SOAS University of London

Song based on SOAS scholar’s anti-corruption work released in Liberia

30 July 2018

A song promoting anti-corruption based on the work of SOAS University of London Research Partner and alumna Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey has been released today.

“Jaadeh Is Integrity”, a song written and produced by Liberia’s premier Hip-Co musician Takun J and featuring vocalist Ella Mankon Pailey. Based on the forthcoming children’s book Jaadeh! written by Robtel Neajai Pailey, illustrated by Chase Walker, and published by One Moore Book, “Jaadeh Is Integrity” was made possible through a grant from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), which focuses on governance and transparency issues in West Africa. Jaadeh! is a sequel to the critically acclaimed anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba published in 2013.

In both books, eight-year-old twin protagonists Sundaymah and Sundaygar navigate the confusing ethical codes of the adults in their lives, in places as diverse as traffic jams, schools, churches and markets. In Gbagba, the children express clearly the concrete ways in which corruption hurts rather than heals society. In Jaadeh! they embrace integrity as a way of life.

Dr Pailey said: “Children are the moral compass of Liberia; they are the moral compass of the world. When they start publicly exposing corruption for what it truly is, my hope is that adults will be shamed into living more honestly and authentically, with integrity.”

Robtel song

“Jaadeh Is Integrity” joins its companion song “Gbagba Is Corruption”, which was released in 2014 and is based on the first book. Both singles are part of a canon of anti-corruption songs popularised by politically conscious musicians such as Takun J, who blends Liberian colloquialisms with Hip-hop beats.

With two previous grants secured from OSIWA, Pailey has commissioned Liberian artists to adapt Gbagba into a music video, radio drama, and stage play with an all-child cast. Jaadeh! will be similarly adapted, with a music video of “Jaadeh Is Integrity” released shortly.

According to OSIWA Country Representative Massa Crayton, the grant making body has funded Gbagba and Jaadeh! adaptations because it “believes the fight against corruption needs to start with teaching children the values of accountability and integrity, which opens the space for an honest discussion of how corruption adversely affects them in their homes, schools, local communities, and within the national landscape on a broader scale.”

The song is currently airing on 64 commercial and community radio stations across Liberia, as well as on West Africa Democracy Radio. Visit https://bit.ly/2NKX1ZF to listen.

Visit Dr Pailey’s site for more information about Gbagba and Jaadeh