going to like clones and people who are trying to be like you because they love who I am and they would love to be like me and that’s fine. I like the fact that maybe I motivate you or you look forward to being like me but when it goes beyond that it might become a problem for you not for me, so make them watch out.”
Medikal had a bone to pick in a video he did also.
“If you claim to look like me and so want to live like me, fine then find money. Because Medikal is always looking for money, I am always preaching about money, telling people to grind, not to give up, to forget everybody and keep going hard, so why are you online asking for MOMO? Because Medikal doesn’t come on live to ask for MOMO.”
Whiles bearing resemblance by itself is not criminal, legal practitioner, Godwin Selasi Owusu submits “it’s the activities of these persons and the intention behind these things that could lead to criminal liability or civil liability.” He added individuals impersonating celebrities could spend about 20 years in jail if they do not desist from the act.
Defence Ghanaian Celebrity look-alikes can use
This is not the first time such doppelgangers have gained currency in the Ghanaian arts space. Fiifi Banson staged an impersonator show on TV Africa with candidates who mimicked notables including Kofi Wayo, Jerry Rawlings, John Kufuor, Kwesi Pratt and Chuck Kofi Wayo. The larger Ghanaian public found them humorous with sound bites from the show played on Black Rasta’s ‘Taxi Driver’ show at Zylofon FM years later.
In media law class, when the topic of defamation popped up, fair use and truth often served as a defense. The imitators could also use the following to bolster their case.
Entertainment: An entertainer impersonates a celebrity, generally for entertainment, and makes fun of their personal lives, recent scandals and known behavior patterns. They include impressionists and celebrity impersonators.
Decoys are employed to safeguard military and political leaders. This entails the use of an impersonator who is compelled or employed to appear during public engagements in order to deceive onlookers.
When Jamie Foxx suffered a purported stroke and had to be rushed to the hospital despite having 8-days to wrap up shoot on the Netflix film – ‘Man in Action,’ his double was called upon to do some of his scenes. Showing there’s a place for such talents, albeit this was in a structured system like the US.
So there you have it, while there exist inherent risk, impersonators, sound-alikes, look-alikes, impressionists, and imitators can serve as a ray of sunshine while in the process lifting themselves out of poverty with the orginals getting a cut too.