After graduating from the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in 1968 with a Diploma in Electricity, he worked at the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) and later LAMCO Buchanan, then departed for further studies in Electricity and Electronics in the United States, landing there in 1970 at the tender age of 23 with only US$15 in his pocket.
But having taken very seriously his studies in Electricity at BWI, Anthony Selli knew his trade and soon found a job. Not long thereafter he was able to enter college, where he majored in Electricity, with a minor in Electronics.
He soon found employment with a major American company, Honeywell, later Wang Laboratories, and finally EMC Corporation, another industrial giant, where this serious-minded BWI alumnus put in another 20 years, before retiring and returning home “to give back.”
But studiousness and professional commitment on the job were not the only attributes that made Anthony Selli a great, outstanding person. Nineteen years in the USA, he never forgot the 15 year-old girl he had grown up with on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia.
In 1989 he sent for young Georgia Mason, who by that time had herself graduated from the University of Liberia (UL) and had become a professional banker. She answered the call and on July 10, 1991 they were married.
Besides being a devoted family man, Anthony had a passion for service, in many arenas, most especially his beloved alma mater, the Booker Washington Institute.
The BWI boys in America, like Anthony, high-level professionals all, soon bonded together to found the BWI National Alumni Association of North America (BWINAANA).
They immediately began giving back to BWI, which by the 1990s was in the throes of the Liberian civil conflict. It was primarily the BWIAANA that kept open the doors of their alma mater during the 14-year war.
Anthony served twice as President of BWINAANA, leaving lots of money in its account. He and his wife Georgia, parents of several children, returned home in 2015, built themselves a huge modern home and immediately started giving back not to BWI only, but to her alma mater, too.
He taught power electronics and electricity at both BWI and UL, traveling twice a week to both places to impact their respective engineering students and technicians, respectively.
But Anthony took ill in February this year, and within a few days he was gone. And where did the family choose for his funeral service? The campus of his beloved BWI.
Several top BWINAANA officials and others flew in from the USA for the solemn ceremony. And many paid tribute to Georgia Mason Selli for being equally as passionate as her husband in service to the BWIAANA.
Equally so, Anthony was a staunch member and supporter of the Massachusetts Alliance for the Restoration of the University of Liberia (MARUL), several of whose members also flew in for the funeral.
Member Oretha Bundoo-Seh told the funeral that Anthony “was one of the pillars of MARUL who selflessly collaborated with former graduates and friends of UL in Massachusetts to organize and implement programs geared towards restoring the pre-war standards at UL.” What a patriot!
The man never attended UL, but his wife did, so he felt he had to put in his bit there, too, to help his wife’s alma mater and Liberia’s leading institution of higher learning.
Arthur Watson, also an outstanding former President of the BWINAANA, was one of the many who flew in from America for the funeral. In his tribute, on behalf of the BWI Electrical and Electronic Department Graduates and Former Students, Arthur, flanked by two other colleagues, Electrical Engineers Emmanuel Lawrence and Eric Harris, current BWINAANA President, said this:
“Anthony Ndebe Selli was not just one of us; he was a significant part of us. His death has truly diminished all of us. But we are strengthened and motivated by the life that he lived here on earth with us.
He was a man of true commitment and integrity. One who was very ‘selfish’ in doing good for mankind because he knew that true satisfaction comes from serving the needs of others.”
“Anthony,” said Arthur Watson, “devoted his time, his resources and his networks to helping ensure that so many other young Liberians would benefit from the same or better opportunities of learning here at BWI.
“Long after he served as National President of the BWINAANA, Tony joined with many of us, graduates and former students of the Electrical and Electronic Departments of BWI to form a subgroup just to focus on helping those two departments.
Tony was determined to work along with us to transform the learning experience of the next generation of electrical and electronics students at BWI.”
In addition to their contribution to underwrite the cost of the Repast, etc., his group, Watson announced, has decided to establish at BWI, the Anthony N. Selli Scholar Award.
We can say in this Editorial nothing more about the cardinal importance of a high sense of responsibility, selflessness and enduring commitment to one’s profession, to one’s school, to one’s family, friends and colleagues, to future generations, yea to one’s beloved Country.
May all of us Liberians learn from Anthony Ndebe Selli’s brilliant and inspiring example and, in so doing, help make Liberia a better, more progressive and more successful country.