The final funeral rites over the remains of the former Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, Charles Gyude Bryant, was held Wednesday, May 14 at the of Trinity Cathedral Episcopal Church in Monrovia.
Liberians, including former heads of state, former officials of government, many of whom were co-workers, and members of the diplomatic corps turned out in huge numbers to pay homage to Chairman Bryant, who is being eulogized as the architect of Liberia‘s peace process.
Although the Liberian government was originally denied any participation in the funeral rites for the late Chairman in terms of a state burial as is allegedly enshrined in his Will, an array of government officials led by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Speaker J. Alex Tyler and Senate Pro-Tempore, Gbehzongar M. Findley, were present at the service.
The Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Liberia, Jonathan B. B. Hart, in his funeral discourse, said the late Chairman was a humble servant of humanity, notably the state and the church, where he offered his life and services to the advancement of those institutions until his death.
The Episcopalian Prelate said the late Bryant was a “peace maker, a reconciler and a visionary leader”—who was asked at a difficult time when the country was in disarray to serve his people; an honor he accepted and executed with “diligence.”
He said that Bryant did not exhibit a greed for power as exemplified through the timely and peaceful transfer to a democratically-elected government headed by Africa’s first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in 2006.
He reminded Liberian politicians and those in the strata of leadership that they are called to serve humanity; and as such, they should serve with commitment, transparency and enthusiasm as did the late NTGL chairman to the glory of the Almighty Creator.
Bishop Hart called on Liberians to respect and love one and another and desist from those things that will tear the country apart, undermining the peace that Liberians currently enjoy.
The Episcopal clergyman also called on Liberians to desist from deceit and hypocrisy “as it has the propensity to drift us further apart.”
Bishop Hart: “Gyude Bryant was a very dedicated and faithful scholar and statesman who contributed immensely to his church and country. He was the Chairman of the NTGL while at the same time serving as an usher in our church directing people to their seats. He was indeed a servant.”
According to Bishop Hart, “It was mandated for the late Bryant to serve for only two years. He did not hold onto power as many of us would do had we been in those shoes. Therefore, we must try to emulate the exemplary life that he lived by doing away with pretense and undermining each other as Liberians.”
Former Chairman Bryant, who “faithfully and honorably” served the Liberian state from October 2003 to January 16, 2006, died at 65 on April 16, 2014 at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia.
For President Sirleaf, the former NTGL Chair was a man who gave much of his life and service to the betterment of Liberia and Liberians.
She said the Liberian people are downhearted by the death of such an humble leader. “The country has lost one of the most committed and dedicated servants,” she lamented.
The Liberian leader described the late Bryant as a man who had deep unpretending humility, and the opportunity to serve his people. She said the late Bryant will forever be remembered by his compatriots for his role in bringing peace to the country.
Bryant’s former Vice Chair, Ambassador Wesley M. Johnson, described the deceased as a soft-spoken and understanding, but firm man, who always ensured that the right things were done.
Paying tribute on behalf of members and former officials of the NTGL, Ambassador Johnson said the late Bryant will be highly credited for the peace that Liberians presently enjoy as he was one of those who wholeheartedly sat at a table for dialogue for a peace resolution to the Liberian conflict.
He said the NTGL, under the leadership of Chairman Bryant, fully implemented the mandate of the government as outlined in the Accra Peace Accord.
Meanwhile the emotions at the service began to soar as congregation began to reflect on their interaction with the late Liberian statesman. Some people, especially the fallen statesman fiancée, Sia-Ella Sammy, and three children, Charles G. Bryant III, Cheryl R. Bryant, and Charles Mleh Bryant, could no longer hold back tears as the congregation sang some soulful and heart rending funeral hymns.
The late NTGL Chair was not given a state burial because his families’ members (The Carr and Bryant) insisted that government stay out of the process. The family members claimed the late Bryant willed that government be excluded from his burial rites.
This decision might have been the result of “bad blood” between the current leadership and the late statesman, created when he was accused of corruption and sent to prison.
Nonetheless Bryant’s children thanked the Liberian government and people for honoring their father at his home going.
“We shall have elections on time, I will not remain in office beyond our mandate…not one year, not one month, not one week, not one day and not one hour,” Charles G. Bryant.