By Joe Bartuah
I have heard with a heavy heart, about the passing of one our dear friends and colleagues, Patrick Kolubah Manjoe, formerly of the Liberia Broadcasting System in Monrovia, who died in Houston, Texas on January 13, following a protracted period of ailment.
Indisputably, brother Manjoe was one of the glittering gems of the Inky Fraternity and an exemplary master of the microphone, who selflessly served humanity in the sphere of radio and television broadcasting. His passing is a great loss, not only to his wife, children and other members of the family, but also to his many friends and colleagues—members of the Press Union of Liberia, former co-workers at the Liberia Broadcasting System and the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), a Diaspora grouping of Liberian journalists of which he was a founding member.
Brother Manjoe was one of the original members of the highly talented High School Special reporters on ELBC radio in the early 1980s. At that time, the late Alhaji G.V. Kromah, himself a seasoned broadcaster, had just returned from the United States with a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism, and the then Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council, CIC Samuel K. Doe appointed him Director-General of the Liberia Broadcasting System.
Kromah was much younger then, still in his 30s, and he seemed determined to transform LBS into a much more vibrant broadcast outlet. As a result, he recruited some young, well-educated and talented Liberian broadcast journalists and introduced “Action News” on ELTV as well as other audience-attracting programs on ELBC radio.
One of such programs, perhaps designed to tap burgeoning journalistic talents, was High School Special, which attracted a cream of young and precocious broadcasters. As youngsters then, many of us used to anxiously wait for the High School Special during weekends (Friday and Saturday), in order to listen to reports from our contemporary reporters and peers at the various high schools in and around Monrovia.
There were many reporters, but for me personally, I still have vivid memories of four outstanding broadcast voices that stood out to me: Frank Sainworla, William Burke, the late Gabriel Gworlekaiju, and of course, Patrick Kolubah Manjoe, who transitioned to the celestial realm on January 13.
Even though I can’t readily match each of them with their respective schools at this point in time, I still remember my first time listening to and being mesmerized by that distinctive voice of Manjoe from the Boatswain High School. The late Gworlekaiju was a Cardinal, reporting from Tubman High, while Bill Burke represented the New Cathedral News Agency (NCNA) of the Cathedral Catholic School.
The backdrop to the crispy name of Cathedral student news outlet is that during the Cold War, involving the East—represented by the erstwhile Soviet Union and the West—represented by the United States, two main news outlets from the East were well-known around the world. They were the Soviet news agency-TASS and the New China News Agency (NCNA), now simply known as Xinhua.
Apparently the students at Cathedral, in their teenage fantasies at the time, decided to style the nomenclature of their news outlet after that of the Chinese news agency.
In the case of Manjoe, with his superb performance on the student broadcasting program, it was not surprising that following his graduation, he was later employed by the Liberia Broadcasting System.
At LBS, he was quick to justify his inclusion, excelling rapidly, because he had a natural acumen for broadcasting. A couple of years later when Cyrus Badio transitioned from the Catholic ELCM Community Radio and joined ELBC, he and Manjoe blended their collegiality, professionalism, and friendship in pioneering their famous Cyrus-Pat Show, which became one of the most popular entertainment shows on ELBC.
The jokes, words of wisdom, comments, and other goodies on the Cyrus-Pat Show glued the audience to their radio sets. During those days, Liberia didn’t have a proliferation of FM radio stations as it does nowadays; ELBC and ELWA were the two predominant stations.
The two young broadcasters became well-known as a result of the Cyrus-Pat Show until the eruption of the senseless upheaval, which decimated Liberia, and sent thousands of compatriots into exile.
With the establishment of the Interim Government of National Unity in Monrovia, led by the late venerable statesman, Dr. Amos Sawyer, brother Manjoe was one of the patriotic Liberian professionals who gallantly answered the call of duty. He returned to ELBC and joined other colleagues to try and patch up the broken pieces and salvage the national broadcasting facility which had been wrecked by rebels.
One of the brilliant moments of Manjoe’s broadcasting service to the Liberian nation that got glued to my memory occurred in May 1994. He had traveled to South Africa with the late Professor David D. Kpomakpor, then Chairman of the first Council of State transitional administration, for the historic inauguration of Nelson Mandela. During the late evening hour, Chairman Kpomakpor and his entourage returned from South Africa.
To my surprise, at about 6:30 the next morning, Patrick Kolubah Manjoe, the quintessential master of the microphone, was already in the studio, broadcasting excerpts from Mandela’s inaugural activities. It was during his programming that morning that I first heard a very popular and captivating song that the late musician Brenda Fassie had produced for Mandela’s inaugural activities.
In short, Patrick Kolubah Manjoe was a consummate professional who ably served his country with every ounce of his passion and energy when the opportunity arose. With his passing, Liberia has lost one of its best.If there is actually a Great Beyond, as we are told, some of the titans of the microphone who had gone before him, such as the late Tommy Raynes, G. Moses K. Washington, Victoria Christopher-Cooper, J. Eustice Smith, Herbert Grigsby, and his buddy, Gabriel Gworlekaiju, among others, will be on hand to say, “Welcome, Patrick; you fought a good fight.” May the soul of Manjoe rest in eternal peace.