Liberia's Political Accountability Art

12 Liberian artists showcase their government accountability paintings in an exhibition at the National Museum of Liberia.

(Photos from 'Accountability Art: Liberia’s Quest for Integrity' by Jim Tuttle)

An artistic culture is starting to resume in Liberia, with a number of African curio shops lining the road to Robertsfield Airport and Monrovia’s busy Waterside Market. Nonetheless, an exhibition of Liberian art has proven more common in the West than in Monrovia, where the commercial business district has not housed an art gallery since 2012.

Accountability Art: Liberia’s Quest for Integrity, on display at the National Museum of Liberia through July 3, is a local exposition of Liberian artwork. It was jointly commissioned by the Accountability Lab, a local NGO that promotes transparency and integrity through creative and entertaining activities, and the Liberia Visual Arts Academy, an educational organization that empowers young Liberians through training in the visual arts.

The exhibit was launched by Kenneth Best, Editor of the Daily Observer, Liberia’s oldest mainstream newspaper in circulation, and Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, who served as the country's Minister of Information in the late 1980s. A. Leslie Lumeh, dubbed “Liberia’s most celebrated artist” by CNN, says of the exhibition, “I’m happy that we were able to make this a reality. It means that society has faith in what we’re doing. They appreciate and believe in what we are saying.” Lumeh notes that it's only the third exhibit in Monrovia he's participated in since returning to Liberia from exile ten years previously.

The exhibit features 24 works by 12 artists. In addition to Lumeh, participating artists include Duke Appleton, a former intelligence operative in the Taylor government who now works with UNICEF and is the founder of Liberia's Artists Without Borders. Frank Dwuye, a lead illustrator of the Tabellah Tee Ebola Survivor comic book, also contributed to the exhibit, while Luckay Buckay is perhaps best known for his musical endeavors.

Although the government of President Sirleaf has committed to numerous reforms and good governance principles – a host of integrity institutions have been formed in recent years, such as the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, the Governance Commission, the Law Reform Commission, and the Independent Information Commission among others– the accountability artists, like many Liberian civil society actors, argue that the Ebola crisis is but the latest and most well-known incident illustrating the extent to which mismanagement continues to plague Liberia. As Lumeh notes, “we have laws on paper, but people do things and go free. That’s not justice.”

The Accountability Art exhibition displays images of fiscal mismanagement at the Ministry of Finance, sexual and financial impropriety of teachers and school administrators, protest demonstrations, child labor, lazy public sector employees, the refusal of lawmakers to abide by traffic regulations and other related themes. As Rev. Bowier noted, “these paintings depict our way of life…if we see they are not good practices, we can try to change.”

Brooks Marmon is an employee of the Accountability Lab in Monrovia, Liberia.

News Brief
Getty Images

Six Things History Will Remember Kenneth Kaunda For

News of Kenneth David Kaunda's passing, at age 97, has reverberated across the globe. Kaunda, affectionately known as KK, was Zambia's first President from 1964 to 1991.

Following Nelson Mandela's passing in December 2013, Kenneth Kaunda became Africa's last standing hero. Now with his passing on Thursday, June 17 — after being admitted to the Maina Soko Military Hospital in Lusaka earlier in the week — this signals the end of Africa's liberation history chapter.

It is tempting to make saints out of the departed. The former Zambian struggle hero did many great things. He was, after all, one of the giants of the continent's struggle against colonialism. Ultimately however, he was a human being. And as with all humans, he lived a complicated and colourful life.

Here are six facts you might not have known about him.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox


The 7 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Olamide, Black Motion, Blxckie x Nasty C and more