Liberia: Speaking Truth To Power
In the absense of the presence of the Inter-Religious Team of Archbishops George Daniel Browne and Michael Kpakala Francis, Sheikh Kafumba Konneh and Dr. Mary Nema Brownell, who Spoke Truth To Power, the word is out that there is no more Speaking Truth To Power by reigious leaders, except in the cases of Bishop Arthur Flomo Kulah and Rev, Dr. Samuel Reeves.
By Togba-Nah Tipoteh, [email protected], Contributing Writer
Let us recall the action of Archbishop Browne on the day of the reopening of the road that divided Liberia into two parts during the Civil War in Liberia. When I drove by the home of Bishop Browne to tell him about the reopening of the road, he said “let us go there to witness the reopening of the road”. He rushed to my vehicle in his T-shirt, pants and house slippers, while on-lookers were yelling “Bishop, you can’t go out looking like that”. But Archbishop Browne, excited, went out anyway. Then we drove of Mount Barclay and witnessed the reopening of the road, making for the free flow of traffic to all parts of Liberia. Archbishop Browne led the singing of praise to God for the reopening of the road and the efforts to unite the people of Liberia. Already Bishop Browne had set a record of Speaking Truth To Powers in his well researched Sermons on poverty and injustice in his efforts directed at promoting Justice for All to end poverty and prevent its reoccurrence, not forgetting his book on the Masonic Craft, in collaboration with Dr. Elwood Dunn.
On the occasion of his visit to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, Archbishop Browne told the Episcopal Priest there that the Church is not the building; the Church is the set of Parishioners out there, So, Archbishop Browne took the Priest with him and went to Putu Penoken in Grand Gedeh County, where some of the Parishioners lived. Archbishop Browne, Board Chairperson of Susukuu at the time, felt sorry about the terrible conditioners facing the Parishioners there, as the logs were being carried away for export, spreading dust and life-threatening diseases, with the lack of schools and clinics in the Area. In response to the terrible conditions in Putu, Susukuu helped to set up the Putu Development Corporation (PUDECO), an NGO owned by the people of Putu, with the Dean Elder Nyihna as Chairperson and Speaker Dugbe Saydee Parue as President and boys, girls, men and women participating in the decision-making. One of the boys, Pyne Wollor, went to the United States of America (USA) for advanced studies in Accounting and worked as an Accountant for the State of New York, USA, prior to his returning to Liberia, where he has estabished a Senior High School in memory of his late Mother.
Whenever there was a need to stop violence and prevent its reoccurence, the Inter-Religious Team met in the Office of Archbishop Francis. From the meetings, Participants took on various assignments, without challenging the State but Speaking Truth To Power, to get the right thing done to stop the violence and prevent its reoccurence. To raise mass awareness, the Team invited to meetings credible leaders of Civil Society. Whenever funding was needed for enhancing awareness, Archbishop Francis would get on his computer and send messages to organizations, requesting assistance. The burning down of Radio Veritas by rebels did not stop the work of the Team. In fact, this criminal act on the part of the rebels encouraged the Team to work harder. The harder work became widely known locally and globally and earned for Liberia the Global Award for Religious Harmony, the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Award. While seeking financial assistance, the Team offered its services to attend to problems of religious disharmony abroad.
Dr. Brownell kept the doors to her home open always to help in solving societal problems. Her home was located near the Office of Archbishop Francis on Snapper Hill, Ashmun Street, Monrovia. She kept abrest with the news, reading the newspapers and listening to the radio day and night, not forgetting the meetings with may people. In Speaking Truth To Power, Dr. Brownell led women in the West African sub-region to the Peace Talks in Accra, Ghana during the Liberian Civil War and locked the Partcipants of the Talks in the Conference Room until they came up with an agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), that ended the Civil War in Liberia and became part of the Constitution of Liberia. The women did not stop there. They demanded that no entity should assume State leadership in Liberia until disarmament was done.
In promoting disarmament, Bishop Kulah was prepared to address the people of Liberia at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) with the topic: Too Good To Fight because he was convinced that the people of Liberia are too good to fight. But the powers that be stopped the ATS Assembly on the eve of the NPFL Octopus invasion. Bishop Kulah went ahead anyay and addressed the people who assembled at the Bishop Trowen Nagbe United Methodist Church in Sinkor.
Bishop Kulah and Shiekh Konneh were busy working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Liberia , as established by the CPA. Their work was based on getting out the Truth in ways that did not lead to prosecution. This method of getting out the Truth was used successfully in the TRC of South Africa under the leadership of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Bishop Kulah is the only member of the Team still alive and he continues to Speak Truth To Power. Fortunately, other persons are coming up to Speah Truth to Power.
The other persons coming up to Speak Truth To Power are engaged in spreading knowledge to raise awareness in ways that motivate people to work together through the Rule of Law to transform the UNFAIR electoral system into the FAIR electoral system. It is only through this transformation that good persons can be elected to public offices to move Liberia from the system of injustice to the system of Justice, the only indispensable ingredient for sustainable Peace and Progress in any society.