‘Voice to Represent’ (Voice2Rep) is Accountability Lab’s pioneering and reformative musical campaign and advocacy platform that promotes issues around integrity, accountability and good governance through the lenses of a more equal participation and greater representation across Liberia. Its goal is for young and undiscovered artists to build their knowledge, skills and get the connections they need to improve their music and use it to advocate for social change. Hip-Co Accountability network on the other hand is a group on young national artists (male and female) who consider themselves ‘conscious musicians’, using a mixture of ‘hip-hop’ music and the Liberian ‘colokwa’ (pidgin) to preach about a wide range of social issues, including; equality, opportunities for youth, including participation.
Accountability Lab Liberia’s Voice2Rep campaign, with support from the Music in Africa Foundation, recently hosted the Hip-Co Accountability Network for a capacity building workshop. Sixteen musicians participated, learning about how to promote messaging around civic participation, create linkages among different artists for cross collaboration and how to leverage different advocacy methods at the iCampus Accountability Lab Liberia’s office on Carey Street in Monrovia.
“Civic participation and collaboration are two key strategies I learned about today during this workshop that stood out for me as a musician. Giving back to society is high on my advocacy agenda, especially now that we have general elections coming up in 2023,” commented Thomas “Theoto” Moserary, a member of the Hip-Co Accountability Network. “I am working on a civil education song to sensitize citizens to the fake promises that politicians make during elections.”
The training reinforced the ideals of conscious music where artists’ skills are built on using their authentic voices to comment on critical social issues including equality, youth opportunities, accountability and transparency as well as civic participation.
AL Liberia carried out a learning evaluation with participants that showed a 100% increase in knowledge.
Music in Africa concert
Following the training workshop, Accountability Lab Liberia with support from Music in Africa, organised two music concerts for young people from Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, and Fiamah Community, Monrovia and Montserrado County. The two events gathered enthusiastic young people on the 24th and 30th of December 2021 to celebrate new music by theLiberian Hip-Co Accountability Network.
“Voice2Rep – Music for Advocacy” concerts were staged in Monrovia and Buchanan cities and saw six hundred young people attending the shows to enjoy a night of fun. Two songs really stood out – “Limbo” performed by Amaze, a Hip-Co Accountability Network Ambassador, Super 7, Philipino, Theoto, Oluwa Banks, Waste Dem, Corina, Birthday Suit, and K-Tol, and “It’s in your hands” written and performed by Amaze, Keri, Philipino, D-man, Lovelogy, Waste Dem, Pop Daddy, and Lady Hifi. The songs address critical social issues and raise awareness around the upcoming 2023 national elections.
“The music was educational; it brought up things we need to know about what the government and our leaders should do for us. I hope it will be spread on social media platforms for more people to listen to it – especially the youth – so that they vote the right leaders in come 2023,” said P. Somah, in Monrovia.
Young attendees were reminded to thoroughly examine and educate themselves about their political candidates and to carefully study their promises. An audience member from Buchanan, C. Brown said: “The main message I got was to vote wisely and to vote for my future because the person I vote for can either help or destroy future generations.”
The songs further warned the youth not to sell their votes for rice or money but to hold those elected leaders to their campaign promises to benefit the people and the country.
Reaching the young people
To extend the reach of these concerts, Accountability Lab Liberia organized two awareness campaigns in both Buchanan and Monrovia cities. The activities included a day-long street musical with a public address system through the major streets in Buchanan city and Fiamah community and throughout Sinkor and Fiamah communities. AL Liberia produced and aired promotional jingles on radio Gbezohn in Buchanan and OKAT FM in Monrovia and shared informational flyers within their networks and with partners.
As the 2023 presidential general elections draw near, young voters in particular need to be actively engaged, as they constitute about 60% of the population and are often easily influenced by politicians during election periods. Campaigns like Voice2Rep, with support from partners like Music in Africa, will expand its impact this year in advocating for social justice, equality and accountability.