Giving Back: Why George Weah Should Promote Other Liberians’ Talents During His Presidency

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Jacob A. Trawally with his model mansion, just outside the hut where he lives with his grandmother. Photo credit: Ms. Decontee Mcgee, Pen-Pen Peace Network (PPPN)

By Samuel G. Dweh

Caveat: If the current Liberian President gives a trial to my recommendations placed at the end of this article, he will succeed in this other sector — that develops any Country faster.

George Manneh Weah’s Talents

Liberia’s current Head of State has two natural abilities—talents—I know about: Athletic talent (playing of football) and Vocal talent (singing).

Almost the entire global community knows him for the ‘athletic talent’. The other natural ability (singing) is known to only a fraction of the inter-continental family.

George Weah was named African Footballer of the Century by a panel of journalists.jpg
George Weah, named African Footballer of the Century by a panel of journalists, displays his talents on the field

I saw George Weah exhibiting his vocal talent when I was a refugee on Ghana’s refugee camp, popularly called Buduburam, a couple of years following 1990. He demonstrated this natural ability through a musical rendition with Nigerian football star called Taribo West. They were in a place that looked like a Music Studio to me. Seeing ‘Oppong’ — the only name I know during that time — singing (with a voice sonorous to me) shocked and excited me at the same time. The shocking sensation was from my knowledge of him with only one talent: Athletic. The excitement came from my seeing ‘another ability’ in my ‘very important compatriot’ in the global football community.

The athletic talent turned George Weah into an ‘idol’ overnight to much part of the global football community watching the World’s most-watched soccer fiestas: England’s Premiere Leagues, France’s A-Matches, Italy’s Class-One tournaments, etc. George Weah played in each of these top-class tournaments.

The Rewards From George Weah’s Talents

George Weah’s athletic talent enabled him become a millionaire (in the Word’s top currencies) in few months. And earned for him the Game’s top ratings—African Best Player in Europe, Europe’s Best Player, and World Best Player—in one single year (1995) George Weah didn’t have an A-Average from any ‘Sports Academy’ teaching ‘dribbling and scoring skills’ before he raked all these awards to himself!

I must add here, for those who did know, that most of the ‘football legends’ George Weah met on the field or followed had not achieved such feats. There was Cameroon’s Roger Miller and Holland’s Marco Van Basten—to mention just two name out of the dozens of World-class footballers who the Liberian had watched on the screens of television many years before he embarked on the journey of his professional football career first in Cameroon and later to Europe through England.

Liberia’s Benefits from George M. Weah’s ‘Athletic Talent’

George Weah’s athletic talent, when he was on the field, or shortly after he retired from ‘active footballing’, has accrued many benefits to his Country.

One of the benefits was support (supply of football jersies and boots) from a foreign football outfit—DIADORA—to Liberia’s senior soccer team (The Lone Star) during Weah’s captainship of the team (Weah was a brand ambassador of DIADORA at that time).

Another benefit was ‘voluntary surrender’ of arms by rebel soldiers on the ‘Front Line’ in areas controlled by Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), on appeal from UNICEF’s ‘Peace Ambassador’ George Weah in these ‘fighting zones’. Footballer Weah’s appeal calmed the soldiers’ fighting spirit and engendered a truce (cease-fire)—and created a corridor for UN’s supply of foods and cloths for displaced, hungry and dying unarmed people in these areas.

For Liberians, on individual basis, Weah’s Athletic talent has provided travel opportunities to play football abroad (example: Prince Daye for Italian football team BASTIA), provided school fees (example: many Liberians entered into the University of Liberia between 1992 and 1995 on George Weah’s financial generosity), provided start-off capital (money) for business ventures for financially handicapped Liberians in many parts of Liberia.

Only a ‘politically myopic’ person will not admit that George M. Weah’s Athletic Talent brought several benefits to Liberia and individual Liberians.

Only George M. Weah’s Athletic Talent endeared him to all other Liberians and conjured the love of the (largest section) of the Country to vote him into the presidency of the Republic of Liberia. And on the 22nd day of January, 2018, the footballer was constitutionally placed into Liberia’s most exalted and highest seat.

Former world best footballer, now President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, delivers his inaugural address.

