By Morrison O.G. Sayon
A veteran Liberian Photojournalist, Gregory H. Stemn, has called on the Liberian Government to preserve some of Liberia’s historical sites around the country. In an exclusive interview, Mr. Stemn said Liberia has several historical sites including the famous Belle Yallah Prison Center in the Belle forest where prominent politicians were sent because of their diverse political views.
Mr. Stemn who just returned from Belle Yallah in Gbapolu County said that particular prison center must be preserved by Government so that the young children and unborn children remember what went wrong in the country so that such will never be repeated.
“Let us rewrite our history by preserving these historical sites so as not to reverse to those evil vices that engulfed our nation in the past,” Stemn averred. He wants the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs & Tourism focus on these national sites instead of politics.
“I just returned from Belle Yallah and saw the prison cell that hosted some of our famous politicians including the late Jackson F. Doe, Gabriel Kpolleh, Edward Beyan Kesselly, Journalist Rufus Darpo who were all imprisoned there by the then Liberian Government,” Mr. Stemn, a USA-based Liberian Photojournalist said.
He said the famous prison creek where the prisoners went to bathe daily is still there and that there is a need for tourists and even the young people of Liberia to see these sites and be told about the past and not to reverse to the past that devastated the entire Liberian society.
At the same time, Mr. Stemn has expressed disappointment over the demolition of the Post Stockade Prison cell where Liberian current President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was incarcerated by slain Liberian President Samuel Kanyon Doe.
The Liberian Journalist who has written several books on the Liberian crisis said the Post Stockade cell should’ve been preserved for historical purposes as it was one of the most important places in the nation’s history. “We can’t reverse to the ugly past and therefore, there is a serious need to preserve these sites where our people were subjected to inhumane treatment,” Stemn said.
Mr. Gregory H. Stemn extensively covered the Liberian civil crisis and released books on the situation. His latest book has contributed significantly to the history of Liberia. People wasted their blood and sweat for this country and so where they were held and other important places must be preserved to remember their contributions to the state and society.
He said the present Museum on Broad Street is a mere joke because nothing is being preserved in the so-called museum except for Tubman’s chair and other things he used when he was president and Prince Johnson’s booths he used when he captured and killed President Doe.
Describing the Belle Yallah Prison Cell, Stemn said the famous prison is a very tiny building with one bathroom, four small cells where politicians were placed; an underground cell and a creek where prisoners were taken for their daily bath.
He wants government to go all out to seek assistance from partners to ensure that these historical sites are preserved and that the National Museum be upgraded to preserve Liberia’s heritage for public viewing.