Hilary Teage’s Life Takes Center Stage

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Before Nelson Mandela and Kwame Nkrumah, there was Hilary Teage, pan-Africanist (played by E. Owusu Dahnsaw)

Dr. Patrick Burrowes has announced that the life-story of Hilary Teage, one of Liberia’s greatest statesmen, will be staged during the week of July 26, the country’s independence day.

The play, which will happen at the Monrovia City Theater, according to Dr. Burrowes, a renowned Liberian historian, is intended to showcase the forgotten contribution of Hilary Teage.

“Teage was the father of Liberia’s independence. Just as Ghanaians uphold Kwame Nkrumah and Americans look up to George Washington, Liberians need to honor the man who laid our foundation.

“Besides that, Teage accomplished many other things. He was the editor of our first newspaper, pastor of three churches, owner of several ships and one of Liberia’s greatest writers. He wrote our Declaration of Independence and our first national anthem.

“On top of all that, Teage is a great role model for today’s youth. He only went to school for three years, but he used his basic education to keep reading, learning and improving himself. He didn’t feel sorry for himself or make excuses or remain satisfied with a little learning,” Dr. Burrowes said.

The son of a former Baptist missionary slave, Teage was born in the USA state of Virginia in 1805 and immigrated to Liberia with his family in 1821, to help establish the colony of former slaves.

While in Liberia, Teage became a successful businessman and Baptist minister and was the owner of the nation’s first newspaper, the Liberia Herald. He used the paper to champion the call for independence and in 1835, he became the secretary for the Liberian colony. In 1839, he was the clerk of the convention which presented the settlers’ views of the African Colonization Society (ACS) regarding constitutional reforms.

He was later an instrumental figure at the Constitutional Convention of 1847 – representing Montserrado County – in both debating and ratifying Liberia’s constitution, and wrote the country’s Declaration of Independence. Although Teage, in 1853, was the country’s first Secretary of State after Liberia declared independence, he served as attorney general as well.

Dr. Patrick Burrowes

Dr. Burrowes added that the audience will be shocked to learn the true history of Liberia during Teage’s time, because the play debunks many false perceptions of him and his generation.

“My greatest wish is that this play will unify Liberians and teach us to love and respect ourselves. A key to success in life is to know yourself but sadly, many of today’s Liberians look down on our ancestors because we don’t know our history,” Dr. Burrowes said.

Owusu Dahnsaw, who is playing the role as Hilary Teage, said the importance of the play cannot be overemphasized.

“Every Liberian has a lot to learn from Hilary Teage. It is outstanding and outclasses all stage performances I have ever acted in. It is in a class of its own totally,” Owusu Dahnsaw said. “It is intriguing, informative, emotionally enticing and renewing. Hilary Teage was a great example of what it means to be a citizen. He was a servant-leader.”

The actor said one of the best scenes in the play is the one that causes deep emotional lamentations. Dr. Burrowes explained that the play is styled Citizen Teage, because the man in question was a great example of what it means to be a citizen.

“He was a servant-leader and in a republic, we have duties and rights. Some of the duties involved serving as juries, voting, and advising our elected officials.  In a republic, all citizens are also equal,” he added.

Dr. Burrowes added that Teage insisted that Liberia be styled a republic because he believed in equality and that being citizens of a republic means calling each other by our names, not by titles.

Showtimes for Citizen Teage: July 21, 25 & 28, 2018.
Admission: US$5 (students with ID) and US$10 (general).

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome that we can look back in history and appreciate all those who gave us Liberia, that we don’t appreciate.

  2. Less we forgot a man name Dwalue Momolu Bukele. He invented the Vai script in 1815, 7 years before the arrival of the settlers. Bukele’s achievement was very great. If the people and government of Liberia had invested in the vai syllabus, Liberians would had their own written syllabus by now. Ethiopia is the only country in Africa, south of the Sahara, that has it own written syllabus and widely recognized on the entire continent of Africa. We have bit and pieces of written languages like the Yoruba, Igbos, etc..but not widely known as the Amharic script in Ethiopia. The colonizers and imperial powers came in and threw many of achievements UNDER THE BUS.

    Hilary Teage wrote the ‘Declaration of Independent’, telling the world that Liberia was free. A great achievement indeed. It is also important if we Liberian have our own written Syllabus.

    The history Liberia, is written like the history of the United States of America. In American history, achievement made by native Americans and people of color, are not frequently spoken about. Only those that were achieved by the Pilgrims or the Europeans . Thus it is not strange to read about Minty Drappers, Elijah Johnson, Matilda Newport, Jehudi Ashmun etc. as heroes and on the other hand don’t read about King Mamadou Sao Boso, Bob Gray (the Bassa Chief, who is accused of selling land to settlers for smoked fish), John Kizzell, Chief Bai Kpenneh (who helped Benjamin JK Anderson on his expedition into the hinterland) , and many other heroes of Native Liberians who achievement are not known. This may be the beginning of the Missed Education of our people. The writers of the history books are cherry picking .

    A Nigerian Educator (Mr. Ayodeji Olukoju ), wrote extensively about Dwalu Momolu Achievement. My hat off to Dr. Joseph Say Gwanue for written ‘Liberia History Before 1847’

    To all fellow Liberians, Let’s keep the light burning, for Knowledge

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