Remembering President J.J. Roberts and All Our Others Gone Before


Tomorrow is Decoration Day and the day after, Thursday, March 15, 2018, is J.J. Roberts’ Birthday, both of which are National Holidays.

Unfortunately, as has happened many times in the past administration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is responsible for preparing the Proclamations for the President of Liberia’s signature announcing each National Holiday, this time again, has failed to prepare the Proclamations for Decoration Day tomorrow and J.J. Roberts’ Birthday.

We hope that this new administration will always remember to publish the appropriate Proclamations in time—or well in advance—so that the public may properly plan how to spend their holiday(s).

This is the efficient way to do it, and enable people to plan their holidays properly, and take advantage of the many tourist attractions around the country—Lake Shepherd in Harper, Maryland County, the waterfalls in Gbedin, near Sanniquellie in Nimba County, the Kpatawee Waterfalls behind Cuttington University, Lake Piso, the Cape Mount Mountain and the beautiful beaches, all in Grand Cape Mount County, and the beaches along the Atlantic near Monrovia.

That is the way to do it—publish the Proclamations in time, giving the media the opportunity to inform their readers and listeners well in advance, so that the people may efficiently plan their holidays. That is the way it is done all over the world. We pray that Foreign Minister Findley and all his lieutenants will strictly monitor all National Holidays and make them known well in advance, for proper planning by the people.

This will help them and the Business Community, especially those who cater to tourists and holidaymakers to better plan their activities in preparation for their customers. In many places near Monrovia we have noticed that graves are already being whitewashed and decorated, well in advance of tomorrow.

We pray that all will go well throughout the country tomorrow, and that this Decoration Day will be observed in peace and harmony, without any bickering at grave sites, where last year we observed and reported fussing by various families over graves.

This Day is not for that. It is a day to celebrate and honor our Dead, to thank God for lending them to us for a while—some for long periods, especially those who became nonagenarians and centenarians; and to do whatever we can to ensure that they are resting in peace.

We thank Him still for those who did not attain the “three score and 10”; and even for those who died young. We know we cannot ask why, because God knows best. We all learned from childhood, most especially from Job, the wealthy man in the Bible, who at one point lost everything, including his children, and in humble submission to his Maker exclaimed, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!” On Thursday, too, we celebrate another important holiday, the birth anniversary of our first President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts.

It was he who, as the last Governor of the Commonwealth of Liberia, rightly sensed that Liberians had to do something to protect the integrity of the land of their asylum, otherwise they stood the risk of losing it to the powerful and avaricious (greedy, grasping) imperialists, particularly Britain and France.

These nations had landed their ships and gunboats at our seaports in Monrovia, Buchanan and Sinoe, and refused to pay customs duties because they said they did not recognize a bunch of self-styled “colonists” who had no sovereignty.

That led the visionary Commonwealth Governor, J.J. Roberts, to call for and organize a Constitutional Convention, which convened on Monday, July 5, 1847. Samuel Benedict, an esteemed lawyer, was elected President of the Convention and Jacob W. Prout, Secretary.

On July 26, 1847 the Convention adopted the Declaration of Independence, which proclaimed to the world that Liberia had decided to become an Independent and Sovereign Republic.

President Roberts served from 1848 to 1856 and from 1872 to 1876. An extraordinary leader, he was asked to serve at least another term of office but declined due to health reasons. He died in Monrovia on February 24, 1876.

Thank you, President Roberts, for helping to give Africa its first independent Republic. May we, in appreciation, join together in running this ship of State successfully, removing from her jurisdiction ignorance, poverty and disease and propelling her on to development, refinement and prosperity.


  1. For our former colonial overlords, Americans, first president George Washington’s birthday, also known as Presidents’ Day, is a federal holiday held on the third Monday of February. But, unlike us, it honors all presidents of the US, including George Washington. Instead of camouflaging JJ Robert’s birthday as Decoration Day, why can’t we call it Presidents’ Day for JJ Robert, Tubman and all our past presidents, including Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is healthy and have, most likely, another decade to live?

    Perhaps, we ought to start being honest with ourselves by simply calling things what they’re. The hyperboles and formalism don’t change anything, no wonder Tolbert dumped the top hats and tailcoats charade under our hot sun.

    • Mr. Moses; thanks! Many other Liberians, needless to say, I definitely agree with you. As a matter of fact, J.J.R may have been Liberia’s first so called President. However, J.J.Roberts was not President for all Liberians. It was not until the Presidency of Arthur Barclay; when INDIGENOUS LIBERIANS was recognized as CITIZENS, Republic Of Liberia. Yet, INDIGENOUS were not allowed to VOTE until much much later. Yes! Let there be a Presidents’ Day Holiday; not JJR DAY.


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