Simeon Freeman Warns Against Electing Greedy Politicians

first_imgMPC standard bearer, businessman Simeon Freeman Opposition politician Simeon Freeman has signalled the danger in electing “old and greedy politicians with a history of exploiting the system to enrich themselves and their families.”Mr. Freeman is a businessman and leader of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) political party that participated in the 2011 Legislative and Presidential Elections.Addressing scores of citizens in Salala District, Bong County, over the weekend, Mr. Freeman urged the electorate to refuse to be carried away by empty talk from old politicians still hanging around. Some of such individuals Mr. Freeman explained, have always lived in luxury at the expense of the masses.“People that worked for government have shown you their work over the years. They have shown that without a government job, they cannot survive. When they need your votes, they will go everywhere with you; they even allow you sometimes to enter their bedrooms. They answer every call when they want your votes.But, after winning the election, they become too busy people to meet those that voted them in and those things they promised along the way, change automatically.I say, Bong County, shine your eyes on those you vote for in these elections, Mr. Freeman intoned.The MPC political leader warned that electing the same ‘old politicians’ is a clear indication that the system will remain the same while a majority of the people suffer at the hands of bad governance.“Putting the same people back in power will be an opportunity for their children to prosper at the detriment of the masses. You shouldn’t be the ones giving their children these opportunities when your children should also benefit from the national cake,” he pointed out.The businessman turn politician made these assertions when he graced the adoption of SASAFU constitution and membership drive program.SASAFU is an organization that brings together three districts in Lower Bong County for the purpose of fostering development in those regions.Mr. Freeman then committed L$125,000 towards the sustainability of the organization; he promised to provide stationeries for the organization’s offices.He called on the leadership of the organization to rotate SASAFU meetings in the three districts in order to show unity and the people’s participation in activities of the organization.SASAFU should have sub-offices in all three districts, Freeman said.The organization is being tipped as a force to be reckoned with in selecting public officials for the county, in an upcoming Special Senatorial Election.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Conversation with Liberia’s Celebrated Poet, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

first_imgDr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley is an internationally celebrated Liberian poet. She’s a professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State University. Her poems speak of her growing up in Liberia, her experience of the war, and her life of exile of which the longing for her homeland is the dominant theme. In all her poems, one sees her with deep sense of understanding and appreciation of her Grebo cultural upbringing. She has published four volumes of poetry with the latest being “Where the Road Turns.” Over the years, her works have received rave reviews from literary critics some of whom consider her poems as “fearless, eye-opening, breath-taking, and compassionate” as well as talking about the “everyday courage of a people whose stories would be lost if not for these poems.” The prolific Liberian poet has travelled widely in America giving reading to enthusiastic audiences at college and university campuses as well as poetry festivals and writer conferences. I sought her indulgence recently for this interview.  Despite her busy schedule, she found time to respond to my questions. Below are the excerpts:Nvasekie N. Konneh: I have heard quite a bit about you as a poet from Liberia and for the first time, I have just read your bio on your website. For many Liberians and others who may not know you, how will you introduce yourself?Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: I hate to talk about myself but in any case I am Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. I am a poet, a Liberian, a mother of four children and wife, an Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State University. I am the author of four books of poetry, Where the Road Turns, (Autumn House Press, 2010) The River is Rising (Autumn House 2007), Becoming Ebony (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa (New Issues Press, 1998). I am also a survivor of the Liberian civil war, a Grebo woman from Maryland County, Southeastern Liberia.NNK: From what I have read about you, it seems like you have had a very wonderful career as a university professor and poet. How much of your poetry is reflected in what you do as a teacher and has your poetry in any way impacted by your work as teacher?  