EJS’ Natal Day Showcases Empowerment, Hard work, Self-Worth -As Her Beneficiaries Display Harvest, Products
MONROVIA: One of the many reasons why the celebration of the birthday anniversaries of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia has been able to gather huge participation, commendation and wider outreach over the years is the fact that at various times of her service to the country and humanity ,she made the essence of empowerment, hard work, self-worth, self-reliance and innovation with emphasis on women emancipation, the cornerstone of her involvement as some of her beneficiaries on Sunday, October 29, 2023 during the 85th celebration of her natal day, turned out en masse to showcase what they have been able to do with their lives since they came in contact with the former President over the years.
Our reporter who covered part of the activities marking the birthday which was held at her residence in the Fish market community, Sinkor, a large assembly of women from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Nimba, and Lofa counties attracted the attention of most of those who attended the event, especially members of the diplomatic corps and other foreign guests who had equally turned out to honor Madam Sirleaf.
Madam Sirleaf, having hosted President George Manneh Weah, former Vice President Joseph Nyyuma Boakai and other dignitaries in her palaver hut at her residence, moved in front of her house where a happy birthday song was sung before receiving the gifts from her guests who were excited to meet her and make their presentation.
According to Madam Julie Endee, the renowned cultural icon of Liberia who introduced the women as “zoes” and had led them to the event said the women who were drawn from several counties have been ardent followers of the former President and as the result of the inspiration they received from her especially in the area of ensuring that women are competitive in all endeavors just like their male counterparts, have been engaging in farming and other skills to enhance their livelihood.
She said the women have been successful in making use of the little resources at their disposal and when better opportunities or some form of encouragement is offered from any source they will do more.
“Madam Sirleaf, these are Zoes from Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Bong, Nimba and Lofa Counties. They have come to celebrate with you and they have brought along with them some of their products from their farms and shops they have been operating for some time now.
“They have come to greet you and say thank you for what you have done for them by inspiring them to work harder and competitively too with their male counterparts. They came with fresh fruits and vegetables from their farms and also woven country clothes that they produced themselves. They just need some encouragement to do more than that”, she said.
One of the leaders who jokingly wished Madam Sirleaf up to 115 years to live said they were at the former President’s residence to show appreciation to her as “our mother and leader who care for us so much and this is the time to come and say thank you; happy birthday, you will live for 115 years”
Madam Sirleaf who was visibly elated to welcome the women and to receive the gifts from the women thanked them for their visit and the products brought from their farms and shops on her natal day and prayed that God will replenish what they have given willingly from their efforts.
She praised the ladies for their resilience and hard work shown through what they were able to cultivate on their farms and the clothes they produced from their shops as the result of the skills they have acquired through various sources.
“I want to thank you plenty for what you brought for me. I am grateful and I know some of my guests will have something fresh to take home today. I am excited and truly I am happy to receive these gifts you brought to me.
“And you know what, they are not going to call these clothes ‘country clothes’ anymore. They are African clothes and we should be proud of what you have done. I want to thank you again”, she said.
A guest who spoke to The Analyst at the event and craved not to be identified in the papers said Madam Sirleaf has been an admirer of “Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, one of the greatest leaders from Africa who was affectionately referred to as Mwalimu”
“Mwalimu means teacher, and that applies to former President Sirleaf. She is a teacher and what you have seen here today is a demonstration of a teacher student relationship. They have just said that their inspiration came from Madam Sirleaf and we must commend them for being that thoughtful to acknowledge where their source of inspiration came from for which these efforts to change their lives became fruitful.
“This is a mark of good leadership. A leader should be able to teach and inspire their followers. I may wish to join the women to also say thanks a million Madam Sirleaf we are all in this thing together to admire and commend your legacy”, he said.
Beyond what the ladies brought for display, other Liberian entrepreneurs came with their products which were purely African in origin and included clothes, fruits, drinks, vegetables. According to one of the organizers of the event who described the event as a “special anniversary”, said this year’s edition of Madam Sirleaf’s birthday celebration was to promote Liberians who have shown the determination to take the destiny of the country in their own hands with emphasis on the vital roles played in the economic development of the country.
She said the celebration in a way was not just about the former President, but something that Liberians need to cheer for by commending what others have done with their time, energy and resources which “of course could inspire others to use whatever within their means to change their circumstances for the best”.
She did not say whether this will be a continuous project or any forum that will be associated with any form of celebration of the former President in the future.
Meanwhile, several literary works by Madam Sirleaf as well as by other authors on her legacy were on display which caught the attention of some curious readers who were in need of getting to know more about a great voice for the enthronement of popular democracy in Liberia. Some of the books included “Reconstruction of Post-War Liberia, Achievements and Challenges of the Presidency of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf”, “This Girl Will Be Great”, an autobiography written by herself, among others.
Enough food and varieties of drinks were available for all the guests who turned out to grace the occasion as they all had a nice time for a period that lasted up to late hours of the night.