Scores of Liberians led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf converged in their numbers at the Trinity Cathedral Episcopal Church on Broad Street on Sunday to bid a final farewell to veteran diplomat, Ambassador Carlton Alexwyn Karpeh, who distinguished himself as one of the longest serving Liberian diplomats, having served in Cameroon for close to two decades.
Top government officials, friends, family members and some members of the diplomatic corps—all coming from far and near—to give the eloquent and distinguished diplomat, as many knew him to be, a befitting send off.
Ambassador Karpeh, as a result of longevity on assignment in Cameroon, which spanned from 1987 to 2003, subsequently became the Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps in that country. He died during the early morning hours of Tuesday, February 28, at his Duport Road residence in Paynesville in his 86th year.
In the funeral discourse, Rev. Canon A-Too Williams described Ambassador Karpeh as a man of impeccable character who loved God and his country. The prelate noted that Ambassador Karpeh lived a life to bring glory to his nation. “He represented our country in a very unique way, and that’s why he spent 18 consecutive years in Cameroon under various administrations back home.”
He said Liberia has not just lost a distinguished diplomat, but also a reservoir of knowledge and expertise that could have been used to impact the present generation. “Father Carlton lived a life of God. He was always committed to his church,” he said, preaching on the theme: “A Service that Warrants God’s Will Done.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marjon Kamara, in her tribute on behalf of the Liberian government, described the late Karpeh as an astute, intelligent and eloquent diplomat who can never be replaced. She said his death is the loss of a branch on the Liberian national tree that will be difficult to replace.
“The late Ambassador Karpeh was one of Liberia’s distinguished career diplomats who endeared himself to his colleagues everywhere he was,” the Minister said. She also described him as a patriot and a nationalist who wanted the best for his country.
She briefly explained how as a young cadet, Karpeh ran into President William Tubman while he was assigned at the Executive Mansion, and the President endeavored to inquire who this young energetic young man was and who his parents were.
“After he told the President who he and his parents were and which school he attended, the President asked him where he wanted to go after high school. He replied that he wanted to go to the USA, but the President asked why the USA and not somewhere else? Tubman told him to go to England, and that’s how everything started,” the Minister explained. The late Ambassador served in many capacities before he headed for Yaoundé.
He was Senior Ambassador-at-Large, former Assistant Minister and Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism. He was officially retired on December 2, 2010 by President Sirleaf.
Many considered the late Karpeh as a brilliant man who had great command of the English language and an ardent sports lover who in the 1970s and 80s became very active in Liberian sports—became president of one of the country’s outstanding soccer institutions, the Bameh Football Club.
The Cameroonian Ambassador accredited near Monrovia, Amb. Beng’yela Augustine Gang, spoke fondly of his deceased colleague and the long relationship they had. The Cameroonian diplomat described Karpeh as a great friend, bridge builder and an awesome diplomat.
“This is a man who was very instrumental in strengthening the relationship that currently exists between our two countries. I hold him in such a high esteem for his accomplishments while serving in my country, especially as Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps there. He had been a great friend, senior brother and a pillar of hope throughout my service here.”
Ambassador Karpeh was born on September 13, 1932 in Monrovia. His parents, Robert Francis Tuan Karpeh Sr. and Josephine Teetee Stuard, predeceased him.
Karpeh received his primary and secondary education from the St. Patrick’s Elementary and the College of West Africa. With just one academic year at the University of Liberia, he matriculated to the University College in London where he earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Degree.
Karpeh’s public service started in the early 1960s with the National Iron Ore Company from 1962 to 1968, and later the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Deputy Chief of Protocol.
Ambassador Karpeh’s remains were interred at the Kaizer Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Brewerville, Virginia.