"There is a time for everything, and this is the time for Vahun."
These ecstatic (overjoyed) words were uttered by Jimmy Passama, a resident of Vahun, when on Tuesday, February 18, he gave an exclusive interview to our Presidential Correspondent William Harmon. The occasion was President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's first visit to Vahun, Lofa County's remotest District, situated on the Sierra Leonean border.
Mr. Passama was expressing the general feelings of Vahunians, in District No. 2, who truly appreciated not only their President's first visit to what they had long considered their forgotten town; but also the concrete efforts she had made to reconnect them, finally, to their country, Liberia.
Nearly three years ago Ellen had already taken the first reconnection step by mandating her Public Works Minister Kofi Woods to build a 68-kilometer all-weather road from Bolahun to Vahun, connecting them with the rest of Lofa County. The road immediately cut from eight to only two hours the travel time from Vahun to the county capital, Voinjama.
In addition, Vahun's first high school and health center are nearing completion and youth empowerment and capacity-building programs are underway.
In his story, Correspondent Harmon also quoted Representative Fofi Sahr Baimba, Sr., who represent's District No. 2 in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Biamba recalled that President William R. Tolbert, Jr. was the first Liberian President to visit Vahun. This was made possible when the President, during a visit to the United States, met Dr. Benjamin Dennis of Michigan State University and a Vahun son. Dr. Dennis told him that no Liberian President had ever visited Vahun. President Tolbert told him the next time Dennis was in Liberia, they would visit Vahun together. That is how that same year President Tolbert with Benjamin visited Vahun. They flew there and President Tolbert promised that his next visit would be by car, which indeed took place a little a while later.
Rep. Baimba recalled that as late as the 1970s he and his colleagues had to attend elementary and high school in Sierra Leone because Vahun was totally isolated from Liberia. "Those days we did business with Sierra Leone. Our parents sold their produce and paid our school fees in Sierra Leonean currency," he said.
One can imagine what a great relief the new government school and youth empowerment programs in Vahun will mean for Vahunians.
It is important to recognize the progress being made in Liberia. The Vahun visit and recent developments there plus the mini-hydro that brings cheap electricity to Youndohun and environs are tangible signs of development.
We hope government will make a deliberate effort to encourage some Vahun elementary graduates to enroll in at the Booker Washington Institute and high school graduates at the University of Liberia.
One of Vahun's early college graduates was Thomas Brima, now Liberian Ambassador to Sierra Leone. After graduating top of his class from Bolahun High, he enrolled at Cuttington in Suacoco, Bong County in 1960. A member of the Class of '63, Thomas excelled in Anthropology but devoted his life to government service, beginning with the State Department (now Foreign Ministry). He later joined Internal Affairs, serving in senior positions, including Superintendent of Lofa County.
Now fully connected with the rest of Liberia, Vahun is set to produce many more talented sons and daughters, like Thomas Brima, Dr. Benjamin Dennis and Rep. Fofi Sahr Baimba.
Vahun is not the only remote Liberian town that Ellen has visited. On Christmas Day, 2009 she walked on logs part of the way and became the first President to enter Belle Yella by road. Then in September 2011, against the advice of her security, she crossed a deep stream by car to enter Buutuo, Nimba County.
There are many other parts of the country that neither she nor any other President has visited. We hope she will find more such places and bring to them the blessings of roads, schools, health centers and youth empowerment.
We cannot close this editorial without asking if Buutuo yet has a modern elementary and high school. We pray that these are in the making.