Eulogy For Flag Day 2020: Audacity to Still Be A Gbagbatee Liberian Flag

16
1169
Flag of Liberia tattered and torn with stormy sky (Creator: Derek Brumby | Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

By Mwalimu-Koh M. Blonkanjay Jackson (MsED, EdM) Scholar, Author/Education Engineer 

Simply Thinking Thoughts

In my thinking thoughts, I realized it would soon be August 24 and Liberians would be celebrating National Flag Day. I noted that this nation usually observes its Independence Day (July) before the Flag Day (August) making it to appear like the independence was declared before Madam Susannah Lewis and the six ladies completed the knitting of the revere Lone Star banner. Whatever was the case, in spite of the events which have charted the history of this nation, whether embattled by incidents, engulfed by civil wars and belligerence, or thriving peaceably on politically charged turf, when others wavered to be patriotic, the Liberian Lone Star Banner always had the audacity to still be the identity of the nation state.

In reminisce, during our days as youths in Sinkor, Monrovia, we had a peculiar peer and mentor of our age group referred to as Gbagbatee Moses (GM). Although GM lived with both parents and had valuable opportunities, he chose to be mischievous. He was frequently suspended from school; made passes at his friends’ girlfriends; lied about almost everything and stole from people; always involved in fights; cheated in nearly everything; disrespectful to acceptable folkways, norms and mores.

Nonetheless, in spite of his unpleasant character, we always wished to be in GM’s company because he was our utmost entertainer and movie cinema since our parents did not allow us to “go to the show” except on Christmas Day, Flag day or 26 Day. Gbagbatee Moses could go to Broad Street and attend Rivoli Cinema, Sheila Cinema, Gabriel Cinema or Roxy at any time not caring about punishment he would receive later. After receiving his punishment from his father, he would gather us to narrate and display the actions, and personify the heroes and bad men in those movies: Sabu Break Bay, 14-10, Wang-Yu, Bloody Fist, Bruce Lee, Silver Fox, and Water Front Main Bad man, etc.  As Gbagbatee Moses displayed, we were all ears and eyes, and sporadically bursting out into applauses with sparkles on our faces, as if we were in a real movie cinema. Wow, what a pleasant experience to be in the company of the mischievous gronna boy, Gbagbatee Moses!

While we welcomed Gbagbatee’s company, his father frequently beat him up, kicked him out of the house, regretting and asking God why he was chosen to father such a nuisance of a son; in spite of his father’s regrets, Gbagbatee’s mother still had the audacity be his mother. Unfortunately, when Gbagbatee Moses died from an armed robbery incident, his father was ashamed and reluctant to write a eulogy but wept secretly; his mother on the other hand, had the audacity to read a eulogy in Gbagbatee’s honor and still call herself Gbagbatee Moses’ mother.

Audacious Lone Star Banner

Fellow Liberians, there has been instances in the history of this nation when it was hard for one to identify as Liberian or Liberian dialect speaker. In many of those instances it required real audacity or bravery to declare being a Liberian. From the time President E. J. Roye allegedly tried to abscond and got drowned, up to the time of the alleged “Plot to kill President Tubman that failed”, the Lone Star banner has always had the audacity to still be the flag of Liberia.

When Sergeant Samuel K. Doe’s PRC executed 13 government officials in 1980 and their lifeless corpses left hanging for the whole world to see, wasn’t it scary for one to identify as a Congo or Americo-Liberian? Yet the Lone star banner audaciously remained the Flag of Liberia; When General Prince Y. Johnson captured and slaughtered President Samuel K. Doe with a live video recording, wasn’t that difficult to identify oneself as a son of Nimba or a Liberian?

When the 14-year civil war marked by cannibalism, maiming, and ethnic cleansing set in, wasn’t it difficult to identify with such un-Liberian situations? Yet our flag still waved audaciously. When Dr. Amos Sawyer was president of the interim government of national unity (IGNU), and Charles Taylor president of the national patriotic assembly government (NPRAG) concomitantly, of course it was difficult to say which Liberia one belonged to, but the Lone Star banner still remained “the” flag of Liberia.

