‘Devotion to Country Will Be His Legacy’

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Dr. Emmanuel Dolo, in a touching tribute to his departed, lifelong friend and compatriot, Theo Bettie, said many great things about the fallen Deputy Central Bank Executive Governor.

He loved people.  He was a true and devoted friend, a family man, who loved his wife and daughter.  He was highly intelligent and a great scholar.  So good was he at school that he taught Statistics and Econometrics, two highly mathematical subjects, to seniors at the University of Liberia.

That led him to the prestigious Yale University, where he studied under a Fulbright fellowship, earning the Master’s degree in Economics.

Like the man under whom he  would serve as second in command, Central Bank Executive Governor J. Mills Jones, Bettie did not waste time in America.  Dr. Jones returned home the day after he received his PhD.  Bettie, too, quickly returned home with his M.Sc. from Yale and found employment with the CBL, rising to the position of Deputy Executive Governor. 

Mr. Bettie was the driving force behind Governor Jones’ vision of the CBL’s stimulus package that has significantly   impacted the Liberian economy.  This package gives loans to small and medium size Liberian businesses, extends loans to the agriculture sector and provided US$10 million for Liberians to secure mortgages to build their own homes.

Mr. Bettie also played a key role in creating the CBL’s Treasury Unit, responsible for developing and implementing the Bank’s investment policies.

He was participating last week in the Bi-annual Conference of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) in Lagos, Nigeria, when suddenly he took ill and shortly thereafter, died.

This sad event plunged the Liberian nation, in particular the CBL, into a quandary (great difficulty), having unexpectedly lost so talented, so decent, so committed and so exemplary a public servant. 

But these glowing qualities ascribed to Theo Bettie were not all.  Dolo topped them all with one more: “Bettie’s legacy will be his devotion to his country.”

Except for devotion to God, no higher accolade can ever be paid to an individual.  The great American anthem, “America the Beautiful,” made a scintillating (shining) reference to that nation’s Founding Fathers: “who more than self their country loved.”  This implies that they loved not only their country, but their people, too, for what is a country without its people?

The word devotion carries with it several powerful synonyms: loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, affection, care, dedication.  Some members of the Daily Observer family recently visited a certain part of Liberia and were privately told that a certain foreign ethnic group “is buying up all the land here. They marry our girls, who are stricken with poverty, and tell them there is no worry about religion. Then many children are produced and that is when the religion matters.  ‘The children have to follow our religion,’ the husbands tell their Christian wives; ‘and if you don’t want it, you can go.’” 

Meanwhile, the foreign ethnic group has bought up a lot of land through their wives. It is too late to do anything about that. 

And where are the highly educated, well to do sons and daughters from that part of Liberia?  In Monrovia or in the United States, totally oblivious to their homeland, their birthright, and what is happening to it.  By the time they return, Heaven knows when, their birthright would have been swallowed up by foreigners, lost probably forever.

Is that love of or devotion to, country or birthright?    

One Liberian intellectual, when told of this scenario, replied,  “That is what is happening all over Liberia.”

What this suggests is that we have in this country, nationals who neither love nor care about their own country.  There are, on the other hand,  however, lots of foreigners who are reaping the wealth and privileges they are taking from Liberia.  Many of these foreigners were born here and have lived here for over 50 years and are determined to make Liberia their permanent home!  They are leasing land for 60 years or more and building helter-skelter, determined to make Liberians tenants in their own towns.

The great American poet, J. G. Holland, in his immortal poem, “God Give Us Men,” appeals to the Creator to give the country men who possess

“Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy . . .

For while the rabble, with their thumb worn creeds,

Their large professions and their little deeds,

Mingle in selfish strife, Lo! Freedom weeps,

Wrong rules the land and waiting justice sleeps.”

Heaven knows we need more Theo Betties in Liberia, men—and women—who truly love their country and people and will do everything in their supreme interest to make Liberia a country owned and run by Liberians!

May God send us more men and women like Theo Bettie! 

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