By Nvasekie N. Konneh
For the first time in recent years, a group of Liberian artists participated in a major music festival in Morocco. The festival was organized by the Visa for Music, a cultural organization based in Morocco. Since 2013, Visa for Music has been organizing the festival annually as the meeting point of music of Africa and the Middle East. 2019 was the 6th edition of the event. This year edition was held under the sign of femininity with diversity of artists representing countries in Africa and the Middle East.
The 2019 festival was held from the 21st through the 23of November 2019 in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. With this 6th edition and the massive attendance of artists, producers, promoters, journalists from Africa, Middle East and Europe, Visa For Music demonstrated the fact that Rabat, indeed Morocco has become the major meeting place for the promotion of the artistic talents of Africa and the Middle East. By extension it has become a major world artistic event.
Altogether there were more than 1000 professionals from 70 countries, 25 of which came from Africa. Among the 25 countries was Liberia represented by group of leading Liberian artists such as Takun J, DanG, Nigga Blow, Tantan and others. Though these Liberian artists are individual solo artists who are well known in Liberia, they came together as one group to perform at the event in Morocco.
They were listed as Tan Tan, They performed three songs, one of which was a song composed and dedicated to Visa for Music. According to the Liberian artists, they composed and sang this song to show their appreciation for the invitation extended to them by the event organizers through the local Liberian NGO, Sehwah, headed by the former Liberian deputy minister of information for culture, Ms Louise McMillian Siaway.
Having established contact with the organizers which designated her as the country ambassador for Visa for Music in Liberia, Ms Louise contacted the Musician Union of Liberia which made the selection of the Liberian artists to participate in this international music event. The Liberian artists expressed thanks and appreciation to Ms Louise and her organization Sehwah for making it possible for them to attend this international event. They also expressed thanks and appreciation to President George MannehWeah for coming to their aids by underwriting the costs of the round trip tickets for the entire crew to Rabat, Morocco. The three day events were held at different venues in the city of Rabat. In the catalogue for the event, the Liberian artists were scheduled to perform at the Renaissance theater where they performed after some practice section.
According to the Liberian artists, they saw it as their patriotic duty and responsibility to represent their country. For its part, Sehwah-Liberia Inc thanks the president for coming through with the needed help that made it possible for the Liberian artists to participate in this event..According to her, Sehwah-Liberia appreciates the government support for its national library project as well as the support for the current and future projects.
Visa for Music is a project that is supported by private cooperate entities, OCP and Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, as well as national and international institutions, including SACEM and Mimeta, under the patronage of the king of Morocco, His Majestic Mohamed VI.
Besides the artistic performances, there were seven conferences, three workshops and hundreds of speedmeetings. Among major international markets present were Abidjan Arts and Entertainment Market, the Moshito in Johannesburg, DOADOA – East African Performing Arts Market in Kampala and WOMEX and Seoul Music Week (South Korea). Present also were members of Mimeta’s Board of Directors, representatives of SACEM and the Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals (FWMF) and other important personalities from the cultural world.
As the host country of the event, Morocco was represented by artists from its various regions such as Lâayoune, Oriental, Sousse and Tangier, all of which represent the country’s cultural diversity. According to the press release issued by the Visa for Music, the four days events animated the city of Rabat as the great musical capital enjoying festive and cultural atmosphere in winter. Economically the city also benefited. This indeed solidified the position of Visa For Music as an important player for the city’s economic life. The presence of artistic teams, professionals and journalists from all over the world generates significant economic benefits to different sectors such as transportation, hotels, restaurants, retail businesses etc. According to the press release, “Visa For Music is once again proving to be a unifying event, an incredible platform for artists and cultural actors, which promotes networking opportunities. 90% of Visa For Music’s concerts cannot be heard elsewhere. The festival reserves many discoveries of artists still little known and participates in the renewal of the musical scene on a national and international scale.
About the author: NvasekieKonneh is a nine year veteran of the US Navy. He’s a Liberian writer and author of the collections of poetry, Going to War for America, The Love of Liberty Brought Us Together, and the memoir of the Liberian civil war, “The Land of My Father’s Birth. He can be reached at Konnlove@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 267-826-3952.
Main Photo: Liberian Musicians, Morocco