Meet Wesseh Freeman, The Gas Can Guitar Master

Some videos of Wesseh (a.k.a. Weesay) Freeman, a blind musician from Duala market in Monrovia, posted on internet have reached more than ten million views. Although he might now be the most famous Liberian (after George Weah and Michael Jackson's Liberian Girl of course), his life has not really changed and Wesseh still plays in the streets of Monrovia to earn his daily bread. Wesseh's music style is unique, and this is maybe because for him playing the guitar is really a question of survival.


Wesseh Freeman in 2013 during his first video recording at Ducor Hotel in Monrovia (Photo: Francois Beaurain)

Wesseh was born in the early 90's and like most of the kids of his generation, growing up in the middle of the civil war prevented him from going to school. Wesseh became blind at the age of 7 (he suffers from what seems to be a severe form of cataract) and his mother who could not afford to have a useless mouth at home so asked Wesseh to start begging in the markets. But Wesseh refused to become a beggar and he decided to build his own guitar to be able to earn his own living.

Wesseh did not have money and knoweldge to build a proper guitar and he had to do it on his own from recycled material. The guitar he is playing today is made from a gas can and a piece of wood he carved himself, using a machete. For the rest; he uses coat hangers as frets, nails as tuning pegs and old brake as strings. How Wesseh managed to get to that result and that sound is still a mystery but he got international recognition for it and some people have already offered to commercialize his home-made guitars.


Wesseh tuning his guitar (Photo: Francois Beaurain)

For those who still do not believe that this blind man is able to build his own guitar, here are a few pics of the guitar making process you can find on a FB fan page some supporters (among myself) created for him.

But the most amazing thing isn't the guitar, but the sound he manages to get out of it. Wesseh's guitar and broken voice are unique and  after listening for just a few seconds, you'll understand why he has thousands of fans all over the world. His songs talk about his own life and his personal struggles, but also about religion and about the war which had a great impact on him.

Despite his international fame and a crowdfunding campaign, Wesseh's life standards have not really improved and he still has to play daily in the markets to make a living. But Wesseh is very humble and patient and does not forget that his biggest victory so far is that he became financially independent.

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