3 January 2013

Liberia: Befitting Burial for Peter Ballah

Preparations are underway to hold a deserving funeral for Liberia's foremost comedian and versatile theatrical artist, Peter Y. Ballah, aka "Flomo", 67, who died Sunday night at the Duside Hospital in Firestone.

The cream of Liberian artists and government officials connected with culture converged Wednesday at the residence of the late 'celebrated and iconic cultural artist in Banjol near 'Hotel Africa' to begin preparations to accord him deserving funeral rites.

The president of the Cultural Union of Liberia, Mr. Kekura Kamara aka Balawala Malawala, on the sidelines of the meeting, eulogized the late Peter Ballah as a "great man and icon" in Liberian culture.

"He used the art to teach Liberians and to promote our heritage.

He was a great man who devoted his time to the promotion and preservation of Liberian culture. I tell you the truth, we have lost a great man and an icon," Mr. Kamara, who knew the late "Flomo" in the 1970s, told our reporter.

He said, since knowing Peter Ballah in the 1970s during a cultural event he (Peter Balah) organized in Gbarnga, Bong County, his "mentorship as a teacher has been vital to my artistic generation."

The founder of Malawala Balawala vowed to uphold and sustain the exemplary legacy left by Peter Ballah, and urged the government and other stakeholders to see reasons to accord the late artist a befitting and deserving funeral.

"We can say that he is not dead because his works would continue to live on," Mr. Kamara noted.

Retired musician Miata Fahnbulleh, recalled that her ties with the fallen icon of entertainment art spanned over three decades, and described the deceased as a "kind and humble" artist, who was always willing and determined to help in the promotion of awareness programs in the country.

"He should be remembered in great ways. We are going to make sure that the Flomo Theatre strives and keep his legacy," Sister Miatta stressed.

Mrs. Julie Endee, organizer of the Liberia Ambassadors for Peace Cultural Troupe, expressed shock over the death of Peter Ballah, saying, "his death is a hard blow to us."

"The late Ballah was one of those who helped a lot of artists in the building of their capacities. This is a wake-up call for Liberian artists to stand together in unity and enhance the work of the late Hon. Ballah.

"He deserves honor for the works he has done in articulating the issues that affect the lives of artists in Liberia. It is a wake-up call to unite the artists of Liberia," she emphasized.

From a French teacher at the United Methodist School in Gbarnga, Peter Ballah shot to stardom as a comedian and cultural artist since the 1970s until his death.

He worked assiduously in the Cultural Wing of Ministry of Information serving as mentor and teacher in cultural and theatre at Kendeja.

During the prime of his career, Peter Ballah represented Liberia on several international cultural festivals including the World Festival of Negro Arts in Lagos (FESTAC) in 1975 and the All Africa Cultural Festival in Algiers, where the National Cultural Troupe won a gold medal. In 1976, he led the troupe to participate in America's bicentennial celebration.

He was appointed in 1982 as director general of the Bureau of Culture and Tourism at the Information ministry.

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