While the fight against Ebola in the country is paramount, the Liberian government must urgently have the political will to enforce laws to protect creative artists, says Mr. Kekura Kamara, president of the Liberia National Cultural Union (LNCU) in a recent interview in Monrovia.
“There is no protection for the work of creative artists,” he says in desperation, “and I think this must claim the attention of the Liberian government.” He insists that if the Liberian government has the political will to enforce laws that defend copyrights, creative artists and their work will be protected.
“I’m talking about musicians, writers and movie makers whose works are copied illegally by the growing market in the country,” he says, pointing out that many of the pirated movie disks are sold cheaply in the Liberian market to benefit, not the producers, but illegal businesses.
Among the organizations affected by the illegal pirated work, are the Musical Union, Cultural Union, Liberia Association of Writers, (LAW), and the Union of Liberian Artists.
Kamara, who is also the executive director of the famous Malawala Balawala Foundation, says that it is his hope that copyright laws developed to protect Liberian artists, could gain government support to penalize illegal producers of creative work.
“To be able to sustain the industry,” Kamara points out, “we want the government to work with us to prosecute offenders. Once we are in control of what we produce, it will create jobs for thousands of Liberians.”
“We live in a society in which some businesses are involved in stealing others’ work to make money,” he says, and wants the Liberian government to support copyright laws in the country to weed out illegal businesses involved in the abuse of copyrighted works.
Kamara laments that the lack of protection for Liberian creative artists has destroyed their ability to create employment for themselves and thousands of Liberians.
“The government is losing thousands of dollars in taxes,” says Kamara, “and this must stop.”
He regrets that Liberia has become a dumping ground for products that their owners don’t benefit from, including video discs and audio materials.
He explains that through the assistance of the Musical Union of Nigeria, Mr. Tony Okoroji helped Liberia to create copyright laws in the country. “The Federal Republic of Nigeria supports laws that protect creative artists,” Kamara notes with appreciation, and wants the Liberian government to follow that example.
He notes that when it became necessary for motorbike transportation to be restricted to communities and off the main thoroughfares and streets of Monrovia, the Liberian government made the decision and it is now the case.
“We want the government to do the same for creative artists and their work,” he appeals. There are presently 36 cultural groups as part of the LNCU and through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism some cash assistance is provided to what he describes as Union of Collective Society. This group involves the Liberia Association of Writers, Musical Union, Cultural Union and the Union of Liberian Artists.