PJW: Yes, I have lost a lot of years, but I’ve done pretty well. Remember I first began teaching in 1980 as a lecturer at the University of Liberia. Between that time and now, I’ve basically been teaching, interrupted by the civil war, however. Considering that I lost fifteen years waiting for the war and studying to reinvent myself or recover the loss of all my possessions like most Liberians who survived the war, I have done well and I have been blessed. A poet writes about their world, therefore, my work and life are often reflected in my poetry. I am inspired by my life as a poet, in my travels on poetry residencies and events, particularly to new places. I write about everything, including some things about my life as a teacher. I am also influenced by my students like any teacher. I would say rather that my poetry is informed by my teaching and my teaching is informed by my life as a poet. I bring more to my teaching because I am a poet than the other way around, I believe. The impact my teaching has had on my work is both positive and negative. The positive aspect is that I obtain writing material from my busy life, I meet many good people across the US and internationally, I connect to other writers as a teacher and writer, but I also lose time for writing as a result of my busy schedules of teaching and travel as a poet.NNK: How has your poetry informed and impacted Liberians at home and abroad? PJW: This is a very interesting question because as I already stated, I hate to be the judge of my own success as a writer. From my humbled point of view, I would say that my work has indeed impacted Liberians. As you and I know very well, Liberia is not a very literate country. The fourteen years of war has made the low literacy rate higher by the enormous population of young people who were denied any form of education due to the long war. I’m pointing you to this fact to say that it would be impossible for my work to impact Liberians the way it would in a normal country. Having said that, I will say that most educated Liberians at home or in the Diaspora have been impacted by my writing one way or the other. I did not just begin writing after the war. I was always a writer, even as a teenager. With the new media technology today, I can say that my poetry and my other writings are being read around the world and in Liberia.NNK: Given the fact that we don’t have a reading culture in Liberia, how does that make you feel as a poet? PJW: Liberia has never had a great reading culture, even in the better days before the war. Most Liberians have no appreciation for literature. If we had a great literate culture without an appreciation for literature, I would still not be happy, but it is worse than that. Our people do not have an appreciation for literature and they are not a literate people. That’s a double curse, I’d say. As for my own feelings about this- well, I do not feel any more terrible than any other Liberian. As a poet, I see my role as a poet who writes poetry. I write about Liberia and its people, but I cannot worry about how many Liberians will read me in a given day or week or year. I wish they would read me, but if they choose not to, I will continue to write for the few who want to read poetry and for the many non-Liberians who do love literature. What is frustrating is not that we do not have a reading culture; instead, it is that those who are our most educated in such a country of low literacy rate do not appreciate the arts or literature. We lack an intellectual community that is not hung up on politics. Every time you see Liberians passionate about anything, it is about politics. The new mass media offers us many opportunities to engage one another in dialogue. But even on facebook, all Liberian discussions and debates are about politics. They seem to have no interest in talking about even scholarly issues. This to me signals the death of our nation. A nation that does not support its own cultural development and the arts is a nation ready to die.NNK: What has been your most exciting experience as a writer? PJW: My most exciting experience as a writer is not one. It is hard to put my finger on anything. I would not like to say winning awards for my work because these awards are great, but they are just things. What I would say is most exciting is the ability to create a life outside of the real world, to bring things to life, to keep other peoples’ stories alive by the power of language. My most exciting experience is that as a writer, I have the ability to recreate a world no one else can create and share that world with the real world.NNK: How did you get inspired to write poems and who are some of the poets who have inspired your writings? PJW: I began writing since childhood, probably at about eleven years old. I know that I wrote my first real poems at about fourteen. My father and paternal grandfather were my first fans, cheering me on and affirming me. My grandfather did not see me writing, but he would listen to me weave a tale or retell a story, and say, “She’s going to be a book woman someday. She’s going to write books.” I have been inspired by many great writers in Africa, in the US and in the world. Writers like John Pepper Clark Bekederemo of Nigeria, Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and our own Liberian writers like Bai T. Moore were my first writers. I also loved reading American poets like e.e. Cummings, Robert Frost, T.S Eliot, among others. Finally, my biggest influence remains the oral literature and culture of our people. The oral tradition that I grew up on, my grandmother’s tales, the proverbs and fables from our cultures, the common sayings, etc. are my biggest influence. These are my best books of learning.NNK: As a university professor, your schedule must be very tight, how do handle that and still find the time to commit to your writings? PJW: My life is a busy one. I know that I joggle things by working very hard. I rise early and go to bed late. My writing suffers like anyone else, but I write mostly from inspiration and write whenever I feel the inspiration, no matter where that is. As a mother, wife, teacher, and poet, I manage my life in a way that I can take care of my family even while holding on to my career. Thing has not always been like this. I am the mother of four children. When my children were much younger, I put most of my life on the hold. My youngest was old enough to go to preschool before I picked up my career from where I had left it.  