Will Lenn Eugene Nagbe, the Minister-designate of the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), be the long awaited one to transform MICAT from the winds of propaganda to a moderate institution that will promote cultural and political harmony?
As an institution that is responsible for disseminating government information, MICAT is also responsible for promoting social harmony by promulgating programs that will maintain Liberia’s ancestral heritage.
But in recent times, the Ministry has proven to forget its responsibilities by becoming more of a propaganda arm of the government.
It has over the years failed to maintain the aura of the nation’s beautiful and one time well known culture. This failure is evidenced by the fact that more than eight years have passed and a new National Cultural Center has not been built since Kendeja, since 1964 the home of Liberia’s culture and of the
National Cultural Troupe, was sold to Mr. R.L. Johnson for his tourist resort.
However, the appointment of Lenn Eugene Nagbe comes with a troubling concern: will he be the one to initiate the urgently needed reforms at MICAT?
In order to become the man of the moment at MICAT, who will transform that Ministry in a meaningful and dynamic way, Nagbe, who was trained in Mass Communication at the University of Liberia, will need confirmation by the Liberian Senate. He will also need, in the first few days or weeks of his administration, to establish a cordial relationship with the Liberian press and the public.
Minister Nagbe will need to be very careful about the way he responds to critics of the government. Unlike his predecessor who, in response to critics, regularly used negative words such as “silly,” “ludicrous” and “…frustrated politicians,” Nagbe will need to temper his responses with civility and respect.
As a man of integrity, Minister Nagbe will have to take a strong stand to initiate reforms that will not satisfy the whims and caprices of the political elite.
Another difficult task that awaits the Minister is to transform the public perception that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf does not have a cultural agenda and is responsible for the continued downplaying of the country’s culture and the replacement with the propagation of foreign cultures, such as the proliferation of Nigerian, Indian and other movies, much of which have had a negative impact of our youth.
A key component to the nation’s cultural rehabilitation will be the immediate renovation of the National Museum, a project that out going Minister Lewis Brown failed to undertake despite a huge budgetary allocation.
Such a move would help rescue damaged artifacts, including the Book of Condolence for President W.V.S. Tubman and other important ones in similar physical condition.
Secondly, the Minister will have to strengthen the already damaged relationship between MICAT and cultural advocates and critics while working out plans quickly to build the new National Culture Center in Behsao, Liberia’s second cultural village.
The Daily Observer has constantly advised this government that it would be wrong to relocate the National Center in Marshall, since there is nothing cultural there besides beaches and expensive stately mansions by a few public officials. The more appropriate place is on the Bomi Highway, where lie at least two major cultural villages—Behsao and Dimeh, home of the great Liberian cultural icon, Bai T. Moore.
Another difficult task will be hosting an annual cultural festival that will promote our national culture and reintroduce it to the world, thus helping Liberia to regain its place among nations that preserved and maintained their ancestral heritage.
Another major challenge for Minister Nagbe is the development of the tourism industry. Liberia has many rich touristic attractions, including its culture, its National Cultural Troupe, its many dense forests, including the flora and fauna-rich Sapo National Park and 350 miles of coastline and white and golden sanded beaches. Can Eugene Nagbe make tourism happen, at long last, in Liberia?
The new Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister will have to stand his ground knowing that doing so will determine how long his stays on the job. But a true reformer will do the right things.