By Lindiwé N. Khumalo
Observer publisher and veteran journalist Kenneth Y. Best has published his first e-book, The Melting Pot: History of the Class of ’59.
The book was launched Thursday, April 18, 2019 on the Observer’s website.
The book recounts the most memorable events of the Booker Washington Institute class of 1959 in riveting story-telling fashion. It highlights the most distinguished accomplishments of the members of this unique and extraordinary class. Even their children went on to accomplish even greater feats, as is also recounted in the book.
Members of the class hailed from across the Liberian landscape – Nimba, Maryland, Montserrado and everywhere in between. As such, the old “Country-Congau divide” is rendered null and void in this book – which is why the class is described as a “melting pot”. Members of the class did not only represent their various counties. They distinguished themselves and excelled in their various academic and professional careers. Architects, lawyers, businessmen and women, engineers of various kinds, pilots, distinguished military personnel and even a presidential candidate were born out of the BWI Class of ’59. What is more, the vast majority of the class returned home to serve their country, Liberia, in various capacities.
Several Liberian academics have commented on the book. In a moving foreword to the book, Sister Mary Laurene Browne, President of Stella Maris Polytechnic in Monrovia, writes:
“The Melting Pot: History of the Class of’59 should be in the hands of today’s Liberian students so that the implications of scholarship can be thoroughly valued. As an educator, it is my desire to see our education system sit on the old mat to effectively plait the new.”
African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU) President, Joseph T. Isaac, also a BWI alumnus (Class of 1982), describes the Class of ‘59 as one of nation builders:
“Everyone with interest in Vocational Education in Liberia, who wishes to understand the specific blend of academic formula employed by the Booker Washington Institute in teaching, training and creating top leaders for Liberia’s national development agenda, wish no more; because in this book, KYB has unpacked the density and unmasked the mystery with this story of the Class of 1959… Kenneth Best, in his classic storytelling posture, describes how this group of intelligent and committed students from various backgrounds went from being complete strangers to each other at BWI in 1956, to becoming lifetime friends and colleagues, and major actors on the national stage. This handbook of Nation Builders describes how leadership was fashioned and transacted out of the class of 1959, with members of the class not only providing outstanding student leadership, but serving Liberia throughout their lives.”
Koffa Tenbroh, President of the BWI Alumni Association, also commented on the book:
“The story is carefully woven, capturing every detail of the history of the Class of ‘59 and the challenges and contributions of its members, not only to Liberia, but the world at large, down to the second generation. It also tells the BWI story, recounting its founding to the first Liberian principal; there is just so much about BWI to learn from this book.”
The Melting Pot: History of the Class of ’59 is a must read for every Liberian mourning the loss of Liberia’s standing as an education powerhouse on the continent of Africa before the 1990 civil war. The BWI class of 1959 is a microcosm of the excellence for which Liberia’s academic system was esteemed across the continent of Africa. This book is being published at a time when answers are being sought for how to fix Liberia’s education mess. The answers are in this book. BWI was in 1959 and still is today, a trade school. But look how far its students went and how much they accomplished – two pilots, several engineers, several entrepreneurs, an international environmental expert, two lawyers, an agriculturalist, an internationally renowned journalist, a mathematician, and much more! Members of the class of’59 matriculated to and were trained by top institutions around the world such as Harvard, Cambridge, Columbia, the University of Taiwan, institutions of higher learning in Germany, and even top military institutions such as Fort Benning. The vast majority of the class returned to Liberia to make significant, tangible and lasting contributions to development of their country.
The children of the Class of ’59 also went on to do even greater exploits than their parents, two of them, becoming multimillionaires in the United States of America. Their accomplishments are also highlighted in this book.
The year of this publication makes BWI as an institution 90 years old as it strives to reclaim its former glory, having been patterned after the Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama.
Buyers may purchase the e-book by clicking on its cover at www.liberianobserver.com and following a secure payment process. Most major credit cards, as well as PayPal, are accepted.
The Melting Pot is the first of several memoirs Best plans to release. Upcoming e-books soon to be published are:
- Deported to America: The Trials and Tribulations of an African Newspaper Family (KYB’s Unpublished Autobiography)
- Albert Porte: A Lifetime Trying to Save Liberia (2007)
- Evolution of Liberia’s Democracy (2012)
The Melting Pot is also the first offering in the new Observer Books marketplace at https://observer-books.selz.com/. This platform is set up to welcome the publications of all Liberian authors wishing to market their books to the Liberian reading public at home and abroad. It is also set up to welcome dialogue on the various books being offered and the ideas they put forth. Authors wishing to market their books on this platform may send their request to liberianobserv[email protected]. The marketplace is also open to the publishing of documents, research papers, essays, reports and other materials of interest to the Liberian public.