In my early years as a young woman, I focused on teaching and obtaining more education. When the children came, I taught full time at first at the University of Liberia. Later, I taught part time at various universities in Michigan. When my youngest was enrolled in preschool and the older kids could help out with babysitting, I reenrolled in grad school and worked on my doctorate even while promoting my first book of poems. From 1998, I began to make changes in my life to make space for my career in writing and teaching.NNK: What is your biggest challenge as a Liberian writer living in America?PJW: Interesting question indeed. My biggest challenge is that like me, my work is in exile. I believe that the writer in exile, whether exile is voluntary or not, produces work that is in exile. Imagine writing about the life of people who cannot read what it is you have written and you will know what I’m talking about. My biggest challenge has been negotiating the different spaces between my life as a Diaspora, exiled Liberian and my life as a Liberian woman. I have learned to overcome these challenges, however, but they never go away. Writing as a black woman from Africa in America has not been easy, but it is now easier. I’ve been blessed to have built up a community and joined a great community of writers who have accepted me, but it was not always like this. Sadly, again, Liberians are unaware of what it is I am doing, I mean Liberians in the Diaspora. Other Africans are far ahead of us, and of course, are reading me and studying me, but Liberians do not seem to understand anything except you speak to them in politics.NNK:  Is your poetry informed by real life experience or pure imagination?PJW: I write about my life experiences. Poetry is mostly about real life and mine is about my life experiences, including my life in the Liberian civil war, children, and everything around me. The only use of imagination in my writing has to do with the use of literary devices.NNK: You have written four books of poetry. Thematically, are you dealing with the same issue or there is diversity of issues addressed as may be suggested by the title of each book?PJW: I probably answered the last part of the question. But also, I hate to talk about this when I do interviews. Could you please insert what you think and what reviewers say? Maybe I can approach this from another angle: I write from inspiration, and mostly inspiration from the life around me. Even though many reviewers think I write about war, I do write about everything. I have written much and still do write about the Liberian experience of the civil war, the massacres our people experienced, the suffering I saw, the death of children, the use of children as soldiers, the destruction of our country and more. I also write about my family, my children, bringing up children, living in the Diaspora, the difficulty of being uprooted from my homeland, etc. I seek to negotiate the spaces of our new homeland of whatever Diaspora we live in and that of the homelands we have lost as Africans. Mine is that of a town crier, bemoaning the loss of innocence, of the loss of life and homeland even while celebrating what it means to be African and Liberian despite all the pain.NNK: I have seen some amazing videos of your poetic performances to enthusiastic audiences on college campuses and writers conferences. Do you get such enthusiastic reception from the Liberian or African community in the US or in Africa?PJW: Well, the Liberian community has not given me much of a chance nor has it given anyone of artistic talent a chance to show what they can do. I have read to a few Liberian audiences in the US, and I can count those times on my hand. During those three or four times, they have received me with the same kind of reverence and enthusiasm or even more. I recall reading a poem in Minnesota when I was invited to keynote at the Liberian Women’s Initiative forum. I read just one poem, and the entire room stood up, applauding, screaming and excited to my surprise. I read again at a major awards program, and the audience went wild. I don’t think there are many audiences who will hear me read and just be cold, so I am not surprised that a room full of Liberians will get emotional and excited when I read. What is important to me is not the applauds or the immediate emotional outburst, but rather, what follows after that. When I read at a place and they are excited, but do not invite me or other poets to bring their own poetry to their meetings after that, when they host programs and parties just to have fun and a good time, talk and shout politics, and do not realize the importance of what those who are not political aspirants do, then we have a long way to go. When I read for other institutions and they love it, they follow up with invitations. Let me give you an example. We have a very powerful Maryland Association in the US. The leadership is aware of my poetry, my poetry that celebrates Grebo culture and celebrates our life as a people. They have been given complimentary copies of my books and have heard a lot about me. But they have never reached out to me to invite me to share what I do, something that is about their culture with them. I do not worry about that. I only feel sorry for our people’s lack of vision for culture and the arts, that’s all. I will continue to be a poet and work hard to achieve my dreams, and I will write about my people and put them on the map whether or not Liberians support me. The world is bigger than Liberians and the world has received me very well. Liberians can take as long as they want to promote their own culture.NNK: By the number of books of poetry you have published and the rock star reception you get from place to place, is it safe to say you are the most successful Liberian poet of all times?  