‘Mandingos No Longer in the Garages, Gas Stations…’


A gathering of members of the Unity Base Social Club comprising mainly ethnic Mandinkas (Mandingos) on Carey Street in Monrovia were last Friday told that the days when they were working in garages and gas stations and other menial jobs were over as five of their members were certificated by the organization for earning Master’s (MAs) and Bachelor’s (BA’s) degrees in accounting, international relations, business administration and management from the University of Liberia.

The phrase ‘the garages and gas stations are becoming empty’ was greeted with loud applause and laughter as guest speaker and Assistant Minister for Finance at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MPDP), Mr. Alieu Nyei told the graduates to let their achievements be examples for the Mandingo community.

Nyei, speaking on three principles that he encouraged the graduates to live by, said firstly they must follow their consciences as it relates to morality so that they will be able to do what is right in their dealings with other Liberians. The second principle is that they should not be afraid to take risks. “Don’t be afraid to try new ideas because the higher the risk the higher the return for what you seek,” said Nyei..

The third principle, he said “is to believe that as Muslims, everything happens at Allah’s time.” Nyei explained that if they don’t achieve their objectives as graduates, they must keep on trying.

“You come from a background with low education prevailing in our community and therefore it is important that you continue be an inspiration to those who are coming after you and therefore you must demonstrate your qualification by respecting our society,” Nyei said.

He told the five graduates that with the knowledge they have acquired they can claim the respect that comes with it and therefore they must strive to do the right thing, should not be afraid to take risks and they must remember that Allah (God) has a way of rewarding human beings in their endeavors.

Responding, a representative of the graduates expressed surprise at the honor but said they were grateful for the certificates of recognition that were bestowed on them by members of the Unity Base Social Club. They promised to do their utmost to represent their community.

He said the community is preparing a reservoir of intellectuals to seek balance in professional opportunities in the country and therefore noted that with their qualifications they should be absorbed into the workforce.

Another speaker, identified as Cllr. Sesay, encouraged the community and particularly the graduates to consider “going to law school,” since there are very few Mandingos who have shown interest in that discipline. He recounted an experience when a young Mandingo woman was involved in a motor vehicle accident and someone tried to take advantage of her through intimidation in what he described as a ‘minor issue.’ He also explained how he chose to represent her interest and the situation was resolved, because “someone of her ethnicity was there for her.”

“The law school is the only area that people come to you for help…you can open your law firm,” Cllr. Sesay said, and encouraged the community’s members who are qualified to go to law school.

Other speakers noted that for the last 40 to 50 years, Mandingos were simply interested in commerce and believed that what Allah had destined for them would see their face.

“While we agree that preparing for life in heaven is fundamental,” one said, “we now recognize that we must make efforts here on earth to also gain respect among our countrymen.”

“Many years ago, whenever you mentioned a Kamara, a Komara, Ansu, Kolleh or a Keitah, you could easily find them in the garages and gas stations,” another said, “today you can find the same people in government and professional settings and no longer in gas stations and garages.”

The Unity Base Social Club provides community support to each of its over 200 members.

The graduates include Mr. Mohammed Komara (Master’s in International Relations), Mr. Mohammed Kolleh (Master’s in Public Administration), Amara Kamara (Bachelor’s in Public Administration), Mr. Mohammed Fofana (Public Administration) and Abraham Keitah (Public Administration).


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