The entire delegation, with one exception, of at least 18 Liberian artists that were due to perform at this year’s Liberian Musical Awards next month in the United States of America (USA), has been denied visas by the Consular Section at the US Embassy near Monrovia, an LMA official has said.
Several of the artists reportedly denied visas include local industry headliners such as “Deng, Soul Fresh, Ericgeso, Marvelous, Magnetic, among others.
LMA Public Relations Committee chair, Dede Dalmeida, made the startling revelation during a Daily Observer telephone interview.
Up to press time, the embassy did not comment on the visa denials.
However, a source said some of the artists lack tangible and substantial establishment in Liberia to ensure that they would return when the awards ceremony shall have ended.
Another reason for disallowing them the visa, our source said, is that some of the artists do not have enough cash in their bank accounts to support themselves while in the US.
Meanwhile, the Daily Observer has reliably learnt that, of the 12 artists who traveled to the US for last year's LMA ceremony, only two of them returned, while the rest of them are yet to return.
Disappointingly, Dalmatia disclosed that during the visa interviews, many of the artists were unable to convince the Consulate that they could return shortly after the awards program, and not go into hiding with the intention seeking asylum in order to stay in the U.S.
“When the consulate finds out that you don’t have any asset or business establishment in Liberia that would convince the embassy that you will return upon the completion of the ceremony, definitely the embassy will not grant you any visa to travel to the U.S.,” Dalmeida explained.
“We don’t have any say in the visa process. The decision as to whether the artists receive or are denied visas is left with the US Consulate. Our role as LMA is, among other things, to extend an invitation to the artists,” to participate in the ceremony,” she stressed.
During the launch of the LMA’s first edition last year, David Mell, Shadow, Benevee, J.D. Donzo and Bernice Blackie travelled to the U.S. on invitation from the LMA; likewise D12, Pitty D'Best, Infectious Michael, DSP, and Tan Tan. Only Tan Tan and Bernice returned. Bernice has since gone back to the US, however.
With this latest development, artists are being challenged to have assets that would make them responsible citizens so as to convince the embassy of their status.
With the nightmare being encountered by the more than 18 artists being denied, Dalmeida said, it was only Tamba W. Bundor, executive director of T-bund Studio, whom the consulate provided a visa for the trip.
“Tamba is a man with assets in Liberia, and for this reason, the Embassy sees him as a person trustworthy enough to attend the awards and come back.”
Accordingly, Dalmeida is now left with no alternative but to keep hoping against hope that the time shall come one of these days that the consulates could restore trust in Liberian artists and allow them to travel to the U.S., confident that they will return to their native land to contribute to national development.
“We did our best in the interview, but it seems that the issue of credibility and the relationship between LMA and the US Embassy in Monrovia are at stake,” a denied artist has said.
“It is impossible that all the artists that received the invitation and were interviewed could be denied visa except for one; something went on wrong somewhere."