Home, they say, is where the heart is, that’s why the Children of the late Mayor of the city of Grandcess James Meti Cheah, Sr. are upbeat about impacting their roots, in honor of their father’s legacy.
As Marcus Garvey placed it succinctly, “A people without knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots”, since the first burial and reburial of their father, they have not ceased to stay in touch with their people, therefore, they continue to engage in life-changing initiatives for the benefit of their roots, mostly the children.
Chief ‘Meti’, the high achiever.
Born on January 12, 1921, joined his ancestors on September 11, 1995; Mr. James Meti Cheah, Sr. was an astute public servant who served his country in many areas of honor with diligence, and the nation recognizes this monolithic personality marking the ceremony of his reburial “The government of the Republic of Liberia announces with profound regrets, the death, in his seventieth of: Honorable James Meti Cheah, Sr, Former Captain, 1st Lieutenant, Private, Respectively, Armed Forces of Liberia, Ministry of National Defense, Republic of Liberia; City Mayor, GrandCess, Grand Kru County, Ministry of Internal Affairs Republic of Liberia; Septuagenarian; National Security Veteran; Disciplinarian; Administrator; Patriot; Devout Christian; and Dedicated Public Servant”, a gazette published by the government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 22, 2022.
Digging in the late Mayor Cheah’s diary, it’s discovered that he was passionate about being buried in his home county upon his demise he wrote a will titled, “Will of Mr. James Meti Cheah, Sr, April 1, 1989” stating; “when I die I should be buried in Grandcess, Grand Kru, R.L”. Sadly, the statesman died in 1995, at the Bayleh Seton Hospital Staten Island, New York, United States of America, after a brief period of illness.
During this period, Liberia was plagued with civil war, thus making Mayor Cheah’s will of wanting to be buried in his home county partially impossible, however, 27 years after, the late City major’s children brought his remains back home for reburial marking his final burial and festivities in fulfillment of his will which came to effect in 2022.
As a thoughtful leader he was, late mayor Cheah’s diary also reveals notes jotted down by himself about the perceived outlook of the city of Grandcess in the 80s, naming some of the city’s streets, and indicating their length and conditions then. In an apparent low exposure of the city at the time, Mayor Cheah seemed fervent about giving it a beautifying look, so on August 1, 1988, he wrote:
Living an exemplary life may be a backbreaking decision, and journey for one to embark on, but it’s mostly greeted by charming words at the end. And it is only a few meek-hearted individuals who are able to withstand the befuddling temptations and still lead a decent character, like Mr. James Meti Cheah, Sr. Excerpt from Mayor Cheah’s life sketch explains that even his temporary absence from the Kru Community Associations was greatly felt by all its members.
Are the late Mayor Cheah Children living his legacy?
After visiting back home during the reburial of their father, the children, and grandchildren alike got engaged in helping the people of Grandcess in various ways. Tokens were given to teachers, and dignitaries, financial aid to the most needy, and scholarships to deserving students. As a way of ensuring that children in the area get some recreation, a playground project which will be completed soon, has started.
As part of the late mayor Cheah’s children's way of temporarily helping in the area of personal hygiene, they’ve introduced “Lime and baking Soda therapy”. Some of the beneficiaries of the initiative welcomed it, and thanked the brains behind the idea, by promising to encourage their friends and more people to apply the method.
At a very young age, Mr. James Meti Cheah, Sr. was baptized in the Roman Catholic Church in Grandcess, Grand Kru County. In an effort to continuously make his presence felt among the congregation, the children have placed a carpet in the church, and have also given the altering face lift, as the Church gets ready for its Second Priestly Ordination in Grandcess, after the Ordination of Bishop Benedict Dutu Sekey as a priest in 1967.
With their many years of exposure outside of Liberia, the children have connected St. Patrick Parish of Grandcess with St. Elizabeth Anne Seton parish in Hilton New York, and St. Anne and Lady of Louder parishes in Rochester New York. Books, clothes, and many other items were donated to the church, school, children, and adults of Grandcess.
The late honorable James Meti Cheah’s diary was dug into by the children and brought out some of his ideas to life that he had planned for the street signs that would showcase Grandcess City. Now, the names of those streets have been printed for onward installation in the City of Grandcess.
According to a family source, past and present lawmakers, educators, high priests, bishops, and more, are the attributes of the wonderful Rocks and Rivers that made the beautiful Peninsula called Grandcess, so they will be showcased in the city hall to inspire the next generation in knowing their history and serving Grandcess in any capacity that will enhance civilization in their beloved city; “may the Almighty grant us strength and long life to fulfill our fathers legacy,” one of the daughters prayed. His children, grandchildren, and other family members are all participants in enlivening his legacy.
According to a family source who spoke on anonymity, the entire family including the children and grandchildren see the promotion of Mr. James Cheah’s legacy as the perfect way to honor his memory, “there’s no way we the children and grandchildren of our late illustrious father and grandfather, will sit down and do nothing to print his legacy on the tablet of the hearts and minds of people”, the source furthered by referencing a paragraph of his (late James Meti Cheah, Sr.) life sketch which annotates; “His enlistment in the Liberian Armed Forces, serving in the capacity of General Logistic Clerk was greatly appreciated by the American Military Commander that was stationed in Roberts field”, the family source notes that such achievement cannot be thrown away.
Patriot Meti the businessman, what are the traces?
Before becoming Mayor of the city of Grandcess, Mr. James Meti Cheah, Sr. served as Manager of a popular Gas Station in Monrovia called BP. The Filling Station which was located on the corner of UN DRIVE, on Lynch Street, adjacent to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, was like a safe haven for people vising Monrovia from his hometown Grandcess, as well as Baclayville, Picnic Cess, and a Cross Section of inhabitants of the then, KRU COAST TERRITORY.
“Meti was a guardian angel to a lot of people, so much so that the Gas Station he operated in Monrovia was like a Resting Place for people from the Kru Coast then, and that is where they would converge to locate their relatives in Monrovia whenever they came from the Interior to the City” an elder averred.
According to the anonymous elder, even those who lived in Monrovia used the GAS STATION as a point of contact to meet with each other. In short, he says, “It was like a Town Hall, where people met to rest and discuss issues about Grand Kru, and the country” The elder seals his statement.
The late mayor Cheah and some of his friends also had a store in Grandcess which is no more; however, one is expected to be reopened by his children to motivate more business investment and development to further uplift the city of Grandcess. Meanwhile, September 11, 2023, marked Chief, James Meti Cheah, Sr.’s. 28th years death anniversary he died on September 11, 1995, “and the memory of him seems like he's just passed”, one of his daughters stated, emotionally.
This article is a partially articulate account of Mayor J. Meti Cheah, affectionately known as "Wle-nyenoh Cheah" by his peers. “May his memory be a blessing to the people of Grandcess, Grand Kru County, and the Republic of Liberia” a longtime friend stressed, tenderly.