Africa Defense Forum
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Hit Song Delivers Ebola Message in Liberia


In Liberia’s capital, the hit song Ebola in Town has a danceable beat and conveys a serious message about avoiding infection.

Three Liberian musicians came up with the song idea in May 2014 after thinking that people weren’t taking the Ebola outbreak seriously enough. The song got people’s attention. Just a few days after they recorded it, Ebola in Town was a nationwide hit.

Musician Samuel “Shadow” Morgan says he and his fellow artists didn’t want to produce a typical awareness song. They wanted something people could dance to.

“Since everybody wants to dance these days, they will first dance to the beat,” Morgan said. “And the next thing is, they will learn the chorus. From the chorus, you start going into the verses and what the song is actually about.”

The last verse, for example, is about how someone can contract the disease from eating bush meat:

If you like the monkey

Don’t eat the meat

If you like the baboon

I said don’t eat the meat

If you like the bat-o

Don’t eat the meat

Ebola in town.

Music like Ebola in Town can be a powerful tool for delivering a health message. Susan Krenn, who directs the Center for Communication Programs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, United States, said the emotional response to a catchy tune helps make delivering facts easier. Back in the late 1980s, she and the center teamed up with Nigerian singers Onyeka Onwenu and King Sunny Ade for a song about family planning called Wait for Me.

Ebola in Town is not the only song about the disease you will hear in Liberia. The Ministry of Health & Social Welfare put out a song that includes these lyrics:

Always wash your hands with soap and water

Always cook your food very well

Go to the health facility any time you have headache

Fever, pain, diarrhea, rash, red eyes and vomiting.

Liberian world-famous soccer star George Weah also has produced a song to raise awareness about Ebola. Weah, who is now a politician and singer, once was named FIFA’s player of the year. He has run for president twice. He told The Associated Press that Liberia’s Health Ministry asked him to join their efforts to raise awareness, so he worked with the Ghanaian musician, Sidney, to record the song. Sales proceeds will go to the Liberian Health Ministry.

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