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Gemann releases a CD from prison 11/2/2007
What looked like a promising career of a young, handsome and trendy music star suffered a serious upset when Akwasi Agyeman, a.k.a. Gemann, then 31, was found guilty for the murder of a taxi driver, Akwasi Adjei in January 1995.

After a tortuous and heated legal battle Gemann was sentenced to death and was sent to the nation’s head prison, the Nsawam Medium Prison. In 2003, he had his sentence mitigated to life imprisonment following a general amnesty by President J. A. Kufuor.

Gemann’s planned prestigious projects in music and the film industry suffered an early end His artistry on the stage in show business has been dearly missed and almost forgotten by his fans in Ghana, Europe and America.

With a musical charisma coupled with his demeanour he welcomed a lot of hopeful music stars into his life and shared a vision of bright future. At the peak of Michael Jackson’s glorious career, influenced by Michael’s dancing skills, Gemann, stunned his fans when he dared equal the skills of Michael Jackson and the dancing dynamo.

Having been in prison for about 13 years one would have thought that by now, he might have lost hope and become a pale shadow of himself. But thank God! At a time when he thought he had sunk into a deep mire and there was no standing for him, at a time that he was waiting for his death sentence to be carried out, he prayed to God to get him out of the mire so that he would not sink any further. Deliver, God did! And his music endeavours have grown with an evangelical turn inspiring other prisoners and all those he comes into contact with within the walls of the prison.

Gemann operates a studio from where against the ordeal of constraints and the secluded prison life, he has successfully come out with one album and is currently working on a second which he says would be released soon.

The inscription on the door of his base where the the now born-again Gemann touches the hearts of others is “New life project –(Miracle Studio – Ps 69:33).” And it tells it all; a new life which is working miracles in the prisons. He reads this Psalm daily: “For the Lord heareth the poor and dispiseth not his prisoners”, Gemann takes inspiration from the verse and takes consolation in the fact that the Lord has not dispised him.

He said the Great One has a purpose for me and has chosen me to transform the lives of many,” albeit in the prisons.

The idea of setting up a studio took very long to accomplish. He recalls that he started nurturing the idea a few years after he was sent to the condemned cells at the prison. “I started training with the inmates at the condemned cells,” adding that “it took about six and a half years of convincing the authorities to set up the studio”. In 2003, he received approval from the Prison Service Council to set it up.

Quickly he arranged to have the equipment which he had at home brought to the prisons. “But as you would expect, some of the equipment had been stolen. Obviously, having been sentenced to death, some people took advantage of my absence to vandalise some of the equipment.”

He notes the assistance he received from musicians like Kojo Antwi, Papa Shee and Martin Luther Owusu to fully set up the studio. But above all he is grateful to the Ministry of the Interior and the prison Service Council for allowing the setting up of the studio, for as he put it, it has enabled him to develop his musical talents.

Prison authorities had good reason to allow him to set up the studio. William Asiedu, Director General of the Ghana Prisons Service explained that the authorities, recognising the great talent of the inmate allowed the venture to train other prison inmates who are desirous of entering the music industry after their release from custody.

He said the studio in the prison would also allow Gemann himself to make very profitable use of his time in custody “taking cognizance of the old saying that the devil finds work for idle hands”, adding that the studio would also enable him to sharpen his musical talent to meet the growing demand of music lovers.

Mr. Asiedu explained that ideally, the service should have purchased those instruments and notes that since the functions of the service includes the safe custody and welfare of inmates, “it is also imperative that whenever practicable we undertake their reformation and rehabilitation.

The studio is facilitating his reformation which will make it easy for him to reintegrate into society should he be released one day”, the Director General told the Spectator and went on to cite examples of precedents in some prisons where inmates have been engaged in the training of other prisoners in kente, smock and basket weaving.

A typical day in the life of the former music star is never complete without a prayer session with the inmates, especially those who constitute the core of his music industry.

Gemann told the Spectator that he has changed the direction of his music following the new life that he has found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Sundays are typically busy days for him as he sets out to evangelise in the precincts of the prison. He also leads a bible class on Thursday mornings.

Gemann now 44, who spoke to the Spectator last week in an exclusive interview in his recording studio at the Nsawam Medium Prison, recalls the fateful and fatal incident with great remorse and nostalgia. He says “three seconds of a mistake has landed me in this situation” and believes that the act was by an overwhelmingly strange circumstance.

Gemann had a misunderstanding with a taxi driver over a fare. After the issue had been “settled” and the driver had driven off, he said, the driver returned to the house about an hour later to collect sand from the house, in what appeared to be a preparation to cast a curse on him.

This is what infuriated him, resulting in his shooting at the driver who died from the bullet wounds.

What has sand got to with anger? Gemann says that at that time he was an unbeliever and therefore feared the power of juju. He says that “If such an incident had taken place today, I would have offered more sand to the driver. The old things are gone and I am now a new creature.”

Gemann is certain that God has a purpose for his being in prison. “I believe that God is using me as a catalyst and instrument for a change to reform me, cause a reformatory process first, and then others.

This is taking place in the prison as he goes to share the gospel with his fellow inmates at every nook or corner of the building of confinement. Many in the prison have received the gospel through him.

Although Gemann is happy to be the tool of the Lord, he misses life outside prison. His greatest wish now is to be granted a pardon by His Excellency President J A Kuffuor.

“I have petitioned the President and I am awaiting a response”, he said and expressed the hope that President Kufuor would give him a second chance.

“God gives us a second chance, so I believe the President will give me a second chance”.

He said one of his greatest worries during and after his trial was that he never got the opportunity to speak directly to the family of the taxi driver he shot. After the release of his first album made in prison, however, the wife of the taxi driver whose name he only gave as Sarah, visited him in prison. “Now I am happy that she has visited and we have reconciled and I look forward to a day that I will be able to contribute to the well-being of that family”.

Gemann misses his mother, too. “And if by any chance I am released from prison, I will go straight to visit my ailing mother, (whom the Spectator learnt is now in her eighties) and my daughter who was two at the time the trial ended.”

Gemann was married with a kid before he entered prison. But the marriage was traditionally dissolved when he was sentenced to death.

His daughter visits him from time to time but “as should be expected, most of my friends who used to visit me regularly, no more do so.” He has a consolations; that every situation brings out its own set of friends.

He looks forward to a day when he would walk out of the walls of prison to start up something to help society to pay back for the pain and agony that he inflicted on others through the death of the taxi driver.


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