BY Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Whenever the word “TROUBLESHOOTER”is used, some have the view that it relates to individuals who cause trouble or problem in society, perhaps by looking at the word from its face. No, this is not the actual meaning of this word, “troubleshooter simply refers to someone who is considered as a “problem solver” or someone with the ability of finding solution to whatever problem that has the propensity to cause chaos, confusion or division in a given society.This was one of the attributes of the fallen Chairman of the National Muslim Council of Liberia, Sheikh KafumbahKonneh, who departed this world on Monday at his home in the Topoe’s Village area in Gardnersville, just few days after the end of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
Unsurprisingly, the news of the death of this son of the soil who over the years dedicated his life to serving mankind and also promoting religious tolerance, came as a shock to many, as was evidenced by the number of persons, including dignitaries, officials of government that thronged his residence, minutes after receiving the sad news of the homegoing of someone who had been the “face,” of the Muslim community in this country as was described by a media institution yesterday, in reporting the news of this great Islamic Cleric.
As stated earlier, two of the reasons why this nationalist and patriot will be missed are his role in the peace process of this country and also that of religious tolerance that caused both Christians and Muslims to co-exist, despite their different religious beliefs. One of the things that this country can vaingloriously brag about is the level of religious tolerance that continues to exist. To this, this fallen Muslim leader played a leading role through statements, speeches and interactions to avoid any explosive situation to the detriment of the society. This was achieved by the way and manner in which he handled situations that could have caused rift between Christians and Muslims in the country.
NEVER, did I hear over the years this great man made any derogatory statement against Christianity, despite his disagreement on some issues. He was always sober and mature in dealing with national issues, even with religious overtones. I recall once when there was a problem of this issue of “NO SELLING ON SUNDAYS,” to enable the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) to effectively and efficiently carry out the cleaning of the City. Some Muslims were not in favor of that, but the late leader, during a talk show on the then DC TALK Show, of which I was one of the panelists, softened the ground at the time, thus avoiding any serious confusion over this City Hall’s policy . Indeed, he was a troubleshooter.
Just recently when there was this proposal for Liberia to be declared a Christian State, something some members of the Christian communities, also opposed, the late Sheikh, as leader of the Muslim Council, did not join the fray that made threatening statements against the peace of the country should that proposal were accepted. The Muslim Council the leadership of the Sheikh, is council, after internalizing on the matter, issued a statement that diluted the situation or difued the tentiomn that was building up, by setting up a 100-man committee to “hold consultations” with others on the matter. Indeed, he was a troubleshooter.
Noticeably, where the love and concern for one’s country was exhibited by the fallen Chairman was his role in the peace process of this country. The late Sheikh, as the leader of the Muslim Council, as a member of the Inter-Faith Mediation Committee, exemplified himself as a troubleshooter by playing a leading role in the resolution of the Liberian crisis, from the time of the former National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and the late Samuel Doe’s government, until what is today known as “WAR, WAR THREE,” which ushered in the interim government headed by the late Charles Gyude Bryant.
The leadership of this fallen son of the land was also instrumental in organizing the “INTER-FAITH COUNCIL” of Liberia, an inter-religious group that brought together the Liberian Christian Council (LCC) and the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL) to be able to accentuate the views of the religious communities.
This group, which he also headed played a significant and leading role in bringing about the peace the country enjoys today. Their efforts took them to many countries to seek the intervention of some of those countries’ leaders, some of whom it was believed had influence over some of the former warring faction leaders.
Also, his ability and expertise to mediate in conflict led him, upon request to intervening in the libel suit filed against the publisher of the FRONTPAGE, Mr. Rodney Sieh by former Agriculture Minister, Dr. Chris Toe. His intervention reportedly led to resolving that conflict.
Indeed, yesterday, well attended funeral of this agreat man was a clear indication and mark of gratitude for his services to the nation .even, as some point yesterday, the uncongenial weather could not deter mourners and sympathizers, as well as wellwishers. Some of them stood in the rain for few times, paying homage to this great peacemaker.
Many of those who paid tributes, including President Sirleaf lauded the deceased for his role in attaining peace in this country. The LCC through Catholic Archbishop Lewis Zeigler described him as a true patriot and a true friend, not only to Muslims, but also Christians. The Muslim Council referred to him as “great leaeder” who stood for peace, justice and equality. The Council described his death to a”giant cotton tree that has fallen.” Both Pro-temp ArmahJallah and Speaker alex also praised the fallen Islamic leader for his role in the peace process over the yeasrs.
In her eulogy, President Sirleaf, like the Muslim Council, also likened the death of the Sheikh to a fallen giant tree in the forest that could affect other trees. She said news of his death was received with shock and referred to him as a “great statesman” and “valour unpretending,” a line in the National Anthem.
She said the nation will remember him as someone who stood for peace over the years and that he was not only an Islamic leader, but also a politician, lawyer and judge. The President said Liberians should emulate the courage, conviction and principles the deceased stood. While mourning this great son of the land, the President, however, urged Liberians to take courage in he live the deceased lived.
