Former Assistant Foreign Minister for African and Asian Affairs, George G. Wisner, has launched his first novel. The novel, When the Heart Decides, was launched at a colourful program held at the Australian National University in Australia’s capital Canberra recently.
The book, which is published by Iuniverse in Indiana, USA, and marketed by Amazon and Barnes and Noble, is romance fiction based on the Liberian civil war. The book highlights some of the social and political undercurrents of the civil war, using universal themes such a love, loyalty, and faith.
When the Heart Decides is a story of the triumph of love over adversity and of the strength of the heart, which seeks love even in the midst of one of the world's bloodiest civil wars.
When David Saye, a notorious rebel commander, rescues Sarah Lawson’s father from the claws of death she believes it is simply a miraculous coincidence. It isn't long, however, before Sarah realizes that behind this extraordinary intervention is David's wish to lure her into his arms.
He is handsome, educated, and generous – all qualities that ignite the fires of her heart. However, they are from very different worlds. Sarah is the daughter of a respectable middle-class family, while David has been accused of gruesome atrocities. As the heat of the Liberian civil war casts waves over them all, Sarah faces a three-front battle of her own. Despite her feelings, she must contain David's advances, preserve her family's integrity, and prevent her heart from betraying her.
In an interview prior to the book launch and signing program, Mr. Wisner noted that his reason for writing the novel is to ensure that as Liberia moves from war to peace and prosperity, the lessons of the war will not be lost.
When asked why he wrote a romantic fiction novel, the former president of the Federation of Liberian Youth indicated that he wanted his message to have a universal appeal, especially amongst the youth and young adults.
The program brought together officials of the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the African diplomatic community, academics and staff of the Australian National University, the student body and ordinary Australians.
Former Australian Ambassador to Liberia, William (Billy) Williams, who performed the official launch ceremony, recalled his professional relationship with Mr. Wisner during his tour of duty in Liberia at which time Mr. Wisner served as Assistant Minister for African and Asian Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
He described Mr. Wisner as very talented, hardworking, persuasive and patriotic. He intimated that he had always privately drawn inspiration from the sense of duty and urgency with which Mr. Wisner approached issues bordering on Liberia’s growth and development.
Former Ambassador Williams pointed out that the young administrator’s determination to project the positive image and prospects of his country is an exemplary attitude which should be emulated by all who find themselves in public service. He urged the young author to persevere and predicted that “the best is yet to come from George Wisner.”
Speaking on behalf of the Dean of the African diplomatic corps, the Acting High Commissioner of Kenya to Australia, Yvonne Walamwa described the launch of the novel as an important milestone in the contribution of Africa to the intellectual world and to the promotion of intercultural cooperation and understanding.
She stressed the importance of finding creative ways to preserve past experiences, as a people who easily forget the past are doomed by the past. She recalled the enviable role Liberia played in African and world affairs in the past and expressed her hope that a new dawn is on the horizon for Liberia.
Ms. Walamwa noted that Mr. Wisner’s accomplishment was not only for Liberia but for the rest of the continent as it adds to the growing positive developments coming out of Africa.
For her part, the Academic Skills Advisor of the Crawford School of Public Policy, Terry Urwins, described Mr. Wisner as the best student she has ever managed during her career at the university.
She noted that her observation is not just based on Mr. Wisner’s scholastic achievements or his publication of a book, but rather due to his humility, handwork, eagerness to learn, and a sense of duty and purpose. She extolled his “enormous intellectual capacity and insight, his versatility, and great belief in his country.”
Also making remarks at the occasion, was one of the reviewers of the book, who is also president of the Australian National University African Student Association and former Legal Officer of the Truth Commission of Kenya, Belynda Akello, described the book as an “African epic that recounts the realities of war with a dash of romance and Christianity.”
She said the publication of the book is good news for all African students, as it lifts their profile in the academic community of Australia and removes “some subtle stereotypes and prejudices about Africa”.
Responding, Mr. Wisner said the book is one of several ways he intends to contribute to the socio-economic development of his motherland. He observed that though all was not rosy, Liberia is on the right trajectory to full recovery and development.
The former junior Liberian foreign minister extolled the country’s leadership for building a foundation on which further progress can be made.
Mr. Wisner, who was a former campaign coordinator of the Unity Party in the 2011 presidential and legislative elections, called on the support of the international development community, especially Australia, to remain firmly engaged to strengthen democratic institutions as the surest way to avoid a reversal of progress.
He cautioned that negative news of corruption, mass disaffection, and mass failures within the education system were remaining vestiges of the spoilt system of the past, which are being magnified and cleansed as institutions get better and as policies get implemented.
However, Mr. Wisner called on the international community to view these reports from a positive standpoint as now, no one in Liberia is tolerable of corruption and bad governance, but instead, the political space has been created to allow for exchange and collective governance of the state.
Mr. Winser revealed that he is currently completing an independent research looking into how interagency coordination, involving implementation of policy requiring more than one sector of government, can be improved. He hopes that upon completion and successful peer review, results will be published to help improve policy outcomes, which he believes is one of the headaches of the current government.
The former student leader, who will be returning to the country in December upon completion of his studies, has revealed that another official launch of the book will be held in Liberia to give the Liberian people the opportunity to access copies of the novel.
# # #