Hipco Artist Amaze Wins Global Creative Arts Contest Award

Hipco musician Henry Toe, also known on stage as Amaze, has won a global creative arts contest organized in South Africa for his song, “Know Who to Vote for.”

Amaze, who has served as Hipco ambassador for the nonprofit Accountability Lab, emerged as winner of the International Youth Day contest in the multimedia category for his song that was used to create voter awareness during the 2017 general elections.

Hipco is a genre of popular Liberian music that blends Hip-hop, R&B, and traditional Liberian music with lyrics usually in Liberian English.

Amaze said the song was meant to sensitize citizens on the need to vote right, and not based on religion or ethnicity.

“I feel democracy should be everybody’s business,” he told organizers of the contest. “My inspiration was to educate voters to vote right and not base on ethnicity, scholarships, or religious background.”

He noted that his wish has always been to use music for social change, which he has done for the past six years.

The song was selected as number one best multimedia entry among 15 finalists from among dozens of entries worldwide by a panel of judges and almost 1,500 online voters.

The contest was organized by CIVICUS, an alliance dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society worldwide.

Organizers disclosed in a press release that contestants submitted entries in three categories: written arts, which included poems, short stories, and essays; visual arts, which included drawings, paintings, cartoons, and photographs; and multimedia arts, which included short films and songs.

A young Angolan published author, Cassoma, impressed judges with her piece entitled “Chave Mestra” or Master Key, which explores the power of education, to win the written arts category. Vandita Sariya, from India, was named as winner of the visual arts category. According to the organizers, Sariya’s cartoon was inspired by a surge in intolerance she has witnessed in recent Indian history.

According to the organizers, prizes for the winners include a US$300 cash prize, which will be donated to a social change organization of the choice of the winners.

CIVICUS’ youth working group coordinator, Elisa Novoa, said the aim of the contest was to give a space for young people to express a vision for the kind of democracy they desire.

“It was also an opportunity to mobilize young creative minds from every corner of the globe, offering a platform to amplify their messages related to the respect of democratic values and social justice,” Novoa noted.

She said in a world where information is shared with so much hate, discrimination and stigmatization, the network aims to make arts a tool for sharing messages of hope, justice and equality.

Featured photo courtesy of Amaze

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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