Accountability Lab has awarded two Liberian artists for winning its Rap2Rep musical campaign. Ms. Hellen Smith emerged as winner of the campaign, receiving a grand prize of US$ 300, while Andrew Horton came second, taking away US$ 200 at the award ceremony held on July 17, 2020, on Carey Street, Monrovia. By Lewis S. Teh

Ms. Janet M. Kamara said Rap2Rep is a campaign that is held under the auspices of Accountability Lab since 2015, basically using music as a tool for social change.

For the past four years the campaign has built an accountability hipco network that includes musicians of social and conscious music, who are passionate about using their performance to advocate for changes they want to see, noting that those artists are now some of the powerful voices addressing issues of corruption, civil engagement, voting rights, and youth empowerment, among others.

She said this year’s campaign is heavily supported by the United States Embassy near Monrovia with focus on establishing a way to access information and advice to the community as well as how citizens can turn the curve against COVID-19 in Liberia. She said the impact of the coronavirus has been felt at many levels.

Speaking on behalf of the United States Embassy, Mr. Robert Tanookpuwah, Education and Cultural Affairs Assistant at the Public Affairs Section, noted that it is a great thing to celebrate talented Liberians both established and emerging artists.

He praised the artists for their efforts, saying, “You have done a powerful work; this prevention and awareness music is just another remarkable result we can get when the United States and the Liberian people work together to pursue common goals. Raising awareness is a key mitigation strategy in any public health, and using the approach to entertain and sensitize the public to the risk, and danger of this virus while conveying conscious massages, changes behavior that can limit the spread of the virus.”

According to Mr. Tanookpuwah, the Public Affairs Section of the United States Embassy is gratified to support Accountability Lab and the talent of the artists through USAID and CDC Public health projects, which underscores the Mission commitment to working with Liberians in preventing spread of the virus.

Accountability lab is an institution that works with innovative people and organizations in Liberia to develop tools and encourage communities around them to make power-holders more responsible.

For his part, the Country Director for Accountability Lab Lawrence Yealue extolled the artists for a job well done. He said putting a group of talented Liberians together on a project is a tremendous work, and that getting young people to transform the country is not something so easy.

He said the competition targeted two persons who became first and second place winners, noting that the music industry in Liberia is growing, and “if you are a Liberian buying pirated work, you are committing bad action against local artist.”

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters following the ceremony, first place winner, Ms Hellen Smith expressed satisfaction, and thanked Accountability Lab for hosting the program, something she noted will promote competition among artists.

“I’m excited to be crowned winner of the Rap2Rep campaign; I never thought of coming even close to winning especially where there were big artists in the competition, but its God’s doing and I’m grateful,” Hellen expressed.

This article was originally published in New Dawn Liberia