Say What! A Word with the President (Series)

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Were you afforded the opportunity to have a talk with the Liberian President, what would you say, or remind Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of? Could it possibly be to remind her of a previous conversation the two of you had years back, and that you’re ready to take privilege of it?

Jerry Boweh, a Liberian artist/songwriter and founder of an organization called African Youth Development Action Program, a couple of years ago had the opportunity to pitch ‘twice’ to Liberia and Africa’s first female president, his big dream and initiative he had already started putting in place. His whole idea was not just the gift of gab, but what has become a reality after years of preparation and advocacy.

“I registered my organization in 1994 after being a part of the disbarment alongside Ambassador George Weah and others, and it was from there my commitment for the Liberian International Festival and rehabilitation started. I met the President on Providence Island when we had National Meetings there to discus Liberia’s future and I presented on a cultural festival, and strengthening our cultural identity. Madam Sirleaf was in London, I actually approached her in the audience and said this is what I’ve done and everyone here knows this is what I’ve been doing. I asked her how we can get this to become a reality in Liberia,” Jerry said.

According to him, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf seemed interested, by saying afterwards, “come to Liberia and we’ll talk about it.”

Jerry Boweh is now in Liberia, and has been for the past two-three weeks, to hold the President on her offer. He has already written a formal letter directly to the President highlighting where the Liberian International Festival that he pitched to her years ago, is now.

“I want to tell her how I’ve been committed as a person and with my emotion, my vision and how we have a bigger team now. This festival will open an artistic avenue for Liberia and mainly for the young people,” he added.

LIB Life has deemed it necessary to do some highlights ahead of the big event planned to take place from November 29 to December 4, 2017 in Liberia. We caught up with Jerry Boweh for this article on the President’s first edition series.

LIB Life: So happy to hear about Liberia’s upcoming International Festival, in Liberia and London. How big of a platform is the festival?

Jerry: Our activities are inclusive; the festival is something for us to showcase our entire country outside the political fence, though it is the same thing. The activity in London is a platform that has been awarded to the Liberians to showcase our culture, heritage and arts into the Notting Hill Carnival. We also have the opportunity to take our group to Trinidad and Tobago; and Trinidad and Tobago will come to Liberia every year to be a part of our festival

LIB Life: That sounds great. We also heard that you pitched this to the Liberian President years ago and she asked that you come to Liberia and talk about it. But it seems you decided to come with the walk rather than the talk…

Jerry: Right! Now there is a letter that has been written to the President, directly offering her the position; and we don’t know who she will send as representative for the festival in London. This will be the first time we are receiving that award and every year we will be planning who to take to that award. This is a motivational access we have because whatever competition the kids have, they will cross this border into a bigger audience and place to exhibit their talent and artifacts.

LIB Life: Tell us what will be happening the entire week of the Liberian home based festival

Jerry: This is meant to be an annual thing every year on November 29 for one week. The entire week will have sports day, where we have different activities and sports, petty sports, traditional sports, checkers, draft, sports and recreation that our culture is used to. The reason why we are doing this is because we want to scout out the best chess players, etc, etc. Over the years we can encourage more of that from people to come.

We also have a Children’s Day. We’ll have the cultural exhibitions where we want to see all the county and tribal people and travelers displaying their culture. The street carnival is very big and we will work with the MCSS (Monrovia Consolidated School System). We want them to give us somebody to showcase for the children so that they will be able to make their own art work and exhibit their own artifacts.

We plan to use Providence Island, the water, and look for 5-7 canoes and have a race. All water related sports will be held there, some sports at YMCA and some at the ATS. There will be an exhibition throughout the period of the festival, a week or even a month after so that they can see these rare exhibitions. There will be workshops related to peace building and things that we think we need to educate ourselves to as a community. Music day is also included, meant for the artists and music lovers around Liberia and the Diaspora. There is ‘Inter Faith Day,’ we can’t say religious day or Christian day.

We want to invite everybody to showcase the biggest choir, because we have a lot of good choirs out here and want to work with Providence Baptist church because they are the head of Liberian Council of Churches.

LIB Life: With all this said, other than wanting to inform the Liberian President of where you are now in terms of development, how do you plan to engage the government more?

Jerry: We also want the ministries to artistically exhibit what the ministry stands for to a little person who cannot read. They’ll have to exhibit something that will tell the people where they are form within the ministry. Every ministry has artistic people so we can get them out there.

LIB Life: There is so much more to talk about but we would love to keep that for our next series. Are there any final words for this edition?

Jerry: Yes, presently we have about 6-9 Liberian artists and cultural dancers that we want to showcase at the festival in London. We want to get them over there at the same time; therefore we want to work with the government to help assist the smooth going of the process. We have already had talks and
look forward to seeing everything get on course. Those on the list are Takun Jay, Sundaygar Dear Boy, Cultural Dance Crew, and Leslie Lumeh.

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