Visibly and utterly distressed, President George M. Weah fought hard to control his emotions as he delivered a touching eulogy last Saturday over the remains of fallen legislator, Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood.
“I may be your President, but today I speak as a grieving father. My conduct today may not be what you expect, because I am overwhelmed with sadness at my irreplaceable loss. My emotions are in control of me right now. I may weep, but then I may not. Please forgive me if I do,” a shaken President Weah told the nation as he spoke about his fondest memories of the late Munah.
Addressing her as his daughter, striker, his 18-yard striker, his Sheroe, President Weah spoke warmly of special qualities with which the late Rep. Youngblood was endowed. “God endowed you with unusual qualities, skills and virtues that would enable you, in your brief sojourn on this earth, to have an indelible impact on the lives of all those who crossed your path, from the young to the old, from rich to the poor, from the healthy to the sick, and from the hungry to the fed.”
“She was a beautiful woman, and that beauty was acknowledged and recognized in her pre-political career as a beauty queen and runway model. She was self-confident, and had her own unique sense of style and swag. Her personality was characterized by intelligence, diligence, and eloquence. She was persistent, consistent, resilient, and resistant to defeat,” President Weah said.
The Liberian leader said, in spite of her dazzling physical attributes, Munah was an astute and articulate political trailblazer, and displayed an amazing talent as a generational leader at a very early age, becoming the youngest female from CDC to be elected to the Liberian Legislature when she was only twenty-seven years old.
“In the ten years that she served her constituents of Montserrado County District 9 and the people of Liberia in that august body, she left a lasting legacy of leadership,” he observed.
Reminiscing further, President Weah remembered how, when he played for the Liberia National team, Munah’s late father Col. Walter Maxwell Pelham Sr. who served as the Lone Star head coach at the time would take care of the players as his own.
“Munah was always around me when I lived on 9th street in Sinkor and I was blessed to have her live with me briefly in my home after her father died. And that is why I am forever grateful to Sarkpah, her dear mother, for entrusting Munah to my care. She was my daughter and she considered me as her father. We had the best relationship ever. I was a good deputy parent for her, and she received the same level of discipline that I gave to all my children, without exception” President Weah fondly recalled.
He noted that Rep. Youngblood was always willing to take up any new challenge that he would place before her, whether it was to enter politics or to learn to play basketball.
“For example, because of her height, I suggested that she should learn to play basketball, which she had never played before. So she went to the basketball court and applied herself diligently to raise her game. So one day I returned to Liberia for a visit, and she excitedly asked me to come and watch her team, the K-Delta, play. And so I did. At some point during the game, she had an opportunity to make a run down the court, and when she got to the basket, she tried to dunk the ball. And with all that height, she missed it. She turned and looked at me anxiously, and I looked at her and smiled. After the game, she came to me and asked me what I thought about her playing. I told her that she did well. Then she told me: ‘you really know how to laugh at people. All the way I made so many mistakes during the game, you still tell me that I did well.’ And I told her that I was sincere about that compliment, because she had done well to rise to the challenge I had placed before her, and that if she continued to apply herself in that way, one day she would become a good player. Munah listened, and applied effort, and became a good player. Solomon George, who was her coach of the K-Delta female basketball team, can attest to that,” the Liberian chief executive reminisced.
He said that was the same attitude that the fallen lawmaker took to politics, and to everything else that she did in her brief life.
“Munah was also very bold. She could even intimidate people sometimes, because she was so outspoken. If you were lazy, you would get strong. She did not bow down for anyone, nor back down from anything. For example, during her campaign for the Montserrado County District 9 seat, I accompanied her to an area where the opposing candidate had blocked the road. My supporters wanted to call the police. In the interest of peace, I decided to turn around and go back,” President Weah revealed, saying, but Munah would not allow it.
“Excuse me, Mr. Standard Bearer. This man will not intimidate me. This is my ground. This is my 18-yard box. I am a striker. I am THE number 9. So if that man doesn’t move from the road, I will teach him a lesson. I must pass here. So please get out of my way,” President Weah recalled Munah as telling him respectfully but sternly.
“I said, ‘Chey, Munah! Enh your hear the woman. Your please get out of her way.’ And they did, and we passed. That was MY Munah,” President Weah lamented tearfully, saying, “She was a true Sheroe of her time, and was acknowledged as such by her peers and all who knew her. Her life was short, but meaningful. We will miss you Munah!”
President Weah said he fondly recalled their conversation when Representative Youngblood visited him for what has now turned out to be the last time they were together. “She told me that she was tired, and wanted to go home and rest. And we said our goodbyes. Little did I know what you were actually trying to tell me, until I got the sad news of your passing.”
“Sia mou te tou? A mon ye je mou te tou, na; Naju mou te pen; Nyenswar bo na yen mou,” (meaning: You are leaving us behind. This was not the plan we discussed, Munah. You know we had some novel plans to execute. However, go home and rest. Let God be with you. We will meet again) were the closing words to a heartbreaking Kru song that President Weah himself wrote for the occasion.
Representative Munah Pelham-Youngblood was interred at the Congo Town cemetery on the outskirts of Monrovia.