Steven Samukai, the renowned Liberian sculptor, barely made it into the New Year—succumbing to the cold hands of death on January 3, following a period of illness. He was 66.
The deceased was taken to ELWA Hospital in Paynesville to seek medical attention when he passed away.
The late Samukai was born in Foya Statutory District, Lofa County, but spent most of his life in Clay Ashland, Montserrado County.
Prior to his death Samukai had advocated for Liberians to see the need to preserve Liberia’s cultures, especially the wearing of traditional Liberian cloth.
He also underscored the need for parents to teach their children the names of traditional musical instruments and how to play them as a means of knowing their cultural identities.
In one Daily Observer interview, Samukai described traditional musical instruments as symbols of true Liberian heritage. He regretted that many Liberian children do not know the names of traditional Liberian musical instruments because their parents failed to teach them about their cultural heritage.
The sculptor said he developed a passion for carving when he received training from Liberia’s famous sculptor, R. Vanjah Richards, a son of Clay Ashland, who was killed by government soldiers during the country’s civil crisis.
Samukai is survived by his wife, Albertine James, five children: Vivian, Amelia, Dee, Kekeh and Samukai Junior and scores of relatives, including Defence Minister Brownie J. Samukai and Edward Samukai.
The dedication ceremony was graced by many community residents most of whom were seeing a new market building in their community for the first time.