28 February 2018

Liberia: Nyan Dokpa Wants Young Musicians to Fight Piracy

Nyan Dokpa with Music Makers guitarist and piano player, Jimmy Ray.

One of Liberia's oldest musicians, Nyan Dokpa, has called on young Liberian musicians to come together under one umbrella to make the music industry stronger.

Dokpa spoke in an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer recently in Ganta, Nimba County. He said in the absence of unity, there will not be anything to benefit musicians in the country in this digital age.

Dokpa, who started an active music career in 1984 with the disbanded Nimba County-based group, 'Music Makers,' said before the coming of the digital age, music making was more lucrative and beneficial.

He remembers how during those days, an upcoming musician was compelled to practice for long periods of time before going to the recording studio, thus making musicians proficient in the use of guitars and other musical instruments.

"Digital is fast, but it's uncontrollable. It allows anyone to steal your music, sell it and do anything they feel like doing," he said.

Dokpa said the increase in piracy in Liberia is due to the lack of unity among the musicians.

"Once we come together as a union, we will be able to press on the government to stop piracy," he said.

"The young musicians are not willing to join the union, so people are taking advantage by exploiting us.

"When I was playing with the Music Makers in the '80s, we were hired daily to perform, where we sometimes received L$400 to L$500 for an occasion."

The Music Makers Band was very famous in the mid '80s, until the death of its leader, the late Hallowanger Gbongbe, who was popularly known in 1988 as Nimba 'Hallowanger.'

Although the band produced several great songs, among its best hits was the songs entitled, 'Touma and Corlor.'

"We did our second recording of music along with the Rocafil Jazz of the late Prince Nico Mbaraga in Nigeria. We practiced with those guys for several weeks, before we could come up with our release," he added.

Dokpa explained that following Hallowanger's death, the group disbanded; and worst of all, when the civil war started, all the members of the band fled to foreign countries for refuge.

"I sang alongside other foreign musicians while in the Ivory Coast and the Republic of Guinea," he said.

The 51-year-old Nyan Dokpa is still active in music and continues to produce songs, adding, "Music is my life. I grew up singing until becoming an active musician."

"My mother was a folksinger and my father used to love music a lot, so it led me to develop interest in music, especially Congolese musics," he said.

Dokpa, who is touted as one of best guitarists in Liberia, said young musicians are not interested in learning musical instruments, "which makes it hard to find someone to play some of the instruments."

He was born in Zahn Banlah, Nimba County, and is married with nine children.


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