By: Leila B. Gbati
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), the National Investment Commission (NIC), in collaboration with the non-government organization, the Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP) on Saturday, 18 September 2021, auditioned to select Liberia’s best artists to represent the country at Expo-2020 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
The weekend audition was held at the Headquarters of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace on the Capitol Bye-pass, in Central Monrovia.
Three groups of artists including the National Culture Troop of Liberia, Zobanjay Culture Troop and the Liberia Crusaders for Peace dance crew showcased their talents during the audition.
Organizers of the event say artists selected from the three performing groups of artists will fly Liberia’s flag at the Dubai Expo-2020, where they are expected to put on display Liberia’s culture and showcase their talents.
Speaking at the audition, MICAT’s Deputy Minister for Culture and Tourism, Lance Gbagonyon, said the weekend’s event was all about teamwork.
Deputy Minister Gbagonyon described as great the cultural performances exhibited by artists of the three groups, indicating that it is not the first time for the artists to take part in such an event, noting that he’s confident that they can do better.
He told the artists that government is unable to take all of them to the UAE to perform at Expo-2020, but only a limited number of them, hence, the audition, which he said is a competitive process aimed at selecting Liberia’s best for the Dubai event.
He pointed out that that the process was transparent, informing that artists that the selection of the best artists will be done following the submission of findings of those with the qualification to do so, with an onward submission of such findings to their bosses, who will also validate the process by viewing tapes and juxtaposing same with the selection decision aimed at proving that the transparency of the selection process.
According to him, if government had the needed funds to take all the artists at the audition to Dubai, it would have done so, but expressed regret that it is not the case.
“Thank you for coming, I’m hopeful that besides dancing as a team if we go there, the spirit of unity and nationalism will prevail. The intent is to take this exercise as a breeding opportunity to recruit new members to form part of the National Team,” said Gbagonyon, who added that by right, government should annually audition in the various counties to select members of the National Culture Troop, but lamented that but over the past three years, this has not been done.
Also speaking, the President for Tribal Governor Council of Liberia, Musu Thompson revealed that culture is her background, while expressing appreciation for the head of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace, Ambassador Julie Endee, the GoL and the dancers for their efforts geared toward the representation of Liberia outside the country.
Madam Thompson told the artists that once they love themselves they should also love their neighbors including their country.
The President of the Taylor Union of Liberia, Edison Carlon, for his part, thanked the artists for their attractive performances, stating that he believes that Liberia will get a good result from Dubai based on their performances during the audition.
Mr. Carlon admonished the artists to continue to be diligent to prove their talents, in order to always be eligible for selection to represent Liberia.
For her part, Ambassador Julie Endee thanked the artists for their performances at the audition, emphasizing that this is a way of showcasing certain part of Liberia’s culture.
“I’m very grateful and the display of talents here today was superb and we can never be disappointed,” Amb. Endee said, adding, “I have been fortunate to travel with some of you to Libya, United States and Senegal and I know that wherever we go, we always bring glory.”
Ambassador Endee noted that she knows if the GoL can invest in the artists, with the 190 countries expected to be in Dubai, Liberia will shine.
She’s of the hope that companies operating in the country, through their corporate social responsibility, would support two or more artists for the Liberia team to Dubai can make the stage beautiful because according to her, in Dubai, there will be a parade and different stages where performances will take place including an area in Liberia’s Pavilion where there will be a tour of the UAE government.
“I think that Liberia can use this as changing prices into opportunities looking at Covid and changing this Covid era into opportunities that they will go shine and bring the good news to Liberia and encourage investors to come to Liberia that Liberia is free, safe and ready and open for business,” she said.
She used the occasion to appeal to international partners and the GoL for more support to the artists, stressing that it is not a long journey and they are going for just a week and return but what would count is that the team ably represent their country.