Wednesday, August 1, 2007
PLYMOUTH, Minn. – July 21was a very busy night, as hundreds of fans flocked the auditorium at Armstrong High School for a night of action that included appearances by three prominent West African celebrities.
Ghanaian actor, Van Vicker, and Emmerson Bockarie and Lady Felicia, who come from Sierra Leone, put up a show that included a call for Africans to stand up against corrupt leaders.
“If you don’t say anything about the corruption and bad governance, those in government will think it is okay to continue stealing from and oppressing people.” Emmerson told the fans.
Emmerson uses his music to attack corrupt leaders and the elite in Sierra Leone, a risk few in the country take.
“This is a revolution through music,” he said.
As Emmerson performed previous hits like “Swegbe”, “Borbor Pain” and “Gi Am Bench,” fans sang along with him. But the highlight of the concert came when he played his hit, “Tutu Patti,” a song urging fans to go out and party. The crowd was energized and some women took advantage of the absence of the security guards who had manned the stage most of the night, and jumped on stage to mob the musician.
There was also mayhem earlier when Vicker got on stage. Almost all the women ran to the front of the auditorium to get a picture of the Ghanain heartthrob, leaving the men behind.
Vicker is most known for his role as lead actor in the popular movie “Beyonce: The President’s Daughter.” The movie has become a great hit among Africans and people from the Caribbean. Vicker, who was in the United States for the first time, has always garnered much attention, but he said he was shocked that his movie was so popular in the United States.
Even though his arrival at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport was supposed to be secret, word got out somehow and a group of women showed up, screaming upon seeing him, said Tarkus Zenon, organizer of the event.
At the concert, the audience was allowed some time to ask the actor questions. Many girls asked for a hug or a kiss and even marriage. Some asked for more doable things like advice on becoming an actor.
Not surprisingly only one question was from a gentleman. The ladies were slightly dismayed to find out that Vicker is married and has two children. But Liberians in the audience were pleased to know that part of him is Liberian. His mother is half Liberian. He did admit though, that he hasn’t been back to Liberia since 1991 when he left because of the war.
Vicker is touring the United States to promote his upcoming movie, “American Boy.” He advised young people in the crowd to recognize their talents and pursue them, but with care.
“It’s not about being a Hollywood Star,” he cautioned.
When Sierra Leone’s female sensation, Lady Felicia, finally stepped on the stage at 11p.m, one would not have known that the fans had already been dancing for two hours to performances of local artists, while they waited for the headliners.
Donned in a multi-colored outfit, Lady Felicia led the audience in singing their national anthem, before she started her performance. She kept the crowd dancing to hits like “U Go Betta,” “No Condition is Permanent.” and “Mama.”
Both Lady Felicia and Emmerson are relatively new to the music scene, but have become musical heavyweights in West Africa. Lady Felicia, who entered the music scene in 2001 as part of a group called LDO, went solo in 2005 and is promoting her first solo CD, “Song for Mama”.
Emmerson’s musical career started in 2003 when a college program he was enrolled in was temporarily shut down. After his first song, “U Go See Am,” became an instant hit, some local producers approached him and asked him to write an album. He has won many awards for his premier album, “Borbor Bele,” a jab at selfish government officials, who pocket public funds. His second album, “2 Fut Arata,” which literally translates to “two-legged rat” also talks about theft in the government.