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Liberia Pays Homage to ‘Its Own’ With Independence Day Honor for VOA’s James Butty

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Honorees James Butty, of the VOA’s Daybreak Africa, Sia Barbara Ferguson Kamara, a consultant with the Open Society Foundations’ Early Childhood Program and Luana Kiandoli, who in 2008 traveled to Liberia with a group from the Maryland Liberia Sister States(MLSS) Program to establish sister programs with the US state of Maryland.

Washington – The Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC has paid homage to Mr. James Butty, the host and managing editor of the Voice of America’s breakfast show, Daybreak Africa, for his “invaluable and dedicated services to humanity and the people of Liberia.

“He’s a journalist who favors everybody and hates everybody. What do I mean by that? He does not shy away from interviewing and obtaining the truth for you, and he will not shy away from interviewing even the bad guys. Even the rebels, he spoke to them. Even the generals, he spoke to them.

Ambassador George S.W. Patten, Sr.

Bestowing the honor on Mr. Butty, during celebrations marking the 172nd Independence anniversary, Ambassador George S.W. Patten, Sr. described the journalist as Liberia’s own. “For those of you who follow the Voice of America early in the morning, you will hear his voice. Many people don’t know Mr. Butty, but they know his voice,” the Ambassador said.

Ambassador Patten said Mr. Butty has played a very critical role in Liberia through his work and broadcast for one of the premiere media institutions in the world. “He’s a journalist who favors everybody and hates everybody. What do I mean by that? He does not shy away from interviewing and obtaining the truth for you, and he will not shy away from interviewing even the bad guys. Even the rebels, he spoke to them. Even the generals, he spoke to them. It is an honor, Mr. Butty, to bring you here and give you this certificate. We are happy as a people that one of us, that you, to be at the VOA for these many, many years, and your voice rings both far and wide.”
Daybreak Africa is a 30-minute hourly show presenting news, interviews, features, and sports on Africa.

Before joining VOA, Mr. Butty served as the Washington correspondent for West Africa Magazine, published weekly then from London, England. His duties included writing weekly articles on Africa-U.S. affairs and the Africa Diaspora. Mr. Butty was born in River Gee County, Liberia. His broadcasting career began at the Voice of Pleebo, a community radio station in Pleebo, Maryland County, Liberia.

He later worked as assistant news editor and radio and television newscaster at the Liberia Broadcasting System. Mr. Butty has a Master’s Degree in mass communication from Howard University in Washington, D.C., a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota, and a diploma in radio and television broadcasting from Brown Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. Butty has received numerous awards at the Voice of America, including the prestigious Gold Medal Award, for his extraordinary effort, initiative, excellence, and dedication to the mission and goals of the Voice of America.

Mr. Butty, in remarks said the honor is for all journalists who labor every day in difficult environments but still do their job with the utmost professionalism. “I pay tribute always to some of Liberia’s outstanding broadcasters on whose shoulders I stand today, for example, Ashley Rennie, Tommy Raynes, Yvonne Barclay, who worked for the Voice of America in the 1960s and 70s as host of “Request Time” and “African Panorama”, and Wilmot Stubblefield, the great afternoon disc jockey, and Olivia Shannon, to name a few.”

Added Mr. Butty: “Ambassador George Patten’s introduction of me as a journalist “who favors everybody and hates everybody” is what I think every good journalist should strive to be. I think the greatest concern of every good journalist is to tell every story as accurately as possible and not worry about whether someone is going to like or dislike you. Throughout the years, I have tried and continue to speak truth to power. Now, it hasn’t been easy, but that story will be told at another time.

“I pay tribute always to some of Liberia’s outstanding broadcasters on whose shoulders I stand today, for example, Ashley Rennie, Tommy Raynes, Yvonne Barclay, who worked for the Voice of America in the 1960s and 70s as host of “Request Time” and “African Panorama”, and Wilmot Stubblefield, the great afternoon disc jockey, and Olivia Shannon, to name a few.”

Mr. James Butty

Mr. Butty says he is always encouraged when young journalists tell him that he has been an inspiration in their lives. “A young journalist from Liberia asked me earlier this month to accept him as a friend on Facebook. I did, and then he called me on the phone and said, Mr. Butty, you came to Liberia one time and told us that if we wanted to be journalists, we should first start by reading a lot domestic and foreign publications and also listening to international broadcasting media. I followed your advice and today I am an editor for a Liberian newspaper. You are my idol, Mr. Butty.”

On the social medium Facebook, many showered appreciation and commendations for Mr. Butty’s work.

The Society of African Missions in Tenafly, New Jersey wrote: “Congratulations. May the Good Shepherd continues guiding you on your life in proclaiming the truth, justice, peace and unity among all people. God bless you, James”

Barry Maughan, a former chief of VOA English to Africa Division hailed Mr. Butty for his tireless efforts on behalf of Liberia. “Congratulations. Well deserved. Thanks for your tireless efforts on behalf of Liberia and the entire African continent. I ‘m proud of you.”

Greg Pirio, a former chief of VOA English to Africa Division recalled: “He used to read my weekly articles in West Africa Magazine and invited me to join VOA. So glad I played a role in you becoming part of VOA. Congrats on your excellent service”.

Alphonso Zean Soe wrote: “We are gradually making sense to recognize an individual (s) making enormous sacrifices in our community. One of those is a legendary broadcaster James Butty, formerly of State Radio of Liberia. Congratulations sir!”

Moses Kollie Garzeawu wrote: “It’s often an interesting venture in life to serve. Most often the servants aren’t the riches but are the most contributors to society. For decades, I listen to him as a kid till my growth into a full flesh journalist. Today, I am honored that he’s my Boss at the Voice of America – VOA. Thanks to the Liberian Embassy in Washington, DC for honoring my Boss, Mr. James Butty, for the work he continues to do for the world”.

Syrulwa Somah said the honor was absolutely deserving. “Congratulations to you and the Liberian Embassy in Washington that sees your virtue”.
Jlateh Kai Pajibo trumpeted: “Congratulations, Mr. James Butty! Thanks for your professional and remarkable service to our country through positive reportage and connecting us to the rest of the world! I was an active part of the VOA Nightline Family program and you left a characteristic voice” in my ears and the airways”.

Sia Barbara Ferguson Kamara, a consultant with the Open Society Foundations’ Early Childhood Program where she mentors early childhood team at the Ministry of Education. She has assisted the Liberian government and donors to develop childhood system for Liberia.

Also honored was Luana Kiandoli, who in 2008 traveled to Liberia with a group from the Maryland Liberia Sister States(MLSS) Program where assessments were made of the schools and hospitals for collaborative projects involving the Sister States of Maryland in the United States of America.

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