Where Geore Weah Hasn’t Made Impact Yet

Promotion of other Liberians’ talents other than football (athletic talent) Here is where (footballer) George Weah did not create ‘visible mark’ and (politician and President) George Manneh Weah has not carved a footprint yet.

Natural ability develops a Country faster than an acquired skill from an educational institution (say, University) can do.  Talent is the only ‘tool’ for building which the Creator (God) deposits in each man or woman to ‘replenish’ (beautify) the Earth. No human being came from his or mother’s womb with a ‘paper’ to be called ‘school certificate’. But all men and women came with idea (talent)

When nurtured or promoted (support), a person’s talent (natural ability) creates jobs for himself and others—and all of them use the monies from these jobs to develop their Country.

A typical example of how a talent creates a job is proven in the story of the little boy whose photo is the first of photos used in this article. His name is Jacob Trawally. He has an ‘Architecture Talent’—builds symbolic houses (various sizes and shapes) from scraps—especially from cartons and metal sheets—he collects from various places including garbage dump sites. He sells his ‘inventions’ to pay his school fees at the Kakata Community College in Margibi County and gives some of the balance to his maternal grandmother to buy food and other needs for their home. The prices range from USD 30 to USD50.

When I met this lad—by accident— on Saturday, May 6, 2017, living with his maternal grandmother in the Wenneh Town (community) of Margibi County—he was age 17 and in the 9th grade class of the Kakata Community College.  I wrote a news story about his invention (with him in the photo). The story was published in some Liberian newspapers—including Daily Observer and Heritage) A U.S.-headquartered education-promoting NGO (named Relief Incorporated)  read the story on Daily Observer’s website and responded with offer of an ‘architectural’ scholarship for him at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) One year later the published story won for me the “Development Reporter Award” in the 2018’s edition of the Press Union of Liberia’s “Media Excellence Awards”.

Through my story on his talent, Jacob Trawally is now on scholarship at BWI. Thanks to Relief Incorporated that saw what neither to leaders of Margibi County nor the national government during that time could see.

The 17-year-old lad told me, during my interview with him on his innovation story to be published in newspapers, told me he was “highly frustrated” because none of the journalists in the County cared to promote his inventions and none of the “money people in the County” who saw and praised his works gave support by on lack of support paying his “advanced learning fee” at   Drafting School.

Many other young Liberians have different talents—and are struggling with turning them into economically viable mediums for themselves and their Country. Some have paused inventing or have left Liberia for another Country on frustration from lack of support from national government or ‘political strangulation’ of their ideas by some ‘political elements’ in the corridors of political power. Two of these true nation-builders are Reuben Murray and Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan. The former, a native of Bong County, made a ‘walkie-talkie’ (Radio Transmitter) in 2008 and the device started sending signals across in a cocoa farm he was working in during that time! The latter, a research scientist, a native from the south-eastern part of Liberia, created a diagnostic machine that can detect and distinguish different viruses (like the Ebola virus that ravaged Liberia in 2015) at the same time. This invention was tested and endorsed by the Food and Drugs Agency (FDA) of the United States of America. He is now a citizen of the United States!

It’s at this point President George Manneh Weah or his Government should intervene with seed money to develop or market all Liberia’s talents for the growth of Liberia. The same thing the President is doing for Liberians with only Athletic talents—individual players of Club Teams and the Country’s senior football team.

Talents Building Other Countries

Thousands of CDs with different Nigerian, Indian and Mexican movies have flooded the Liberian market. And at least eight out of every ten Liberian homes watch Nigerian movies. Ghanaian movies are gradually claiming Liberian movie lovers’ attention. It is the same in the music industry, especially with songs by Nigerians. There’s lack of interest in majority of Liberians for “Liberian movie” and “Liberian songs”. The disinterest for the Liberian movies is due to is ‘lowest quality’ (consider plot, audio and visual effects)

Similar thing is happening in the music industry known for employing one instrumental for several songs (gospel music leads in this area) and employing profane language (insult) in most of the songs (secular music leads in the leading role here). On this, majority of Disc Jockies on Air or at entertainment centers go for foreign songs—better than those by Liberians.

President George M. Weah sometimes clicks on a foreign movie or music station (Cable) showing one of these foreign movie or music—when he’s tired of watching football game, his ‘first love’.

