Whenever the name Gongloe is pronounced in the public, minds run to Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), who is also known for human rights advocacy and rendering free legal services to poor people. He and his siblings, including Nimba County senatorial contestant Edith Gongloe-Weh and others, have dedicated a huge resource center to the memory of their deceased father, Wilfred Gongloe, in their home village in Glehyee Zorpea, Yarwin Mensonnoh District now Electoral District #9. Many who witnessed the dedication on Friday, December 5, 2020, described the center as “the first public library in Nimba County and perhaps Liberia.”
The late Wilfred Gongloe, served the Wehbeanlu Public School in Glehyee Zorpea from 1975 to 1992 as Principal and was regarded as an influential teacher who encouraged a lot of sons and daughters of that village to go to school. As a successful teacher, none of his children is without education, all of them successful in their pursuits.
To maintain the memory of Teacher Wilfred Gongloe, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, who is the first among eleven children, said: “My siblings and I decided to build this resource center without help from any outsider in memory of Teacher Gongloe’s services not only to us the children but others in Mensonnoh here as well. As you all know, Teacher Gongloe taught here and impacted a lot of people, and when I consulted my brothers and sisters, they agreed that we should not only erect a hall but attach a library for students in this district and Glehyee to read, and we are going to fill this center with books of all professional courses including law. As you may know, I am a lawyer and we will bring computers so that students from here will already be acquainted with the knowledge before going out.”
Teacher Gongloe was buried on the campus of the Wehgbeanlu Public School (elementary) and, seeing the grave on the campus, Cllr. Gongloe and his siblings decided that they do not want the campus to be a graveyard and therefore concluded that such a huge resource center be built on top of it, to be used by the town, clan, district and county at large.
“People in Glehyee, this resource center is yours and you should take full control of it. Except for some non-governmental organizations and public institutions that may want to use it for workshops, which I think they should pay something for maintenance, you can use the auditorium to carry out programs of interest to you, as we present it freely to you this day,” said Cllr. Gongloe.
Stressing the importance of the library, Cllr. Gongloe said education is the only property an individual can take with him or her anywhere in the world to survive on and be lifted out of poverty.
“I worked with the United Nations in South Africa and Ethiopia, and in these places nothing led me there besides education. We all left from here during the war and went to different parts of West Africa, but did not carry cocoa or rubber farm with us besides education. People who knew how to do something with their knowledge lived by that until they returned. So, let the teachers and students make use of this center for their betterment tomorrow,” Gongloe added.
He also acknowledged the role of the town’s people for hauling sand and molding bricks for the construction work, and his uncles from Quoipa in Bong County for similar assistance.
Cllr. Gongloe said the family initiative being done solely by the family members should serve as an example for others to emulate because the nation is not built by the government alone but by every individual citizen who has the opportunity to do. “We hope others can see this to do better than we did; for a nation is built through public-private partnership,” he said.
As may be the case, such a resource center cannot be found anywhere else in Nimba County. The presence of this huge building surrounded by forest vegetation in that village brings excitement and hope to many, and Nimba County Education Officer Edwin Dologbay is no exception.
At the dedication ceremony, Mr. Dologbay commended the Gongloe family and promised to send Liberian textbooks to the center to help students improve their reading.
“We have more of the Ministry of Education’s prescribed textbooks at the central office, and we are going to bring more here to equip this center. Whenever we talk about textbooks, school principals and teachers are not excited to come for them, but when it is food, you will hear accusations on the radio and people will rush to get it,” said Dologbay. He warned teachers of the Wehgbeanlu Public School to utilize the library to the fullest or risk transfer to other locations that may not be as favorable.
The dedication was also characterized by donations from friends and groups invited to the dedication ceremony. Among groups and individuals who contributed to the project at the dedication were Nimba Rubber Investment (NRI) Manager Harrison Karnwea, who gave US$500; Siaka Toure of Aminata & Sons, US$500; Sekou Bility and family, US$200; Cllr. James E. Pierre, US$500; Cllr. Oswald Tweh, US$500; Dr. Fredrick Norkeh, US$150, and Tod Dahn L$20,000. The Fula Community in Monrovia pledged to provide the solar power installation for the resource center.