Today, as this country mourns the death of this great son of the soil and a greater peacemaker, it is imperative that those ideals he espoused over the years, would be emulated by others. He would be remembered for promoting religious tolerance, something he exhibited by examples, as he led the Council to occasions in the Church, including that of the late Archbishop Michael Francis’ memorial service in May this year and the funeral of the late Bishop William Nah Dixon in New Kru Town.
In addition, the Sheikh will forever be remembered for working for peace in this country during the many years of intermittent conflicts and confusions. His selfless role and that of others, including the late Archbishop Francis and Bishop Dixon, who had gone ahead of him, should remind us that those alive have a role to play to keep this hard-earned peace that we enjoy today. This means that the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), of which the deceased also served as a commissioner, would be considered.
Unquestionably, the primary purpose of the TRC was to help towards reconciling the country after years of bitter conflict. This is why it is necessary for us as a nation and people to do everything to implement those aspects of the Commissions’ report or findings that are not in violation of the Constitution of the country.
For now, it is saddening to note that there not much practical steps to make those aspects of the TRC report become a reality. I believe that one way to memorialize this “old man” is to handle the TRC report for which he contributed, considering how tedious, strenuous and painstaking the exercise of the Commission, which was set for two years (from 2007), but with an additional nine months extention. There are some aspects of the report that can be implemented, without much difficulty.
As we mourn someone who has been hailed for his role in the peace process and also for promoting religious tolerance, it behooves us to help to consolidate the peace by not engaging in any acts or activities that would precipitate chaotic consequences.
Moreover, let us avoid any behavior or attitude that will undermine the religious tolerance this country is enjoying today so that the soul of the Sheikh and the souls of other faithful departed like Archbishop Michael Francis and Bishop William Nah Dixon, will rest in peace.
As he departs to the Great Beyond, I say, well done that good and faithful servant; you have left your footprints on the sand of time; rest in the hands of Allah. I Rest My Case.
NPA Dumps Keitrace FC
Former Mighty Barrolle striker, Leonardo Bill Hiah was the man of the match as his brace helped NPA Anchors dump Mamie Kpotos’sKeitrace FC 3-1 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) in central Monrovia in the first match of the second phase of the Liberia Football Association first division.
With the score 1-1 at first half, Coach Abraham Sese’s guided side rejuvenated in the second half to have dumped the youthful outfit 3-1.
The win sends NPA Anchors second with 11 points from six matches, while Keitrace FC is now threatened with relegation with four matches remaining in the second phase.
Keitrace sold midfield hero, Fred Brooks to LISCR FC less than a week before facing the green and white outfit of NPA.
Keitrce will have to get positive results from LISCR FC, FC Fassell, Aeries FC and LPRC Oilers if the youthful club will have to stay in the top flight of Liberian football.
Meanwhile, the LFA league continues today with more exciting matches at the ATS.
FC Fassell will encounter the Oilers in the first match at 2:00 P.m., while LISCR FC and Aries FC will close the day’s action at 4:00 P.M.
Making Use Of The Fruit Of The Tree
YESTERDAY, WHILE EULOGIZING fallen Muslim Cleric, Sheikh KafumbaKonneh, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf described the late scholar as a giant tree that has fallen.
THE LIBERIAN LEADER said, “When a giant tree falls in the forest, its falling impacts other trees of that forest. President Sirleaf who along with senior Government officials as well as political leaders in the country attended the homegoing celebration of Sheikh KafumbaKonneh yesterday described the late Sheikh as a great statesman whose passing symbolizes the falling of a giant tree in the forest.
MADAM SIRLEAF SAID Sheikh Konneh was a distinguished Liberian who will be remembered as a messenger of peace and inter-religious religious tolerance during his entire life. “He was a prominent voice in Islam. He was just not an Islamic Preacher, but a politician, scholar, lawyer, and also a judge,” President Sirleaf said in sorrowful tone.
“TODAY, HE IS no more, but we will remember him; he will live on in our memories for his fearlessness, courage, religious conviction and his principle. When conflicts raged he stood as an outstanding patronage in the search for lasting peace. His passing is a great loss as we strive to consolidate peace in the country,” the Liberian Chief Executive said.
WHILE OTHER STATESMEN including the former President of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU), Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, the Nimba County Legislative Caucus, the Inter-religious Council of Liberia, the Muslim Council and the Liberia Council of Churches also described the late Cleric as a true patriot, a man of God, religious scholar, a courageous peacemaker, a hero, a true friend and a true Liberian.
FOR US, THE late Muslim Cleric was a champion of peace, a promoter of religious tolerance and a man of great courage in times of trouble. Sheikh Konneh’s only quest while alive was to ensure that peace and religious tolerance be the order of the day. He will always be remembered for his role in resolving the nearly 14 years of civil conflict that devastated every fabric of the Liberian society.
NOW THAT THIS great peacemaker is gone let us as Liberians, whether Muslims or Christians emulate those good examples of our fallen father. Let us make use of the fruits from that GREAT GIANT TREE that has fallen.
LIBERIANS MUST ENSURE that his legacy remains; that is by following his venture which includes peacemaking, patriotism, nationalism, service to Allah (God) and co-existence as one people with a single patrimony, Liberia.
INDEED HE HAS played his part very well, he is no more but his memory will forever live on, as this can only be done if we make use of the fruits he abundantly provided while still alive.