The Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism under the signatory of Deputy Minister for Cultural Affairs & Tourism, Elizabeth Hoff, Wednesday, March 26, granted a permit to a local organization, Youth for Change, Inc., to host the first ever National event known as "LIBERIA’s ICON" 2014, under the theme: “Reviving our cultural heritage & breeding mentees into mentors.” The event would focus on reviving our cultural heritage and grooming young girls to take the place of mentors who are custodians of culture but are gradually becoming less prominent.
LIBERIA’s ICON is a search for potential female Liberian leaders. It aims to change the mind set of girls who see themselves as failures rather than nation builders. The organizers of the event hope to achieve this by using this event as a platform to transform Liberia through reconciliation and a cultural mentorship program.
Receiving the Permit from Deputy Minister for Tourism, Elizabeth Hoff, on behalf of his organization, Mr. Alex Devine, Executive Director of the Youth for Change, Inc., an actor, activist and event planner with a wealth of experience in event management and peace, community and leadership building initiatives, said he was glad that another platform have been given for him to contribute to peace and to build responsible leaders for Liberia. He said that he and his team— especially Caroline Amah— would never tire this time around, like they did during the heat of the 2011 Election, when he organized the Lolly-wood Peace March and the first Lolly-wood Laughter Night. Those events were held at the Monrovia City Hall on December 17, 2011, and brought together the government of Liberia Representative, Dr. Varbah Garfloh, who represented the president, Leymah R Gbowee, Amb Winston Tubman, who represented his political institution the CDC, BBC correspondents, and some member of the legislature, press and the general public.
"Liberia is at the crossroads. Reconciliation remains key to the growth and sustainability of our country's resources; especially when many Liberians still feel disconnected from the distribution of the country’s wealth and suppressed by the powers that be," said Mr. Devine.
He expressed the belief that, “Integrity grows respect, loyalty, self-control, trustworthiness, responsibility, thankfulness, cooperation and courage. We need to promote this kind of image to help promote women’s roles in the rebuilding process of our country. LIBERIA’s ICON is aimed at training interested mentees who would be participating in this history making event.”
"The Miss University of Liberia pageant is a testimony to our successful achievement. Under our Organizer-ship, we attracted Lone Star Cell and Gambia Bird airline to serve as sponsors. Lone Star Cell, the official sponsor, provided two brand new cars (two Chevrolet Aveos) to the two winners between the periods of 2011-2014 while Gambia Bird provided plane tickets for the winner to travel," Mr. Devine said.
Mr. Devine, who is presently serving as project coordinator for Young Ambassadors for Peace (YAP) a network of exemplary young leaders who have lived selfless lifestyles dedicated to engendering initiatives aimed at enhancing our fragile peace. YAP is currently working with the traditional council, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, corporate institutions, and youth, students and women organizations to work with their team in order to build a peaceful society with cultural values.
LIBERIA’s ICON’s other goals aside from its mentoring aspect are: reviving Liberia’s cultural heritage; eradicating violence as a way of solving problems instead of dialogue among the youth; giving an identity and hope to girls who find themselves in unfortunate situations; preparing our country’s upcoming female leaders to replace eminent Liberian women who have contributed immensely to the growth and development of our country (be it the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary or the private sector), restore our broken family values, build high sense of nationalism, contribute to the MGDs goal $ 3 and more importantly it will contribute holistically to national government decentralization process, re-conciliatory drive, and the growth and development of our country.
LIBERIA’s ICON sets the stage for reconciliation and cultural mentorship in four phases. THE FIRST PHASE: involves auditions that will be carried out in the various counties and last three weeks. A team of experts will organize mini pageants from which two successful candidates will be selected from each county, totaling 30 candidates who will be headed to Monrovia for the next phase.
THE SECOND PHASE: is known as the process of grooming. All thirty of the successful candidates from the fifteen subdivisions will be placed in a house for two months. In the house, Liberian culture will be showcased and taught by lecturers. Candidates will also go through English lectures, learning of dialects, lessons in etiquette, morals, decency, personal hygiene and many more.
At the end of that period one of the delegates out of two brought from each county will be dropped while the other will represent the flag of their county. The remaining fifteen candidates will proceed to the next phase.
THE THIRD PHASE; MEETING THEIR MENTORS: during phase three, candidates will identify “prominent Liberian women of our time” as their role models/mentors. The role models/mentors will be contacted and informed about the nature and significance of the program. Based on their consensus —-which we are very optimistic about— these fifteen successful candidates will be assigned to their mentors for a period of three weeks.
During this time, their mentors will reveal how they got where they are today; their challenges, successes, etc. The essence of this is for the mentors to pass on the secrets behind their success stories.
This phase will be climaxed by their mentors accompanying them to their respective counties to solicit support and make people aware that though the mentors may be aging, a replacement is in the waiting.
THE FOURTH PHASE: determines whose mentorship has yielded fruit. This phase is the climax of the entire event. During this phase, a grand occasion will be organized where the various candidates, their mentors, county officials, county representatives and the general public will grace. At this event, the fifteen participants will display in different styles and fashion the beauty of their cultural heritage, intelligence, confidence, leadership ability, eloquence, and all they learned from their mentors while presenting themselves as the next LIBERIAN ICON.
After a series of performances, the panel of judges will determine which of the mentees best embodies their mentor’s values. The audience and viewers of this program will also have a say in determining the winner of this prestigious crown through voting via GSM SMS text.
What distances this event from all others is that all fifteen candidates representing their counties will automatically become winners by serving as Cultural Representatives to advocate against ills affecting their counties. Each candidate will undertake projects that have direct impact on the lives of community-dwellers in their respective counties through recommendations by the organizers to the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Gender, the UNDP, UN Women, and individual donors.