The establishment of Shakie Kamara Memorial Scholarship Fund by Montserrado senatorial candidate, Dr. Christopher Z. Neyor, has become a basis for intense debate in many quarters of the intellectual and political parlance of Liberia.
Little Shakie Kamara’s tragic death sustained from a shootout by security forces during the imposition of quarantine on West Point brought wave of humanitarian interventions to Shakie’s bereaved family and Titus Nouaha, another victim who is recovering from operation of bullet from his lower abdomen.
In consolation to the loss, many have taken rice, some cash donation, and others provisions to the affected families. Of all the humanitarian interventions in sympathy to the loss, none has triggered highest recognition and debate unlike the scholarship fund established by Dr. Neyor in honor and memory of the child who was killed in cold blood.
Few, on the one hand of the controversy, see the intervention of Dr. Neyor as a calculated attempt to sway voters toward his Montserrado County senatorial bid from the densely populated slum community of West Point as well as from other sympathizers of Shakie and other victims. They see it as a mere show of an “election time philanthropist”, a kind of benevolence that has characterized and defined the modus operandi of politicking in a country whose people are ravaged in abject poverty; hence, trade their votes for anything to keep alive.
For many, on the other hand, the humanitarian gesture of Mr. Neyor is a new phenomenon in the humanitarian sphere, a paradigm shift from the old order. Insightful about this, or rightly term, classic, is that Neyor’s intervention brings shockwave to the Liberian humanitarian community. From time immemorial, it has been intervention-as-usual for humanitarians to provide food, cash and other supplies to victims and families of disasters. Sometimes, surviving victims as well as family members are given scholarship opportunities to appease them of the damage or loss. But these are sustained for quite a while and benefit relatively few persons.
This view of the latter block holds strong warrant as opposed to the former as it stems from Christopher Neyor’s long history of identifying with the needy, long before he had the slightest thought of contesting as senator. In fact it was Mr. Neyor who coined the phrase “election time philanthropists” and “campaign time do-gooders” for those who become generous overnight to sway votes their way.
Ever since his days at the Liberia Electricity Corporation, where he served in many capacities up to managing director, Neyor began a career of caring and giving to humanity, a career that has run parallel to his professional career as an internationally acclaimed energy expert. This was embodied in the many scholarships he provided to Liberians to study abroad through the corporations he headed, his contribution to sports when he served as president of Mighty Barolle, his extraordinary support to improving the lives of Liberian youths, students, Yanna Boys, marketeers and others when he served as President and CEO of the National Oil Company, and his personal scholarship scheme of over a decade that many students continue to benefit from, at secondary and undergraduate levels. In addition, it is expressed in his spirit of humanity that enables him to, through his private company that survives on external consultancy, contribute to government revenue through taxes, and employ many Liberians on better salaries and give up to hundred thousand of United States dollars per annual as corporate social responsibility.
Thus, to this latter block whose argument is bordered on objectivity rather than sophistry, the establishment of a scholarship fund to “memorialize and immortalize” the late Shakie Kamara of West Point cannot be based on a narrow “because of politics” assumption. One has to have a true spirit of giving and a better understanding of what giving is and what type is needed at a particular time to think of and provide such an initiative.
Of greater shock to this gesture are the people of West Point Township whose children are to be the beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme that was launched with an initial donation of one million Liberian dollars. After the lifting of the quarantine, this community played host to many organizations and individuals of prestige who brought forth food and cash donations among others. But when all had died down, the silence was broken by the arrival of Christopher Neyor and his team of officials of his company Morweh Energy, Friends of Christopher Neyor and partnering team of the Liberia Crusaders for Peace. Surprised were they to know that this arrival- occasioned by anti-Ebola awareness -into what many refer to as Liberia’s largest slum community, would leave lasting and glittering imprints on their memories.
Never in the township’s history has anyone shown such compassion to them, a type bordered on the memory and immortality of a young child, aged 16, who died in so much anguish and pain and profuse bleeding.
What is profound about the humanitarian gesture of the former NOCAL boss, Christopher Neyor, is that Shakie is not memorialized in a statue built in the middle of the township as many would do; it is profound because he is memorialized in the lives of his left behind peers, who will be beneficiaries of the scholarship. It is profound because the initiative is meant for perpetuity; it is profound because the scholarship fund is left to the trusteeship of the youth and children, women and elders of West Point Township. Still so, the intervention is profound because long after the other donations are consumed, the scholarship initiative will be raising its flag to another height aloft the pedestal of history.
A resounding demonstration of ideal humanities is to Neyor’s credits. To a keen and analytical mind, the Shakie Kamara Memorial Scholarship Fund is a big score in the fight against man’s greatest enemies of ignorance, disease and poverty. One can see the long term social-economic benefits this intervention would bring to a people who would otherwise have never had the opportunity for their children to obtain education. One can view through the veil of history how many children would rise out of their slumbers to life of greater status just because of the loss of one child.
Another noteworthy intervention by Neyor was his financial support to victim Titus Nouaha and his pledge to do whatever he can to see that this other child gets better care, international if need be, so as to not meet the same fate as Shakie.
Whether the scholarship scheme would source huge votes for Christopher Neyor in the upcoming senatorial election from sympathizers of Shakie Kamara, is insufficient to place him in the class of those who wear philanthropic garments only when they are vying for political offices. However, if three decades of giving to the needy can be said to be based on political reasons, then it is the best precedent set so far.
Entertaining such a view for the sake of argument, it would be wise to suppose that for someone to use his entire adulthood to secure a political position through an unmatched character of generosity, is an attribute of a leader needed for a country that strives on the mercy of giving to survive.
Although Christopher Neyor is contesting for a senatorial seat, with his long time of magnanimity crowned by the recent intervention in the Township of West Point, it is befitting, of rather demanding, to accord him the honor of an erected iconic statue in the humanitarian house of fame.
Yes, the death of Shakie Kamara cannot be compensated for any price, huge what may. Not a scholarship for all the children of West Point can fill the vacuum left in the home of his family, the vacuum of a boy who was all to his grandmother, who fetched water and did other chores to keep the home running and who had all the possibilities of life before him.
Nevertheless, the humanitarian gesture is a worthy solace to a bereaved family, that though Shakie has departed from the physical, his presence would be seen in the lives of many West Point children that would be schooling on his name. To his many friends and other children from the community, his painful death is a price for their liberation from ignorance to the acquisition of knowledge. Because of him, some of children could become what death snatched from this reach. They would forever bear to mind that they owe their success to a child whose death reveals two things: the merciless nature of a country’s security apparatus to shoot live bullets at unarmed children-protesters, and the gentleness of a humanitarian that has shown, to borrow the phraseology of a reputable person, “a classic humanitarian intervention.”
About the author
Ivor S. Moore is a youth, human right and political activist and a freelance writer on social, economic and political issues. He has over eight years of experience in child right advocacy and is currently the Secretary General of the Movement for Political Justice and Advocacy in Liberia (MOPJAL), a prodemocracy youth advocacy group. He is a student of the University of Liberia. He can be contacted at: +231770139026, firstname.lastname@example.org.