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RIA Scandal Secret Recordings
RIA Scandal Secret Recordings
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|Fare You Well, Your Grace, Fare You Well; Farewell To An Exemplary Icon||| Print ||
|Written by Ade Wede Wee-Wee Kekuleh, email@example.com|
|Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:00|
It is with both joy and sadness that I pen this eulogy to His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Michael Kpakala Francis, a man who will always be remembered by us Liberians. It is with joy because he departed this world on the birthday of the Church, Pentecost Sunday. I count myself blessed to have known him in the manner I did, albeit in his latter years.
I speak for a lot of us non-Catholics when I say he will always be an icon who left his indelible footprints on this temporary place we call Earth. Archbishop Francis impacted the lives many people, myself included.
I happened to have been accepted at Radio VERITAS, first as an intern in 1998, when he was then a bubbling, fearless minister of the Gospel. He was also down-to-earth. I recall once I was on early morning continuity and, following the log, cued the morning meditation for airing.
The meditation begins with, “Good morning and welcome to this morning prayer”. Perhaps I was hungry that morning, or wanted to be fussy; anyway I cut the ‘Good morning’ portion. So it began with, “Welcome to this morning prayer”.
Coincidentally, then Archbishop Francis was the celebrant for the live Mass that morning. He entered, went into the main studio, walked straight up to me and asked in Liberian parlance, at the same time pushing my head “What you cut the thing for, ehn? What you cut the thing for?
Why I ain’t say good morning?” As the children say, ‘my mouth had gone to spend time’ because other than muttering, ‘I’m sorry Your Grace’, I could not say another word. The technician standing at the door later jokingly asked me, “Ehn you say you got mouth? Why you didn’t open your mouth to Kpakala now?” As if I was supposed to.
We used to call him behind his back ‘the man who sacks with mouth’. He was fond of barging in on us at odd times, any time in fact, at the radio station. One such morning when I was on the 6:45 A.M. news shift, he just came in and met one of the staff urinating at the front door. Right away he said, “Dat the new bathroom? You sacked”. The staff hurriedly zipped and began walking behind him pleading for forgiveness. He turned and said, “Move from behind me mehn, I say you sacked.” The staff never received any letter to the effect, though. Not even a pay cut or suspension.
As Paul Saydee puts it, ‘Michael Francis is the man who defied tyranny, and survived’. In Liberia, we say the leader is the dumpsite. He took so much insult from nobodies simply because he chose to hold on to what is true and just. I have not seen yet another fearless Liberian like the Archbishop Emeritus. He spoke the truth and care not who felt offended. Bishop, as we fondly called him, ingrained in us the benefits of being true to one’s conscience.
His fearless stance on issues won for him several accolades both at home and abroad. He was the one Liberians looked to when they needed a mouthpiece.
The war years were difficult ones for all sectors, the Church being no exception. There were times when paying salaries became a Herculean task. As a result, he sometimes had to ration the payment of salaries. Mind you, I got to know of this only a few years ago, when I was heading one of their institutions. The Health Secretary, Mrs. Yaa Wynn Gausi and I were reminiscing about the good times we had with him when she said mentioned there were times when they could not take pay, because there was no money. I was lost. I had to wonder if we both were talking about the same Catholic Mission in Liberia. I mean, not a month went by and we did not get paid. Clearly in a state of confusion, I had to say to her, “But Mamie, we used to take pay every month o.” She responded, laughing “Yes, you were employed by VERITAS now. He always found money for you people. Like that, he will not mention VERITAS at senior staff meetings, because someone would be sure to say he favors y’all.”
That was the Archbishop for you. He was deeply aware of the importance of the radio and its independence. This is just to show the lengths he was willing to go to. He knew the radio served as a beacon of hope, not only to Catholics, but also non-Catholics and non-Christians alike. I would not put him past using his own cash or ‘borrowing’ from departments that had some money.
I feel sad at his passing because I had really nurtured the hope that one day he would regain his speech once more and speak to the many ills permeating our society. This society of ours which has been taken over by graft and self-interest needs a voice like Michael Francis. Sadly, he left without saying a word to us. Yes, he could say the simple, yes, no, okay, and the like. But the burning desire of all Liberians was to hear him talk like the Michael Francis we knew. I remember the late Moses Tandapolie saying the same thing. Well, they will meet on the other side.
Your Grace, your journey to the other side officially begins today. We will NEVER forget you! You will always be our Hero! Fare you well, please keep Liberia in mind; the need for this country to be interceded for cannot be overemphasized.
Your quest for truth and justice will never be forgotten.
To his able caregivers, Mrs. Gausi, Mercy, Jallah, Segbeh, Bestman, Saturday, Joseph, and the rest of the team who are not named, it is not that you are forgotten, but your contribution is too overwhelming for words, you all cannot be thanked enough. Taking care of a man once bubbling with energy and vigor was not a piece of cake. But I doubt if he would have gotten better care and treatment than the one you gave him. You diligently and meticulously took care of him as if he were your father. Your reward awaits you.
To you who ensured he had all his needs taken care of materially and spiritually, thank you.
Rest in peace till we meet again, as we Christians hope.