Goodbye, ‘JES’ -Multitudes See Ex-Pres. Sireaf’s Son Off To Eternity

It was undoubtedly a true national funeral, for it had all the features of a ceremony dedicated in honor of someone who lived all his life only for the benefit of others than himself. Swarms of Mourns who gathered at the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street Tuesday, January 11, 2022, cut across the social and political aisle. From the first citizen, George Manneh Weah, to the ordinary man from Logan Town, Liberians turned out massively, and solemnly, understandably attracted to the occasion because the subject of the assembly, fallen James E. Sirleaf, was a man of peace, humility and charity—qualities that made him a gravitational force that pulled together even the most virulent adversaries around him. The Analyst watched the highly emotional funeral service and reports.

As early as 8 a.m., sympathizers, friends and well-wishers had begun trooping into the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street and its environs. The occasion was the funeral service—a mournful celebration of the eternal home-going—of the late James Ebreem Sirleaf affectionately called “JES”.

He was the eldest son of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. He passed away December 22, 2021 peacefully at his residence on the Congo Town Back Road, Monrovia.

By the morning hours on January 11, 2022, the vicinity of the First United Methodist Church was already swarmed, as was the hearse that bore the remains of JES. The hearse and the throngs of mourners moved slowly towards the Church. In the crowd were the diseased’s mother, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, siblings and other family members. Multitudes of bystanders stood in awe, watching the procession.

The church environment wore a subdued look, speaking from the angle that a leading member of the congregation, JES, was departing the shores to join his ancestors and by extension according to the belief of Christendom, has gone to be with the Lord.

Praises were showered on the Lord for the journey that the fallen James E. Sirleaf spent on Planet Earth. The fervor of sorrow was powerfully felt in every corner of the church edifice, including amongst those standing outside. Many bowed and consistently they wept their cheeks for rolling tears.

Rev. Dr. Larry W. Bropleh, Pastor of the Charles White United Methodist Church, delivered the funeral. He spoke profoundly on the need for the living to live a Christ-like life which, he said, entails caring for and sharing with the people. “Life is not just living it; it is also about what you do for others,” he said as a way accentuating the philanthropic nature of the deceased.

He also drew the congregation to what he said can make Liberia a better place when people begin to start caring for each other and having the understanding that we are all tied together as citizens.

Rev. Bropleh also said that citizens should positively engage the governance through constructive criticism and not the destructive one because going contrary will only keep the country divided more.

“We can succeed in the world when we do things unto others that we expect them to do unto us,” he stressed. “We can make Liberia better when we begin to engage in constructive criticism and not destructive criticism which will only keep u divided.”

The eloquent cleric offered words of consolation to the bereaved family and urged them to take the death in good stride as Christian. He stated that it was better to live for God just like how the deceased labored for Christ so that the promise of Heaven will be assured.

In his acknowledgment on behalf of the family, a brother of the deceased, Charles Sirleaf, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia extended thanks and appreciation to all those who identified with them during their hours of sorrow, recognizing the presence of President George Manneh Weah, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor and others who graced the occasion.

The family tributes at the program were read by Dr. James Adamah Sirleaf and Miss Robin Aletha Sirleaf, brother and daughter of the deceased respectively while Reverend Dr. Erlene P. Thompson offered prayer for the family.

She prayed that God provides comfort and fortitude for the family to bear the colossal loss.

Immediately after the funeral, the cortege of mourners moved to Jovan, The Sirleafs Farm,  Todee Junction, where, after a brief ceremony, interment was carried out.

Footage from Providence TV, the only sanctioned television station which provided live streaming of the program, saw weeping and crying from family members and sympathizers.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, upon arrival at the Sirleafs Farm for the burial, initially took her seat facially looking groggy with grief.  In a moment, she was brought closer to grave by her sister, Jenny.

Before taking her seat, Madam Sirleaf briefly placed her hand on the coffin bearing the remains of her son for a moment before taking her seat, looking on pensively as the body was lowered into the grave.

Mr. James E. Sirleaf or “JES” as he was fondly called by family members and close friends, was a career banking and finance expert who had worked with Citibank/Citigroup Profit Center Management, Branch Operations and Credit.

He held an MBA from the University of Liverpool, Post Graduate in E-Business from the University of Westminster England, and a degree in Business Administration. He was also a partner at Monrovia Oil Trading Corporation.

According to close family members, the last five years of his life were devoted to farming, especially the breeding of animals.

