Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Samuel Tweah, and the secretary to the University of Liberia (UL) Board of Trustees, Augustine K. Ngafuan, have expressed disdain over violent and destructive conduct reported of UL students almost every semester.
Minister Tweah and Ngafuan both served as UL student leaders years back. Tweah now serves as a Minister of Finance, while Ngafuan had served as Foreign Minister and Finance Minister in the 12-year regime of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The two men spoke yesterday, August 15, 2018, in the UL auditorium during the launch of “Lux Talk Forum for Intellectual and Cultural Exchange.”
The Lux Talk is organized through the instrumentality of the UL Administration in conjunction with students of the Mass Communication and History departments, to intellectualize students’ activities and avoid violent approach to issues.
Minister Tweah said UL was a center for intellectual discourse where he and others, who attended there in the past, used their intellect to engage instructors and administration without resorting to violence or destruction; but today the scholastic and intellectual exchanges that used to be typical of the campus have turned into violence.
“The UL has gone far from its zenith when it was previously a place for students’ intellectual exchange,” Minister Tweah said. He said that the students nowadays are engaged in destructive and violent activities under the canopy of intellectual discourse.
To reverse the unwanted acts exhibited by students, Minister Tweah called on the UL Administration to use the Lux Talk Forum for Intellectual and Cultural Exchange to baptize the students for refinement and civil conduct.
He told students that one’s strength lies in his intellect, and not violence, and they should use information to challenge their instructors, who may not be well prepared to present lessons.
Mr. Ngafuan described intellectual discourse on UL campus nowadays as “loose talk,” and should be replaced by “Lux Talk”, to bring back the days of real intellectual exchanges among students.
He told the students that the public needs talks that elevate the minds, and hoped that the launch of Lux Talk Forum for Intellectual and Cultural Exchange will yield better results.
Ngafuan then urged the UL Administration to nurture the program so that it will not wither away.
The launch was also complemented by a panel discussion wherein three prominent Liberians, including UL Vice President for Administration, Weade Kobbah-Boley, UL Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. William Ezra Allen, and veteran Liberian journalist and Publisher of the Daily Observer, Kenneth Y. Best, participated.
The three panelists spoke on the topic, “The Evolution of the Liberian State: A review of 171 years of Historical Development.”
Professor Kobbah-Boley provided historical synopses of the coming of the freed slaves, the establishment of the Liberian state, political transitions and some bottlenecks that have continued to retard human growth and unity in the country.
She said it was during the administration of William V.S. Tubman that the indigenous people were given citizenship by an act of the Legislature.
Dr. Allen, on the other hand, specifically provided a history about the “Congau” settlers because, according to him, the relation between natives and Congau has been politicized.
He said these settlers are recaptured Africans, who arrived here at different times, and settled in Oldest Congo Town where they met some indigenous people believed to be of the Bassa tribe.
For Mr. Best, he frowned on divisive politics emanating from Congo-Native divide, and recalled that his mother once advised him not to call anyone Congau or country man, but refer to any national as a Liberian.
Best emphasized the need for Liberians to know, respect and preserve their culture, and for the UL Administration to get Liberia’s rich cultural documents into its library for research.
He opened up the Daily Observer to the UL to allow Dr. Allen recommence the history column that he once presided over.
Mr. Best alluded to Minister Tweah’s comment about Liberia’s economy being in the hands of foreigners, and urged the UL authority to emphasize Marketing and Entrepreneurship, to make Liberians conscious of their own economy.