Vision Bearer Rev. Liberty with some of the graduates outside the Graduation Venue
By Samuel G. Dweh
“Zogo” is a demeaning Liberian parlance, especially for a person living a lifestyle being manipulated by his or her consumption of narcotic substances (drugs).
Young people with such behavior are being welcomed into the Christian High School, located at 16th Street, Russel Avenue, Sinkor, Monrovia.
The School is the Education Arm of the Mother-body of the Church of the Believers, Inc., founded by Rev. Roosevelt Zarwulogbo Liberty, Sr., a Liberian Christian Leader who had spent more than 15 years in the United States of America, where he established a Christian humanitarian organization named Africa International Christian Mission (AICM)—focusing much on all categories of disadvantaged persons, including citizens of the host-Country (America)
“Much of AICM’s Liberian monetary package went to construction of a School building for children and young people whose parents are poor, so cannot send them to school,” the Clergyman had told me during an interview in 2019.
The 2018 and 2019 Academic Years of the Christian High School were predominantly characterized by astonishing or horrifying actions by many of the male students and few of the female students on drugs.
Some of the horrifying actions were: presence of narcotic substances (drugs) in some students’ Book bags with them on campus; smacking (banging) of the School’s gate (when it was closed after Assembly and Inspection) by students ‘high’ from drugs consumption; use of the “f” word (“f…you”) by some angry students against the School’s security man or class teacher who had seized their school bag containing drugs or weapon (scissors, knife, razor blade, etc.) during security inspection or in the classroom; and students’ brandishing of a weapon (razor blades, scissors, etc.) to the face of the School’s male security man, Hilary Johnson, nick named “Power Ranger” by students, because of his military-like uncompromising attitude against breach of the School’s rules by students.
This journalist had seen most of these actions during many of his visits on invitation from his fellow professional writer and Atuhor—Proprietor of the School.
“I don’t call them zogos like majority of other Liberians describe them. I call them disadvantaged, self-reared, economically disadvantaged young men and women, who should be given the opportunity of acquiring quality education as it is done to fortunate young people being taken care by their parents or guardians,” Rev. Dr. Roosevelt Zarwulogbo Liberty, Sr., Proprietor of Christian High School, narrated to me during our first meeting in his School’s office in 2019, after I had watched actions by the “zogos” in the School about two weeks prior to meeting the Reformer-In-Chief. I had traced him for comments after somebody had told me about a “school for young men and women on drugs” two weeks earlier.
“The School was established in 2000, and grade levels range from Early Childhood, popularly called A.B.C.,” the School’s Proprietor explained further.
Speaking further on the students’ unruly behavior during our Writer-Writer meeting, the School Proprietor declared: “I consider my mission on these disadvantaged and self-reared students as a Heavenly Mandate to attitudinally refined citizens, so that they can contribute to development of their Country as some of their compatriots being taken care by elderly people or the Liberian State.”
However, the Liberian Cleric’s road to mental reformation of Liberia’s ‘social outcasts’ had been emotionally bumpy; many times he experienced migraine (severe headache) from execution of this “Heavenly Mandate” as he had called it.
The Academic environment of Christian High School from 2021 to present is less chaotic—unlike the previous ones. Many of the drugs-controlled students have been reformed. During my follow-up confirmation visits inside the School’s fence, from 2021, I saw some of the previous years’ on-drugs students talking and behaving honorably.
Reverend Liberty, Sr. explained about the factors of the ‘new life’ of the students to me during an interview in weeks to the 21st Graduation.
“The major cause of the once-trouble-making students’ attitudinal change is the School’s policy of Christian Worship Session during each Assembly or Inspection segment for every teaching day. The School’s Chapel Service is another reformation platform for students on drugs. The Chapel Service is a full Christian Service of Praise and Worship and Preaching on the last teaching day, Friday. Many of the troublemaking students are in the School’s Choir and involved in the Chapel Service’s Praise-and-Worship. These are reformation methods by me and my deputies.”
Outside the venue of the Graduation, the happiness-engendered actions from some of the graduating male students had semblance of the ‘dark days’ of drug-induced behaviors in Academic Years 2018 and 2019. Two used the “f” word as response to similar word from their colleagues (non-students) hailing them for success in an academic mission.
Joy-induced noises from human beings and deafening sounds from metal pots’ covers being smacked together by covers of cooking pots being smacked by jubilant parents and friends of the students continued swallowing up the being-delivered important announcement from the School’s Dean of Students’ Affairs, Mr. Roosevelt Liberty, Jr., eldest child of the School’s Proprietor.
One of the jubilant female parents was dressed like a masquerade: man’s shirt with necktie, man’s trouser, and man’s shoes.
I engaged her to inquire about her choice for a man’s suit, instead of woman’s. She was with one of the male graduating students.
“My name is Deborah Clark. I’m over joy today, because my ninth child, James Kollie, the youngest of my nine children, is graduating from High School today! I single-handedly sponsor his education, from Nursery to 12th grade, after his father had left me. I sold bitterballs, chewing gums, spaghetti, sugar cane, and many other small, small foods and non-food items to sponsor his education!” the over-joyous mother responded to this journalist’s questions.
“Please come for your graduation bouquets and other graduation things!” the Dean of Students yelled continually. During each school day, he is like a commander of an Army. He screams at students disobeying the school’s laws in the classroom. He disciplines with lashes of a cane in recalcitrant students’ palm, gives order for fetching of water for flushing of the School’ commode (in the defecation/urination section), or marches them out of the School’s campus to go home for the day.
About two hours later, each student was issued a plastic bag containing medal, badge, bunch of flowers, and other graduation souvenirs. The body filed into the event hall—in pair of a male with a female.
The intermediary portions were Opening Prayer, recitation of Liberia’s National Anthem, all students’ recitation of the School’s Ode (“O Ye, All Liberian Youths ”) and Praise-and-Worship.
There was no Preaching.
Student Mardea Milton, of the 12th grade class, leader of the School’s Praise-and-Worship Team/Choir, plunged the audience into a ‘spiritual mood’ with her heart-pricking voice during musical interludes by the School’s Choir. One of the featured songs was “From Zero to Hero” by popular Liberian female gospel musician, popularly called “Miracle Kettor”
A graduating student, Isaac J. Gurley, exhibited his drumming skill on the host-Church’s drum.
Members of the School’s six-member Press Club, led by president Mark J. Watson, were cover the program.
“In spite of the difficulty we faced in High School, we never gave up…never work to please other people, but yourself,” said a portion of the Valedictory Address delivered by student Reagan N. Toe, the Dux of the graduating class.
“To me, everybody is a human being. Even if the person is a zogo, I will accept him or her,” the School’s Proprietor, Rev. Liberty declared during his remarks.
He encouraged the outgoing students to register at the Liberty Theological Seminary, founded by him, with classes in one of the classrooms of Christian High School.
The Graduation Keynote Speaker, Dr. Lincoln E.R. Cummings, an official of Rev. Dr. Liberty’s Liberty Theological Seminary, spoke on the Topic, “How to Be Relevant in Society”
He began his speech with quoting English Playwright, William Shakespear, on “life” in general.
“Life is nothing but a shadow!” he said, quoting a portion of the English man’s literary work.
He urged the students to always do three things: Defining one’s purpose; constantly upgrade one’s mind of professional knowledge; and seek knowledge of technological advancement.
“If you don’t upgrade now, you will not be relevant in the job market,” he picked out the first of his life’s purpose-based nuggets.
The 21st Graduating Program climaxed with presentation of Diplomas to students and Special Awards.
The “Most Quiet Student Award” went to Daniel Kollie.