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Liberia's traditional musical icon Tokay Tomah reportedly dead at a hospital in Philadelphia 


Liberia's traditional musical icon , Tokay Tomah, who is known for "Chi chi poylay" is reportedly dead. Ms. Tomah was on her way to work earlier today, when she collapsed. She was later reported dead at a hospital in Philadelphia. 


Tokay Tomah is a Liberian singer and dancer who started her training as a young girl in the late 1970s when then-president William Tolbert and then-Director of Culture Peter Ballah recruited her from her hometown in Nimba County to join the Liberian National Troupe. She began doing background vocals for famous Liberian singers Fatu Gayflor, Zaye Tete, and others, in the 1980s.


In the mid-1990s Tokay started her work with the United Nations on disarmament and reconciliation. She continued singing for peace, and asking, through song, that combatants lay down their arms, for more than a decade. In addition to her peacebuilding work, she carried out awareness campaigns on HIV/AIDS, rape, sexual exploitation and abuse, and other issues, all through performance. Tokay served as the executive director of a Liberian non-governmental organization, Women and Society, advocating for equity for women.


In 2000 she produced her first album, Chay Chay Poley, which established her as Liberia's premiere female recording artist at that time. She has since produced six additional CDs, and has been honored with awards from the Musicians Union of Liberia, Africare Liberia, and the Ministry of Agriculture. She has performed in England, Ghana, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Libya, Nigeria and elsewhere. Her 2010 album, Open the Door, shares a message about taking responsibility for one's impact on one's own community.


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