Posted by: sean | July 6, 2009

Musical Stockholm Syndrome

Dear Sir or Madam,

If you had the chance to make a difference, would you?

In Liberia, West Africa, many expatriates awake as early as 6am to the loud thumping of Akon songs outside their windows. Throughout the day, radio stations cycle through the same Akon songs. On the street, children sing the same Akon songs. In the evening, the bars and clubs play the same Akon songs. In order to survive, expatriates will claim that they like Akon; they will feel that they love Akon; they will lash out when outsiders tell them that Akon is not very talented; they will develop Pavlovian responses to Akon stimuli, most notably awkward dancing and singing-along when Akon is played. In short, in order to survive, expatriates succumb to Musical Stockholm Syndrome.

Musical Stockholm Syndrome (MSS) is a debilitating disease that claims the musical tastes of countless expatriates every year, but you have the chance to make a difference.

I know firsthand the horrors of living with MSS, because I am one of those who suffer in the shadows. Every day is a struggle. There are nights where I come home and feverishly download Akon songs. I don’t know why I do this…I just NEED to do it. When I hear Akon playing, I find myself smiling, throwing my hands in the air enthusiastically and swaying them in time with His sweetly delivered beats. I want to talk about the sweeping yet pointed way He explores the human experience with such lyrics as, “I want to fuck you, you already know,” but I know that is just the MSS talking. I nod in agreement when He explains that he wants to, “smack that, all on the floor,” even though the floor is probably too dirty for smacking that.

Natasha Anderson (expat, née Canadian), who first coined the term ‘Musical Stockholm Syndrome’ in reference to the psychological response hostages sometimes experience when they begin to identify with the hostage-taker, recalls that she was first alerted to the condition when a friend told her that, “Akon is incredible.” According to Anderson, expatriates require a rich diet of musical appreciation and their immune systems are too weak to handle Akon in heavy doses. One need only troll the bars and one club in downtown Monrovia on the weekend to see the truth in this observation. Fueled by incessant repetition, one can find crowds of expatriates frivoling while Akon plays in the background, apparently unaware of the fact that other human beings have, from time to time, learned to play musical instruments and croon.

Musical Stockholm Syndrome is a debilitating disease, but you can make a difference.

With just one song a day, you can help rebuild an expatriate’s sense of musical appreciation by replenishing their catalogues with a rich, balanced diet of indie, emo, soul, house, funk, gospel, rock, new wave, pop, spoon-clanging – anything, really…anything but Akon.

A study I just conducted in my head suggests a strong correlation between what critics observe as ineffective international development aid and the presence of an oligarchy of musical artists (all Akonesque) in developing countries. Astute observers of the Liberian music scene may single out P Squared or Rhianna as evidence of ‘variety’. Really? I suppose they think that Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are remarkably different from generic Flakes of Corn. In any case, in order to be an astute observer, you would have had to spent time in Liberia, which means that unless you wandered around with condoms over your ears, you have contracted MSS. And nobody wanders around Liberia with condoms on their ears.

Musical Stockholm Syndrome debilitates. Make the difference.

By sending just one song a day to an expat in Liberia you can help those in the greatest need rediscover life. More, you will receive monthly heart warming updates from your expat including pictures of their progress.

There is an old saying, “Feed a man only porridge and he will come to love porridge; teach a man eggs, some bacon, and a glass of orange juice and he will come to live.” It is your turn – your chance – to teach a man the proverbial eggs.

Undebilitate. Be the difference.

– Sean MacAkon



  1. Love it! I hope to soon hear the phrase “A study I just conducted in my head” sweeping the nation (with you properly credited of course).

    Thanks for the laugh. Or for letting me know I am not alone for trying to explain to peers in the US that “there’s just something about Akon, seriously” after returning from Ghana 2 years ago.

  2. today’s donation, which seems so apt for the ‘developing world’:

    you’re welcome.

    • Bless you Ethan. You taught me the eggs.

  3. I get it in ’till sunrise
    Doing 90 in a 65
    Windows rolled down screaming “Ahhh!!!”
    Hey-ey-ey. I’m so paid
    Number one hustla get money
    Why do you wanna count my money?
    I’ma hustla don’t need them! One of them ya’ll see!
    I’m so paid

    Let me get this right MacAkon….you want to free yourself from lyrics as wonderful as these?

    Na Na Na

    Thank goodness the sound doesn’t work on my computer (or maybe it does…I just don’t want to know..)

    Na Na Na

    Im so paid
    writing this response

    Love DadAkon

    • You have entirely too much time on your hands.

  4. I agree with Megan, “A study I just conducted in my head” is classic. You are too funny, friend.

  5. Did this Akon Syndrome start after he visited the country? I learned from sister-in-law who is here with us in the US, but at the time lives in Monrovia that Akon was in Monrovia and he really pulled multitude.

  6. Imagine there’s no Akon…. it’s easy if you try

  7. The link to this is now my “status” message on gmail. I thought I was the only one.

  8. Excellent!
    … And here I was in Mongolia, thinking it was the only country in the world suffering its own version of M(F)SS; here manifesting itself through the wearing by the unwary expat of a beautiful and terrifying Russian/Asian fashion combination:

  9. […] my time in the land of liberty that can be funny.   My fear of flying, my juice extractor, and my blind obedience to repetitive songlists don’t really tell you anything important about Liberia.  I think that’s the way it should […]

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