As a saying goes in Liberia, “whatever was meant for you will see your face.” So it was with the Chief Elder of Suakoko District in Bong County, Sulunteh Yeibah, who made history when he recently visited the White House in Washington, D.C.
Chief Sulunteh Yeibah is currently in the United States visiting his son, H.E. Jeremiah C. Sulunteh, Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States. As part of the American Christmas tradition, the Sulunteh family was invited to the White House and the Chief went as member of the Sulunteh family.
The visit included a tour of the White House, guided by a protocol officer. However, because Elder Sulunteh does not speak English, Ambassador Sulunteh served as an interpreter in the Kpelle language, for his father.
They saw the Presidential Dining Room, the Red Room, and the Blue Room, as well as other historical areas of the White House.
In addition to the White House visit, Elder Sulunteh was a guest at a meeting of the United Suakoko Development Association in the Americas, in Washington, D.C. Offering words of encouragement to the group, Elder Sulunteh said that no matter whatever they do in the U.S. or how long they live there, they should never forget about their homeland, Liberia.
The United Suakoko Development Association in the Americas is currently supporting the Suakoko Central High School and the G. W. Gibson High School in Sinyea, Bong County.
Responding to a question on how Suakoko Town was established, Elder Sulunteh provided an interesting historical account. He informed the gathering that the town of Suakoko was originally called Nyalinsue before Madam Suakoko migrated there. According to him, Ne-Sua Koko, as she was affectionately called, had fled inner fighting (referred to as the native or country war) from her home in Gbansue Korlorkwe, Zota District, Bong County.
Ne-Sua made a stop-over in Nyalinsue and later sought refuge there, while traveling with a group of people, who were also fleeing the war.
He indicated that Ne-Sua later requested the elders of Nyalinsue area for a piece of land to make her cassava farm in order to feed her followers. Her request was granted and she made a big cassava and plantain farm, where she built a large kitchen.
As years went by, according to Elder Sulunteh, many of Ne-Sua’s followers made their own gardens and built individual kitchens. Ne-Sua’s farm soon developed into a little village and became a famous meeting place that was called Ne-Suata (meaning Ne-sua’s place), and it later became Suakoko-Ta.
Elder Sulunteh further narrated that many of the followers of Ne-Sua were young girls and, as they grew, their hands were sought in marriage by young men from Nyalinsue and its environs. This made Ne-Sua very influential as the young couples later made farms for her, and that was the beginning of the establishment of what is today called Suakoko-Ta, meaning Suakoko Town. Ne-Sua’s only son, Mulbah Yonko, became paramount chief of Suakoko Chiefdom, now Suakoko District.
Although in a very cold weather, Elder Sulunteh continues to enjoy the comfort of his grand and great-grand children, who traveled from Toronto, Canada to spend the Christmas and New Year in Washington, D.C.