Something great, good and blessed happened here last Friday. A middle-aged Liberian, at the pinnacle of corporate power in the United States and around the world, flew into the country on a private jet along with several top Coca Cola executives to identify with his fellow Liberians in the midst of this horrendous Ebola crisis.
Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, Jr., Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the global multinational and the world’s preeminent soft drink giant, told a press conference last Friday that as a Liberian, he felt compelled to come and identify with his country and people in this grave crisis. “We felt it important to visit Liberia during this difficult period to show support and solidarity,” Mr. Cummings said. Several of his senior colleagues from Coca Cola operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa gladly accompanied their Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer to demonstrate his love for country and his compassion for his people at this time when they are going through the worst health crisis Liberia has ever known.
Mr. Cummings, speaking at the Coca Cola Bottling Plant in Paynesville, told the Press conference that though the Ebola crisis had led to a staggering 60 percent drop in the company’s business here, it was not laying a single person off, and would maintain its full staff. The company would continue its “full operations” in the country, Mr. Cummings assured Liberia.
In addition, they were proceeding with a US$5 million investment in the construction of a second production plant in Liberia, to make assorted fruit juices and bottled water.
But that was not all. Mr. Cummings told the press conference that his company was also proceeding with the completion of a School of Science and Technology at Du Port Road in Paynesville.
They say charity begins at home. Mr. Cummings, son of the late former Deputy Minister of Education, R.L., Rev. Alexander B. Cummings, Sr. and his wife Ayo, has clearly and forcefully demonstrated his love for the land of his nativity and for his compatriots. He has used the power and means available to him, backed by his most senior executives at Coca Cola headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and his colleagues in other parts of the world to come and demonstrate his love and compassion for his people, who are suffering and dying under the Ebola virus.
After his press conference, Mr. Cummings and his colleagues crossed the Coca Cola compound to meet with all the employees of the bottling plant, and assure them of his concern for their plight and welfare. They were happy and grateful to hear him tell them that despite a 60 percent drop in business, all of them could be reassured of their jobs.
He and his colleagues then proceeded to the Executive Mansion, where they met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and communicated to her the same messages he had given to the press conference and the Coca Cola staff.
We submit that this old Sunday School boy from Trinity Sunday School on Broad Street, Snapper Hill, Monrovia, has truly understood what he learned about how Jesus Christ used power.
The Master, who was the most powerful person that ever walked the Planet Earth, used power for good, and never for evil.
Using power for good, especially to reach out to those desperately in need, is what Alex Cummings has done. For who would blame Coca Cola for laying off staff or sending some on unpaid leave until business picked up again? But no. The first point he made during the press conference was: “If we expect others from around the world to come and help us, then we must definitely be willing to help ourselves. And that is why I am here.
Thank you, Alex Cummings. Thank you, Coca Cola. Your gesture is one that Liberians will never forget.