Liberia: The Inquirer Opens Book of Condolence for Late Atty. Philip N. Wesseh

Kenneth Y. Best signs the book of condolence reflecting on the life of Atty. Wesseh

People from all walks of life have been trooping to the office of The Inquirer newspaper on Benson Street to sign the book of condolence opened on Friday in honor of the late veteran Liberian journalist, Atty. Philip N. Wesseh, also known as “Gina”. 

Atty. Wesseh, the Managing Editor of The Inquirer, passed away on September 14, at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia, following a period of illness.

Among several people who paid tribute to the late Atty. Wesseh and signed the book of condolence were: United States Deputy Chief of Mission to Liberia, Joel Maybury, EU, MRU Secretary General Medina Wesseh, Esq., Deputy House Speaker J. Fonati Koffa, and students from the University of Liberia Mass Communication department.

United States Deputy Chief of Mission to Liberia, Joel Maybury signed a book of condolence for fallen Liberian journalist, Atty. Wesseh

Also paying tribute were Atty. Wesseh's former boss, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Yarkpawolo Best, founders of the Daily Observer; and daughter, Lillian Best.

He stated, “We are all saddened by the departure of Philip N. Wesseh. Philip was one of our first reporters when we started the Daily Observer in 1981. He came there in 1982 with one of his teachers from D. Tweh High School, a Ghanaian woman called Sallie Clared, and she said to me, ‘This is my son. His name is Philip Wesseh. He says he wants to be a journalist. So, I came to ask you to please make him a journalist.’ 

“I asked, ‘Is he serious about being a journalist?’ He did not give his teacher a chance to answer; he answered himself, ‘Yes, Mr. Best, I want to be a journalist like you.’ 

“I said, okay. We employed Philip as a freelance journalist, where he was not a full-time employee but rather a part-timer. Whenever we sent Philip on an assignment, he would come back, or he would find his own assignment, come back, write the story, and we’d pay him for the story.”

He recalled that, after a few weeks, they discovered that the late Philip Wesseh was doing better than many of the full-time employees and making more money than other full-time reporters.

Kenneth Y. Best in photo with the late Atty. Philip Wesseh daughter, Mary Wesseh, during the signing ceremony of the book of condolence

“We began to wonder what was going on; the man had just arrived and was making more money than we were, and we said, well, the man is a freelancer and he is applying himself, and after a short time, we hired Philip full-time, and the rest is history,” he added.

Best said Wesseh then became a full-time employee and one of the Daily Observer's most productive employees.

Paying tribute to Atty. Philip N. Wesseh were also the Press Union of Liberia president's Charles Cuffy, Jarlawah A. Tonpo, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs; Tmax Jlateh, and James Kiazolu.

On the other hand, Cuffy stated that "the entire media community is going through a trial and tribulation," referring to the book of James, which speaks of the challenges that Christians face or endure in life that test our hope of faith, love, and ability. So, ‘Gina’, as we commonly called him, or Philip N. Wesseh, went through "trial and tribulation."

He said the late Wesseh was very steadfast under tribulation, but God, who is omnipotent, made a determination to take him home. We want to urge all family members to keep praying, be patient in tribulation, rejoice in hope, and be constant in prayer.

Cuffy added that the death of Wesseh is a big blow to the Liberian media because he was not just managing a newspaper but was also imparting knowledge at various universities across the country.

He said, being so passionate about his job, the late Wesseh was always with them at the PUL. "We will miss him. The family will continue to experience the challenge, but I know God will restore them, confirm and establish their desire that what happened will create another person to replace the late Wesseh in the family.

Cuffy also called on the media community to emulate the good example of Philip Wesseh. He was professional, disciplined, humble, and concerned about ethical and professional standards.

He concluded, "We will miss him so much. The PUL wants to take this time to say sorry to the Inquirer family. We know you lost Mr. Wesseh, but your ability to maintain the newspaper that fosters the dream and aspiration of the other founders of this paper will be a clear manifestation of upholding those principles, and I know you have the professionals to do that.

The book of condolences will remain open till Wednesday, October 25, 2022, to allow the public to pay tributes to Atty. Wesseh.