By Cooper Kweme
Todee Junction: If you are traveling from Monrovia to Kakata, there are names of places that you instinctively visualize even before you reach them: Mount Barclay, Fendell, Careysburg, 15 Gate, Kingsville #7 and of course, Todee Junction. And if you are traveling from Kakata to Monrovia, it is Todee Junction you pass before entering Division 20 of the Firestone Rubber Company. The area is also known as Zoe Vahn.
I am very familiar with Todee Junction. As the whole world may know by now, I was born in the area of Firestone… Division 21… that is not too far away from Todee Junction.
Todee Junction road does not cross the main highway to or from Kakata. You either turn turn left coming from Monrovia or you turn right coming from Kakata. If you are walking or driving you must travel North, leaving the Atlantic Ocean behind you.
The first town you come to as you travel this road is Nuquay Town. This town has been privileged to have produced a son who became Speaker of the House of Representatives during the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration. The next town is Va-ya-quelleh. From Va-ya-quelleh you will come to Goya Town and then Gbofio town and Nunu town. The next stretch will bring you to the Presbyterian Todee Mission, where I went to school.
Nearly every religious denomination in Liberia has a school or two. Todee Mission is owned by the Presbyterian Church in Liberia. About half a mile from the Mission is Goba Town, where a Presbyterian Church is built. It is where faculty and students go for Sunday service. Martha Johnson, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s mom used to come down on Sundays from Monrovia to pastor us and members of the community.
My time on Todee Mission took me through the tutelage of three Principals: Peter Amos George, Alvin Eastman and Rev. Francis Ametowobla. Liberians, like Americans, will always find a short cut to long names. Ametowobla became Amet. And that is how the family has been known and called in Liberia.
When Principal Amet arrived on Todee Mission he brought with him his wife, six children., and a family member named Daniel K. Lemgo. Teacher Lemgo, as we used to call him, taught geography. He was also the school’s PE instructor and soccer coach. He was good in all three of these disciplines!
No schools in the Todee area came close to matching our soccer ability. Lango Lippy, St Augustine, St Christopher, that school in Bong Mines…Yen-Yen. The only two schools that really clipped our wings were BWI and Duside. As for the team from Duside Junior High School, the players were mostly borrowed players from Smell-Nor-Taste and Marshall. You could tell from their hard faces that they were not students. Our captain, Kofi Amet, got his arm broken in Duside from the wild, you-miss-the-ball-don’t-miss-the-bone tactics of the Duside men! We never played Duside Junior High again. Daniel Lemgo was the coach!
On every other Saturday morning, we would gather on the soccer field, both boys and girls, to run the three-mile stretch from Todee Mission campus to Todee Junction and back. Many, many students, especially the girls never made it. They would hide in the bushes and join the group on its way to campus. Teacher Lemgo would notice!
Teacher Lemgo was so flexible and fit and agile, that he would run the 3 miles without a bead of sweat or loss of breath. He tried on many occasions to head-butt a soccer ball over his players who were far taller than him. If he had his own way, he would try to jump over the moon! He was a small, short man. From his various calisthenics, we sometimes wondered whether he had bones in his body.
Teacher Lemgo was a good and knowledgeable Geography instructor. We knew all the lakes, rivers, falls, deserts, mountains, oceans, seas, continents of the world. He made us memorize every State, every capital and every President in Africa. For Daniel K Lemgo, It was always a drill: on the soccer field and in Geography class!
Thank you Teacher Lemgo for your dedicated commitment to the people of Liberia. Some of your students are today Medical Doctors, Lawyers, Pastors, Engineers, Politicians, Statesmen, Computer Scientists, Technicians, Nurses, etc.
May your soul rest in perfect peace and may the light of the Great Almighty perpetually shine upon you.