‘Around the Fire Hearth’

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The Flomo Theater Production, Inc. will this weekend (January 17 – 19, 2014) present the “Around the Fire Hearth Festival” under the theme Peace and Reconciliation through Culture and Sport in the historical town of Dimeh, Bomi County, in memory of the late great Liberian cultural icon, Peter Y. Ballah.

Dimeh Town is located about 45 minutes' drive north of Monrovia.

The three-day event will host over 500 artists and aims to attract 2,000 visitors from different social, political and tribal backgrounds to enjoy Liberian dramas, folk dances, songs and folk tales to promote peace, reconciliation and democracy, and will make for good cultural appreciation, Liberia style.

The festival will be officially launched on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 7:30PM by the District Commissioner, Hon. Foday Sayon.  

On Saturday, January 16, a one-day football tournament composed of four teams will take place, including Dimeh Town, Vincent Town, Balawala International and FC Piyonkosa. The two losers will struggle for a third-place prize, while the two finalists will show their talents for the giant Silver Trophy and cash. Awards will be given to the highest goal scorer, best goalkeeper and most valuable player.

 Saturday, evening will see rich cultural and musical performances from talented artists and masked dancers.

On Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 2:00pm, Liberia’s Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai will dedicate a Peace Hut monument in memory of the late Peter Y. Ballah in Dimeh Town, Bomi County.   

January 19, 2014, will mark one year since the late Liberian cultural icon Peter Y. Ballah was laid to rest next to his mentor, the late author and playwright Bai T. Moore, in Dimeh Town, Bomi County. Commonly known as “Flomo”, the late Ballah was one of the most famous comedians, story tellers and playwrights this country has produced.

“Flomo”, the lead character of Ballah’s famous drama series by the same name, aired on ELTV in the mid 1980s with unforgettable episodes including, “Flomo yard, hold your nose and pass”; “Da me Flomo with my children eating ice cream in the car”; and “The news in brief by Flomo in brief”.

Even off air, Mr. Peter Yarpkawolo Ballah popularly known as “Flomo” because he played the part so well on television. He effectively added comedy to his act as a way of attracting peoples’ attention to whatever messages he tried to convey.  Thus, “Flomo” became a household name in and out of Liberia. His co-artists dubbed him the “Mamakumeh”, meaning the wise old man or professor.

Mr. Peter Y. Ballah had a natural talent for art, which he followed eventually into a professional career.  He organized drama and cultural groups in every school at which he taught. During his time at the Gbarnga United Methodist Junior High School (1969 – 1972), Ballah, then a French teacher, organized a school drama and cultural troupe. Their brilliant performances earned them popularity in the entire Bong County.  Hon. Harry Greaves, Sr., superintendent of Bong County at that time was very impressed with the young artistic talents and later asked the school to name the troupe, “Bong County Cultural Troupe”.  

Mr. Peter Y. Ballah trained and directed the Bong County Cultural Troupe on a voluntary basis because of the passion he had for culture. The Troupe under his leadership was invited to the 125th Independence Day Celebration in Sanniquille, Nimba County in 1972. The performance of the Troupe impressed the late William R. Tolbert, Jr., President of the Republic of Liberia and his special guest, the late Ahmed Sekou Toure, President of the Republic of Guinea and led President Tolbert to recommend Ballah to the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.

At the Ministry, Ballah served in an escalating capacity, beginning as Stage Director for the National Cultural Troupe in 1972.  In ’73 he became Director of the National Cultural Troupe and led it successfully through many cultural showcases and extravaganzas in Algeria, Nigeria, United States and other parts of the world until 1980.  In 1982, he rose to Assistant Director General National, Bureau of Culture and Tourism and finally, in 1987, Director of Culture at the Ministry of Information. 

Because of the simple Liberian English he normally used, many people believed that Ballah was uneducated; this was not true.

He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Torino Polytechnic, Republic of Italy in 1966 and a year later, BA in Education at the University of Paris in France. Mr. Peter Y. Ballah returned to his native land, Liberia in 1968.  He spoke Italian, French and English.

In 2008, he started the establishment of Bai Tamia Moore Cultural Village and Research center in memory of his late mentor in Dimeh Town, Dewoin District, Bomi County. Since that time a good number of national and international tourists continue to visit this historical site. “We believe that the Bai T. Moore Culture Village and Research Center will explore, preserve and promote the rich Liberian cultural heritage through dances, folklore, and arts and craft,” says Siafa Ballah, son of the late Peter Ballah and the man at the helm of Flomo Theater Productions.

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