By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
There is a parable in the Kru vernacular which literally says that “one who travels sees lots of things than the one who sits in one place.” My late grandmother always told me about this whenever she wanted to talk about the issue of experience or ‘seeing more things” for advancement. The idea of this parable is that venturing in other areas, one is bound to experience developments, lifestyle and culture of others, which can be used by the person to share with others, with the principal goal of making use of those good things that would help one’s society or community to move forward. This can even help in the development of the country.
Being fully aware of this, whenever I travel out of this country, besides the purpose for which I made the trip, I always make it my duty to share by experience with others. In most instances, like from my trips to China, Taiwan, Turkey and in recent time, Malaysia, I have done articles to help boost the country’s tourism program. I recall that during my first visit to the United States on the International Visitor’s program, I admired the historic record system at one of the newspapers’ offices in Memphis, Tennessee. Upon record to Liberia, I copied this, by making sure that we keep the first edition of the INQUIRER in a bulletin, which we still have today after more than two decades.
Additionally, when I accompanied President Sirleaf to one of the African Union’s Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I wrote something about the condition of the Liberian Embassy in that country and the need for something to be done about that.
Also, I wrote something about the administrative complex to be built by the Chinese Government in Liberia, after seeing what the Chinese did in Addis Ababa, by constructing the AU new headquarters. The Liberian structure would be the second in Africa. The towering US$200 million complex, dedicated in January 28, 2012, is known as “China’s Gift To Africa.” Its 20-storey tower is the tallest in Addis Ababa.
Disappointingly, we are still fussing over land issue or where to build this structure that would help reduce the rental obligations of our government, now, and years to come. What a shame! But I am happy that at least I shared that experience of the Chinese-built AU headquarters. To make the Chinese’s desire come through, as one of its many assistance to post-war reconstruction, now rests with this government.
Whether something has been done about that, rests with the authority. But at least I shared that experience with members of the society.
It is an indisputable fact that all of us may not have the opportunity to travel to other places; this is why whenever one travels, it is necessary to share experiences about those good things that can be transplanted for the betterment of one’s society and country.
Just recently, unlike my other trips, I made a trip out of the country to attend the funeral of an employee of this paper, Emmanuel Ekow Abban in a village in Cape Coast, Ghana. As usual, before leaving Liberia for that trip, I inquired about the area in which the activities would take place. It was then that I was told it would be in a place called, Besakrom, few miles from the Cape Coast Polytechnic and that the venue was easy to find because my host, (the father of the deceased) was a prominent citizen of that area.
After nearly more than two hours drive from Accra in a commercial vehicle, I met my host who was awaiting my arrival at a local TOTAL Gas Station. Upon receiving me, we drove to Besakrom in less than 15 minutes, and said, “Welcome to our village.” Being cognizant of what a village is in Liberia and seeing what is being referred to as a village in Ghana, I stood in disbelief because of the kinds of buildings and development I observed, while reaching the home of my host.
Upon reaching me in his home and informing me about the preparation about the funeral, and also after overcoming the weeping and wailing for this fallen brother, I inquiringly asked why the place is referred to as a “village.” He replied, “This is our little village.” With this, I said to myself, I hope we will have similar village or villages in Liberia. As I looked at some of the structures, I was amazed by the architectural designs of many of the buildings. The area has electricity and water, which I enjoyed in the hotel booked for my four-day stay in that area.
Actually, this piece is not intended to lecture on the hospitality and courtesy extended me during my stay in that “village,” to bring back home how it is necessary for people to always go back to their villages or towns to develop them. My host, a pensioner, who I discovered is a successful man, used his resources to take development to his area. Today, in his old age, he is peacefully living in one of the many houses he built while working in the capital city of that country. Besides my host, there are many others who are developing their areas.
I try to share this experience because many of us upon attaining success in life, we do not look back to help with the development of our towns and villages. Worst of all, some of us do not even bother with the development needs of our areas. We always turn our backs, and never return to whence we cometh. While it is true that government is responsible for national development, the people of towns and villages also have a duty to help develop their towns and villages by undertaking meaningful developmental projects, such as housing or real estate.
As I toured the “village’ after the funeral, I saw the number of structures, with attractive designs that are under construction. The residents of the areas may have reasons for referring to this area as a village, perhaps whenever they compare it with others and the unpaved main road, but in the Liberian situation, it is more than a village. I believe if I were to return there next time, not for a funeral, but a sight-seeing visit, the entire area would have been far developed, as many of those buildings under construction would have been completed.
In all sincerity, I say this with high optimism because of the beautiful new buildings, including one said to be the new Foreign Ministry that I saw in Accra, upon arrival in that city recently. I gathered that the Chinese Government undertook the project, valued at US$16-million. The five-storey office complex has 141 offices, a 300-capacity conference room and other mini-conference halls, a library, a canteen, among other facilities, was constructed within 17 months.
This structure and many more that I saw were not there when I visited there few years ago, as part of a team on an investigation about reported disturbances on the former Liberian Refugee Buduburam Camp in that country. With this, I am sure, as stated earlier that in the next years, should I return to Besakrum, I expect to see new changes.
I conclude by thanking the people of Besakrom for developing their area, and hope that many of us in this country would emulate this good example by identifying with the developmental needs of our areas. And so if Besakrum is a village, then, we need many of such villages in rural Liberia, in which there would be structures like those in the city and its suburbs.
Equally too, let me hail the people of the area for keeping their tradition, despite their level of education, because this is a problem in our society in that the moment we acquire some level of education, or “know book,” as we colloquially say, we downplay our traditional values and customs.
Frankly intimating what I saw that Sunday, a day after the funeral, I respect the people for upholding and maintaining their tradition, as it relates to the dead and death. During the ceremony, the widow was given a new husband, the younger brother of the deceased, who was earlier poured with powder on his head. Later, the widow and her new husband, joined by family members, danced to the admiration of family members and sympathizers.
But I was emphatically told, “It is not compulsory that he married his late brother’s wife; but this is our tradition; we have to do this ceremony.”
One of the things that astonished me is that on that Sunday afternoon, as people made contributions for the death of a son of the soil, they were given receipts and a token of appreciation. I was told that the receipts would be given to the bereaved family.
Truly, one who travels or moves around sees a lot of things than one who is stationary. This was what I experienced recently in Ghana. I Rest My Case.