MANNEH, TUFLAHN, Happy birthday!
By Sherman C. Seequeh
BODIOH, I heartedly join millions of Liberians to wish you glorious happy birthday as you celebrate at 56.
PLAY-PLAY-DIOH, the euphoria of this day is not because you are just another president of Liberia who, by custom, must be awash with birthday adorations and flowers.
NYEN-GBLAH, your birthday today, as it was long before you became president, is openheartedly celebrated because of two unique reasons: first, because millions of us share a special social bond with you; for we hail from the unfortunate class of society, and also because you are a rare leader who comes to power with much progressive difference and style.
Like millions of us, you are part of the “masses of the people”—the neglected people of Liberia—for whom self-proclaimed politicians, revolutionaries, freedom fights and militarists professedly fought and agitated for power.
SIMEAN-JAY-LAE NYON-NEH KMON-GBOLLOH! We celebrate with you today because you’ve come to the Liberian leadership as a rare gift to the nation, mainly for us, the unfortunate masses of the people who were mere jetsam and flotsam of society.
BAR-GBLAH! Before your ascendancy, the Liberian presidency was an exclusive domain for a special class of people—the elites of society. One had to have a special kind of family names, a certain kind of classmates, and a distinct sort of friends and communities to belong to.
Anyone who did not sound like the popular brand of names both in spoken and written words, in dress codes and in paternal genealogy, would be viewed with contempt and crudely fought.
The only lull came after 133 years, in 1980, when an “unlikely” segment of the population forced itself onto the national leadership landscape by crushing the hegemony. But the toppled hegemony fought back vociferously and succeeded itself.
SUGBOR-NENEN-GBAR! We celebrate because you are a true son of the soil. We celebrate with you today because had you not come as one of us, the “masses of the people” of this country, we would still be on the periphery of society.
But it was because you were born, hailing from the slums like most of us, and have come to the leadership of Liberia, that there is something called free college and university tuition.
NYAN-NYAN KON-GEAI-PLAY! Had it not been because of your birth and your leadership, students of the Country’s premier academic referral, the University of Liberia, would still be doing analog registration, with long queues of people torturously finding their way on academic rosters. Student protests justified on registration purposes would still be the talk of the day.
BAR-GBLAH KOWOAFOR! Were you not born, and had you not broken the glass ceiling of national leadership, how would Doe Community, Clara Town, Tusa Field, Fair Ground in Buchanan, Gbarnga in Bong County, and other slum communities, remote towns and villages have known tarmac roads?
How would the very developmentally significant but long-forgotten road linking Northern Nimba County to the Southeast have gotten attention to be built?
GEE-GBAH.MON! If you were not born to hit the glass ceiling of the much-coveted national leadership, how would Liberians, mainly journalists, civil society actors and opposition politicians be free from draconian decrees and laws such as “Criminal Malevolence,” Degree 88-A, etc., which seared the independent community, leaving many in prison and others dead.