Friday, November 28, 2008

LTAS Hosts hang out with “STARS” competing for a single “STAR”

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

By: Bookman Muapoe – LTAS HostIs there another young STAR in Liberia?
Yes, there is! Just a couple of days preceding November 1, 2008, radio announcers were sounding like broken records over information about the first general audition in Monrovia for UNMIL’s “Star Is Born” singing competition. Therefore, we were not taken aback by watching the huge influx of youngsters pouring in at the Salvation Army Vocational School in Sinkor to be auditioned for this year’s spectacular singing competition that promises US$2,000.00 and other goodies for the teenager that emerges as winner!

It was a moment of thunderous heart beats and anxiety! In spite of this, LTAS hosts managed to ease the tension by introducing a mini quiz competition among those who’d gone to be auditioned. The quiz was an undisputed fun-making exercise, with 25 LTAS T-Shirts and LTAS stickers being given as prizes to the brilliant youngsters who answered various questions on HIV/AIDS.

Even though it was previously announced that about 500 teenagers were expected to be auditioned for the first phase of series of auditions in Monrovia only, the number of people we saw could be estimated at about 250. Still huge, right?! They had to create three audition halls to catalyze the process. With a steady pace, the judges spend at most two minutes on each of the anxious musical hopefuls. Some of the guys we saw went in with smiling faces, but came out with frowning ones! I guess you know what this means, don’t you? I bet you do! We managed to talk to some of the “sudden” frowning faces; some of them told us that the judges only said they would be told whether or not they made it via the mobile phone, while others got the sad news straight to their faces – “Sorry, you don’t qualify........”

But all hope was definitely not lost. With 50 percent of the population of Liberia projected (by the recently released National Population and Housing Census report) as being youths, there exists a pressing need for the young people to be adequately informed about HIV/AIDS as well as early pregnancy, because it is an open secret that youths around the world are the hardest hit by the adverse effects of HIV/AIDS. Hence, at the Star is Born auditions, the “Let’s Talk About Sex” hosts – Janice Pratt, Mahmud Johnson, Kula Fofana, and Bookman Muapoe – became HIV-experts-of-sorts who were using their miniature knowledge on the facts of HIV to educate their peers. The hosts drew huge crowds of young people who discussed with them at length on issues such as condom use, abstinence, and being faithful.

At the end of the day, two young men had resolved to abstain from sex until marriage, and about a dozen other youngsters promised to get tested for HIV! Even though some of the young people did not make it to the next round, but they all went home with adequate information that they can use to make smart choices concerning sex, in the face of HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy, and lead successful lives and careers, free from HIV/AIDS!

A Star is Born is an annual initiative of the United Nations Mission in Liberia that brings teenagers under 20 who compete musically, in an American-Idol-style, for the grand prize. This season is the third one. The first season produced Bill Yarsiah, the second produced Moses Swaray. Who’s it gonna be this year?

This year’s contest seems more competitive than the last one. The reason is just simple – MORE MONEY & “DOORS”! Come to think of it, US$2,000.00 can do a whole lot for a teenager – iPod, camera, mobile phone, tuition, good meals and more! The price looks good, and many youngsters aim for it! But that’s not enough; more effort is required to reach for it. And good health and smart choices are top hallmarks of successful musicians. “Let’s Talk About Sex” is aimed at ensuring just that. Let’s watch and see another young star rise to stardom in Liberia!
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