Covid-induced hunger bites artistes

Covid-induced hunger bites artistes

MASERU-WHEN the government first imposed a national lockdown to stem the spread of Covid-19 in March last year, Ramosa Bosiu, a gospel musician, like most people was caught off-guard.

With all live music performances banned, Bosiu struggled to support his family let alone send his children to school.
Since April last year, Bosiu like many of his colleagues in the entertainment industry, has not been able to hold any live performances which was his only source of regular income.

A year without a regular income is now beginning to take its toll on him. Tensions are building up, with the situation now threatening to boil over.
On Tuesday, Bosiu was among hordes of artists who staged an unsuccessful march to the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) offices in Maseru.
The group which consisted of disc jockeys, comedians and musicians wanted to deliver a letter of grievances to Nacosec.

The entertainers wanted to petition the Nacosec to advise Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro to open up their trade so that they can earn a living.
They also want to be allowed to cross to South Africa either to work or buy their trade’s equipment.
They are also asking for the government to include them in the budget so that they can get Covid-19 relief grants like other small businesses.

Heavily armed police officers however blocked the irate entertainers even before they began their protest march from the Cathedral Area to the Nacosec offices.
The police encircled them near the main traffic circle in Maseru and ordered them to mute their public address system that was playing loud music.

The police were fully equipped with their protective gear and assault rifles.
The police ordered them to disperse but to no avail. The artistes continued blocking the road while others were going up and down in the road selling their compact disks.

The artistes were holding placards written “We deserve to work too”, “Who will pay for our children’s (fees) at schools”.
Bosiu told thepost that music was his only source of income adding that Nacosec and the government should take their grievances seriously.

He said they are aware that the Prime Minister had allowed students to return to school, “but how are we going to pay for their fees?”
“The Prime Minister has allowed us to sell our music in the streets but now the police have ordered us to stop,” he said.

He complained that school children and other sectors are given priority over them as artistes, which, according to him, is not fair.
“The Nacosec undermines the entertainment industry because they think we don’t deserve jobs like other people,” he said.
“The churches are open, and it is where people sing as we do. I also sing the gospel the same way they do in churches.”

Malefetsane Tsoeliane better known as DJ Davertz, said they are unhappy that the police had stopped them before they reached their destination.
“We did not even disrupt traffic because other vehicles were still passing,” Tsoeliane said.
On the other hand, the Nacosec spokesman Baroana Phenethi told thepost that “our job as Nacosec is to protect Basotho not individuals”.

“The artists were even part of our meeting when the framework (of how we would work) was drawn,” he said.
“We cannot compromise the lives of Basotho because of only a few people who are complaining,” he said.
“They should not compare themselves with students because we have not heard of 10-year-olds dying of Covid-19.”

Phenethi said the artistes should be patient like other organisations that are waiting for the lockdown to be lifted, adding that there Lesotho could even face a Covid-19 third wave.
He said in December there was some negligence by the government that led to loss of lives.

“(Such negligence) will come back to haunt the innocent people just because some few individuals do not want to be patient,” he said.
“We should be given a chance to do our job and try to protect people.”

Nkheli Liphoto

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