Charlie Haffner founder of freetong players international
Popular cultural group, Freetong Players International, has held a conference in Freetown to promote culture and the arts as tools for national development.
Cultural groups from Uganda, Ghana and other African countries were also participants at the conference, which took place at the Miatta Conference Hall, Youyi Building, Brookfields, Freetown. The conference was part of activities marking the 25th anniversary of Freetong Players International.
“We have been neglecting culture in all our national development programmes and like I always, always say, any country that neglects culture in her national development programs is just building a house upon the sand and this is what we’ve been doing most of the time in Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular. We have not been cultivating and utilizing our cultural and artistic potentials. Cultural people are not represented anywhere,” said Charlie Haffner- founder and director of Freetong Players international - on SLBC Tea Break radio programme.
Haffner said the aim of the conference is to bring culture as a discipline to the forefront, to promote culture and arts as tools for national development.
“We need to bring this thing (culture) to the forefront; we need for it to be right there. That’s how it started in Ghana, right?” said Haffner.
He added: “We want to use music to educate to bring unity. We just said that music is a tool, art is a tool, and wording is a tool. You use it to defend, to attack and to create and to consult too...the same with music but it depends on how we use it. What we want to do, we want to use that tool positively. We want to discourage ‘beefing’ in other words, or maybe civilise beefing.”
The less than one week conference ended on a high note with launching of the group’s newspaper Yeliba, dedicated to the promotion of Sierra Leone arts and culture.
Before the conference, the group organised a float parade of local cultural groups across the streets of Freetown.
Freetong Players is arguably Sierra Leone’s leading cultural entertainment group. Since it was formed in 1985 they have travelled widely and represented Sierra Leone in cultural activities in more than 40 cities, in almost every continent. They are notable for their trademark acapella.
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