From pushing for the culture to be recognized in the United Kingdom and across the rest of Europe to organizing football matches for Ghana’s senior national team, the Black Stars, he has assumed the ‘godfather’ status and can best be described as an embodiment of entertainment in every sense of the word.
He needs no introduction when it comes to the organization and promotion of African events across Europe. Popularly known as Radical Dee within the entertainment circles, Dennis Tawiah was a member of the then popular and most sought after London based entertainment group of Disc Jockeys and event organizers, 90% HITSQAD.
Born in Osu, Ghana on May 14, 1970, Dennis Tawiah had his elementary education in Ghana at the Achimota Primary School. He played colts football for Osu Standfast and Team Harbour City before relocating to the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. In London, he attended the Stoke Newington Secondary then went on to take professional courses in marketing.
Mr. Tawiah is credited with championing the African culture through entertainment and regarded as the most prominent African promoter across Europe. After severing ties with 90%, he went on to establish Akwaaba UK which transitioned into The Akwaaba Group (TAP), a full scale entertainment solution and marketing communications company.
Akwaaba UK has been the power behind some of the biggest and annually held African events in Europe for over the last two decades including the prestigious Miss Ghana UK beauty pageant, Ghana Independence Celebrations and Party in the Park, an outdoor family fun festival.
On Saturday November 10, 2012 at the Park Plaza Hotel in London, Mr. Tawiah was presented with a Special Achievement Award by the Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) to appreciate his contribution to the promotion of the African entertainment industry within the diaspora.
In 2010, he was awarded with Outstanding Achievement by the Ghana High Commission in the United Kingdom and received Special Recognition by the Ghana Community in the UK and African Pride Awards in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Recently, he received Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2020 3Music Awards.
In our conversation over the weekend, he explained the rationale for quitting disc jockeying to start promotions and event management. “After being a DJ for almost 15 years, I felt I had done a lot in the DJ circuit and was ready to try something new. I decided to try promotions to see what it would be like to organize events from scratch, so I started off with organizing and promoting my own events,” he indicated.
In as much as it was a business, Mr. Tawiah was very much driven by passion when he started with Akwaaba UK. Responding to my question about what he set out to do with Akwaaba UK from its inception, he said “my objective has always been to bring people together and to entertain people. The whole setup of Akwaaba UK was to make sure I fulfill my objective of entertaining and unifying people. When this is done, then of course the business will follow.”
Mr. Tawiah recounted some of the challenges he experienced on his journey. “Initially, it was very difficult to get very good venues for African shows, the processes, restrictions and the limitations were a huge disincentive.
I remember when I wanted to bring Kojo Antwi, Daddy Lumba, Nana Acheampong, Amakye Dede, Nana Tuffuor, AB Crenstil, Lee Doudo and Teddy Osei to London several years ago, the radio stations I had contacted for the promotions had a policy which didn’t allow for African music in the radio advert as it wasn’t mainstream. So guess what, I had to just use the voice without any music in the background for the radio advert,” he revealed.
A good number of Ghanaian musicians including Lord Kenya, Mzbel, Sydney, Daasebre Gyamena, VIP, Samini, Ofori Amponsah, KK Fosu, Kofi Nti, Kontihene, Obuor, Praye and Sarkodie were flown to the United Kingdom by Akwaaba UK for their first international performances. In recent times, Mr. Eazi, Kidi, Kuami Eugene, King Promise, Kelvin Boy, Kwesi Authur, and Quamena MP have all performed on Akwaaba UK events.
I enquired how he feels being in the entertainment industry for over two decades, does he regret it? “Honestly, I have enjoyed it and there is nothing better than doing what you enjoy doing best. It feels great to have been doing this for over two decades, the sort of relationships I have built, the persons I have encountered and worked with and the amazing experience is priceless. I have no regrets and will gladly continue doing it with the very special feeling that comes with it,” he added.
At a point, Dennis became the go-to person when it had to do with getting an interview, business discussions, negotiations and any form of engagement with then Ghanaian international footballer, Michael Essien alongside several other African soccer stars in Europe. We spoke about that chapter of his life and how he got himself in football.
“So I missed an opportunity to sign for the youth side of my darling club in my youthful days, which is Arsenal, due to an injury. I have always followed football after that disappointment and been involved in the game in various ways. I was organizing Ghanaian fans to matches of the national teams around Europe. I had close relations with the Ghana Football Association and presented a request to organize matches with was accepted. With my team, we organized some very crucial matches for the Ghana Black Stars against England, Australia, Jamaica, Nigeria, Brazil, Senegal and Mexico,” he said.
Three things which have accounted for his success, according to Mr. Tawiah are “doing what you love to do the most is very important and has been very key to my success. Also, we need to look at putting in the needed work at all times which will result in the desired results. There is no shortcut to success than putting in the work. Lastly, I will urge people to believe in the process and nothing else. Success does not come over night but rather it is working smart and consistent.”
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Tawiah said “the African sound has the attention of the world at the moment and it’s important we fully capitalize on this to the benefit of our industry and its players.”