By Esther Wright
Having attempted to migrate to Europe but failed in their sojourn, all is not lost for certain young Sierra Leoneans as, with support, they are contributing immensely towards nation building.
Three talented young returned migrants from Sierra Leone, Henry Bessman (Henry B), Ibrahim Kargbo (Adkay) and Abdul Karim Sankoh (Gift), used their creative skills to write and record Corona virus is real, an original song about Covid-19. The song is available in English and Krio and aims to inspire people in Sierra Leone to take this virus seriously and protect themselves.
The young men took the initiative to write the song to raise awareness about the virus in a way that people will pay attention to. They sing, “We are calling everybody, please listen to this message… please don’t ignore this message… let us say no to this virus, let us kick it out of this world.” The song also shares practical information about hygiene, physical distancing and mask-wearing measures.
The chorus of the song references Ebola, which impacted Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016 with more than 14,000 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths, reminding people of the importance of taking action now, so that history doesn’t repeat itself: “Corona virus is real and it’s killing ….Let don’t condone it, so it won’t be like Ebola.”
Gift, an active member of the community and documentary filmmaker, said: “My motivation for doing this song came about as a result of my personal experience with the Ebola outbreak. I lost my mother to the disease and I can still clearly remember the pain.”
“I thought that the best way we can prevent corona from affecting the country the way Ebola did is to record a song to remind and sensitize people about our difficult past, to protect each other and not repeat the mistakes we made with Ebola,” said Adkay, a musician and local activist.
Henry B. aspires to be a professional musician and is motivated to empower young people with music. “My inspiration for doing this song came when the pandemic reached Africa. I decided to collaborate with Gift and Adkay to do this song in order to educate the public about the dangers of this disease if we allow it to spread in our country.”
The three talented artists are volunteers with IOM’s Migrants as Messenger project, a peer-to-peer messaging campaign supported by the Government of the Netherlands that aims to empower young people in West Africa to make informed migration-related decisions. The project works with returned migrants to share first-hand information about the trials and tribulations of irregular migration.