Information Minister: “I Will Not Insult People”

Minister of Information, Ledgerhood Rennie, “I will not wake up every morning to go from radio to radio insulting people. I am not going to do that because I know better and my out bringing tells me better.”

“I know better and my out bringing tells me better.”

For the last decade, most Information Ministers of the government were no-nonsense talkers — individuals who were willing to go gutter with anyone they deemed critical.

But Ledgerhood Rennie, an appointee of President George Weah at the helm of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism, has vowed not to employ his predecessors’ aggressive communication style. Instead, he will tell the government’s story as it happened in a moderate and professional manner that would convince people and not insult people who believe or say the government is doing nothing, as a way of showcasing the government’s doing something.

“I will not wake up every morning to go from radio to radio insulting people. I am not going to do that because I know better and my out bringing tells me better,” he said.

Min. Rennie argued that it is wrong for people to think that the Ministry is not propagating the government's achievement when they do not have the adequate resources to do so. However, with resources, he said the ministry will be able to spread its tentacles and showcase the success of the Weah Administration, particularly through visual communication, since there is increased use of broadband connectivity.

“People say, we are not doing anything. Give us the money and we will do videos to showcase the things the government is doing on local channels across the country and no one will now call on the radio to say the government is doing nothing, because another person will call immediately and disagree and reference the videos which counter them, instead of insulting people,” Min. Rennie added.

He continued: “This is why I make the case for the government of Liberia to continue to invest in the software of development, which is communication. When you have a computer, no matter how good that computer is in terms of its hardware, it’s the software that gives it the quality you need. You don’t see it working, but it performs all the magic and this is the same with communication,” Minister Rennie said.

The Information Minister spoke these words at a recent program titled “Rediscover Liberia”, held at a local resort in Monrovia. Rediscover Liberia aims at unearthing or telling Liberian stories with a focus on women and young girls.

At the event, which opened with a screening of a film on some Liberian women, Min. Rennie disclosed that Liberia has a lot to offer to the people and the world, including the Ebola Story, but the lack of funding for his ministry makes such a dream nearly impossible. He argued that communication is expensive, as such, the government should not take for granted image building, “let the government put resources in these kinds of projects, filming of the good things happening in Liberia and some of the things the government is doing across the country.”

“Imagine if this short video is enlarging to tell the story of the everyday struggle of a Liberian child or the Liberian woman and also talking about the best bridges and touristic sites and rich cultural heritage. Liberia is very significant in Africa,” Min. Rennie added.

Frustratingly, the Information Minister disclosed that the government is not willing to invest in image-building, as they think it is expensive and unnecessary. “When you give them concept notes and a budget, they only look at the budget and tell you that we can spend this money for a TV show without even looking at the concept notes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor has noted that the filming of Liberian women for hope is the beginning of a new journey. 

“Rediscover Liberia deals with the hope and aspiration of the women of Liberia. This is a long-drawn-out dream of equitable participation in an African nation, Liberia. We talk about it at different levels, whether it is gender equality, more spaces for women, women who hope for a better world for their children, especially the girl child. This Rediscover Liberia talks about Liberia’s problems over the past 50 years,” VP Howard-Tayor said.   

Sarah Evans, Program Manager of Rediscover Liberia, said she intends to do more videos on stories about the women of Liberia because Liberia’s stories, as it stands, are about Ebola and the civil war.