‘Let’s Not Weep, But Celebrate’

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Edith Gongloe-Weh and her brother Tiawan, along with siblings and other family members at the funeral of their late mother, Elizabeth Gongloe.

— Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe encourages siblings as they bury their mother

Death, the end of life, leaves painful feelings in survivors of the deceased that cause weeping, but Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) and a well-respected lawyer in Liberia, has said that the death of his beloved mother, Elizabeth Menguah Gongloe, is worth celebration and not weeping.

During the funeral service of his beloved mother on July 4, 2020, in the family’s hometown of Glehyee Zorpea, Yarwin Mensonnoh District in Nimba County, Cllr. Gongloe told his siblings and sympathizers that his mother lived a long life to the extent that she saw all of her children grow up to be men and women.

“One good thing is that none of us predeceased her, and she lived long that we cannot exactly state her age because she did not tell us when she was born.  She told us that she was born before the arrival of Firestone in 1926, and by her account of the experience she had before that time, we concluded that she was born in 1923 and died at 96 years old.  The age could be more than that, and I am happy that she lived this time of her life.  So let us celebrate instead of crying.

Cllr. Gongloe, who could not be seen shedding tears at any point but appeared sombre in posture and tone, told the gathering that his mother and father lived a life that made marks on both the children and other people, and both of them were aged before dying.

Their father, Mr. Wilfred Gongloe, who died earlier, met his wife Elizabeth Gongloe in 1946 and they married in 1948. During a visit of Baptist missionaries in Quoipa, Bong County in 1951, they both believed and became Christians following preaching by the missionaries.

The late Elizabeth Gongloe

Devoted to her Christian principles and virtues, Madam Elizabeth Gongloe, according to her profile, was earnestly given to prayer and Christian teaching in her home, something her daughter, Edith Gongloe-Weh, said left a positive mark on all the children and made them who they are in society.

Prior to becoming a Christian, she was one of the many concubines of a local chief, Bowah, and she was without a child for many years.  Even after marrying her own husband Wilfred Gongloe, she went without a child many years.  “The situation worried her, but did not shake her faith in Jesus Christ.  She became the subject of community gossip that she was barren and would never bear children,” narrated her surviving daughter, Edith.

Without wavering in her faith, she kept praying fervently until 1956 when she gave birth to her first son, Tiawan, after whom she bore seven other children.

She was not educated, unlike her husband who was a teacher.  “Our mother was not educated, but she was always encouraging her children to go to school to graduate from high school, and after high school, to go to the university; and this is why we named her ‘Mama Degree.’  Our father, as a village teacher, earned $50.00 those days and was just not enough to support children going to school, but mama would make farms to complement his effort,” said Edith.

Madam Elizabeth Gongloe, as old as she lived to become, endured faith-testing attacks.  She was once bitten by a snake that was never found and the poison infected wound could not heal, thus leaving her hand paralyzed.  In 2011 she underwent a major surgical operation, during which there was an error that family members taught would turn out fatal but, with the intervention of one of Liberia’s experienced and internationally recognized surgeons, Dr. Vuyu Kanda Golakai, she recovered.  After many years of stability, she finally gave up the ghost on June 24, 2020.

Children and close relatives praise Madam Elizabeth Gongloe for living a Christian life and impacting Christian women through her teaching.

The funeral service was attended by some high profile officials of the Liberian National Bar Association and top lawyers, including Cllr. Wilkins Wright, former Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, Cllr. Bobby Livingstone and others, as well as Representatives Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County District 9 and Roger Domah of District 7. Businessman Musa Bility and officials of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) were also in attendance.

Paying a tribute, Cllr. Livingstone, representing the LNBA, said: “We are here to pay a tribute to a mother who bore children that others are wishing to emulate in society.  As you see one of the children, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, he is one person who has demonstrated that he is very honest and sincere and that Liberia needs, but this society may not accept the likes of Gongloe.  But if Liberia were a country to have the need for good people, we would have people like Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe as President of this country, but this society may not need people like Gongloe.”

Also in tribute businessman Musa Bility said: “Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe is the only one in Nimba who has made me feel a part of Nimba County.  The first business that I established, Cllr. Gongloe was the one who registered it for me without taking a cent.”

Following the internment during that rainy July 4, Cllr. Gongloe and some men and women were seen singing and dancing traditional songs the Liberian lawyer was known for actively singing and dancing while living the village life in past years.

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