The sale of these movies or music—on CDs—outside of the Country of the musician or movie practitioners rake millions of World’s top currencies into their respective Nations. The monies develop their homes.

Some Liberian business groups are adding to the development of foreign artists’ Counties by inviting their music stars to entertain group of young Liberians or audience of foreign guests.

These foreign entertainers—Liberians are hiring—reached ‘stardom’ partially on the financial support of their Country’s Government. Example: Orange, a French telecommunication company, has sponsored the travel and performance of Nigeria’s musician Davido (entertainment name) to entertain Liberian music lovers on the 29th of November, 2018.

The ‘World’s Superpower’ status of America—where George Weah lived for a long time— came mostly on American’s natural abilities of inventions in food, education, Military hardware (think about the remote controlled-Drones in contemporary times), Arts and Entertainment (‘raw talents’), etc. Computers and Facebook (by Americans Bill Gate and Mike Zuckerberg) have revolutionized the field for visual and audio communications and are unmatched to their ‘prototypes’ in other ‘Advanced Nations’.

Liberians have talents to make their Country great, too—and the President or the Government is constitutionally obligated to support the harnessing these natural abilities to create sources of livelihoods for the talented persons and to be marketed outside of Liberia.

President George Weah Should Work With Liberia’s ‘Talent Organizations’

If the Head of State looks up to or depends only on his Ministers or Head of Government’s Agencies to nurture or develop Liberia’s talents, the fulfilment of his dream would delay to twelve years or more—or he would fail in this area. The Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism (MICAT) that should be assisting you on this ‘national obligation’ is only ‘talking’ (‘Information’ component)—leaving out the other two aspects: Culture (comprising ‘talents’ of Liberia) promotion and Tourism (comprising Liberia’s artistic talent) promotion.

The Ministry of Education that should be helping you, Mr. President, on discovery of Liberia’s talents among students, especially at the grade-school level, has restricted itself to promoting other Countries’ citizens’ talents in the ‘foreign books’ being hauled into Liberia’s public schools or being used in these schools.

So, what must the President do?

Recommendations

Head of State George Manneh Weah must work with bodies of Liberians that discover, nurture, develop and/or write about talents in the Country.

The first group on my list is that for Fine Artists or Creative Arts (painters or graffitists), sculptors (wood carvers), blacksmiths (those who carve images from metallic objects) and ‘structural engineers’ (builders of symbolic houses—like 17-year-old Jacob Trawally pictured in this article above)

My second choice is the second is Liberia Movie Union (LIMU) This group is responsible for showcasing of Liberians’ artistic talents on the stage (Stage Play) or put it on video to be watched by the whole Country.

My third choice is the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) The work of this group is to present—via writing—hitherto hidden talents to the attention

Mr. President, imagine ten Liberians in an international Talent Competition abroad—after you or your Government had supported them in Liberia—and each winning ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND UNITED STATES DOLLARS (USD100,000) as First-Place Prize. This amount is less than half spent on ‘preparing’ each person for the contest. Half of this money will go back to the Government to invest other sectors. Each winner will certainly invest part of his or her share of the balance 50% on one or two other businesses. Each of these new economic ventures will employ dozens of Liberians who can’t be absorbed into the Government.

Mr. President, the wisdom of these Liberians on job creation, from their ‘talent-fetched money’, for their compatriots is similar to what you did with your private businesses—Sports Stores, Boutiques and Radio station (King’s FM) and Television station (Clar TV)—created by the money earned by exhibition of your ‘Athletic talent’ in Cameroon, England, France and Italy.

Where there’s extremely limited natural resources—due to plundering by past Government—the citizens’ natural abilities can fetch some money from outside for the citizenry. If football-playing talent-enabled successful George Manneh Weah supports other Liberians’ natural abilities, the cries on extreme poverty in the Country will drastically reduce.

Give this a try, Mr. President!

Abou the Author: 

Samuel G. Dweh, president, Liberia Association of Writers (LAW)

Samuel G. Dweh, a fiction writer and author, is president of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW). An indigene of the Wedabo tribe of Grand Kru County of Liberia, he is a journalist and member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) He can be reached via: (+231) 886-618-906/776-583-266; [email protected]

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