Tribute To Sheikh Kafumba Konneh

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Sheikh Kafumba Konneh was a patriot whose love of country was undying and unimpeachable. He was a man of God who saw God’s grace in all God’s people, irrespective of creed. He was an erudite religious scholar whose deep knowledge and proper understanding of the tenets of the Religions of Abraham fortified him to be a courageous and tenacious peacemaker when violence and strife captured our country. He was the last of the legendary trio consisting of Archbishop Michael Francis, Bishop Nah Dixon and himself who remained the moral compass of our society when violence, ambition and greed smothered truth, shattered peace and threatened to extinguish our common heritage.

I have known Sheikh Kafumba for about 40 years and have watched his evolution from a magistrate devoted to issues of the Rule of Law and justice for the poor, to an early supporter and member of the Unity Party of Dr. Edward Kesselly in the mid-1980s, and his transformation into a distinguished religious scholar, understanding the deeper meaning of religion that binds us in our common humanity. Like Ibn Khalidun, the 14th century Islamic scholar, Sheikh Kafumba explored the intersections of religion, culture, science, and politics to embed tolerance, promote scientific knowledge, and build a peaceful, inclusive and progressive society.

We owe Sheikh Kafumba Konneh an enormous debt of gratitude. The fact that our violent conflict did not degenerate into a religious war can be attributed in large measure to his efforts.

He was the boldest champion for religious tolerance. I recall our mission to Libya in 1993 in the search of peace. As Colonel Khadafi lectured us about his African revolution, Sheikh Kafumba lectured him back about the detrimental role of the Libyan leader in the Liberian conflict.

We sat in wonderment at the courage, eloquence, and profound analysis of Sheikh Kafumba at a time and in a situation where others would have been tempted to be opportunistic and sycophantic.

I personally owe a debt of gratitude to Sheikh Kafumba for enhancing my understanding of the meaning of tolerance and for helping me deepen my appreciation of the diversity of our society and my respect for that diversity.

Sheikh Kafumba dedicated himself to the struggle to end marginalization, ensure that we respect each other and use our diversity as building blocks for a better society and not as stumbling blocks to progress or walls to separate us from each other.

I also owe Sheikh Kafumba further for rescuing me and taking me out of harm’s way when my life was threatened in 2000 when armed security men stormed the offices of the Center for Democratic Empowerment, violently assaulted the staff, plundered and destroyed equipment and almost killed Conmany Wesseh and brutally assaulted me. Sheikh Kafumba appeared out of nowhere, pulled me up from the ground and sped me off to safety.

We thank you Sheikh; we honor you!

To the family that nourished him, we say thank you; we will remain grateful to you.

To the religious community he led, we ask that his virtues and values continue to guide you.

To the Liberian society he struggled to preserve and reform, let us continue to deepen our appreciation of the richness of diversity and our respect for one another irrespective of creed, ethnicity, social standing and political persuasion.

May God Almighty bestow his grace on us all.

Thank you.

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