In the softest of tones, Vice President Joseph N. Boakai yesterday suggested that Liberia might have been destined by God to play a recognizable role—however modest—towards advancing the cause to which the former President of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, surrendered most of his life.
Speaking at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion during the Memorial and Reflection Service for the late, first black President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, Mr. Boakai reminded Liberians of the privilege their nation enjoyed by providing a safe haven and a place of refuge for victims of the much-hated apartheid.
He explaind that, as the first independent republic on the continent, this country provided unrestrained support to the struggle against human degradation by white minority rule in that country— something all Liberians remain proud of today.
“For us here in Liberia, our hearts are filled with joy for the years of engagement shared with Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla in the struggle that he the ANC and the people of South came to universally symbolize,” Vice President Boakai eulogized.
He added: “Liberia cherishes every moment she devoted to the fight against discrimination, exploitation, inhumanity, and violence — vices that wove the fabric of the loathsome apartheid system.”
Earlier, Speaker Alex Tyler said that the late Mendela, true to his name ‘Rolihlahla’ (meaning ‘Troublemaker,’) stood on the other side of all tyrants, who could place their heels on the oppressed; his other name, Madiba, meaning father, is shown through his affection.
The Acting Dean of Cabinet, Finance Minister Amara Konneh, said the Madiba will always be remembered for his fight against injustice and he named his ‘The Eight Rules of Madiba.’
Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan read the Government’s condolence message, while Liberia’s astute historian, D. Elwood Dunn also outlined Liberia’s role in the apartheid fight, pointing out two lessons.
Dr. Dunn named the lessons as Liberation — specifically the African Liberation Struggle — and the Lesson of Post Conflict’s Truth and Reconciliation.
The Secretary General of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU), Benedict Williams, stated that Students Unification Party (SUP) contributed to the fight during the South Africa’s apartheid era; he failed to state the specifics.
He said apartheid is an attitude, referencing joblessness in the country as well as extreme poverty as elements of that hated condition. His assertions were debunked by Madam Medina Wesseh, a former activist and advocate, based in Ghana, but who is now a confidante to President Sirleaf.
Madam Wesseh said, apartheid was legislation which separated blacks and whites in South and which inarguably and wickedly suppressed and depressed the ‘Blacks’ of that country.
She recounted the role of the South Africa’s African National Congress, and hailed President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for walking in the footsteps of Madiba.
Ambassador Lafayette Diggs, in his sober reflection, said the late Madiba, was a great diplomatic figure, an astute peace negotiator, a conciliator and the first black man to rule the all-inclusive, real Republic of South Africa.
“An African and a world man. A colorless man. A man who so effectively married humility to pride; political steadfastness to political concession, the rigors of public duty to the flexibility of human compassion. No wonder he is so universally acclaimed at this solemn moment of his elevation to heaven,” Ambassador Diggs said.
For his part, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, the founder leader of the Movement for Justice in Africa, said he was privileged to visit the distinguished apartheid fighter; it was an honor see his back which no prison could break but that ended up breaking the back of Apartheid. The Methodist songster climaxed his reflection with a song, ‘There Will Be Peace.”
Meanwhile, South Africa Ambassador to Liberia, Masilo Eseau Mabeta, extended his appreciation to the Government and People of Liberia, for the memorial and reflection service for the Late Mandela.
He hailed the speeches, as well as the selections from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) band, Small Town Singing Group and the Vow to Praise. He promised to promote the Vow to Praise CD and convey it to the Mandela Foundation in South Africa.