Liberia: Tribute on the Death of Reverend Emmanuel Z. Bowier



This Tribute should have been delivered on 9th July at the funeral of the Reverend by a Family member so designated and directly spoken to and who had agreed to do so. It had been duly delivered by Thursday 8th July. We do not understand why it was never read and delivered. We are singularly disappointed and pained since Reverend Bowier has been an integral part of our institute and as such we wish to honor him with an appropriate Tribute

By the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism (LIGP) Board Members: Olubanke King-Akerele; Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh and Sister Mary Laurene Browne, osf.

The Tribute

How does one even start to pay Tribute to someone who, in leaving us to join the Ancestors, the forefathers and other nation-builders has taken a part of the soul of our nation – the Lone Star? If any one’s life and trajectory in modern times can claim to have constituted the essence of what Liberia was about, it is surely the late Reverend Emmanuel Z. Bowier.

As we write, we are so filled with emotion as the tears cloud our eyes. “Aye” Reverend; “Aye” Reverend! How our nation needs you at such a time as this. A time we ask – whither Liberia? You would be able to respond to this, having journed with our nation through various stages.

You covered so many of the challenges that our nation faced over time – as only you, Liberia’s foremost Oral Historian, could do. Your concern was that the upcoming generation needed to know that there is a future!

But that future, you insisted, is for those who prepare for it. You emphasized the fact that there is need to respect traditional wisdom; and the Elders. You said that “whatever is “new”, comes from what is “old”! That there is a pattern of the old in the new.

Hence, our traditional saying for which your life personified “One must sit on the “old mat” to plait the new mat.” You consistently urged young Liberians “to get serious.” – to prepare themselves for the future – for leadership.

The significance of those words is nowhere better captured than in the observation of Africa’s foremost Pan Africanist, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, first President of Zambia, (who also left us recently to join the Ancestors) that “effective leadership, rather than any other single factor underlines the success of the nation and its peoples.”

How relevant to Africa and to “Mama” Liberia in particular today. Reverend, we have to continue your work – who is the we? All of us who believe in the need for regeneration of our nation and its soul – its essence and are prepared to work for it. While we supported your very effective radio broadcast in the past we had talked about igniting some Oral history and informal workshops in civics with the emerging leadership of our nation, right there, in your Garden of Peace at your home on a monthly basis. Should the Reverends’ widow, Ruth, want to follow through on this (as she participated in all such discussions) we the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism will be prepared to support the initiative to the Reverend, one of its three incorporators (others being Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh and Olubanke King-Akerele); a Board member and Chair of the subcommittee on historical perspectives and cultural imperatives.

At the same time, as part of its vision of “Growing” (Development & Promotion) Patriotism the Institute plans to establish an autonomous programme in his honor entitled, “Sitting on the old mat: the Reverend Emmanuel Bowier Hour – a living memorial in his honor. Others who may wish to identify with this are invited and welcome to be a part of this initiative.

Yet, it is clear that, as our generation turns over the mantle of leadership to the next generation, it must be to a prepared generation as per Reverend Bowier.

The Reverend has gone but, to those of us still here, in the words of the Jewish Rabbi Tarfon,

While we are not obliged to complete the work (for Liberia – the work of nation-building) neither are we free to abandon it.”

For to abandon it would be a desecration to those, like the Reverend and others who have gone to the Great Beyond, who did their part contributed to Nation-building, and passed on the Baton to us, as we shall have to do to others, over time.

Reverend, we pledge therefore to build on your work. And so, to Ruth, your widow, and family our deepest sympathy. May God rest his soul in peace and may light perpetual shine on it. To our nation Liberia, we have lost a Great son – A foremost Patriot of the highest order, deserving posthumously, of the Humane Order of African Redemption (with an appropriate Grade) in view of his life of service to the nation, as part of the 26 July 2021 observations and planned national investiture ceremonies for which he is highly recommended

We salute you Reverend. We ask the congregation to stand and salute him as well by singing one stanza of “The Lone Star Forever,” which epitomizes his life’s work.