Accountability Lab Liberia, in partnership with the National Endowment for Democracy, launched a Voice2Rep (formerly Rap2Rep) tour and concert in four locations – Gbarnga, Bong; Buchanan, Grand Bassa; Monrovia, Montserrado; and Ganta, Nimba – as part of conscious efforts to spread civic education messages to the youth and citizens in these areas around elections participation and related issues.

The concert aimed to present creative ways of educating the youth and citizens of their roles and responsibilities during and after elections periods, emphasizing the need to engage with political and aspiring candidates that want to be elected to public offices of leadership. The messages explain the need to carefully examine aspiring candidates’ intentions and track records and hold elected officials accountable for promises made after being elected.

Ahead of the concert, AL Liberia launched massive civic awareness and outreach activities to educate the youth through street publicity, including distribution of flyers in major communities, aired jingles on the community radio stations in the counties, and held interactive radio talk shows with community members calling in and asking questions about the activities.

At the concerts (one in each of the counties mentioned above), the five songs produced for the democracy campaign were performed. The performances were led by Solomon Tamba, V2R Winner in Bong; Terry Robertson, the V2R winner in Grand Bassa; Oluwa Banks, the V2R winner in Montserrado; and Alice Jimmy, V2R winner in Nimba. Accountability Lab’s Hip-co music ambassador, Henry ‘Amaze’ Toe, made a star performance. The songs performed were ‘Kpor-Kpor from Bong, ‘That’s not what we voted you for’ from Grand Bassa, ‘Promises’ from Nimba, and ‘No Violence’ from Montserrado. The AL Liberia ambassador performed ‘Vote your Future.’ Other performances were made by local artists from the counties to spice up the entertainment at the concert.

The concerts (free of charge to all) saw an average of 500 persons in attendance, eager to understand the messages in the songs performed. Midway through the performances, AL Liberia’s project officer was able to explain the campaign’s objectives and encourage the attendees to closely follow the lyrics of the music, understand the music and apply the messages.

Here are some quotations from the artists and other participants from the counties:

  1. “I was able to understand what conscious music is and how I can use it to promote change. Being one of the Voice2Rep representatives has also made me to interact with different groups of people from different counties, which has also help me learn new things.” – Terry Robertson (Grand Bassa)
  2. “At least things improving little-by-little, and I have been able to learn new skills, visit other counties, and got connected with a group of musicians like myself.” – Solomon Tamba (Bong)
  3. “The talents are there, but the support is not. The Voice2Rep program has given the young artists a chance to be a part of educating their fellow youth on key election issues for the development of our communities and country as a whole. Thanks to accountability Lab and NED.” – A young female participant (Nimba)
  4. “Being able to use hip-co music for civic education is truly amazing. Most times, when I listen to these songs, the musicians are either cursing our leaders and or venting out frustrations about misrule. But, using this form of music to make songs to educate many people, especially youth, is creative and the right way to go, because a lot of youth do listen to this kind of music. – Young female participant (Montserrado)

The performing artists from the counties have expressed their desire to continue their musical career with the help and knowledge gained from music mentors from the Hip-co Accountability Network and Accountability Lab Liberia team.

The NED Voice2Rep democracy campaign is a year-long campaign intended to educate young citizens about their roles and responsibilities related to elections and voting and how they can help support the youth to be active citizens and engage their elected officials in the most peaceful manner. All of this is being done through conscious songs and, most importantly, to reinforce citizens’ knowledge of how democracy works.

 

Article originally published in Bush Chicken