Wartime Murder of Musician Casts Pall on Liberian Music Scene

Liberia’s music industry will mark a poignant moment this weekend. It is 28 years since musician Tecumsay Roberts was gunned down. Witnesses say the killer was General Samuel Varnii acting under the command of Prince Johnson.

This story first appeared on Power TV as part of a collaboration for the West Africa Justice Reporting Project.

Liberian musicians will gather this weekend for an awards night, to remember Roberts and other musicians who have contributed to Liberia’s music industry.

Roberts was revered locally and internationally for his soul-touching and patriotic songs. When he died at age 39, Roberts was bigger in Liberia than American pop star Michael Jackson.

Witnesses told us Johnson, now senator for Nimba, was there when Roberts was killed. He did not question the general about the killing. Years later, Johnson told the now defunct Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC that Varnii shot Roberts because he was gay.

As Anthony Stephens reports, Roberts’ family say time has come for his killers to face justice.