As part of activities marking the 77th anniversary of the UN, on October 24, 2022, the Isaac A. David Sr. Memorial School (IADSMS) organized a program of cultural dance performances, and student-led presentations waxing knowledge of the UN, its structure, functions, roles and members.
Students from kindergarten all the way up to twelfth grade gave very informative presentations about the United Nations, its founding, membership, structure, purpose and history. It was interesting to note that, with the progression of grades, students became more conversant in their knowledge of the UN.
The Officer In-Charge at the IADMS, Edward Johnson Jr, told the Daily Observer that celebrating the UN day is a vital part of the school’s tradition “because the UN’s role in international peace and security is enormous. Liberia has benefited greatly from this world organization. Each year at the IADMS we gather our students and teachers comparing them to present different roles of the UN.”
According to Johnson, during UN Day, students gathered to have some interactions with people who have worked with the UN during the years of the late Christine T. Norman, a co-founder of the school. “We are being motivated to carry on the dream, vision and aspirations of the board of Directors of this school. At Isaac A. David Senior Memorial School we are relevant and that’s why people will keep looking for us.”
Delivering the keynote address for the occasion, Bai Sama G. Best, Managing Director of the Liberian Observer Corporation (Daily Observer), recounted Liberia’s role and contribution to the United Nations. Best prefaced his remarks by admitting that he was originally asked to speak about the contributions of the United Nations to Liberia. However, he said, he believed the reverse would be more appropriate — highlighting the contributions of Liberia and Liberians to the United Nations.
According to him, while Liberia and Liberians deeply appreciate the notable contributions that the UN has made to Liberia, especially in terms of peacekeeping, peacebuilding and other technical aspects of national reconstruction, Liberia still suffers from a serious case of dependency syndrome.
“Yet, when we consider the number of Liberians who have held and currently hold senior leadership positions in the United Nations system — and with the level of excellence they have performed — this should inspire us all to aspire to even greater levels as individuals and as a people.”
Among former and current UN officials who are citizens of Liberia, he named Angie Brooks Randall and J. Rudolph Grimes, Dr. Thelma Awori, Neh Dukuly Tolbert, Nessie Golakai Gould, Olubanke King Akerele and Sara Beysolow Nyanti.
“Liberia was one of the first countries that signed the UN Charter, which came into effect on October 24, 1945,” he said.
However, Angie Brooks Randall was best known as the first African woman to serve as president of the United Nations General Assembly.
J. Rudolph Grimes was a Special Advisor on African Affairs and representative to the United Nations in New York in 1993–1994.
Sara Beysolow Nyanti was appointed by UN Secretary General António Guterres on 6 December 2021 as his new Deputy Special Representative in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Resident Coordinator in South Sudan. She is also serving there as Humanitarian Coordinator. Prior to this appointment, she served as UN Resident Coordinator in Nepal (2021); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Yemen (2019-2020) and in The Gambia (2015-2017).
Nessie Golakai-Gould is the Deputy Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Lesotho.
Awori, Tolbert and King-Akerele have long retired from many years of service at senior levels of the UN.
Meanwhile, Liberia is a peacekeeping contributor, with a contingent of peacekeepers to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
Stephen Tolbert, delivering brief remarks at the event, thanked the administration of IADMS for keeping alive the dreams and aspirations of the Late Christine T. Norman, one of the Funders of IADMS in 1968.
Commenting on the 77th anniversary of the UN, Tolbert said the UN grew out of the second world war, which ended in 1945, where nations including Liberia decided to come together to form the UN to help secure peace among nations.
“Liberia has done as much for the United Nations as it has done for us,” he said, “and Liberia has done to the UN more than other African countries, of which we may not be aware.”
He further disclosed that Liberia sponsored, and negotiated the independence of all the African countries in 1958 which, he said, has given Liberia respect on the continent.
Also, he recalled that the first UN Peacekeeping force in DR Congo, that the Liberian army was part of that Mission. “I want you to understand the greatness of your country and, as young people, through organizations such as the UN, you can make those kinds of contributions and change the world.”