GEORGE OPPONG WEAH: AS SUMMED UP BY ALBERT PORTE
By Keith Neville Asumuyaya Best
When small groups of fans surrounded and engaged Albert Porte on the streets of Monrovia, his fast-paced thinking often showcased a variety of skills he had been blessed with. This column attempts to capture and relay (spread, pass on) a few of the ideas Teach Porte often shares. Once again—as though he were here with us today—the political commentator, Albert Porte, talks to us about a Liberian phenomenon: soccer player extraordinaire, and Liberia’s latest president, George Oppong Weah!
Together Here in Unity*
Together here in unity,
O Africa, we meet,
The deadwood of the ages
To grind beneath our feet;Reclaiming countless, wasted years
Along these verdant shores,
Nkrumah’s cry, no ‘bellow,’ (roar, noisy)
Reverberates the more.
O Africa, our Mother,
Th’ oppresséd we still stand,
We renew our pledge to seize the edge
And liberate this land.
Assembled here in unity
O Africa, we fete
Your sons and daughters fallen
For “liberty,” so sweet;
Our lives are but their victory,
We cannot fail to meet
Our task: to free the future—
Afric’s struggle to complete.
Oh Africa, our Mother
Delinquent we still stand,
We’ve failed once more to harness
What God bequeathed that we command.
Assembled here in unity
O Africa, we greet
The brilliant “minds” you’ve fathered
That rise, the task to meet.
Too long, we’ve marked the cadence,
Too long we’ve dragged our feet;
To long we’ve nurtured ideals
Alien and obsolete.
O Africa, our Mother!
In thee, soon, we must find
The strength, the will the unity,
That liberates our minds.
DAILY OBSERVER: Mr. Porte, Pardon us for this aside: but, it is necessary to introduce you to our visiting friends and guests on the ground, as well as those delayed but should be here soon. Mr. Porte, you were the founding Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Liberia Observer Corporation, founded just after military rule that began in April of 1980. You were one of the only few who—sometimes single-handedly–was privileged and driven to take on the executive and judicial powers that were—beginning from the 1940s, if not earlier. In view of the various capacities in which you served this nation—teacher, principal, president of the National Teachers’ Association, prisoner of conscience, (Monrovia Central Prison) Lay Minister, writer, editor and political commentator, it is our honor and privilege to invite your take on this exciting new era in the history of this country, with a new, young, untried and untested president, take the oath of office in a matter of hours. Teach Porte, What is your take on these exciting times.
ALBERT PORTE: Well, allow me a little ‘aside’ myself. And thanks for the nice intro. I was reading your first edition of the ‘continuing’ Revelation Magazine you helped to bring back a few months ago. I was a bit intrigued by your suggestion of “Joe,” as the in-coming president who would succeed Mrs. Sirleaf. I had heard a little about Oppong, but was not sure about what his names were or may have been—whether picked up on the soccer pitch somewhere around the world, or one that was attached to him by some friend or friends on one of the local playgrounds when he was growing up. Was “Joe” ever one of Oppong’s names?
DAILY OBSERVER: No! Not as far as I can tell. I never heard anyone refer to him as “Joe.” Anyway, I believe I know where you are going with this Uncle Albert. And you are right; I really was sure that “Joe,” meaning “Joe Boakai,” would have won the presidency. But the majority of the people, we found out, saw it differently.
ALBERT PORTE: Yes, I remember now: The headline of your lead story in that first edition of “The Revelation Magazine,” read: “Ellen has done well, Joe will do better.” And it was in quotations, just as I have it written down here. That sounds like someone must have tipped you—or that is what you felt, and believed.
DAILY OBSERVER: That exactly how it struck me. I had just gotten off my knees, and…
ALBERT PORTE: But hold on a while now, Keith. Something just occurred to me. Don’t feel too bad about missing your mark. I overheard our Cousin Hilary telling you just about then, to be careful; you belief or confidence might have been a figment (creation, invention) of your own making; it happens sometimes. So let’s just stick with the word or name “joe” for a minute, while I explain something to you. It might help other people to keep from getting too excited about what they think or feel—or want! On top of it, it will bring us back to some of the things I hope to say about President Oppong Weah!
English speakers all over the world we learned, developed the habit of using the name Joseph (actually, using its short form: ‘Joe,’) as a way of referring to ‘everyman,’ or, ‘the ordinary man on the street.’
The dictionary explains that people add “joe,” to ordinary words like “blow,” or “six-pack,” to form the names: “Joe Blow,” or “Joe Six-Pack;” or add “Joe” to a surname like “Bloggs,” to form “Joe Bloggs;” as we said above, either one of these ‘Joe’ names stands for ‘everyman’ (meaning anybody)—or, the (average)‘man-on-the-street.’
Accordingly, the “Joes,” above, could stand for any ordinary person. They also work as names for well- known individuals like J(oe) Mills Jones, the presidential candidate who made news in Liberian politics recently; or Joe Momokai Sherman, a former Liberian international table-tennis and basket-ball player.
So, for example, if kids on the soccer pitch saying: “Oppong Weah? That’s the joe I want to be when I grow up!” It works that way as well. So, don’t feel too bad if it will not be your joe, (as you would say) densing cortur on the Xecutive Pahvayon floor, at the inaugural ball on Monday. As we all know, it will be another joe, called President Oppong Weah.
DAILY OBSERVER: Wow! Thank you, Uncle Albert, for that lecture. I am sure everyone, including the kids got something out of that. Now, how does this add up to President Weah? How does he fit in with the picture you have painted? You said some good things about Oppong in the past. Should we be as optimistic as the electorate that gave Weah a decisive win?
ALBERT PORTE: As I was trying to say—and don’t forget, now; your magazine referred to some “joe” that you believed was “Joe Boakai,” who was going to do better; again: “Ellen has done well, Joe will do better, your banner headline screamed! It didn’t turn out that way, and the individual to be sworn-in on Monday, whatever name he goes by, seems to be promising a considerable amount of good-will to this presidency. He was voted-in overwhelmingly. There could be a lot that’s positive, to begin with, than the unknown negative that has to be anticipated that for a while, will remain unknown. The question is this: with so little to work with, as far as really knowing what or what not to expect, can much more be done, than throwing our support behind the “Joe” we have, as President W.V.S. Tubman referred to himself, rather than the “Joe” an part of the electorate only wished for? …To be continued!