Liberian Entertainment: Will It Ever Rise To A Comparable Zenith?

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What kind of country is this? Where you honesty try to pursue your passion but get stifled by the same people you try to please. Where Artists cannot boast of Royalties accrued from their hard work because Piracy has eaten everything, including the brains and morals of those who represent them! Where Producers shoot/record and stockpile Movies, just to go on recording others because they pay little or nothing as COMPENSATION to ACTORS/ACTRESSES. And so they think: "I have nothing to lose," thus leaving the Actors in wanton need. Where foreign Artists are brought in and often paid thousands of dollars while Local Artists are given a hundred or two hundred dollars for their performances. Will a sudden lightning strike and kill these telephone companies and event organizers if they invest in Liberian talents?

What kind of country is this where Entertainers, especially Actors are forced to settle for A Day's Job just to feed, because their profession cannot eke out a living for them as of yet? And although they try their best to stay on the positive side of life, the only rays of hope they see are toward abandoning their homeland for another in search of a better result. Is this the Liberia we yearned for when we were kids playing Tic-Tac-Toe? Is this the future we hoped for when we were playing Mummy & Daddy, believing that Our Country would give us the equal opportunity as inscribed in our constitution? I do not think Yes is an answer to any one of those questions.

What kind of Country is this? Where a sitting President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will promise to meet with and discuss issues relating to the betterment of protesting entertainers under the banner of the Concerned Artists since 2011, but has vehemently refused to do so. How do we take members of her kitchen cabinet by their word when she does not stand by hers? This is one country where the Ministry of Information, culture and Tourism does nothing to improve the entertainment industry, yet they demand a review of our movies and a fee before allowing Liberian movies into the Liberian market, while our market is flooded with illicit materials and they do nothing about it. Are they blind to these simple facts or is it just the mere "I don't care" attitude?

Now is the time for us to stand up to our foes and project the positive side of the old Liberian adage which states that "When your house doesn't sell you, the streets won't buy you." In other words, when our country-Liberia-does not project support for us, how do we expect the world to look upon us with glee and respect? Nigeria's Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme became household names in Africa and the world when they acted their very first film "Aki & Pawpaw," yet a Memuna Sheriff or a Josephus Tolbert are not even appreciated in their own country, not to even think of reaping premiums. I know many hold to the idea that we should be patriotic, but what has our patriotism given us in return when dishonesty and deceit remains the order of the day in a country blessed with so much minerals, yet we strive for a means that eludes us on a daily basis.

Deceit and zero control mechanisms are so rife that a certain group of people just got up and named an annual event The Liberian Entertainment Awards, yet it is hosted in America and not in the country whose name it bears. How many radio wielding Liberians at home know what that award ceremony is all about? Except for the few who flock to Facebook daily and poke around it long enough to find such a name. Bear with me that the fact remains that many of us have been pursuing our passion for many long years, yet, there is no aspect of our personal lives that we can credit to the returns gathered from it, other than our day's job.

If Liberia must rise and live up the true meaning of its creed, then it’s time for well meaning Liberians to invest in the entertainment industry and abandon their usual establishment of bars and night clubs as a primary means of lifting this sector of our society. If one actor is empowered to gain returns from his work at home, a host of other Liberians stand to benefit. Imagine that a very well paid Actor needs a personal assistant, a manager, a butler, few maids, a security guard or two, a personal driver; and they all will get paid handsomely. So imagine if one actor can employ up to six persons and pays them handsomely well and also takes care of his family adequately, plus many actors in Liberia who are at the same ebb, automatically we will see a drop in the unemployment rate and a striking reduction in poverty. Liberians are good at empty talks and less work.  Now is the time for President Sirleaf to hononr her promise to the Entertainment Industry. Now is the time for those who were elected to the National Legislature to turn their attention to this sector of the Liberian society. The sooner, the better, I mean it.

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