By Samuel G. Dweh/freelance journalist (0886618906/0776583266;[email protected])
Madam Jessie Wah King, born on May 25, 1919, trudged toward her 99th birthday cake to cut pieces for her guests waiting in a Nursery School building sharing a compound with her house.
“I feel being reborn again,” she said to this writer and giggled. “God has sustained my life for another set of twelve months, which ends today.”
About an hour earlier, Madam King, who taught at the College of West Africa (CWA), one of Liberia’s elite High Schools during the 1950s, donated what she described as a ‘Liberation Flag’ (it was really a Liberian Flag) to Branch #4 of the Family Nursery School System. The School is under the proprietorship of the family of Madam Evelyn D.S. Kandakai (PhD), current Chairperson of the West African Examination Council (WAEC). Dr. Kandakai, a former Minister of Education, was one of Madam Jessie Wah King’s students in the 7th grade at CWA.
The school, previously named Minnie King Dunbar School of Early Learning, was owned and partially run by Madam Jessie Wah King. Minnie King was veteran teacher Jessie’s eldest daughter who later died few years after establishing the school on the porch of her parents’ house on the Old Road, Sinkor, Monrovia, where the building is currently located.
“Giving of the flag falls on African Liberation Day, the day I was born, so I call it a ‘Liberation Flag’,” said the veteran educator whose students at CWA included Ellen Johnson, who later became Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s and Africa’s first female president; and Joseph Nyumah Boakai, former Vice President to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Madam King told this writer that she offered the flag because the school didn’t have one.
The School offered her a white tea mug as he ‘birthday gift’ during a special honoring program for her, she told this writer.
Making remarks at the honoring program, Dr. Evelyn Kandakai, Chairperson of the Board of the Family Nursery School System, said there was quality teaching and more students in the building when it was under Madam Jessie King’s control. But she took over after Madam King closed down the school for personal reasons.
“One day, on my visit in this compound to greet my former teacher, Madam Jessie Wah King, I saw this building empty and I begged her to allow me to use the place to mold the minds of little kids in this community—the same thing she was doing here,” Dr. Kandakai told the audience of students, teachers, one principal, and parents who gathered to celebrate Madam Jessie Wah King’s 99th birthday.
Students from various branches of the Family Nursery School System attended the birthday program.
Dressed in various African wears, including beads on the necks and waists, the kids sang the Liberian National Anthem perfectly.
“Many of our big people cannot sing the National Anthem as these kids have done,” Dr. Kandakai said, praising the kids’ retentive memory of their country’s song of nationhood.
The principal of the Branch #4 of the Family Nursery School System, Viola Snoh, told the audience that controlling the school kids to be quiet during teaching time causes headaches most of the time in both teachers and the principal. “But being with the kids is sometime spiritually rewarding and good learning experience for me,” she added.