Now, today we are struggling to decipher the intricate messages or metaphors coming from politicians as Liberians. Liberians are engaged in “rock chunking” politics, increased raping of children and human trafficking, “AK-47 instead of rice” unprecedented impeachment of veteran lawyers, critical liquor talks, physical attacks of oppositions, illegal printing of 15 billion, unorthodox expending of 24 million. Amidst all of these events, one would be ashamed all this unfolding in our once peaceful Liberia, but the Lone Star still remains audacious to stand as the flag of Liberia.

In this messy state of Liberian education, isn’t a Liberian flag still floating over the doggone embattled Ministry of Education? God have mercy.

Eulogizing Gbagbatee Liberia

Fellow compatriots, Liberia is like the late Gbagbatee Moses whose eulogy his mother had to be audacious or brave enough to read. A eulogy is a spoken or written tribute: a speech or piece of writing that praises somebody or something very highly, especially a tribute to somebody who has recently died. For instance, a eulogy can be written for a country whose population continues to suffer from economic hardship, social injustice, and regimented freedom of speech, nepotism, rampant corruption, mediocrity and high places, and abuse of public office.

Before my “thinking thoughts” is misconstrued, let me quickly declare that Liberia has not died and needing a eulogy, but the ideals that goaded the founding fathers to establish the nation state, which the Lone Star banner represents, are suffocating. The founding fathers did not envisage the alleged rampant corruption we are experiencing today; neither the ineptitude and massive mediocrity nor the system of demerits that prevails; they did not envisage a country of lawless arrogant men who are not even patient to obey a simple traffic signal. Did you ever dream Liberians would practice cannibalism, or cutting of brothers’ ears and body parts as they cry for mercy, and after doing so, be favored for high government offices? God forbid.

To those ends, since in spite of the death of virtue and values in a gbagbatee Liberia, the Lone Star Banner still waves, we must write a eulogy praising her for her audacity or bravery to still remain our common identity while lamenting.

Eulogies instead of pomp and pageantry

Back in the day, Flag Day was marked by elaborate parades by schools around the country followed by indoor programs. I remember in Rivercess County how each Flag Day our khaki suits would be soaking wet as we paraded before the Cestos City Hall to give our “eyes right” salutes to either be booed or applauded. In Monrovia the confusion was whether CWA or Tubman High would lead. CWA usually claimed she was founded before Tubman High and so she should lead the parade. The parade started only when Colonel J. Emmanuel Pepple (RIP) ruled that our Tubman High should lead because it was the foremost government school. Wow, the pomp and pageantry for some of us was that it was only on Flag Day that we came face to face with our little sweet hearts who had all along been only pen pals. If you were lucky to get at least a hug or a kiss before she ran back home like a little Cinderella, you would boast about it to your friends, “Bah, my Flag Day was super!”

Fellow Liberians, I submit that instead of the traditional pomp and pageantry that usually mark Flag Day celebrations, Liberians should write eulogies on this Flag Day. Our eulogies do not only have to be lamentations but also songs of praises; songs of praises not for a state whose folkways, norms and mores have demised; a state where corruption, bigotry, hate, deceit, mediocrity and ineptitude in high places prevails; a state where even motorcycles have sirens; a state with useless bunch of mavericks and toot tooters; a state the Lone Star banner has the audacity to be our flag in spite of our deficiencies.

The Benediction

Please permit me to leave you with this powerful act of audacity. In 1901, at the age of 19, Edwin James Barclay who later became the 18th President of the Republic of Liberia wrote a patriotic song; one that is pregnant with passion and audacity, “The Lone Star Forever”.

Barclay noted that our banner did not waiver in strife, troubling times, lightning nor thunder, but audaciously ventured to identify with the nation state; Our banner did not beg the sun to lend its glory but rather took custody of it; Having made her presence felt, our banner proclaimed to the world without equivocation that she had not come as a visitor but had come as a banner to stay as a symbol for this country and stayed, she has; President Barclay also left us a charge to keep and a God to glorify when he asserted, “Desert it, no never! Uphold it, forever! O shout for the Lone Star banner, All hail”

I

When Freedom raised her glowing form
On Montserrado’s verdant height,
She set within the dome of night,
‘Midst lowering skies and thunder-storm,
The star of Liberty!

