In what is perhaps a novel way to educate Liberian citizens about the Covid-19 pandemic, President George Weah has just released a song to raise awareness about the airborne virus.
Weah hopes to appeal to music lovers across the nation of some 4.5 million people to ensure Covid-19 does not spread further than the three cases already confirmed in the capital Monrovia.
In a telephone interview with RFI in Monrovia, Presidential Press Secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh said that aside from the measures already taken by the government, President Weah is anticipating that his song will resonate with Liberians, who will then take the necessary precaution to stay safe.
It is not the first time Weah has used his singing skills to help his country, as his first musical venture was during the Liberian civil war.
“During the civil crisis, he used his voice when he collaborated with other icons to sing a song for peace in Africa…again during the 2014 Ebola crisis, as a senator he used his voice to sing an awareness song against Ebola,” he said.
The government has already implemented several measures in two regions within the country, including a ban on public gatherings; school and houses of worship closures as well as suspension of flights in order to limit the spread of Covid-19.
The president partnered with both gospel musicians and local secular singers to produce the anti-coronavirus song.
“The President has his own studio that he built to empower Liberian artists. He went to the studio, which is located at the back of the Forky Klon Family Fellowship [Church] and talked to the engineers and partners with several local musicians,’ says Kelgbeh.
“He didn’t take a dime from the government’s coffers to do that song,” he adds.
Weah, a former international football star, constructed a state-of-the-art theater and recording studio to alleviate the burden of Liberian artists, according to Kelgbeh.
In the song, “Let Us Stand Together and Fight Coronavirus”, the president explains how the virus is transmitted and calls on Liberians to take the necessary preventive measures announced by health officials and experts to defeat the disease.
“It could be your mama, it could be your papa, brother and sisters. Let’s stand together to fight this dirty disease now. What kinds of world we live in full of uncertainty, no security everything but everything is possible,” Weah speaks in the song.
The track has already been well-received by Liberians, including J.Maxwell Sando, 55, a resident of Sinkor neighborhood in Monrovia who thinks the song will boost awareness.
“The tone and lyrics in the song carries an underlying tone of unity. If we will adhere to what is in the message, I think we can defeat the Coronavirus…if we [don’t try] to politicize the fight against the virus,” says Sando.
The president’s voice matters at the moment, and will boost the hopes of Liberians during this difficult period, says Thomas Wolobah, a physician’s assistant.
“Generally the President is loved by Liberians, so if he gives a message through song, it will be better because people will be willing to listen to him and trust what he says,” according to Wolobah.
Weah is believed to be the first head of state to produce a song to educate people about the danger and preventive measures of Covid-19.
Liberia has declared a state of public health emergency following the confirmation of a third case of the coronavirus. This come as health workers are struggling to identify and quarantine people the patients may have interacted with.
The restrictions under the new public health emergency are currently only in place two of Liberia’s 15 political sub-divisions: Montserrado, that surrounds the capital and an adjacent region, Margibi.
The three confirmed cases were recorded in those two regions, hence the regulations to cut the chain of transmission.
The new measures also limit the number of people allowed attend events such as marriages and funerals, according to Health Minister Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah.
The government has threatened to arrest and prosecute anyone, including government officials, who violate the public safety measures.
Liberia’s index case of Covid-19 is a senior government official who the authorities say brought the virus into the country.
Last week, Weah commented that the official reportedly evaded quarantine after returning from an international conference in Switzerland. He later tested positive for the virus after he felt unwell and now stands accused of deliberately putting the public at risk.