Amaze Wins CIVICUS Award

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Hipco rapper Amaze

Hip-Co rapper Amaze has made history again. The rapper, whose musical career covered a decade and a half, has been named one of the winners of the global civil society alliance CIVICUS art competition which aims to encourage young creative artists to share their vision of what democracy should be, raising globally youths’ voices that have been silenced.

The Hipco rapper, won the Multimedia category prize for his single “Know Who to Vote For”, a song that speaks about voters’ awareness during the just ended 2017 general elections.

“I feel democracy should be everybody’s business. The song is a sensitive song for citizens to vote right, not to vote based on ethnicity, religion, scholarships, or religious background,” Amaze said.

By winning the award, Amaze became the first Liberian rapper to clinch such prize.  The two other awardees were cartoonist Vandita Sariya from India and Angolan author, Cláudia Cassoma, both winners of the visual arts and written arts categories respectively.

The CIVICUS contest took place under the theme, “Re-imagining Democracy: In Search of Silenced Voices”, through arts and imagination to celebrate International Youth Day on August 12.  Amaze, whose real name is Henry Amazin Toe, is currently a Hipco Accountability Ambassador who mentors upcoming artistes to create music for social change.

Vandita Sariya, described by CIVICUS as an emerging creative artist, has been practicing her craft for just six months. CIVICUS noted that she was inspired by a surge in intolerance in the society in which she lives.

“A wave of pseudo-nationalism is going on in my country, India, and people are judging and even killing others for who they are, what they look like, what they eat and what their beliefs are,” said Sariya, on a statement posted on the organization’s website.

A poem by Angolan author, Cláudia Cassoma, encouraging youth to see themselves as the “master key” to all the solutions they seek, was chosen as the winner of the written arts category.

CIVICUS added on its website that Cláudia Cassoma, who has had four books published, says the poem, entitled “Chave Mestra” (Portuguese for master key), was inspired by a common attitude she encounters among young people in her country, Angola, and globally.

“Today, one thing I hear a lot are complaints by youth about the million things that are wrong with the world while they themselves are doing nothing. Usually, that’s the case because they feel they can’t do anything,” Cassoma added.

Elisa Novoa, CIVICUS Youth Working Group coordinator, said: “The aim of this contest was to give a space for young people to express a vision for the kind of democracy they desire. It was also an opportunity to mobilize young creative minds from every corner of the globe, offering a platform to amplify their messages related to the respect of democratic values and social justice.

“In a world where information is shared with so much hate, discrimination and stigmatization, we want to enable arts to be a tool to share messages of hope, justice, and equality,” said Novoa.

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