It was not too long ago folks that I had been to Monrovia the capital
city of the war torn country, Liberia but my return to the once
prosperous and loving country last week I realized that a lot had
change on the entertainment scene over the period. The music and movie
industry has started picking up even though in a slow pace, a multiple
of Radio and TV stations it is a clear indication of how determined the
people are to rebuild their country and the entertainment industry
The last time I was in Liberia when we (Castro and I and the current one was the reopening of SKD Sports Complex with VIP and Goodies) were invited to participate in the 160th anniversary celebrations of the African oldest ancient country, courtesy Western Union, Charterhouse Liberia. We were taken through the VIP lounge awaiting a special car and security put in our disposal by the UNMIL and the organizers with almost the same courtesy accorded us this time too. Liberia is the first African country to have won its independence on July 26, 1847.
We were taken to our hotel Urban Villa and Urban Reminiscence along the Sinkor 20th and 15th Sinkor streets respectively (during my first and second visit) where you can find the best goodies, cast your mind to say, Dzowulu in Accra and about almost an hour drive from the airport, may be because of the nature of the roads. One thing I realized while, in Liberia is all the principal roads have been numbered and you need not to say: take this course through the traffic light, close to Mpamprom you will see…just mention the street you want and anybody will direct you there.
I am not here to talk about the war so I will try to avoid some of the things I saw and heard. It was a real terrific and horrific experience our brothers went through. It is good to jaw-jaw through democracy than otherwise. But as one of their slogans goes “Liberians are hard to learn, quick to forget”. They are putting everything behind them to forge ahead as one people who want to rekindle their spirit. We were then taken through the city and visited some important places and eatery joints.
In Burma Bridge we have a typical Ghanaian chop bar owned by Madam Fustina Ekue Aidoo from Senya Breku in the Central Region of Ghana. The food was solid and very Ghanaian. Every Ghana food is available here and it is classic or should I say, “Eye gye”. In the evening a dinner was hosted in favor of the hiplife icon Castro that was the first visit but the second one we were hosted by His Excellency Maj. Gen. Adu. The two rendezvous were memorable one.
We also visited the Monaliza Restaurant and Patisserie, which is situated; on the Sinkor 15th street, which is owned, by ever-presence Lebanese businessmen and the standard is good except that I didn’t enjoy their numerous menus. I am use to kenkey and fufu but not the type I was served with.
Even though the war is over its repercussion and pessimisms still goes through the minds of the people, but I hope as time goes on all this skirmishes will be forgotten to give way to more positive dynamisms, especially with the entertainment industry. In the first outing we went clubbing but it was not so unique as with what we have Accra but on my second return I met different Nites especially Embassy Nite club all together, na mo ma me nka na Liberia four mmaa ho ye fe ena omu pe chilling. (Loosely translated as Liberians ladies are pretty and love chilling).
I counted not less than eleven radio stations and three TV stations: Love, Real, Clar and the Power TV Stations in the capital. I visited two such stations, which fortunately have something to do with Ghanaians. Folks do you remember Ambrose Nmah of Radio Gold fame? He is the director general of both Truth Radio and Real TV and King George Weah the defeated candidate in their last election, owns the King’s Radio and Crystal TV. I was told one Kojo a Ghanaian also host a program on another network. It is good for modern day democracy and I hope they are going to sustain and nurture it. We were warmly received by Ambrose Nmah who hosts the morning show with the same zeal, proficiency and alacrity as he was doing in Ghana with Radio Gold but I didn’t meet him this time around as he had traveled to Accra.
If you listen to radio here you may think you are in Ghana Hiplife and High life, my God, superb. Ofori Amponsah lead the pack of musicians whose works are appreciated, follow by Castro, Mzbel, VIP, PRAYE, Batman among others and not with any special order. For the past three months or so three artists have past through: Ofori Amponsah, Castro and VIP and they all gave good accounts of themselves. Despite the goodwill there is no proper mechanism to check piracy and people have taken advantage of that to pirate the works of our artists. In my last trip to the capital Goodies and I met with Mr. Emeka E. Obiamiwe a strong entertainment advocate to take care of our artist interest with a proper documentation and sooner or later something concrete will be done on it.
Liberians have their own version of Hiplife or Hip Pop called HIPO. The problem with the musicians here is the fact that cost of production is high and there are no quality studios to take care of their works. As a result of that most of the beats are copy-cats with America ascent in mind. There is the need for a comprehensive repackage of their indigenous music and fused it with the western or African rhythm. They are addicted to foreign music so most of the artists here are toning this line, which to me is very bad because it. Hiplife started the same way and nearly crumbled but thanks to the ingenuity and creativity of our youth they have now blending the Africa rhythm and beat to give our music some identity. It is a general believe among connoisseurs that High life originally came from Liberia and they have allowed Ghanaians to usurp it from them, and how long are they going to allow this things to continue?
Currently in Liberia, the hottest artist is Nigga Blow, I don’t know but Blacks every where reject the name ‘Nigga’ but here in Liberia it is common among the youth, anyway, whatever it is Africans must have identity. Blow is an accomplishing name here and he is making it big not in terms of money but exposure. The likes of Bene-Volence, Nigga WeaH, Nigarman, Soul Fresh, Black Soldier, Kwa-Cee, TJ, G-UP, Kalo-Kalo and Princess Margaret. In Princess Margaret we have “Mzbel” of Liberia. You need to see this diva on stage and you will marvel about her agility. I was told they have two other hot girls which include AV who does rap and singing.
"No payola here please!" Is what one of the musicians told this writer when he inquisitively acquired from him whether Radio Presenters collect money from them before they play their music? He was unaware of such payment or name, (It is a system whereby money is collected from musicians before their music is play) but in Liberia it has not caught up with them. It is good news but for how long? I think the Music Union of Liberia (MULIB) should be active and put in place pragmatic policies to enhance the development of the industry. As for piracy the less I talk about it the better. The whole problem is that people are willing to buy audiotapes and CD’s yet it is not available in the market and some unscrupulous agents have taken advantage of the situation to cheat. As for gospel and traditional songs it has not been seriously affected by adulteration and foreign influence.
The radio presenters too are not helping matters. The time slot for their local music is not anything to write home about. From morning to evening Apart from Hiplife the common music you will hear is R&B. If we do this how can we provide jobs for the young ones? Asem sebe.
The movie industry too is picking up gradually with some locally made stuff like that. Talk of My Wife, Mistress, No More, Love One are the few one I saw but the reality on the ground is that the local people prefer Nigeria and some how Ghanaian movies to their own, just as it is happening in Ghana. The film industry like music is also confronted with the same problem from logistics to finance even human resource is a matter of concern to all. As usual Nigerian films are dominating here with the rest coming from Ghana. I saw The Return of Beyonce, Princess Tyra and a host of Nigeria films. People
Actresses like Veronica Tolpert a new discovery in Liberian movie industry described the situation as very appalling and there is the need for the ministry to do something about. ‘Our local people don’t patronize our products because of its quality and attractiveness, hence the popularity of Nigeria films’ she declared. In all I think with time things will improve to enable the industry to take its rightful place in the world. I must admit that I am really in love with Liberians and who knows my fiancée may come from there, hahaha!