By Janjay F. Campbell
The United States Embassy in Monrovia yesterday unveiled a War Memorial in honor of 200,000 people that were killed at Graystone during the 14 years civil war.
Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, United States Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah R. Malac, said the War Memorial was crafted by Jallah Kollie. She stressed that Kollie used his experiences and vision to craft four panels about Liberia during the war and after.
The first panel shows the killing, maiming and destruction of the bloody civil war; the second depicts the establishment of peace and holding of free, democratic elections; while the third panel shows the era of reconstruction and rebuilding and the last panel shows the reconciliation among the warring factions of the Liberian people.
Ambassador Malac said the sculpture now resides in a place of honor in front of the main gate of the new Embassy compound as a monument to those who lost their lives in the bloody civil war and as a silent reminder that it should never happen again.
The second sculpture was done in bronze by U.S. sculptors Peter Winant and Tom Ashcraft. It is one of four oversized school desk chairs; around the sculptures are pepper birds, the national bird and folktale symbol to demonstrate the bright promise the future holds for the country and its people.
According to Ambassador Malac, the symbolism of the chairs and pepper birds carries over into the community in tangible ways. She said in Wenneh Town near Kakata in Margibi County, ‘working man’ collective partnered with the Chicago Bright Foundation to build a play ground where children and families from surrounding schools and neighborhood can gather to socialize and share their similarities and differences through play.
As Secretary of State, John Kerry said: ART in Embassies has played an active diplomatic role for more than 50 years by creating meaningful cultural exchanges through the visual arts. The exhibitions, permanent collections and artist exchanges connect people from the farthest corners of an international community. Art in Embassies cultivates relationships that transcend boundaries, building trust, mutual respect and understanding among people.
At the same time acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Una Thompson said the Government of Liberia is very pleased with the initiatives that the U.S. Embassy is taking. She stressed that this ‘Showcase Liberia Arts and Craft’ also shows that the United States is ready to support arts and craft in Liberia.