PJW: You know, I will not be the judge here, my brother. I will say this. When I was a young woman in my twenties, teaching at the University of Liberia in the 1980s, one of my then former professors who is now a friend said to me, “you will be the Liberian poet of the 1980s.” I had already written a few of my best poems that are now published in my first book, but I had not published in any reputable journal. At the time, I believed her not because of the way she said it, but because I knew since I was a small child that there was something upon me. I knew that I had something with power inside of me, and I knew that somehow, I had a mission in this life, but I did not know yet how I would fulfill that mission. Of course, I did not become the poet of the 1980s like she said. No one was the poet of the 1980s.  The one thing I know for sure is that I have been fortunate with a gift and despite my own procrastinations, my busy life of family and childrearing for years, God has kept me remembering that I had a story to tell. I have not been the best custodian of the vision, but I have managed to keep myself afloat and have been fortunate to have met people here in the US who were kind enough to remind me that I was able to do it. Maybe I am the most successful so far. I hope however, that there will come others after me who will do far better. Unless another Liberian can use my success to build up himself or herself to become better than me, then the road I am clearing will have been a wasted journey.NNK: How can we make poetry and other forms of art to be accepted as parts of our Liberian social, political, cultural and intellectual developments? PJW: One of us needs to be Minister of Art and Culture and make the President do something about it, hahaha! Can you imagine that we have a government in Liberia with no interest in literature? When I was in Liberia, I had a scheduled appointment with President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and I was excited to tell her about the need for teaching our own literature in the schools. I even got a memo about my invitation, but the same day of the meeting, the meeting was canceled. Now tell me whether I would not have met her if I had been a member of the campaign? Do you think I would have struggled to see the President if other Liberians around her were aware of what I do for the country they love? Can you imagine what one of my African friends said when I told her I had to visit the Ministry of Education to propose that they teach my books in the schools? She said, “What are you talking about? Are they crazy to not see the value of teaching your poetry? Is it something you need to?” To make our culture and art accepted by our people will take a whole new philosophy, a national philosophy hammered into our people years after years, in the schools, on the streets, in the market places, and the only person who can do that is the President and her team. Liberians do not listen to anyone else, you know. We have made a bit of progress in the new appreciation among Liberian women for their own clothing, so it is possible. Let’s thank our President for her fashion. Liberian women can proudly dress up in lappa suits and not be called “country woman” or “lappa woman.” See how bad we were? I believe we need to keep writing and singing and doing whatever we are gifted to do until a real literary person becomes a big enough shot to create an avenue. Maybe Liberians will listen to them from such a high place. In the meantime, we have to keep on writing, writing, writing.Note: This interview was conducted two years ago with Dr. Patricia Wesley and it’s an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Liberian Voices, which is a collection of reviews of books written by Liberian writers as well as interviews such as this. This book is a follow-up to my current book, “The Land of My Father’s Birth,” a memoir of the Liberian civil war. I can be reached @ 267-206-8909 or this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

What Chances for Female U20 Lone Star in Nigeria?

first_imgIt is unfair when you are scheduled to take an examination and you are not well prepared for it by either your parents or your teachers.Then during the examination you realized you did not perform well. Then you moved on to the final examination, after resting for several days, and still you received no help from either your teachers or your parents. But those who could not help you in any way expect you to do well.That is the scenario with the U-20 female national soccer team, before their 7-1 loss to their Nigerian counterparts, and secondly towards their second leg preparations to their second leg encounter this Sunday in Nigeria.Having suffered such a humiliating defeat in the first leg, you would have thought that the team immediately went to camp to prepare for the return-leg away in Nigeria. “After the loss the players were sent home,” said a source close to the team.And training did not resume till last Saturday, in which all the players were not in attendance.How do we now expect the team to prepare well to defend the nation in Nigeria? Head coach Christopher Wreh and his assistant Oliver Makor now get to know that they have more problems on their hands