Saturday, December 4

Liberia’s FaithVonic: On Making Music To Overcome Tragedy And Immerse In Humanitarian Aid

FaithVonic (25) is a Liberian Afropop and Hipco (HipHop) artist, one of the few female artists on the music scene in Liberia, a country with a turbulent history on the West African coast.

She says her music is made to make people happy. But she says creating music is also a way to escape her personal trauma. It’s her creative coping mechanism after everything she and the country have been through.

“There are so many things in Liberia that we have been through,” he says.

“From war to domestic violence, to rape, to sex. I just can’t name everything. It can even traumatize you when you start thinking about it. “

After two civil wars, the last one ending in 2003, Liberian society has had to deal with loss of family, sexual and domestic violence, and post-traumatic stress disorder. But Liberians have had little time to heal their scars. In 2014, the country faced a tragic Ebola outbreak for more than two years. They are now dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re talking on a Zoom call. FaithVonic wears a necklace with an amulet in the shape of the African continent and just posted a photo on Instagram about the beauty of being Liberian. His answer: the Koloqau (local language), food, fun and people.

“We have a lot of problems, but I’m trying to distract people from that, like forgetting about problems for once and just identifying the beauty that you know.”

How does your music help people to forget about problems? “My music brings people to life. I want to celebrate people and bring them together. I also know that music can motivate people, so sometimes I immerse myself in this humanitarian work as a musician. “

FaithVonic produced a song together with other musicians in 2014 during the Ebola outbreak, to “help people feel alive again.” Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, his song is meant to raise awareness and invite people to take the virus seriously.

And for you, how does music help you? “For me, music is an escape from trauma. Music calms me down a lot. It’s like my peace of mind.

“Growing up with my stepfather was not the perfect childhood. It was violent, especially after having a drink. My mom and I, as women, had no voice in the house. It was almost like he was our boss. And you don’t say anything when your boss is wrong, even when what you think is right. It was terrifying, and at one point, I hated men. “

How did your opinion of men change? “I have been in so many different crises related to men and that really makes me stronger. Now I know that not all men are like this.

“A man will never put me in a position where I am silent. I know my worth, I know who I am and I know what I am capable of, and besides that, we are no longer in a century in which women are silent. In Africa, women are supposed to submit to their men once they marry, but you must remember that you have a voice. Women need to know their rights ”.

How do you make sure Liberian women know their rights? “I use my platform and tell women that I have also been in their position. I go live and talk to my fans. We talk about women, gender violence and how it affects them. They need to know that their situation is not right and that they can get out. I’ve never had someone tell me I could go out. It was just me and God.

“When I partnered with ActionAid Liberia (a global NGO, focused on development and human rights) we went to the Red Light Market, a very large market in Liberia. We spoke to men and gave them a very simple message; They must appreciate the things their wives do at home. Some men in Liberia think that the fact that you are a woman makes it your responsibility to do the housework. It shouldn’t be because you are a woman and you are obliged to clean and wash clothes. Men can do it too. “

How did the men respond? “Some men were rude when I spoke to them. They said that we are changing the mentality of women. I wanted to make you understand that the message is so simple, that you should only appreciate the things your wives do. “

Do you see these traditional gender roles with the younger generations in Liberia as well? “My problem is actually with the younger generation of women. They do not participate in the things that men do. In other parts of the world, I see women electricians and mechanics, but you won’t find girls doing that in Liberia.

“I performed in front of a lot of young girls once, most of them were around 17/18. I asked them who wants to be a nurse and almost everyone raised their hands. I said okay, that’s good, but who wants to be a mechanic? Not a single girl raised her hand. He was in awe, including the ambassador of the event. She was like huh? Don’t you think you can do it? One of the girls told me that it is men’s work, not women’s. From that moment I knew that this is one of the problems that is affecting them. That’s why women don’t really get jobs here. Not everyone can work in the same field. “

How do you think this can change? “People need to educate them that some jobs are not just for men, a woman can do it too. They don’t have people encouraging them to do “men’s work.”

If he weren’t a musician, he would be a builder. When I see people building a house, I want to learn it, but every time I ask them they have so many things to tell me. The bricks are heavy, they will hurt your hands, so many excuses that don’t even encourage me to try. “

Why do you have the mindset of being interested in doing a “man’s job”? “I’m the type of person who wants to learn a lot, I don’t care if it’s men’s work and I think there are other girls like me. My mom taught me to be independent, to be a strong woman and to know how to take care of myself. My father was not there, so my mother was a woman and a man at the same time. He said that I shouldn’t be completely dependent on the men in my life. 80 percent is up to you as an individual. “

Are you curious about FaithVonic’s music? You can find their songs here. His music also appears in the Cry Like A Boy episodes about Liberia, listen to the episodes here.

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