Not many Liberian musicians will forgo their craft just to become an anti-corruption advocate. But for Nasseman, there is nothing more important right now in his life than standing up against corruption which breeds poverty, division and possibly brings about war.
Nasseman, who is a very successful reggae musician, has over the years used his music to speak against societal ills and injustice. He has said his experience over the years has taught him how corruption undermines Liberia’s progress and increases poverty, motivating him to get involved into being a corruption advocate.
“It will be like committing suicide if I don’t use my talent to speak out against corruption. I believed in a society that respects integrity, honesty, and transparency. So it is my duty to campaign for that society I dream about,” Nasseman said.
The “Redemption” singer began his anti-corruption advocacy after his song “Bonkey” won the 2016 fair play anti-corruption music competition, which is organized by the organizers of the International Anti-Music Conference.
Fair Play is a global competition for original songs by young bands (age between 18 to 35) on the theme of anti-corruption, integrity, and fighting for social justice.
“Bonkey” in Liberian Pidgin, is used to refer to a corrupt individual. The goal of the song was to bring to light the adverse impact of corruption on Liberians, mainly the poor, from all walks of life. “That was the beginning of my full involvement as an anti-corruption advocate. I did that music to highlight the impact of corruption,” Nasseman added.
As a winner of the competition, he traveled to Panama where he was able to receive his prize (ambassadorial title) and perform the song.
“The fight against corruption is everybody’s business and I think getting involved is the best thing I can do to help my country. I cannot sit and remain silent while the majority of my people are suffering as a result of corruption and I have the opportunity to speak against it but don’t want to. That will be the greatest sin I will be committing against them,” the singer noted.
After his return home, Nasseman, whose real name is Rabbie Nassrallah, began intensifying his fight against corruption by releasing a couple of tracks on the topics of corruption and hosting small town hall-style community events to raise awareness about the negative impact of corruption.
Nasseman added: “Corruption is like a disease and has eaten up the entire society; so I felt like using music to get the message across. I have a strong fan base which I can convince to choose integrity over dishonesty.
“I have a responsibility and that responsibility is to help make the youth to understand the pros and cons about corruption. This, at the end of the day, will allow them to choose what is right or wrong without someone forcing them to do so. Therefore when they make their own decisions, they will know that they alone will not bear the consequence but the entire country.”
And due to his effort to eliminate or reduce corruption, Nasseman is expected to be awarded and named Transparency International Global Ambassador in the fight against corruption, which will be given to him at the 18th annual International Anti-corruption Committee (IACC) event, which is expected to be held in Copenhagen, Demark, in October this year.
“I’m grateful for this upcoming honor and it just motivates me to do more. And this will give more focus to the youth, which constitutes half of the nation, with my campaign since I have a strong influence over them. If I can leverage my influence over them properly, I’m sure that the high rate of corruption can be reduced among them,” the artist said.
As an upcoming ambassador for Transparency International, Nasseman has gone on to register an organization called Art for Transparency, which is dedicated to using art to intensify the fight against corruption.
The organization, Nasseman explained, will incorporate people with artistic talents to widely spread its anti-corruption message so that it cannot reach the next generation of Liberians at this early stage.
“Part of my goal is to lobby for the inclusion of anti-corruption lesson to be incorporated into curriculums. The fight against corruption has to be taken to the next generation of Liberians. The sooner we start telling them about dishonesty, the better we can help them understand Integrity,” Nasseman added.