than previously. The Liberian people will judge their competence after such poor results, they should be aware now.Before the first leg, they would claim they did not know much about their opponents, which is fair enough. Now after the first leg and now know the challenges before them, what can they offer?There is a famous saying by retired coach Josiah Johnson that football is like biscuit in which it breaks unexpected but even that those who are conditioned with better focus are able to break theirs on where it is expected or closer to it.Head coach Wreh and his deputy Makor have not spoken to the media since the first leg defeat, the inadequate preparation for the first leg and now the second leg would bring them more disappointment.As former players they need no one to tell them about how adequate preparation makes the difference in developing a team for a competition. It is also equally true that no matter how well a team is prepared another team is a little ahead of it.In any tournament, there is actually one winner and a runner-up but at least the rest of the competitors must play as expected to demand some respect. Hence the same yardstick must be used on the current discussion.If we want our teams to play well and win; if we are not happy when our teams are defeated both at home and away, then of course we must get to work and do what we need to do to prepare our teams for continental competitions.Otherwise, we are embarrassing ourselves and making our players more uncomfortable in the end in playing in competitions that we are honestly not determined to win.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

ECOWAS to Support Liberia’s Post-Ebola Recovery Plan

first_imgThe special representative of the president of ECOWAS Commission to Liberia, Tunde O. Ajisomo, has disclosed his organization’s plan to work with member states and investors to assist in Liberia’s post-Ebola recovery agenda.Ambassador Ajisomo made the disclosure over the weekend at the Zumah Town sports stadium in Paynesville at the start of a football tournament, to mark the celebration of the 40th anniversary of ECOWAS.Mr. Ajisomo said ECOWAS will be working with many of its partners to support Liberia’s post-Ebola recovery plans, particularly in the areas of infrastructure and healthcare delivery which are cardinal to preventing any further outbreak in the country.  “We need to revive the country’s health sector with huge investments. We can see that the government is concerned about addressing the issue of health and infrastructure and all partners are concerned and working on that also,” he explained.He noted that Liberia is on the right path of ensuring that its development projects delayed by the epidemic are on the way to recommencing, adding that only a good leadership can begin looking at those issues that are cardinal to development. “I am gratified to see Liberia making history after the resilient efforts of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, citizens and the partners in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus that stopped many of the country’s development activities including road construction and agriculture.He said the government had done a very good job in putting together a program which will help to address the post-Ebola recovery issues.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

KORA Awards Cancelled

first_imgThe organizers of the KORA Awards have confirmed recent rumors that it has cancelled this year’s award ceremony that was expected to take place in Namibia on March 20th, 2016.The organizing team said the cancellation was due to what it described as an “unfortunate situation” despite their best efforts to receive clearance in order to move equipment from South Africa to Namibia.Although the event was postponed to an undetermined date, what is also unclear is whether voting still continues. In a statement released on its website, the organizing committee said, “In early February, our supplier alerted us to the necessity of securing clearance for the dome and equipment to cross the border from South Africa into Namibia. We immediately commenced with efforts to secure this clearance with the relevant authorities to enable the crossover.“Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we have to date not received the clearance to enable our supplier to move the structure and equipment into Namibia in time for the event.” According to the statement, the KORA team is still pursuing this crucial waiver; and as such, they have had to take the difficult decision to postpone the KORA All-Africa Music Awards.“As disappointed as we are by this development, we remain committed to delivering the event we promised the Namibian people. We are confident in the KORA’s power to be a transformative agent in African artists’ lives, and are single-minded in our efforts to ensure that the event takes place as a fitting tribute to African artists,” the statement read.The team further expressed its regrets to all those impacted by the postponement, and assured them that no one is more disappointed by this development than the team.Upon agreement of all the stakeholders and partners, an announcement would be made about the new date as soon as possible, the KORA team said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

MCC Turns over 3 Bikes to CBEs

