“Vote of No Confidence” for Education Minister George Werner for What: As Denigrator or as Wet Pepe Blanket?

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By Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (MsEd, EdM) (Author, Education Reform Advocate, Preacher)

Thinking Thoughts

In my thinking thoughts, I pondered the recent episode whereby the Liberian Senate cast a “Vote of no confidence” against the embattled Education Minister George Werner. While there is no doubt about the Senate’s purview to take such a step, the question which has lingered in circles is “For what did George receive the no confidence vote? Was it for denigrating the Liberian education sector via his farfetched utterances, or for being a wet blanket as Frontpage Africa newspaper re-branded him a fortnight ago?

Vote of no confidence

For the sake of the layman, a “Vote of No Confidence” is a formal vote by which the members of a legislature or similar deliberative body indicate that they no longer support a leader, government, etc. The person is forced to resign or get fired by the leader of the country or, if a corporation, the Board of Directors.

Recently Sen. Geraldine Doe Sheriff analyzed comments from George Werner which insinuated education was not a “given” for the children of Liberia to improve. Senator Sheriff complained to the Senate that George Werner’s post on Facebook social medium was farfetched and as the lieutenant responsible to manage the already ailing education sector, he had denigrated it and was summoned to show cause why he should not be held with contempt.

According to witnesses at the proceedings, the Minister remained adamant, recalcitrant, and stood by his post; he refused to apologize. Consequently, a “Vote of No Confidence” was cast to remove him from his post.

List of Denigrators

To denigrate means for your action or utterance to take value away from; make small, belittle, or defame. According to Sen. Sheriff, to insinuate education is not compulsory or “da education we will eat” or ”knowing book is not important” takes away value from the learning of our children.

Actually, the issue of education and denigration recently emerged in Liberia as an attempt to protect Senator Oppong Weah from ridicule. In their bid, some supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) have propounded that “knowing book is not important for good leadership”. This assertion is usually made each time oppositions question the acumen, credentials and intellectual ability of the CDC presidential candidate.

Now, with the challenges faced education, it leaves one befuddled as to whether these Oppong supporters really believe in this “knowing book is not important” thesis they are propounding or they are playing bind eyes and ignorant minds simply to be favored by their presidential candidate to land positions they are eyeing, per se Oppong wins.  What is more troubling is the caliber of people who have subscribed to the “knowing book is not important” thesis and have lined up behind Senator Oppong Weah.

If it is justified that George Werner is found to be a denigrator and received a vote of no confidence from the senate, then I submit there are other people on the list who directly or indirectly have made utterances similar to George’s and are equally eligible to be summoned.

Sen. Jewel Howard Taylor once said during a campaign for the Oppong candidacy, “Book people have spoiled this country” In the layman’s view, she was saying, “Voters should not listen to people who say Oppong is a footballer and does not know book so he cannot be president because educated people who have led this country including Harvard trained Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have failed. Jewel was however not clear. Did she mean the stinking rampant corruption which Madam President admitted she was unable to quell over her 12 years of reign? Did she mean the gross lack of morals and profound ineptitude amongst people who “know book” and are supposed to stand as role models in society? So far, Jewel Taylor stands accused or indicted because of the ambiguity in her assertion and should be declared a denigrator as well.

Professor Wilson Tarpeh in one of his advocacies to see his kinsman Oppong inaugurated President come 2018 insinuated, alluded to the thesis that “Knowing book is not important for leadership.” The learned professor averred that anybody can be a good leader regardless of education, even in this post war complex, economically staggering, politically charged and educationally deficient Liberia.

In addition, while George Werner, Jewel and Wilson are outright in spewing the anti-education advocacy, there are others who are subtle about the advocacy. Dr. Togar Gayewea McCintosh who, because of his education has served at very high profile positions, and the ousted Speaker Alex Tyler are also lined up behind the “knowing book not important” campaign advocacy.

Dry Blanket and Wet Blanket

Recently, Frontpage Africa (FPA) newspaper re-branded Education Minister George Werner a “wet blanket”. For the sake of clarity, a blanket is supposed to be soft, soothing and supposed to give people comfort because of the special material it is made of. For example, it is normal somebody would say, “It is so cold that when I get home, I am going straight under my blanket.” A warm dry blanket on the one hand, gives shelter and protects one from harsh conditions. On the other hand a wet blanket doesn’t really hold much comfort because it is cold and heavy. When it gets wet, it becomes immediately uncomfortable for people. A wet pepe blanket is even worse when gets soaked with human urine and stinks.