And seizing from the waking morn
Its burnished shield of golden flame,
She lifted it in her proud name
And roused a nation long forlorn
To nobler destiny!

REFRAIN

The Lone Star forever!
The Lone Star forever!
O long may it float o’er land and o’er sea!
Desert it no never!
Uphold it forever!
O shout for the lone-starred banner!
All hail!

II

Then speeding in her course along
The broad Atlantic’s golden strand,
She woke rever’brant through the land
A nation’s loud triumphant song,
The song of Liberty!

III

Then forward sons of Freedom, march!
Defend the sacred heritage!
The nation’s call from age to age
Where’er it sounds ‘neath heaven’s arch,
Wherever foes assail,

Be ever ready to obey
‘Gainst treason and rebellion’s front,
‘Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt
Of battle lay the hero’s way!
All hail, Lone Star! All hail!

Please join.

Now fellow Liberians as we celebrate Flag day 2020, let us it with a deep reflection of the status. Let us, instead of celebrating with the usual pomp and pageantry, instead construct eulogies; as you eulogize this Flag Day, may you not desert the ideals for which the Lone Star banner stands but uphold them; having done so, may the Lord bless and keep our country, may he make his countenance to shine upon her, may He be gracious unto our country and give us peace, economic and political stability, and give us joy, In Jesus name.

I am simply thinking thoughts.

About the author

The Rivercess Man, Mwalimu-Koh Blonkanjay Jackson is a triple Ivy League product, and a Jesuit protégé; Having completed his studies at Harvard, Saint Joseph’s and Yale, Mwalimu-Koh Jackson returned to Liberia, served the GOL for four years, and returned to private practice as an Education Engineer. He can be reached at 0886681315.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Chief of Letters (I really do mean it!). You have said it all. This Flag Day of a kind truly needs to be a retrospect of why this flag of ours dares and continues to fly over this nation, still proclaiming on our behalf that despite all the odds we as a people find ourselves in, the world must still regard us a nation-state. Your piece brought both tears😭and laughter 😂 to my eyes. Thank you so much, Chief of Letters. Hope this piece will be read by all and equally retrospect with the intention to bring about true changes.

  2. what flag? the flag of oppression by the Congau and Americo Liberians? A flag that represents 5% of the population. where is our own flag? american imitators. our flag looks just like the american flag

  3. Of course, for one Blonkanjay Jackson who would, driven by tribalism, give thanks and praises for his tribal kin Tom Woewiyu who (FOR MONEY) presided over the massive killing of the innocent in Liberia, and the taking of the country a hundred years backwards, it is the obvious he would, while ranting “we must write a eulogy praising her (THE FLAG) for her audacity or bravery to still remain our common identity,” contradict himself by disparaging the very flag (as a piece of torn and dilapidated rag) which is the insignia or spirit of a peopleś historical struggle!

  4. INDEED, A NATIONALISM OF RENEWAL OR RENEWAL NATIONALISM AS INTRODUCED BY PRESIDENT GEORGE MANNEH WEAH – THE FORM OF NATIONALISM WHICH IS A PROCESS OF CREATING A NEW LIBERIAN STATE IDENTITY THAT ATTEMPTS TO REDEFINE THE RELATIONS OF LIBERIA TO THE WORLD ECONOMY.

    • One can really tell that George was a mistake by voters who over looked his personal and political performance in the Senate and was then elected as President of a nation trying to rebuild itself after war years. July 26, 2019 was bad, with the regime struggling to host the nation’s national day. July 26, 2020 was even worse than anything since the celebrating started July 26, 1847. Even July 26, celebrations during the war days were better than the July 26, 2020. And no doubt, August 24, 2020 will be like any regular Sunday under the leadership of George. It was a real mistake. A real mistake in history.

  5. Very well put, my brother. well done. This article was instructive and informative. Liberia will move forward only with leaders who have the competence, integrity, and vision to serve the common good.