first_imgAuthorities of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) yesterday turned over three brand new TVS five star motorbikes it has purchased at the cost of US$10,000 to three Community Based Enterprises (CBEs) in Monrovia and its environs.The motorbikes were turned over to the Swaray and Dunbar in St, Paul Bridge, the Alpha Sanitation in the slum community of West point and the United Group located in Sinkor Old Road. “Authorities of those three sanitation groups that the bikes have been assigned to are expected to use their bikes to collect plastics from the streets and in their respective neighborhoods, and school campuses. They are not, however, intended for garbage collection,” Abraham B.Y. Jusu Garneo, MCC’s Director-General of Service programs told the beneficiaries as he presented the bikes to each of them. The tough looking Chinese made auto 200cc bikes are neatly inscribed with ‘Operation Attack Plastic’. MCC bought the bikes to complement the plastics collection exercise that was launched last year, under the code name, “Operation Attack Plastics.” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf launched “Operation Attack Plastics” which brought together 13 schools from the Monrovia Consolidated School System that participated in picking up used and unwanted plastic materials in the streets and communities within the municipality of Monrovia.The involvement of the students, MCC said, was intended to bring about competition among the participating schools, following which trophies in first, second and third categories were presented to the winners. The MCC provided hygienic and sanitary materials including gloves, boots, and helmets to be used by the students to protect them while carrying out the plastic collection.In remarks following the presentation, Caine Prince Andrews, MCC’s Director-General for Internal Operations, underscored the importance of “Operation Attack Plastics,” noting that the bikes are part of the sustainability of the project. Madam Mai Dunbar, Swaray and Dunbar Sanitation General Manager, on behalf of her colleagues, expressed appreciation to the MCC, and promised to maintain the bikes and use them for the purpose the MCC has intended.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Yet a New Cry from Liberia’s Rice Farmers: Gbedin This Time

first_imgStarting with the Tubman administration in the early 1960s, the Liberian government has been encouraging the Gbedin people to grow rice, which they seem to be good at and are interested in doing. At the time, rice experts from the Republic of China (Tiawan) came regularly to help Gbedin rice farmers. More recently, scarcely nine months ago, it was the Lofa rice farmers who said they had grown one million metric tons of rice and could find no buyers. John Selma, Voinjama’s dynamic and visionary rice farmer, did not only grow his own rice, he motivated many other farmers to do the same; and believing in him, they got to work and produced lots of rice.Alas, when the rice was harvested, Selma and his fellow farmers could find no buyers! This newspaper appealed to the new Agriculture Minister, Moses Zinnah, to intervene immediately to ensure that the Lofa farmers sold their rice. We further appealed to the Liberian government to encourage rice importers to set aside some of the millions of dollars they spend importing rice to buy the Lofa farmers’ rice. The government reacted positively, but we do not know what happened. Selma and his fellow farmers are still struggling to sell their rice.Our agriculture correspondent Gloria Tamba recently reported that Selma and his fellow rice farmers had received a pledge of support from the Liberia Agriculture Development Authority (LADA). Selma told Gloria he would use the funds to buy processing equipment, including milling machines to help him and the other farmers to add value to their rice, then put it on the market.How belatedly, however, Gloria said they expressed fear that some of their rice had already begun to spoil. For true? Can we rice-starved-and-dependent Liberians afford to allow one grain of rice to spoil?And now look what is happening to our Gbedin rice farmers—250,000 tons of rice produced and no buyers. Just last week President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Cabinet issued what they called a “performance report on the agricultural sector.” Again, Hamlet’s “Words, words, words.”Where were the specifics in the Cabinet “Performance report?” Where was the report on poultry and eggs, for which we spend millions of United States dollars importing each year? Where was the “performance report” on meat production? Or is this sector, too, non-existent? What did the “performance report” have to say about fisheries and vegetable production?Alas, where was the “performance report” on the national staple, RICE, on which we annually spend over US$200 million importing? Speaking of rice, the President recently issued an executive order to waive duties on imported rice, “to keep the price affordable for ordinary Liberians,” she said. What duty free privileges for imported rice, when we have all this locally grown rice WASTING around the country?Yet, the government and all of us ordinary Liberians are crying daily because of the absence of foreign exchange that has the prices of everything, including all the food we must import, skyrocketing. What kind of government is this that refuses to focus on the things that matter most to the people—food, especially our staple, RICE. Does the government want Liberia to become self-sufficient in rice, given only a token mention of it in the so-called “Cabinet Performance Report on the Agricultural Sector”?Ellen was right here in Monrovia when the April 14 Rice Riots happened. President William R. Tolbert had recalled her from the World Bank to become Finance Minister. She knows ALL about the sensational and sentimental issue of rice and the Liberian people. And yet, after nearly 11 years in power, what