 

Wet Pepe Blanket (Chicken can’t pepe, da dog can pepe)

Back in the day when we were teen agers (13- 17 years old) there was a common practice for children to be called “pepe pap” The pepe pap in our family was not me, but one of my brothers who constantly urinated (pepe) in bed. Westerners knew “bed wetting” as a medical problem but, our ignorant African mother saw it as stubbornness. Out of frustration our mother would cry out, “So Junior you will not wake up in the night to pepe but do it right in the blanket so that I can wash clothes every day? You think I can buy soap with rock? I will make you out of “soe ne dohn today” Soe ne dohn means, “Dog can’t pepe” in Bassa. Hence, the punishment for bed wetting was beating and humiliation.

In addition to labeling the poor child “Pepe Pap” and having his friends mock him; ignorant mama would place the wet pepe blanket around Junior’s body and parade him around the neighborhood. As he passed by, people would beat him and pour cold water on him. In addition to the beating, Junior was made to sing a Bassa song, “So ne dohn, gbay mon  dohn yon” (In English, chicken can’t pepe, da dog can pepe). Junior’s friends  knocked empty cans behind him to create cadence at which he was supposed to march and the rhythm at which he sang “soe ne dohn, gbay mon dohn yon.” The neighbors would lash him harder if he dare refused to answer as he wept in pain and under the wet pepe blanket.

Fellow Liberians, note that while all this is unfolding and the child is being humiliated, his father, Papa, is not supposed to say anything. He remains quiet because it is mama who buys the soap and washes the clothes so she has all the power.

The Metaphor

In this metaphoric display, FPA has already assigned Education Minister George Werner the role of the wet pepe blanket. The Education Sector is the Pepe Pap or the poor child who is the bed wetter; The Government of Liberia (GOL) is the ignorant Mama since she is the one who placed George Werner, the wet pepe blanket, over “education” and is being humiliated by people, some of whom are also pepe paps. Because of her ignorance, mama does not know that the problem with Pepe Pap is not stubbornness but rather a medical one that requires a professional doctor. In her folly, mama wraps the wet pepe blanket Werner around education and exposes it to public ridicule.

The Senate in this metaphor is Papa who is supposed to sit on the fence and remain quiet. Unfortunately, Papa’s patience has run out and instead of being quiet, he has decide to act very harshly. Now as papa sits on the porch about to start the day, he hears the sound of the empty cans. He looks down the road and sees his dear beloved son, junior, with a stink wet pepe blanket over his body and being followed by a bunch of ignorant residents humiliating his son Education, “Kluck kluck kluck, kluck…. soe ne dohn, gbay mo dohn yon;  …chicken can’t pepe, da dog can pepe,” as they sang and mocked him.

Instead of keeping quiet as usual, Papa, the Senate led by Senator Geraldine Doe rises up to once and for all put a stop to this whole doggone fiasco about pepe pap education, messy education, and “knowing book is not important.” In his frustration and disgust, Papa scatters the mockers and demands that mama removes the “Stink wet blanket from over Junior (Education); Papa also plans to summon Jewel Howard Taylor, Dr. Togar McIntosh and Wilson Tarpeh too who are part of the gang humiliating his son, Education. Bravo papa!

 

Benediction

After all said and done, the questions that linger are, “For what was George Werner declared the vote of no confidence? Is it because he is an intransigent denigrator? Was it because he is a regular wet blanket or a wet stink pepe blanket wrongly placed over the Education Sector? Whatever the case, in these transition times, I submit the action is belated; however, better late than never.

While we ponder the answers to the lingered questions, don’t you hear the song “Chicken can’t pepe da dog can pepe” that is being sung behind the education sector?  I do!! Listen..

Chicken can’t pepe, da dog can pepe,
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Pepe Pap, Soe ne dohn, gbay mo dohn yon…
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Pepe Pap, Chicken can’t pepe, da dog can pepe
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Pepe pap, Soe ne dohn,  gbay mo dohn yon;
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck…
Klank, klank, kluck, kluck

 

I am simply thinking thoughts.

About the author

Moses Blonkanjay .jpgThe Rivercess man, Moses Blonkanjay Jackson is a social advocate trained at Harvard, Yale, UPENN and St, Joseph’s Universities in Education, Mathematics and Physics. The Rivercess scholar served the Government of Liberia for four years as Consultant and Assistant Minister and returned to private practice as consultant and researcher. The Rivercess man can be reached at 0886 681 315 / 0770 206 645, [email protected]

Authors

4 COMMENTS

  1. What a beautiful analogy of Liberia’s dysfunctional systems: political and educational.

    An anonymous philosopher once said, “We often pray for purity, unselfishness, for the highest qualities of character, and forget that these things cannot be given, but must be earned.”

    It is ironic to see these same Senators who voted for George Werner to become minister of education are the same lawmakers passing “a vote of no confidence” on him. There is a saying, “Be careful what you asked for!” These lawmakers wanted George Werner; they got George Werner as Education Minister.

    A few years ago, Liberia had a golden opportunity to have a seasoned educator to serve as Minister of Education. This was when President Sirleaf nominated Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell to serve as her education minister. Due to some political maneuvering by our lawmakers, our youths were deprived of having Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell confirmed as Liberia’s Minister of Education.

