A Letter to President Joseph Jenkins Roberts

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Dear President Roberts,

On March 15, 2021, the Nation Liberia commemorates your 212th birth anniversary as a National Holiday. This honor is befitting of an elder Statesman and first President of Africa’s oldest Republic. Posthumously, we lay a note at your tomb with the inscription, “Happy birthday”.

President Roberts, you had an eye of an eagle when you, in your will, left a portion of your estate as a seed funding with the solemn words, “for the education of Liberia’s children”.  The J.J. Roberts Educational Foundation is the brainchild of your visionary mindset that saw a need two centuries ahead and moved in time to fill it.  The J.J. Roberts Educational Foundation continues to provide tuition for hundreds of students based on academic excellence.

President Roberts, your dear Country is at the crossroads and the dire need for educated sons and daughters cannot be overemphasized. Illiteracy is a fast approaching virus that continues to haunt the growth of the Republic whilst some supposedly educated sons and daughters tend to show a public disdain for education.  The need for education lies at the fulcrum of nation building in the areas of Science, Technology, Business & Entrepreneurship, Arts & Culture, etc.

The great Country you left behind can only move forward if the people have a word with you and get a grasp of the future and the need you foresaw and move ahead to fill it, using education as the catalyst. 

President Roberts, we have become like a people lost in the wild with a compass we cannot read and cannot understand how to navigate our paths.  Give us a glimpse of your sight to understand that with the rise of Technology, the possibility of a pandemic-prone world and the global fight for power and geopolitical advantages, only with education can Liberia stand on its feet and find its anchor. Whilst most nations are developing vaccines for the coronavirus, Liberia, like most of Africa, is standing on the sidelines awaiting ‘vaccine aid’. We have not used the value of education to invest in Research & Development (R&D). We virtually have no science program, no prospect for innovation and creativity, no comprehensive bio-medical research, no technology lab, no clear vision of where we’re going. We come not with a laundry list of complaints but a look at our realities in the mirror and hope your birthday can inspire us to think of your vision, more than a century ago, that education was the way, education is the way and education will remain the way.

President Roberts, thank you for your vision. We hope that the proclamation to commemorate your birthday leads us to the foundation of your belief that the answer to a forward march as a people rest in most part to the solemn words of your will “…for the education of Liberia’s children.”

Thank you JJ!

Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Poet, Writer, Author and Speaker. He is a JJ Roberts Educational Foundational Scholar and can be reached at [email protected], www.lekpele.com.

1 COMMENT

  1. What a thought-provoking piece? I wish Weah reads this, as it appeals directly to his 2016 campaign rhetoric. As a presidential candidate then, he told the youth education was not the path to solving Liberia’s development paralysis. Instead, it would only keep Liberians backward and poor. Lord have mercy! Can one believe this is what came out of the mind and through the lips of an aspiring Liberian leader in the 21st century?

    To crown it all, many of the voters then were disenchanted with the old order and were yearning for change. Nonetheless, with the high level of low education, gullibility, and unsophistication that prevailed within our society they fell for Weah’s ploy.

    So, here the country is stuck today with a president who is unable to chart a proper course to lead the country out of the economic debacle it finds itself in as the result of the reckless ambitions of politicians.

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