has she done to make Liberia self-sufficient in rice?Now here we are with the Gbedin farmers joining their Lofa colleagues crying for markets to sell their rice; and there are, again, no buyers! And ever since last Thursday, when the Daily Observer published our Nimba Correspondent Ishmael Menkor’s report of the Gbedin rice farmers’ lamentation, we have heard not a word from the Agriculture Ministry.Agriculture Minister Zinnah, where are you? We urge you to take three actions right away: First, go to Gbedin today, behold the rice farmers’ plight and do something immediately to help get their rice to the market.Second, call Commerce Minister Axel Addy and you both tell the President to compel the rice importers to buy the Gbedin and Voinjama rice.Third, go to Lofa and find John Selma and his fellow rice farmers and see how they are doing with planting more rice, to ensure that they have not gotten discouraged, but are maintaining their planting momentum. Do the same for the Gbedin rice planters.We urge the GOL to take our rice farmers more seriously. Do not depend on “foreign partners” and NGOs alone to help our farmers, for you do not know them, neither their intentions nor motives. GOL must take personal responsibility to ensure that all our farmers have ready markets for their produce.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Representative Debates Heat Up In Nimba

first_imgThe debates have quickly captured the interest of the electorateAs Liberia entered the second week of campaigning for the presidential and representative elections in October, a well-arranged political debate named “Ducor Debate” by the Liberia Media for Democratic Initiative (LMDI) in Nimba County is heating up with representative candidates questioning each other on the podium.On Friday, August 4, the process began in the county’s Electoral District #1, where the residents witnessed the much-heralded debate among five of the six candidates vying for the district’s lone seat. The incumbent Representative, Jeremiah Koung, was fiercely challenged by his opponents, who wanted him to explain the impact of the Legislative Support Fund Project (LSFP) in his district over the years under his leadership.Koung responded with an offer to take his opponents around the district to see for themselves all the development projects he claimed to have implemented from the LSFP, because he feels the projects are numerous, and he could not name them all in the debate.There are six candidates vying for the representative seat in District #1, which includes the commercial city of Ganta. In addition to incumbent Rep. Koung, other candidates that participated included Lawrence Sua, Mrs. Margaret K. Korkpor (wife of sitting Chief Justice Francis Korkpor), Amos N. G. Suah and Othello Deshield. One of the candidates, Samuel Brown, was conspicuously absent which his opponents attributed to his inability to speak in public, especially before a huge gathering of people from different backgrounds.Representative candidates at one of the debatesThe debate made a second stop in Sanniquellie District #2, where 12 contenders, including incumbent Representative Prince O. S. Tokpah, participated, although three of his challengers did not show up. Rep. Tokpah faces formidable challenges from his opponents who are highly educated, according to their respective profiles. Tokpah could not answer most of questions to the expectation of the crowd, which many regarded as a sign of incompetence for the position. The debate put Nyan Flomo and B. K. Gono ahead of the rest of the candidates.The next stage of the debate was expected to take place yesterday in Karnplay, District #3, where about eight candidates, excluding the incumbent, Samuel Woleh, were to deliberate. Former Nimba Superintendent and a former Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Teeko Tozay Yorlay, is among the main contenders in the race for that representative seat.The District #4 debate will take place in Bealeglay on August 10, 2017, where sitting Representative Garrison Yealue will be facing some talented men and women. Former Charles Taylor General, Roland Duo, is among several businessmen who are the main contenders. This is one of the districts in Nimba that has the highest number of contestants, and many believe the incumbent’s chances of making a come back will be slim.Information reaching the Daily Observer suggests that the debate will take a break for four days and will resume on August 15 in Saclepea City, Nimba County District # 7, where the incumbent is also not be contesting.Most of the questions from the debates have focused on the usage of the Legislative Support Fund Project (LSFP) and the County Development Fund . Nearly all the candidates said if they are elected, they will seek their constituents’ views on how their share should be used. Most of the Representatives of the outgoing 53rd Legislature are yet to identify tangible projects from the LSFP over the past years. Individual donations, such as providing bundles of zinc, bags of cements to churches, schools or individuals, however, were some of their chief achievements of the past years.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Koijee Challenges Muslims to Ensure Peace

