Some Gambian musicians have explained how the novel coronavirus pandemic is crippling their income and talents without any financial support from the government to the industry like how some countries have done to their entertainment industries.
Speaking to the King of Kora maestro, Jaliba Kuyateh, he said artists are seriously suffering due to the pandemic as government restrictions because of the coronavirus does not allow them to hold any show talk less of making money now.
“If you can imagine everybody in every walk of life has been making something for living take example shopkeepers, market vendors and traders in which they operate according to certain period of time with safety measures. But as musicians like me we have never given ordinary one to five minutes to performance anywhere in the country,” he said.
Since seven months ago when the virus hit the country musicians have been suffering because “we are not allowed in any way to perform and earn money. It is becoming difficult for us – musicians to have our daily bread and provide for our families.”
To him, he is a lucky saying “but fortunately some of my fans in Gambia and in the diaspora have sent me something to support myself and family during this trying time.”
Maaw Gee, a rapper, music producer and proprietor f Mbtrecords, explained the difficulties people in the industry are going through due to the Covid-19.
He noted that things are difficult as you cannot “record even a single artist because most of the artists are not making money nowadays.”
Explaining of how producers are now living, he said, “Producers aren’t making money so the only way we could earn something is by making beats and upload them online. And if an artist sees it and like it he /she might buy the beat or if they have international link they could call and offer to do something for them. This doesn’t happen daily because Covid-19 is a global pandemic.”
According to him, they were thinking government will come out to support them, but “nothing so far and nothing is easy with us even to have a customer is hard. This is because concerts are not happening and as far as the industry is not moving the producer cannot make money.”
Don Man Ivision also a musician and producer said “the only way we earn money is by organizing concerts and since the emerged of corona virus we couldn’t stage any show because of the restriction and keeping to the guidelines as imposed by the government.”
He said their main challenge in that last seven months is the restriction but now online is their only option to share their music .
He noted that he has project that they are working on but without knowing when to stage the show as they have to wait for the final lifting of the restriction.
“Gambia music industry is around December to January and this year; December is already at the corner so I don’t think much will happen this year perhaps next year,” he added
He went on to express his mind that he doesn’t think the government consider the music industry “but government should invest on the youths in general and especially the arts sector because art, sincerely, has brought some nations and its people to limelight therefore government should not under estimate what the artists can do.”
Meanwhile, Hassoum Ceesay, director general of the National Centre for Arts and Culture said “NCAC has put in place different mechanisms to support the industry and the Minister of Tourism and Culture is working on a relief package for the creative industry being music, book, film, drama and publishing.”
He added that the Minister is working very hard on that with the Ministry of Finance so that The Gambia Artists in general including Musicians will have some form of relief.
He said the challenges in the arts and culture sector is the restrictions on public performances “because Arts and Culture is basically about public book launchings, music shows, film premiers, drama and theatres and because of the anti-corona restrictions the sector is seriously affected since all those activities are no longer happening.”
In solidarity with the artists, DG Ceesay expressed concerned and “the NCAC and the government is in solidarity with them. We know they are suffering during this period and we will continue to work to make sure that they get some form of relief which will help to fill in the gaps during this past six months,” he added.