ASONABA Kweku "Super OD" Darko
ASONABA Kweku Darko, better known as "Super O.D." did not really know his father as his father died while O.D was a toddler. But still, he knows one thing - that his father was very tall. For him his father's grave which in his childish eyes had seemed very long has influenced him to measure his father by the length of his grave. Because O.D's father died early, it was his mother Abena Akuwa, a petty trader, who struggled to care for him. She could hardly make ends meet, so Super O.D. had a rough childhood life which led to his inability to have formal education.
In 1958 he gained employment as a Native Authority policeman, popularly called "Ahenfie Police" at Agona Swedru but one year later, the authority police system was abolished. Super O.D. said he and his colleagues were directed by the then Minister of Interior, Mr Krobo Edusei, to apply to join the Ghana Police if they so wished. "Becoming a policeman had always been my wish and therefore there could not have been any better deal for me than this." But he could not get his dream job because he had not "been to school." He was however advised to learn a trade and thereafter enter the police service as a tradesman.This he said, was a rather tall order because he had nobody to sponsor him learn a trade but after wandering for some months, a driver who plies between Kpone and Abodom took him on as a driver's mate and for six whole years he was allowed to handle the steering wheel only three times. He said after the sixth year he attempted a driving test and was surprised to have been okayed by one Mr Tackie who was the Testing Officer. O.D. still wanted to be a policeman so after securing his driver's licence he applied to the Ghana Police and after some weeks training under the instructions of Sidi Tumutu and Maudia Fulani, both Escort Police instructors, he was "failed" at the end of the course because, according to him, he could not pay a bribe of three pounds.
He said he was therefore forced to go into commercial driving and gained employment with the Accra City Council as a driver of one of its taxi cabs, known as "Ponko Abodam." After a short while he lost this job and had to go and stay with a friend at Labadi near Kojo Sardine's house. Luck smiled on him as he soon landed a new job as a labourer working on the construction of the Cantonment Police Station. He said it was during this period that one day Appiah Agyekum's Concert Party came to Labadi and he joined the band on stage to sing as a backing vocalist. This, to him, was the starting point of his career in concert party theatre. He said he had acquired the skill of making witty jokes from his mother who was nicknamed "Jack Johnson" for her jokes and soon found out that his jokes were in high demand and started hopping from one concert party to another.
Within a short span of time he had been with Akwasi Effah's Band, Happy Stars, Akomanyi's Guitar Band and finally settled with the Oppong Kyekyeku Guitar Band. Asonaba said this band did not belong to (first name?) Oppong. It belonged to a proprietor who gave them poor deals and therefore the entire membership resigned to form the Oppong Drama Group which enacted plays wherever African Brothers Band played. The troupe was made up of Oppong, Frimpong Manso, Fred Addae, Akua Boahemaa, Bea Kissi and himself. He said one day the troupe enacted Aku Sika and it caught on so well with Kobina Taylor, then one of the bosses at GBC and he arranged for the group to start a series of Akan Drama on GTV. He said it was at this stage that Joris Wartenberg, their scriptwriter, changed their name from Oppong Drama Group to Osofo Dadzie Group.
He said while he was with the group he was getting private jobs as people contracted him to appear in television commercials to advertise company products. Super O.D. said with the advent of Ghanaian video films he was invited by HM Films to play in Double Cross shot at Adiembra, Takoradi; Fatal Decision and Crossfire. He said these further shot him up and has since been involved in film acting. What in recent times has been his major engagement are a series of one-man comedy shows that promoters outside the country have been inviting him to perform. He said these series have taken him to Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Bremen all in Germany; Holland, Belgium, Canada, London, Washington DC and New York.
He said his promoters are sometimes amazed by the fact that he is able to treat his audiences to three hours non-stop comedy. He sums up the difficulties and successes in his favorite lines: "I am the son of the long one, I walk on lions, on hippos, rhinos and tigers And I break their bones into pieces I am the great one." Of course this is the adapted version of the caterpillar's song in the Seven African tales but it suits the life history of ace comedian Asonaba Kweku Darko, alias Super O.D