The Kpelles of Lower Bong County say they want to divide the county into Upper Bong and Lower Bong Counties. Why? The people of Lower Bong — that is Sanoyea, Salala and Fauma Districts — say they are being “marginalized” by their own kith and kin in Upper Bong County, mainly the identical fellow Kpelle people of Totota, Suacoco, Gbarnga, Baila, Belefanai, Panta Chiefdom in Fokwele, and Palala.
What message are these Kpelle people trying to send to the other counties, for example Nimba, where there are not one, but two distinct and powerful ethnic groups — Gio and Mano? What message are Lower Bong Kpelle compatriots sending to Sinoe County, where serious rivalry exists among the Kru and Sapo people?
Have these Lower Bong Kpelle ever heard of States in America called the agriculturally, culturally, educationally, technologically and financially-rich California, the financial and political power house, New York, land and oil-rich Texas and the educationally and industrially-rich Massachusetts? Are these Lower Bong Kpelles telling us that each of these powerful American states, because of their peculiar, dynamic advantages, must declare themselves independent nations? Should they, what do these Lower Bong people think would happen to the great United States? Would the USA remain “the Great”? No, it will be diminished and become small indeed.
Here is one other Bong County reality that these Lower Bong people have not realized: A considerable portion of the educated people from Bong County come — can you believe it? Yes, they come from Sanoyea, which is in Lower Bong County!
The very first Superintendent of Bong County, James Y. Gbarbea, came from Sanoyea. The most recent former Bong Superintendent, Selena Polson Mappy, also hails from Sanoyea. One of Liberia’s best known medical doctors, Dr. Walter Traub Gwenigale, belongs to Sanoyea. The first person Ellen Johnson Sirleaf chose as her Vice Presidential Running Mate, Peter K. Bemah, came from Sanoyea. Mr. Bemah was one of the most respected citizens of Liberia. As Assistant Minister of Finance and later as Managing Director of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Peter Bemah was one of the most respected Liberians — why? Because he was a man of sterling integrity, who refused to be corrupted, despite the many high public positions he held. Peter was also an entrepreneur — he ran a poultry business and some of his children, including his daughter, Mrs. Pinky Bemah Goll, are following in his footsteps. Now two of Peter’s sons have recently advanced. Joseph Papa Kolleh who, like his father Peter Bemah, hails from Sanoyea, has just been elected Member of the House of Representatives; while Peter K. Bemah, Jr. has recently been appointed Deputy Minister of Labor. The Giddingses, one of whose exponents is Rev. Emmanuel Giddings, Liberia’s leading adult literacy promoter, of ALFALIT INTERNATIONAL, hail from Sanoyea. Dr. Joshua Giddings, a music expert and composer, served as Professor of Music at Cuttington.
You know who else hails from Sanoyea? Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, former Bong Senator. Her mother was a born Sanoyean.
And who has ever heard of the outstanding Bong citizen named S. Tonorlah Varpillah, former Minister of Youth and Sports? He is a leading Liberian entrepreneur, who owns two prominent hotels in Gbarnga, the Bong capital: Passion I and Passion II. Tonorlah hails from where? You guessed it — Sanoyea!
How many people also know that the Sankawulos hail from Lower Bong — from Haindii to be exact. Wilton, a 1963 graduate of Cuttington College and Divinity School (now Cuttington University), was Head of the Liberia Council of State and a prolific Liberian writer, whose books have been taught for generations in Liberian schools. His daughter Minnie Sankawulo Ricks, has just earned her degree as a medical doctor.
And Dr. Thelma Traub Awori, Liberian Consul General in Kampala, Uganda, and a longtime United Nations senior official, who recently took her PhD degree from Columbia University, and her sister, Mrs. Mae Gene Best, wife of the Observer publisher, Kenneth Y. Best, also hail from Haindii.
Ever heard also of Joseph (Joe) Keller? He, too, is one of Lower Bong’s eminent sons. He is Head of LISCR (Liberian International Shipping Corporation Registry).
Finally, has anyone heard of the great Leymah Gbowee? Well, she is the first of two Liberians to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize! And who can guess from where Leymah hails? SANOYEA!
One thing we have serious difficulty understanding is, with all of these outstanding people from Sanoyea and other parts of Lower Bong County, why have Lower Bong leaders not consulted widely, engaging some of its outstanding sons and daughters to dialogue with the leaders and people of Upper Bong to deal with the issues that make the Lower Bong people unhappy?
What is the purpose of EDUCATION — all the education and training these Lower Bong people possess — if not to create great institutions wherever they wish? They have a touristic goldmine — the St. Paul River. Why don’t they also use their education to call their fellow Kpelle from Upper Bong to sit and reason together to find an amicable solution to the issues bothering the Lower Bong people?
Remember our post-Easter Editorial, “Come Let Us Reason Together, Saith the Lord”? This is what we are talking about.
The people of Sinoe and Nimba counties are in a decidedly more difficult position than the Lower Bong people. In Sinoe we have two distinct ethnic groups — the Krus and Sapos; and in Nimba, the Gios and Manos. Many thinking Nimbaians are against dividing their county.
The government CANNOT afford to create another county. It is too COSTLY a proposition. And we all know that the past administration left the country absolutely BROKE!
So we again call on the people of Lower Bong to invite the people of Upper Bong to sit and reason together. Division, we submit, is absolutely NOT an option.