iCampus is using comedy and music to educate citizens and raise awareness about the corona virus pandemic that has affected 1,216 people, leaving 78 dead since the first case was reported March 16, 2020.
Support from USAID Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI) enabled the organization to produce three standup comedy shows as part of LAVI’s Learning and Methodologies Shared through Strategic Collaboration with Civil Society Actors for Adaptation and Self-Reliance.
The “Corobaby Fun and Learning’’ comedy shows were broadcast live on KMTV and RCM TV and continue to engage online viewers. So far, all three shows have reached 4,792 viewers. The first show, which was held July 7, 2020, was watched by 1,858 people; the July 14, 2020 show reached 2,754 people.
On Tuesday, August 3, 180 online viewers watched performances by three local comedians: T. Kelvin Nimely, known as “Jabateh, Levi Zangar (Arthur Arthur) and Roberto Nelson Jr (Gospel Medic) The comedians spiced their lyrics with awareness and educational messages and stories on the social, and economic impact of COVID-19. Their comedy lines stressed social distancing, handwashing and the importance of wearing face masks.
Comedian “Jarbateh’’ rapped about corona virus impact on teen pregnancy, education and police harassment of citizens during the lock down. He also talked about how social distancing is affecting marital relations.
“When we go in the bedroom, my woman said, ‘social distancing.’ She did that three times,’’ he said. “Then on Friday, when I took pay, I spread all my money on the bed. When she came near me, I said, ‘social distancing.’’
Comedian ‘’Arthur Arthur’’ started his comedic act by reminding online viewers about the importance of sanitizing.
“We have to sanitize the microphone because we don’t know each other,’’ he said after he took to the stage. “Corona Virus is real: wash your hands and wear your nose mask. If you cannot get a mask, take somebody lappa and wear it. Anything you put around your nose is nose mask.’’
He poked fun at women who put on makeup and wear a mask. He also drew comparison between the deadly Ebola Virus that affected mostly countries in West Africa and COVID-19. He said he prefers the corona virus because it does not discriminate. Ebola started in Africa, but COVID-19 started in China and is devasting America. When COVID-19 hit Liberia, it started with the “big big’’ people, he said.
“If you don’t have nothing, corona can pass you by,’’ said Zangar, aka, “Arthur Arthur.’’ “I like Corobaby because Corobaby cannot pick and choose.’’ The comedians said are thrilled to lift people’s spirits at a time when everyone is stressed, staying at home and dealing with so many challenges because of the pandemic.
“This is a novel idea,’’ said Nelson, aka, “Gospel Medic.” “When everybody around the world are feeling down, this really lifts people’s spirits.’’
Luther Jeke, manager of iCampus, said the comedy shows, Virtual Quiz on COVID-19, learning webinars and other online initiative has expanded iCampus’ reach. Before the pandemic, iCampus attracted 40-50 people per event.
Now, iCampus averages about 1200 people per event broadcast live on Facebook.
The comedy shows, he said, enabled iCampus to explore complex issues and break down barriers.
“Due to the COVID-19, iCampus has embraced the challenge of creating these online standup comedy shows that combine jokes and storytelling to catalyze and reflect new norms and social change in Liberia,’’ Jeke said.