  6. So Mr. Opportunist Gabriel Williams, Liberia was seriously “moving forward” when you were been paid at the Liberian Ministry of Information, and at its foreign mission in Washington for promoting the killings ans slaughters of whistleblowers under the government of Joseph Boakai and Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf?

    So the Liberia was moving forward because you were been paid by government for the usual police brutality while massive corruption and the killing of pregnant women and their unborn children in prison.

    Mr. Opportunist Gabriel Williams, Liberia was moving forward when you were defending the sudden collapse of NOCAL, while you people were criminally printing unauthorized money. You are worse than a menace.

  7. Receive my most humble respect, Mr. Jackson. You are indeed an education engineer in your thoughts, narratives and style of writing.
    You have made my flag day, a day I’ve always found useless celebrating even when I was in school. In school, before I could drill, I must have been threatened of suspension. I always perceived, a perception which I still hold, that the flag day celebration should have been set aside for the military and not students.

    Ineptitude and mediocrity will come to an end only and if only you become part of the change.
    Remember, “Desert it, no never! Uphold it, forever! O shout for the Lone Star banner, All hail”.

  8. This was a very moving and inspiring essay. I wish someone here in the USA had written something similar (Maybe I missed one such!).

    It made me think of what patriotism really is all about. I now see that it is not pride in one’s country, that is too divisive. Now I see patriotism in terms of hope ** for the future, faith in one’s country progress (no matter how small the progress seems at times), and love of country.

    Love that extends itself for the common good, the betterment of all.
    I shared this essay on my Twitter account and my Facebook account. My FB account includes several Liberians who live in Liberia. All who responded liked it. This really does not indicate anything other than my FB friends and I have similar outlooks when it comes to politics!

    ** Noted American journalist and feminist/activist Gloria Steinem has a quote attributed to her

    Hope is a form of planning

  9. The FLAG: an Identity Crisis. Toxin Liberian Progress?

    We need a new Liberian Flag. A flag that will represent the meaning of a “Black Nation”. A flag that will represent the aspiration of the Liberian People. I do not have any ill will against Mr. Blokonjay’s piece he wrote. It is a fine piece. I only have problem with the color and imprint and what it represents. There is a Biblical verse that says, “you will know them by their color or fruits”. I stand corrected here (I m not religious). We Liberians are known for everything ‘AMERICA’. I was waht the founders of the nation introduced to us, then. Well, one will wonder if such system and idea is benefiting us. Nor, has it lead us to any progress. Maybe, depending on who speaking. I m not against any nation either. We need our own IDENTITY….

    The British have the Union Jack as their flag, it is so, because it combines the crosses of the three countries united under one sovereignty- the Kingdom of England and Wales, of Scotland and of Ireland. Even though the Irish has been fighting to secede. The American Flag represents their number of states, valor, their purity and so on. Most African Nations that came after Liberia Independence adopted Red, Gold and Green or Red, Black and Green. Red (the blood of people of black race. Gold ( wealth of the people, and Green (the natural vegetation of the black home land. Some African nations have their various tribes and people represented as a symbols.

    History is not on the side of the various indigenous people of Liberia. Suzannah Luise and her band of women did a good job, however; they left out the indigenous people who were met upon arrival. We need a new flag that will include: those who came from across the Atlantic, those who were met here and other symbols that are of values to the people. There is no nation under this heaven that does not have a value and system and you expect to make progress. We been around now for 173 years and counting. We are fare older than the oldest Modern Asian Nation and three times as old as any African Nation.

    To my fellow country men, we might be comfortable with what is been given to us for the past 173 plus years. But I tell you, in all fairness, progress always begins when one exits out of the comfort zone. I m a living witness. On this 173 years of RED, WHITE and BLUE Identity, let’s look inward again.

    From: Mamadu S. Bah (N/P), Meridian Health, Adelaide, Australia.

  10. Correction: line 6 . “I was what the founders of the Nation introduce to us”.
    correct form: It was what the founder of the Nation Introduce to us”.
    Thanks.

Leave a Reply