Former Foreign Minister King-Akerele Releases New Book

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The Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Minister of Commerce and Industry, Madam Olubanke King-Akerele, recently released her fourth book entitled, “The Liberian Way: Breaking the Cycle.”

The foreword of the book is written by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, while the book is a publication of the Liberian Institute for “Growing” Patriotism and the Angie Brooks International Centre (ABIC) for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security.

The launching ceremony was held in conjunction with the dedication of the Ruth Morgenthau Reading Room at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law at the University of Liberia (UL).

Vice President Joseph Boakai, who performed the official launch, described Madam Akerele as a prolific writer, noting that the book is her fourth since she left government. Boakai said the development of emergent leaders is a key program area in several African nations. He hailed former Minster Akerele for bringing the subject matter into the spotlight through her book.

Veep Boakai said Liberia has been through a lot of tribulations in recent years and as the country is in the process of rebuilding and rebranding itself, the people must include deliberate and drastic change from being “business as usual.”

He urged Liberians to adopt an attitude of transformation, stating: “let’s celebrate and recognize the leadership modules that have impacted our nation the most. Let’s think about changing minds and changing attitudes” as propounded by former Information Minister Lawrence Bropleh.

He said it is within that dimension that the book delves into the descriptive and narrative challenges associated with reconstruction and nation building.

Boakai explained that the “Liberian Way” as defined in the book means taking “shortcuts, lack of standards, doing the wrong things, but careless because it is convenient.”

Such impediments that constitute the “cycle” need to be broken, he said.

The author divided the book into five parts with part one documenting the experience of the ABIC in Africa, generally, and in Liberia in particular with support for the “Nurturing and Growing” of its Emergent Leadership. Part two documents a selected number of initiatives that are ongoing or have taken place in the country that are contributing to the “growing of Liberia’s Emergent Leadership.”

The book entitled, “Patriotism in Action,” highlights some of the many positive things that Liberians are engaged in that are nothing short of Patriotism in Action, but are hardly heard about.

Akerele went on to explain that part three contains inspiring life paths of mid-career professionals, while part four contains profiles of Liberians from the earlier book, The “Growing of Africa’s Emergent Leadership.” Part five focuses on “Plaiting the New Mat: Breaking the Cycle of the Liberian Way,” and tackles the issue of what has come to be referred to as “the Liberian Way” – a problem brought into focus by the discussion on the motivation behind the writing, since it is seen as critical to the future of the country.

Dr. Herman Browne, President of Cuttington University, who critiques the book, noted that it is very refreshing to be reading a book by one author and hearing several other voices and their perspective on the same theme. He described the style by the Madam Akerele as an unusual approach, but said what is paramount is that, “the book makes readers not just to think about patriotism, but to feel patriotism, which makes it more related to poetry than to prose.”

He said in reading the book, “there is something that makes you to appreciate and see how easy it is to be frustrated that the generation so cherished and loved either knows so little or appreciates so little of what is so important.”

The Dedication of the Ruth Morgenthau Reading Room
The program also included the dedication of a reading room at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia. Liberia’s former Ambassador to the United States, Charles Minor and former Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, Cllr. David A.B. Jallah, performed the dedication of the Ruth Morgenthau Reading Room (RMRR), where the ceremony was held.

Amb. Minor recounted the history leading to the establishment of the reading room, noting that the reading room dates back to 2010 at the time Madam Akerele was Minister of Foreign Affairs. He outlined the immense contributions she made to ensure the establishment of the room.

The RMRR is named after a distinguished American scholar, and international political scientist who was a specialist on Francophone Africa.

She was born in Vienna and managed to escape along with her family from Nazi prosecution. Ruth grew up to become prominent, serving as Foreign Policy Adviser to three US Democratic Presidents. She lent her expertise to the United Nations (was part of the U.S.A. delegation to the United Nations) and the World Bank in various capacities.

Upon her death, Ruth’s widower called to say that he wanted to donate her library to Madam Akerele, her former student at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. He said he could not think of anyone else she would have wanted to have her books. It was then that Madam
Akerele contacted the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law to receive the collection and set it up there. Ambassador Minor then Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States assisted in this process, as did the President of the University, Dr. Emmet Dennis to get the books to Liberia together with the then Dean of the Law School, Cllr. David Jallah. He was assisted by Cllr. Krubo Kollie, then Legal Counsellor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Professor Morgenthau’s daughter Sarah (then Director of the Peace Corps Response office in Washington DC) visited Liberia in the second half of 2010 at which time she presented the books. Unfortunately, as the Minister was on mission, she could not be there during the presentation. The Morgenthau family sent an official message during the dedication of the library pledging to provide a computer and printer to facilitate the use of the RMRR.

The ceremony was attended by UL president Dr. Dennis; the Dean of the UL Law School, Cllr. Negbalee Warner; President of Stella Maris, Sister Mary Laurene Brown; Rev. Emmanuel Bowier; Judge Eva Mappy Morgan; among others.

Madam Akerele had previously written books entitled, “Women’s Leadership in Post-Conflict Liberia”; “My Journey,” launched in 2012; “Accelerating Regional Integration through Micro Regionalism: the case of Zambia-Malawi-Mozambique”; “Growth Triangle and its Impact”; and “The ‘Growing of Africa’s Emergent Leadership,” launched in 2014 in Lusaka, Zambia, with the foreword by the first President of Zambia, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda.

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