‘I want to leave lasting legacy for Liberia and the whole of Africa’
Juli Endee is the Culture Ambassador of the Republic of Liberia, a traditional Queen, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for Children in Liberia and the Executive Director of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace an NGO founded in 1994. Juli develops and conducts information campaigns/crusades on her own by means of music, dance and theatre. She is a performing and professional artiste, writer, administrator, a producer, a mentor and a teacher. TOBI AWODIPE caught up with the icon and she bared her mind on several issues concerning Africa and Africans as well as her plans for the immediate future.
How has the journey been for you as a cultural icon in Liberia and Africa at large?
I will first say I’m thankful to God for the journey. It hasn’t been all roses; I have had some difficulties in my life as an artist but I can say that I have been able to get to where I am because of God, respect for elders, respect for my family – this has been the bedrock of my journey. It is not over yet though; I still have certain things ahead of me and I hope and pray God helps me to succeed as I continue this journey.
As an Ambassador for Culture and Peace in Liberia and a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, what are you most passionate about?
I’m most passionate about peace for mankind, not just for Liberia but also for the sub-region, the Mano River Basin, and the world at large. I’m passionate about uniting people based on my ideas and vision. I’m passionate about seeing young people live in peace, work in peace, exercise their franchise, and move forward in life. Love your neighbour as you love yourself and the most important thing is that no one should be killed for exercising his or her rights to freedom of speech or to a peaceful environment. I’m also passionate about the advocacy and the community engagement of the community taking responsibilities of their own lives. Whether in development, health, education or politics; the community should be the bedrock of any society.
Speaking for Africans worldwide, there is a lot of tension and a sense of regression felt across the continent, mostly due to political strife and misgovernance.
Given your position, what do you think is the way forward for Africa?
African leaders need to be sincere, we should be very transparent in our dealing as politicians and know the difference between an opponent and an enemy. That we don’t share the same ideology doesn’t mean we are not one people; because your platform is different from my platform, doesn’t mean we should be divided. When it comes to politics, our views are different but we can live together as one and ordinary citizens should realise that the politicians are not even half of the population. Peace is not what we should wish for; peace is what we should be. It’s what we say, and what we do. We must maintain the peace in every country because peace for one country is peace for Africa and the world at large.
Is there any significance to the song you released this year with Nigeria’s Flavour N’abania for Liberia’s Independence Day?
The song is actually for peace. What I’m saying in the song is about promoting peace, not only in Africa, but also in the world. We must unite to make this world a better place for our children to live. It’s very important that whatever medium or channel you have to promote peace, you must promote it at all levels. Peace for Africa, that’s what is important, that’s what I look up to and I want to not just preach peace; but want to live by example. So, that’s what the song is all about: peace for Liberia. I’m also thanking those who helped us understand the significance of peace, the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU); for helping us to understand that peace can only come to Liberia if Liberians want peace and we have had relatively peaceful times for 12 years. That’s what the song is saying- let us forgive one another, let’s look forward to the future, let’s protect each other in the world and love each other in the world.
Since releasing the song, the review has been mixed from critical acclaim to some comments about Biafra. What do you think is the relevance of Biafra to your song Atulaylay?
Well I don’t want to talk about Biafra, because in West Africa, Nigeria is the beacon of Africa in terms of Unity and Peace. When we fought our war; it was Nigeria that came to assist us first before the United Nations arrived through ECOWAS. We look up to Nigeria as a big brother, we salute Nigeria and hope for peace in the country because any problem in Nigeria will trigger conflict within ECOWAS and it will escalate to the world.
Regarding the little boy, Semah Weifur, who sang with Flavour N’abania, how did you discover him?
While visiting an orphanage, I decided to stop at the school for the blind to make some donations and I was welcomed with a song by the school choir, of which Semah is the leader. He was introduced to me and he told me he knew how to sing my new song with Flavour “Atulaylay”. His talent overwhelmed me; he has such a wonderful voice. He said Flavour is his favorite artist and he sang his song Mama. The song got everyone in tears. So I made a promise to make his dreams come true. Flavour was welcoming of the idea and the rest is history.
What is next for Queen Juli as an Ambassador, a brand and as an artiste?
I have an NGO that I have been operating for the last 24 years; I’m still working with the NGO as I’m trying to leave a lasting legacy. I’m also building an institution where the institutional memory will be when I’m no longer operating that. I want to take my career to a different level by the power of the Almighty. I can’t say what will be my next step but I know that whatever God says will be, will be. I have an album, which will be released soonest, and I hope that my song will serve as an inspiration to everyone.
Music is one thing that unifies Africans, are there any more collaborations with other African artistes in the works?
Oh yes, by God’s grace. I have been collaborating with other African artists in the ECOWAS belt, but I want to go to the east, I want to go to South Africa. I want to shine as the Mama Africa bringing people together so that we can raise our voices to help the underprivileged children in Africa. We want to sing the song of Africa to the world, that Africa is beautiful and rich but we must use our resources for the betterment of our people; development in African must be done by Africans so I want to see a lot of African voices or different groups; women, children, hip-hop and different styles of music to come together with one voice to raise our profile.
What is one lesson you have learned in your career that you would like to share with the new generation of musicians and performers?
I think it’s very important to be humble. You must also have three Cs and three Ds: you must be Dedicated, Determined and Devoted to whatever you do, and you must be Credible, Committed, and have Common Sense. Finally, I leave them with this, “Good better best, never rest until your good is better and your better is best.”