-Says Rev. Dr. Charles L. Kennedy
Rev. Dr. Charles L. Kennedy, Chairman, Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the African-American Business Foundation International (AABF) has said that the Land Rights Act that was signed by President George M. Weah in September of 2018 will greatly benefit indigenous Liberians.
AABF is a non-profit organization that seeks to develop businesses, academics and projects both local, national and international. Rev. Kennedy is also the founder and senior pastor of the Glorious Church, established in Tampa, Florida in 1980.
According to him, in the past the indigenous people found it very difficult to prosper from their lands due to marginalization by government officials who were perceived as the richer citizens in the Liberian society.
Speaking upon his arrival in Liberia at the Roberts International Airport, Rev. Kennedy said, “Gone are the days when the original owners (indigenous) of the land have been left behind in terms of development because people took their lands and used it for their own gain to make them richer and richer. This has left the indigenous to live in poverty but they will finally take full ownership of their land.”
The Land Rights Act clearly asserts the right to what is known as “customary land,” territory for rural communities that can be claimed through oral testimony and community agreement. The Land Rights Act categorized land ownership into four; public land, private land, customary land, and government land.
Quoting the Holy Bible, Rev. Kennedy said, “The last shall be the first and the first shall be the last”, asserting that the indigenous people shall now have full ownership of their land, as stipulated in the Land Rights Law.
According to him, since the establishment of the country, the indigenous have been left outside the governance process.
“The indigenous have never prospered from their land since 1822. When they formed the Republic of Liberia in 1847, they left the indigenous outside of the governance process,” he added.
The US-based clergyman, who has an interest to invest in Liberia, is partnering with the New Creation Christian Fellowship (NCCF) in Liberia, headed by Rev. Francis Baby Vincent, to bring development opportunities for rural citizens in the areas of health, education, agriculture and infrastructural developments. The project seeks to mobilize rural people to donate 300,000 acres of lands in each of the fifteen counties of Liberia.
Rev. Kennedy said that God has instructed him to work with rural Liberians to improve their lives.
“We have met with powerful people and they are ready to come to Liberia to work in changing the lives of people,” he told the crowd that came to receive him at the RIA.
At his arrival, clan chiefs, town chiefs, paramount chiefs, zoes, youth, women and men from the fifteen counties, clad in their respective traditional attires, holding both Liberian and American flags, and welcoming Rev. Kennedy with traditional songs.
“My county is about to be developed by Dr. Kennedy through Rev. Vincent. We will have roads, seaports, mineral companies, and airports, among others, in all fifteen counties”, says Sarah Peheh, prayer coordinator, NCCF, Margibi chapter.
According to her, each county donated three hundred thousand acres of land and more for the project. “Margibians will no more suffer and Liberians at large will no more experience suffering. My county (Margibi) donated 350,000 acres of land toward the project,” she said.
Madam Peheh however noted that because of the huge land given for the project by Margibi County, and because Rev. Vincent was born and bred in that county, that is where the project headquarters will be.
Pastors, deacons and other NCCF clergy, as well as representatives of the Islamic community, were also present to welcome Rev. Kennedy.
Rev. Kennedy explained that since President George Manneh Weah signed the Local Government Land Rights Act, it means that nobody can go to the government to cut a deal because the law has now given the (indigenous) people the right to develop their own land.
Rev. Francis Baby Vincent, head of the NCCF and vision bearer of the project, said in 1984 while sleeping in an old car on the street, God visited him in a dream and showed him the new Liberia and asked him to engage the rural people to provide him the opportunity to carry out development in all fifteen counties.”
Vincent said “God was able to connect Kennedy and me in 2011 [and] I said to him, “look, I don’t need money from you; what I want is the development of Liberia.” According to him, since that conversation, he gained Rev. Kennedy’s trust and that conversation has led to the present unfolding developments.
“We will build roads and railroad connectivity as well as electric grid railroad connectivity. We will build the pharmaceutical sector here in Liberia in all the hospitals and clinics. The people shall have free medication as their benefits. We will build different types of factories in the different cities in all fifteen counties — cement factory, shoe factory, clothing factory, oil refinery factory, to process our own natural resources here, which are also part of our investment plans.”
He noted that his entire dream and vision is to transform the country in many areas. “Our people have long been exploited. It’s time that we ourselves utilize our own resources to rebuild their lives.”
Responding to whether the initiative is a business venture, Rev. Vincent said: “It is not about [getting paid]. It is about what God himself has placed in Dr. Kennedy’s heart for us. Dr. Kennedy came to Liberia before but fell in the wrong hands. Now that he has come across the right person, his interest is not about himself; he’s satisfied with what he has and, if that was not the case, he could have stayed in the United States of America. But he chose to come to Liberia. God has placed Liberia on his heart so he was reconnected back to Liberia through me,” Rev. Vincent said.
Responding, Suliaman Kamara, Chief Accountant for the development project in Bong County, said, “it is indeed a moment to jubilate because the vision of the investor will benefit all counties in Liberia.
He said all the 15 counties will have airports so that the country will not depend only on RIA, and all counties will be connected with paved roads.
“The investors who are coming to Liberia will bring strange things to Liberia. And I believe that the country is not the only country where they have carried development. They have done a lot of work before in other countries and this time Liberia was selected,” Suliaman said.
Suliaman added they intend to start their developmental initiative in three of Liberia’s fifteen counties, stating that Bomi will be the first county, followed by Margibi and Nimba. “Because of development, counties donated their lands free of charge,” he said.
According to Rev. Mother Michele A.P. Vincent, Co-Founder of the NCCF and General manager of the project, said Rev. Kennedy and his team have met with Senate Secretary Nanborlor Singbeh to discuss his investment opportunity and their plan to soon launch the development program in Liberia.