Joseph Korto Gbowee was born on June 10, 1938 in Sanoyea, Bong County, which was the Central Province, one of the three interior political subdivisions of Liberia before the beginning of the Tubman Unification era in 1964. It was in June 1964 that the three Interior Provinces were transformed into the Four New Counties: Bong, Lofa, Nimba and Grand Gedeh. That is when Liberia’s Interior people, gained full political recognition and were able to elect their own two Senators and Representatives for each county.
This town, Sanoyea, has gained national prominence for producing many famous citizens of Liberia, including Mrs. Priscilla Payne, widow of the first Bishop of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, Rt. Rev. Roland J. Payne; Honorable Peter K. Bema, Deputy Minister of Finance, Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) and Vice Presidential Candidate of the Unity Party, along with Presidential Candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in the 1997 Liberian presidential elections; the late Nora Giddings Howard, mother of Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor of Bong County; Lands, Mines and Energy Minister and later Senator James Y. Gbarbea, Rev. Emmanuel Giddings, Executive Director of Liberia’s leading literacy organization, ALFALIT, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and, of course, Madam Leyma Gbowee, one of the first two Liberian Nobel Peace Laureates, along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Sanoyea is one of the citadels of Lutheran establishments in Liberia, hosting the first Lutheran educational institution outside of the coastal seat of Lutheran missions in Millsburg and Harrisburg up the right and left banks of the St Paul River.
Sanoyea is therefore where Joseph Gbowee embraced the Martin Luther doctrine of ‘justification by faith’ as a Christian for sins to be forgiven. Gbowee’s commitment and dedication to this faith was unwavering. He became an acolyte in the Church in Sanoyea, going on to serve the Church’s Totota Parish and later in St. Peters’ Lutheran Parish in Monrovia, which may be considered the church’s leading parish.
His service to the St. Peters’ Parish was marked with devotion and distinction, ranking him as Father of the Year twice and further elevating him to the status of ‘Grandfather of the year.’ Joseph Gbowee’s outstanding contribution to the St, Peter’s Lutheran Church Parish was his commitment to the effective performance of the choir by ensuring that all its electronic instruments function properly at all times. For this reason he always sat and sang with the Choir. To sum it all up, Joseph Gbowee was born and baptized as a Lutheran, he married in the Lutheran Church, all his children are confirmed Lutherans, and he served the Lutheran church at all levels of the laity, leading to head the Council of Elders in his Congregation. This devotion to Church duties strengthened him as head of his family.
Father Gbowee and Rachael Kolleh in 1973 took the matrimonial oath before God to become partners till death parts them. This union was strong and remained intact until his death. This holy matrimony was blessed with six children, most of whom were girls. Joseph Gbowee loved his girls, always motivating them to become somebody in life. It is, therefore, no surprise that his daughter, Leymah Gbowee, along with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
He proudly escorted the Nobel Laureate to receive this most distinguished International Peace Prize in Norway in 2011.
We, Lutherans, are proud of this achievement and consider it as the apex of Grandfather Gbowee’s accomplishments. A high level functioning family maintained by Grandfather Gbowee was indeed based on a sound educational foundation.
Joseph Gbowee started his education sojourn at the Sanoyea Lutheran Elementary School and continued at the Totota Lutheran Junior High School. He completed his senior high school education at the Booker Washington Institute, specializing in electronics, in which he pursued advanced studies abroad. This educational qualification determined his career path.
JOSEPH GBOWEE started his career controlling and maintaining electronic equipment at the Executive Mansion, the office of the president of the Republic of Liberia, within the Executive Action Bureau (EAB). He distinguished himself as a dedicated, trusted and patriotic civil servant in that Bureau. His record of performance was outstanding, providing the opportunity for promotion to a higher office in the National Security Agency (NSA), where he served assiduously until retirement.
This public service background, qualification and experience prompted him to establish a private security agency: The Angel Security Agency, which he managed until his demise.
As we say in Liberia, Father Gbowee was a “hard working man”.
Socially, Father Gbowee was a man of the people. He was known only by the name “Neighbor” in his community. The name Gbowee is hardly recognized in his neighborhood. His favorite sport was football, which he played well in high school.
Father Gbowee had 11 dogs, but hated the one called Tiger because he is too caring and behaves like a human.
Unfortunately this family man, this strong religious leader, this fine neighbor left us here, got ill on August 13 and died shortly thereafter on August 25, 2014 at #37 Military Hospital in Accra Ghana.
Goodbye, Elder Gbowee, till we meet again.
MAY YOUR SOUL and ALL SOULS OF THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED REST IN PEACE AND LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE ON THEM