One of Liberia’s eminent senior citizens, Madam Mary Brownell, is expected to serve as the speaker of the University of Liberia’s 95th Commencement Convocation today.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer Monday, December 16, Ma Mary, as she is affectionately called by younger generations of Liberians, jokingly stated that she would not disclose the message of her speech to anyone before the delivery time today.
Pressed further by our reporter, the octogenarian indicated, however, that she would be talking to the more than 3,000 graduates as a mother in heart-to-heart conversation with her children, as a grandmother speaking to her grandchildren, and as a great-grandmother speaking to her great-grandchildren.
Upon hearing that Madam Brownell, who is almost 90, will be the commencement speaker, some of the young graduates told the Observer that they would be eager to hear from Ma Mary what the secret is to living far beyond the “three scores and ten” mark set in the Bible.
Ma Mary: “The secret is that I believe in the commandments of the Bible. One of them promises a reward. “Honor thy father and thy mother.’”
She stated that in addition to that, she also respects everyone equally and whether they are far, far younger than she or in the same age group as she.
“This is my nature and I got it from my father. Growing up in my father’s house, he treated everyone equally,” she added.
Ma Mary also told the Observer that she is one of Liberia’s respected persons not because she is perfect but that she has tried to live an exemplary life, which her children have emulated; and as such, they are also respected in the country.
One of her children, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, is National Security Advisor to the President of the Republic of Liberia. Another, Madam Miata Fahnbulleh, is Liberia’s Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal and Child Health.
On corruption, Madam Brownell, who graduated from the UL in 1960, said a lot has been said about it, but added: “I wonder whether those who steal the people’s money can sleep soundly at night.”
Among other things, Ma Mary urged those graduating today to be focused and not allow themselves to be caught in the web of corruption.
Madam Brownell, who hails from Maryland County, holds a M.Sc Degree in School Supervision from San Francisco University, in the United States of America. She also holds a B.Sc Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Liberia.
Mother Brownell has worked as a classroom teacher and later as an administrator for several private and public schools in Liberia, including, Bong Town School. She is founder and former National Chairperson of the Liberian Women's Initiative (LWI); former president, Women Development Association of Liberia (WODAL), among several other organizations. Madam Brownell also served as one of Liberia’s Commissioners at the National Elections Commission (NEC). She is now retired.