Today we would normally celebrate the life of our renowned Elder Mrs. Jesse Wah King and speak about the fact that she lived a long, full and impactful life. I want to do that but I also want to express my sadness as Jessie Wah, which she was fondly called, joins several other Liberians centenarians and senior citizens whose lives have not been properly documented and whose wisdom may now be lost to us. I hope we may learn to take the time for oral histories or written documents, which would help all of us to place current issues in the context of history, thus perhaps helping us to find solutions and even find greater solidarity, as we gain more knowledge.
Many Liberians and many of those very successful Liberians, passed through the hands of Jessie Wah. Her passion for teaching and her own example of a disciplined life set the bar for her students. I was not one of her students but got to relate to her through her neighbor, my former Chief of Cabinet, the late Edward McClain, who credited her with teaching him life’s lessons which stood the test of time. She shared with me memorable events with my mother and other elderly women who organized prayer bands. As a result I was in close touch with her for the last decade of her life and hope that, along with her family, I helped to ensure that her last years were memorable.
I was also pleased, as President of the Republic of Liberia, to confer on her the medal of Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneer…. a medal which is given to all our Octogenarians, during Independence Day Celebration.
To the family, I join other Liberians in celebrating the life of service of your mother, grandmother …. and to assure you that her passing did not go unnoticed – she leaves a gap in our history and we are grateful to her for all the contributions she made.