The spread of the Coronavirus disease has threatened the livelihood of countless people around the world, Sierra Leone is no exception. And even though the country has not recorded any case yet, the scare of the pandemic is a spine shiver and has nearly brought life to a standstill.
With stringent measures being put in place by the government and municipal authorities to adopt social distancing as a precaution, the entertainment industry in Sierra Leone is already feeling the impact.
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio made his first national corona address on the 15th March, when news broke that neighboring Liberia and Guinea have recorded cases. He announced some stringent preventive measures to adopt aimed at averting any outbreak in the country. International flights have been suspended, congregational prayers banned and all matters of entertainment and outdoor activities put on hold. All public gatherings up to 100 people are not tolerated as part of the measures to protect the country from the deadly coronavirus scourge.
To make the laws hold fast, President Bio Tuesday this week announced the State of Emergency. All this has come at a time when the country’s entertainment industry is in an advanced stage of preparation for Sierra Leone’s 59th Independence Anniversary celebrations.
“It’s a big bang,” Kao Denero told SaloneJamboree in a chat. He said it is difficult to imagine especially as several local and international big acts were scheduled to perform in the country.
Black Leo’s Hip hop rapper, Amara Denis Turay aka Kao Denero said he was wrapping up his promos for his show. “But for just days before the show, it all came crashing,” he told Jamboree. He said the announcement was devastating.
On his Facebook page, the Black Leo artist was quick to express his dissatisfaction with the Government’s action. But upon second thought, he had to later release a public notice on social media welcoming the action. He even called on his numerous fans to respect the decision of the Government. He realized that they too have a role to play in the fight against coronavirus. And of course, the entertainment industry has been called upon by the government to be part of the message dissemination campaign.
“Stopping all public activities is a big blow indeed. We’d scheduled to fly in Kizz Daniel and Lora Rae for a concert on April 18,” LAKE Production official intimated Jamboree on their foiled plan. He said Teni and Empress P were also scheduled to perform in April.
“We are forced to reschedule,” a despondent official of LAKE Production, Engineer Benson Bawoh confided in a chat. He said Kizz Daniel and Lola Rae concert for April has been rescheduled too.
Ign. Benson Bawoh said that the organizing team for the country’s 59th Independence concert, comprising LAKE Production, Chambers of Commerce, Ministry of Tourism and Cultural Affairs and Flyboy, has agreed to host the country’s most anticipated show on Saturday, October 31st, 2020 at the National Stadium main Bowl.
“This decision is subject to compliance with the control and preventive measures announced by the government to protect the lives of its citizens at a crucial time like this,” Bawoh noted, lamenting that the organizers have already parted with close to Le30m (Thirty million Leones) on preparations, including promotions to bringing the two Nigerians superstars, KizzDaniel and Lola Rae to Sierra Leone.
“It is Sierra Leone’s turn to show Africa that we can be the best in music in terms of talent and artistic abilities, and it’s time to tell our own positive stories by ourselves.” He added that had it not been for the coronavirus scare, the show would have gone unmatched, ‘with over million attendance projection to boom the event at the National Stadium.’
He said it’s a big setback for all considering that the slated events would have created temporal job facility for thousands of Sierra Leoneans in different ways, not to talk of boosting the country’s economy.
Even entertainment centers are hard hit by the measures, with many deciding to shut down after all as they don’t trade enough to take care of their operations and pay their staff.
Renowned Social Media Promoter, Samuel Eleady Cole aka ‘Puchi’ also reacted to the impositions, saying the disease is not yet in Sierra Leone but we are already hard hit by its scare. “Our sector is badly bruised,” he told SaloneJamboree.” He said the industry is affected and all the investments by people have gone in vain.
“The disease is not yet here but we are already facing the worst. I just imagine if the disease is here, it will take the entertainment industry down the drain,” Puchi said.
He has been at the forefront in terms of promotion, of all major music concerts in Sierra Leone. His ‘Puchi’s Entertainment’ was contracted to do social media promotions for artists like ‘Davido’, Techno’, ‘Wizkid’ and ‘Simi’. He also provides consultancy services to investors in the entertainment industry.
He said the entertainment industry has already lost more than Le 2billion and is projected at nearly double that amount. He said the popular Nigerian artists Burna Boy who was scheduled for a gig in Freetown receives nothing less than One hundred thousand United States Dollars for any show.“I know Burna Boy receives $100 thousand dollars per show. His management actually asks for One hundred and Fifty thousand Dollars for performance,” he disclosed. Burna Boy was supposed to perform in Freetown courtesy of ‘One Africa Vision.’
“This disease has affected every sector of the entertainment industry. Let’s just hope that we get rid of this disease sooner than later.”