Jesus Christ died for the sin of all, and he reigns as Lord of Lords, yet it is said, “Jesus of Nazareth”, which means everyone has a particular place of origin. For those who have a taste of their origin and nativity, in terms of experiencing life firsthand even cursorily, there is some kind of natural feeling that cannot be described. George Manneh Weah, Liberia’s 24th President, also does have. His origin is Grand Kru, specifically seaside Sasstown’s Filderkree quarter. Forty-two years out into the wild world, nearly two weeks combing the countryside, the President finally returned home to the thunderous mantra, “This is our time! Our Time is now!” in songs and slogans. The stampede as witnessed in Berwehn, Grandcess, Barclayville before Sasstown and a horde of their surrounding villages was riotous and clamorous, and portrayed a son’s welcome from but the Father and Mother. The President is curing long years of homesickness that he has endured for four decades, and as The Analyst reports, it might take extraordinary courage to pull him out from there to Monrovia.
Members of the President’s first nationwide tour are now not sure when they would depart the countryside for Monrovia. Hundreds of government officials and supporters of the President and his Coalition for Democratic Change are travelling with the President on his first tour of the nation, going from Bong to Nimba, to Grand Gedeh, to River Gee, to Maryland and to his home province, Grand Kru.
At home since over forty years, the President understandably feels most at home, for his life story which he tells so often with great delight does not complete without mentioning Filderkree in Sasstown, Grand Kru.
Sasstown is as a legendary place in Liberia as the President, who marveled the world with his alethic skills. It small seaside village back in the 1930s marveled the entire world when it took on military resistance battle against Liberia’s central government in Monrovia backed by American battle ship over residual issues from the Fernando Po crisis.
Before becoming President and becoming one of the world’s legendary footballers, George Manneh Weah was in Sasstown. Born in Monrovia but his parents wanted him know his roots, have a touch with his ancestry. He was taken to Sasstown in the early 1970s and resided there for nearly ten years, interacted with uncles, aunts, cousins, grandmother, and a horde of other relatives.
Like any rural child growing up in such a tender age in a rural setting for a decade, the life has got to be dominated by the memories of those days. For the President, the Sasstown scenes have not gone away, perhaps accounting for his grassroots orientation, simplicity, meekness and which is why there was no particularly schedule or protocol while he and entourage are in the community.
Strategically, he is currently in Grand Kru County on the last leg of his county tour, and there seems to be no rush for a waiting county.
And the president continues to pacify the people of the county, whom development has long eluded, that he will spare no time to make sure that the area gets the maximum attention it deserves for development and transformation during his tenure as president.
Speaking at a jam packed town hall meeting in Barclayville, President Weah went down memory lane to recount his experience living in makeshift huts and going through some difficulties of living in rural communities where basic social services like pipe borne water, health facilities, etc are lacking.
He said looking back to the past, he got inspired to initiate programs that will change the lives and living conditions of the people.
“Without politicking, Grand Kru as you see it today, some of us had the opportunity to live in this vicinity and listen to our elders talk about this county. At the time we had two territories, Kru Coast and Sasstown territories. Looking around you if there is anything that is changing in this community, it is our government that is changing everything,” President said amid thunderous applause from the people.
President Weah said he remembered his upbringing in the PLP area of Sasstown and other places in Grand Kru with nostalgia and decried the underdevelopment of the county for years, the situation he insisted must change by doing things that were not done before so as to uplift the people.
He mentioned paving the streets of Barclayville to give it a befitting facelift and further spoke of the Barclayville-Rivercess highway for which according to him an initial funding amounting to US$50m has been secured to start the project.
He said when the project is completed, it will enhance the transformation and economic development of the people along that corridor of the country.
Perhaps what brought so much excitement to the people was when the President stated that he will not relent to place a high premium on the development and transformation of Grand Kru County no matter whatever criticism he receives from any angle.
“I spoke to Fonati Kofa and Albert Chie not to mind who will say anything negative about Grand Kru. This is our time. We cannot fix the entire country and forget about where we come from. That will be injustice to us. We have uplifted Montserrado, we are building the road from Tappita through Zwedru to Happer; we are paying WASSCE fees for students, we are offering free scholarships to our university students, and we are undertaking many projects across the country. We must also do something for Grand Kru County,” He said with high ovation from the people.
Taking stock of where the country has been since 1847, Mr. Weah decried the level of development in all those years noting that nothing much has been achieved but boasted that his three-year stewardship has recorded more progress as compared to the entire period before him.
On the other initiatives taken to address the many challenges affecting the country, President Weah said that his administration places more emphasis on the agriculture sector and the empowerment of rural women as avenues to reset the economy on the right path.
“We are serious about the agriculture sector. We believe if we can feed ourselves, we will do more for ourselves. We have sourced money for our local farmers to grow more food. We are also making available US$2m for the rural women for economic empowerment”, he said.
On the request to build a football stadium in the county from the citizens so as to also promote other talents who could go on to one day winning the coveted Ballon d’Or just like him, the former FIFA World Player of the year said that the county will benefit from some of the FIFA projects with a stadium to be built in Barclayville as well as a mini stadium in Sasstown to enhance sports development in the county. He said that his achievement playing football at the highest peak of club football justified why Sasstown is considered the birth of football in Liberia.
President Weah who was cheered on throughout his remarks told the people that what sets him apart from the opposition is that he considered himself as part of the ordinary people and willing to listen to them and do something for them as compared to the opposition.
“Anytime I speak, the opposition wonders why I speak so confidently. I always told them that I am part of you, I lived in the same areas you are living, I experienced what you are experiencing. The hut you are living in, they cannot live and survive there and they will not change it for you because they don’t feel your pain. That is why I am changing the huts for you, Mr. Weah said.