    The same Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, who was denied the minister of education post, transformed William V.S. Tubman University into an outstanding Technical University within the southeastern part of Liberia. Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell’s educational background is of high quality. She is of good character. She is of high moral ethics, and last but not least, she has many years of teaching and administrative experience at the university level in New York (SUNY-Cortland) and Liberia.

    It is regrettable that our lawmakers did not put country first in allowing Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell to render her outstanding service to our nation as education minister. Who loses? It is Liberia’s future generation who were deprived of this golden opportunity. Now, the decisions of our lawmakers have left us with George Werner, whom they have imposed a “vote of confidence” upon.

    As the author, Moses B. Jackson, stated, “While we ponder the answers to the lingered questions, don’t you hear the song “Chicken can’t pepe da dog can pepe” that is being sung behind the education sector?”

    Until then, what a mess we have to deal with in Liberia’s poor education sector!!!!

  2. Firstly, the denigrators are no other but those who sought the so called no confidence vote, and this writer who equates Minister Werner=s actions or utterances which can only be compared with those of Socrates, Jesus, the Prophet Mohammed, Gallileo, etc. etc. with his (Moses) pepe sick brother, and “spewing the anti-education advocacy”, when what the Minister is calling for is PRO EDUCATION ADVOCACY AS OPPOSED TO A FANFARE PROMOTING CORRUPT AND LYING POLITICIANS!

    Fear of the unknown and or pointing out a truth not tallying with what an ignorant or educated public assimilates have in the end ALWAYS PROVEN TO BE NOT A DENIGRATION BUT INDEED A PRAISE, COMMENDATION, ADMIRATION, EMULATION, ACCLAIM, AND EXALTATION!

    The fact that the ecclesiastical authorities and its papacy rule across the globe forced the world to believe that the earth was the center of the universe, did not alter the reality and truth that the Sun was or is the center of the universe as propounded by Gallileo!!!! So also, vote of confidence or no vote of confidence, can never alter the truth as advanced by George WERNER that a fanfare dressed as “education or intellectualism” IS TABATA!!!!

  3. Ironically, dissecting the poor reasoning and the chioce of language By the writer of this very disgusting and gory article, THE ACTUAL “PEPE BLANKET” is Moses Blokanjay Jackson! No wonder such illment is within his linneage as evidenced on the part of his older Brother Junior Jackson who might have inherited such “pepe pa” disease from his father Jackson Sr. As for you, Mr. Alpha Corner, you usually insinuate been interested in philosophy, but your reasoning or argument usually contradicts such presumptious posturing of yours to say the least.

    For example, according to you, because the Legislature confirms a minister of government, they should never criticize not to talk about disparaging the thoughts, decison, or actions, on the part of that minister. This is the case here when you rubbish that: “It is ironic to see these same Senators who voted for George Werner to become minister of education are the same lawmakers passing “a vote of no confidence on him”. And I am not one of those disparaging Minister Warner here. But rather one of those having great respect for him for his scholarly and manly nature and character to speak truth to power!

    My friend if society should go By such poor reasoning or “philosophy” of your quote supra, viz the senatorial confirmation and condemnation of Minister Werner, there would be nothing about hiring, voting to power, or presidential inauguration, since the very one (boards, managements, citizenry, etc. etc.) who carry out such hiring, voting to power, inaugurating, etc. etc. ARE THE VERY ONES WHO CARRY OUT THE REMOVAL OR AT LEAST RECOMMEND THE REMOVAL OF INDIVIDUALS OR OFFICIALS NOT PERFORMING TO EXPECTATIONS!

    FOR EXAMPLE, ARTICLE 1, SECTION 1 OF THE LIBERIAN CONSTITUTION WHICH STATES THAT:

    “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their
    benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so
    require. In order to ensure democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed,
    the people shall have the right at such period, and in such manner as provided for under this
    Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave office and to fill vacancies by regular elections
    and appointments.”

    So, Mr. false philosopher, it IS VERY VERY FOOLISH for anyone to claim that: “It is ironic to see these same Senators who voted for George Werner to become minister of education are the same lawmakers passing “a vote of no confidence” on him.” For the examples put forward By us supra are overwhelmingly evident of such foolishness on your part!

    Another sickening reasoning of yours is that because Elizabeth Russell may have “transformed William V.S. Tubman University into an outstanding Technical University within the southeastern part of Liberia”, when President Sirleaf nominated the very Elizabeth Russell for the post of Minister of Education, the Legislature should have confirmed her amid the fact that Liberian statutory laws and the Liberian Constitution disqualified her based on her violation of the very laws and constitution vis a vis her ALIEN CITIZENSHIP! WHAT A FOOLISH REASONING AGAIN ON YOUR PART, CORNEH!

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