Jackson J. Paye, Deputy Public Works Minister for Rural Development, has begun a reconciliation program in Kparblee Administrative District (formerly Kpeaplay Chiefdom), Nimba County.
Minister Paye, who is also a citizen of the district began the reconciliation program by reuniting several towns on February 19.
After a series of consultations with citizens hailing from the district, but who reside in Monrovia, he succeeded in the peace and reconciliation initiative by setting up a committee.
On February 14, Minister Paye, along with members of the committee traveled to the district and settled long-standing disputes among residents of three towns in Youkorway Chiefdom (formerly Youpea Clan). The towns include Beatuo, Youkorway Old and New towns.
Minister Paye and the committee, according to a press statement, held separate discussions with residents of the towns to establish the root causes of the disputes and also solicit citizens’ views on the way forward.
Following the discussions, residents of the towns accepted the suggestions offered by Minister Paye and the committee and embraced one another pledging to peacefully co-exist now and in the future.
In keeping with tradition, Minister Paye offered two cows with which the residents celebrated their reunion on February 19 in Old Youkorway Town. The occasion brought together residents of the reunited towns and surrounding towns. The reunion celebration was grand as residents danced to the beat of traditional songs as they hugged and shook hands with each other. They asked one another for forgiveness for any wrongs that were committed against each other in the past.
During the occasion, Minister Paye called on the residents to desist from acts that tend to fuel conflicts. He challenged them to foster peace and harmony for the growth and development of the district.
In separate remarks, the head of the committee, Rev. Wilfred D. K. Baryou of Open-Door Baptist Church in Monrovia, also a citizen from the district, and Kparblee District Development Association (KPARDA) Chairman Peter Karngbaye, admonished the citizens to put aside their differences and work in unity for the development of the district.
Both speakers told the youth to respect elders of the district and other older people because they (youth) are the ones to replace the elders.
Other members of the reconciliation committee were Washington Gaye, George V. Larneh, Evangelist William Y. Youdee, Annie Quemenpen, Betty N. Beain, Mary Diakpo, Esther Kersler, Peter Martor, Cecelia Toweh, Toweh Chris Ziadee and Joseph B. Colkahn.
Genesis of the long-standing disputes
The people of Youkorway Chiefdom had been living a peaceful life with intermarriages prior to the civil war.
Old Yourkorway is predominantly Krahn, while New Youkorway and Beatuo are dominated by the Gio (Dan) ethnic group.
Since the civil war, there have been continuous disputes related to ethnicity, collective guilt and land conflicts.
The most recent confusion was between Youkorway Old Town and Youkorway New Town, which started from a football game hosted in New Town that degenerated into violence.
As a result of the clash, what appeared to be a battle-line was drawn: citizens from one town could not go to the other.
The situation led to the complete breakdown of social and economic activities between the towns as market days in each town could no longer be held due to low turnout.
For several years, there were a series of meetings held in Monrovia and other parts of the country to resolve the issues, but to no avail.
Citizens of the towns have commended Minister Paye for his peace initiatives and promised to uphold the commitment they have made. They assured the peace builders of strengthened peace and unity in the district.
They also appealed to Minister Paye to continue the initiative and called on other influential citizens to join him in order to reconcile the entire district. “Kparblee cannot move ahead until we are reconciled and reunited,” they said.