first_imgSome of the Muslims, just returned from Mecca, seated at the ceremony in Monrovia. Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee says the government’s is commitment to promote religious tolerance and therefore Liberians should see the positive change of the government in the country, a release has said.Mayor Koijee spoke on Thursday, September 13 at a program marking the safe return to the country of Liberian Muslims from the Holy City of Mecca, Saudi Arabia at the Monrovia City Hall.Koijee said President George Weah remains committed to upholding freedom of association as is enshrined in the Constitution.According to the release, Mayor Koijee said every citizen will be given the chance to affiliate with any religion void of intimidation under the government.Mayor Koijee said President Weah believes that every citizen regardless of his or her religious affiliation should be equally protected that will promote the current peaceful coexistence among Liberian citizens.Mayor Koijee (left) along with Foreign Minister Findley at the celebration yesterday in Monrovia“President Weah sees Liberians as one family and that should be exemplified through the expression of love for one another. Liberia is the only country we have and as such, we should work together to contribute to its economic and infrastructure development,” he said.“It is now left with the young people to support the President’s decision by positively executing their roles and responsibilities as ambassadors of the youthful generation,” he said.Mayor Koijee also called on Liberian youths to take advantage of the opportunity given them by President Weah to serve in positions of trust in government.He said President Weah has erased the past perception that young people were only good to be used as tools for violence.On behalf of the Muslims Grand Mufti Abubakar Sumaworo lauded President Weah for helping them to attend the Haj to Mecca, which is one of the five pillars of their religion. He indicated that while in Mecca, they prayed to Allah for peace for Liberia and wisdom to strengthen President Weah with wisdom to transform Liberia.Sumaworo pledged their support to the government’s pro-poor agenda for prosperity.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Woman, 35, Arrested for ‘Stealing’ 2-day Old Baby in Gbarnga

first_imgReporters interviewed suspect Beatrice Moses.  Security officers assigned at the Ganta Immigration check point in Nimba County, in collaboration with their Bong County counterparts on Monday, March 11, 2019, arrested a 35 year old woman, identified as Beatrice Moses for allegedly stealing a two-day old baby from the C. B. Dunbar Maternity Hospital in Gbarnga.The baby, named Mercy Flomo was born on Sunday, March 10, 2019, at the health facility.Beatrice Moses, a resident of Clara Town in Monrovia was arrested by security officers at the Ganta Immigration Check Point following security tip-off from their Bong County counterparts that a baby is reportedly stolen from the C.B. Dunbar Hospital.Suspect Moses told police investigators in Gbarnga shortly after she was brought back from Ganta that she attempted stealing the baby, because she has given birth four different times, but all have passed with the latest being on March 2, 2019 when her reportedly baby died in Clara Town, Monrovia.“Community people and friends always making mockery of me that I can always sell my children to the witches, a situation which angered my boyfriend,” Beatrice said.She attributed her action to being desperate for child, and the mounting pressure from her boyfriend of having a child.Beatrice said she took the baby to Ganta in order to ride an any non commercial vehicle that are not normally checked at the various immigration check points. So I wanted to take advantage of that to carry the baby to Monrovia and present it as my own child.“I recently gave birth to a boy, but the child did not survive, so I never wanted to go back to my people without a baby. Moreover, I wanted to have baby for myself,” Beatrice said with tears streaming down her chest.She admitted stealing the child early Monday March 11, 2019 during visiting hour at the hospital.“When I entered the Post-Partum Ward, I held the baby as though I was a family member to the baby’s mother, and when I noticed that the baby mother has left the child in my charge to go in the bathroom, I looked around and saw no one paying attention to me, that’s how I made my way outside the hospital with the baby and boarded a car for Ganta,” she said.Bendu Karmo reunited with her babyThe embittered mother of the child, Bendu Karmo, 17, said when Beatrice entered the Post-Partum Ward, she began to ask for other baby mothers as though she were related to them.“She came on my bed and began to ask me about one baby mother who was opposite me, but was discharged on Sunday March 10, 2019, and she posed herself as a family member on the ward,” Bendu narrated.According to Bendu, “the recovery of my son was a true belief that God is a living God, because he knows that I suffered to bear my child, so I am very happy that I can still be breastfeeding my child,” Bendu said beaming with smile.The head nurse at the hospital, Gertrude Sieh, said her colleagues and some of the security guards thought Beatrice Moses was a family member to Bendu Karmo, because they saw her interacting with the baby several times minutes before she disappeared.She said the hospital administration has instituted new measures restricting the number of visitors to patient or baby mothers aimed at curbing re-occurrence of the situation.She said the baby was recovered in stable condition, and was turned over to her mother, but said that the baby will remain at the hospital a little longer for further treatment and observation.Meanwhile, the Commander of the Bong County Police Detachment Chief, Fredrick Nappay said suspect Beatrice Moses will be charged appropriately in keeping with the law and forwarded to court for prosecution.Ishmael F. Menkor contributed to this story.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more