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Liberia: At the Second Road Safety Comedy Show, Comedians Raise Awareness While Cracking Ribs

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MONROVIA – On Sunday, October 27, over 300 persons gathered at the Pepper Fish Bar and Restaurant for a road safety-themed comedy show. 

Hosted by comedian Paul Flomo and organized by Common Sense Solutions, Inc., the show saw three other comedians (LIB Jalloh, Angel Michael, and Julius the Comedian) come up with different jokes that aimed to make the audience laugh while raising awareness about road safety issues and encourage the safe use of roads. 

In addition to featuring surprise performances from other comedians, the show also attracted a number of local celebrities in the audience, including businesswoman and politician Telia Urey and Watanga FC striker James Konuwa.

As the event was held at night in a club environment, much of the focus of the night was on the dangers of drunk driving. In fact, Angel Michael started his set by asking for a moment of silence for the late Liberian artist Quincy B, who died tragically in a drunk driving accident in 2017 which returning from a popular karaoke event.

He then jumped into the show, directing the audience, “Make sure your car always get seatbelt; if you na get seatbelt, call your boyfriend to bring elastic so you can tie it around you.”

The show came as the Liberia National Police reported that 40 deaths have occurred in 2019 so far from accidents on Liberia’s Monrovia-Gbarnga highway. There have also been 300 injuries. 

Defective vehicles (with defective tires, brakes, lights), particularly commercial taxis and heavy-duty vehicles, lack of usage of helmets by motorcyclists, excessive speed and lack of knowledge of safe road usage (e.g. crossing the street) are major factors in fatal road crashes in Liberia. Road collisions are prevalent in Liberia. In 2018, the World Health Organization ranked Liberia as having the worst safety record worldwide, with an estimated 35.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Alphanso Bindah, the chief of traffic for the Liberia National Police, told the audience that everyone has a responsibility for ensuring road safety, given that there are many components, including engineering, enforcement, and education. 

“We decided to take this road safety into the various communities because… these are people that use the road,” he said, explaining the rationale for the police’s support of the unconventional means of raising awareness about road safety.

The event was supported by the German Cooperation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). 

GIZ’s Yana Tumakova emphasized the importance of bringing such a topic to the masses: “We have so many people dying on the street in Liberia and it’s actually not funny,” Yana Tumakova said. However, she noted that humor was a vehicle to promote many of the road safety principles.

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