He was a former banker with formidable years of business banking experience based at Citibank London, Div. Head for Corporate and Institutional Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Liberia, General Manager Corporate and Institutional Banking at formerly called FI and now called SIB Bank in Monrovia.

James was a high silhouette participant at Strasbourg, France World Forum for Democracy under the Council for Europe in October 2012, where he along with the Head of the Asia Development Bank (Japan) both delivered addresses on the impact of the World Economic and Financial Crisis in Weakening democratic institutions.

He also served as Member of the Board of Directors of Blue Cross Insurance, Inc. in Monrovia, Liberia, and Consultant and Advising Director of Monrovia Oil Trading Corporation in Monrovia, Liberia.

Monrovia Oil Trading Corporation (MOTC) is historically and when possible providing fuel support services and sales of lubricants and with no illicit products to a number of major corporations in Liberia.  See full text of the family’s announcement on page 7 of this edition.


Tributes on James Sirleaf facebook page

Though tributes were not paid during the funeral service in respect to the family’s request that no tributes should be paid at the church, a horde of benefiting eulogies appear on the Facebook page of the diseased.

Apostle Marco Brewer wrote: “Jes, you left so suddenly. We are still in a state of shock, but Jesus knows best. I really can’t get over the last message you sent me. It seem like you knew deep within that something was about to happen. Thank you for the many chats we had with you. Most importantly thank you for the time and love you showed your Godfather, my dad, when he was alive. You were always one of dad’s favorite Godsons. I guess you have seen him by now. I know you are now in the presence of Jesus beholding His face. Dumpling and I will really miss you. Farewell, my beloved Godbrother until we meet again! Rest in peace!! This is in memory of you!! It is well.”

Josephine Wonnoh Alade: “When I heard of your passing I was like, when, how, but the Bible says, precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Ps. 116:15. Your life is a testimony, you were a people’s person. Whenever you posted, those that commented, you made sure to respond and even ask about their families. Aww, what a blow to everyone, may your legacy lives on, My deepest condolences to Madam EJS, Charles Sirleaf, Your siblings, Children and family from Japan.”

Gus Sirleaf Horton: “James Ebreem “JES” Sirleaf – An Astute Banker and A PEOPLES’ PERSON

By Francis Chu-Chu Horton. Former Managing Director FIB Liberia. Even though, Jes Sirleaf is my Cousin-In-Law by my marriage to Augusta Bindu Sirleaf, yet, I never really got the privilege to collaborate with the noble, yet humble, James “Jes” Sirleaf, until after a conversation with his Aunt and she indicated to me that Jes would be of great help to me at the First International Bank of Liberia (FIB), where I was serving as the Managing Director and CEO of the Bank. Having heard about Jes’ qualifications and his dedication to duty from my dear friend and brother C T O King III; of the Liberia Finance and Trust Corporation, I was quick to ask His aunt to please inform Jes to meet me at my office with his CV. Already, in my mind, was a Senior Management position for Jes and I had no doubt that Jes would readily be acceptable to my Board of Directors. My decision to have Jes employed, was most timely, as the Bank was in its embryonic existence and Jes came with the qualifications and experience that FIB needed.

I hasten to make the point that Jes was not one to ostentatiously flaunt himself the: “Do you know who I am” syndrome? Jes, was an entrepreneur. Jes was independent minded. Certainly, one could not ignore the fact that he was a son of the President but Jes was qualified in his own rights and he proved himself unquestionably, to be a very competent Senior Officer of the Bank, with the responsibilities for the Fiscal Affairs of the First International Bank of Liberia, Incorporated. Above all of his self acquired credentials and positions, Jes was a PEOPLES’ PERSON. He was kind and sincerely friendly. He was willingly charitable. He was trustworthy. I never hesitated for Jes to represent me and the Bank at any and all times.

Let me epitomize Jes; the entrepreneur, the independent, nationalist and Industrialist with this quote which reflects, quite succinctly, Jes‘ character and personality. Proverbs 22:29 of the KJ VVersion:

‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.’ Now that Jes has completed his earthly tour and is called to the Great Beyond, Jes’ good nature, portrayed as ““A Peoples’ Person”; for sure, his name is recorded in the Book of Life and thus, he stands not before “mean men” any longer but rather, before the Kings of Kings; whose Son, Jesus Christ, is sitting on His right side; beckoning to Jes: “Come ye, for even if the frailties of life might have conflicted you, at times, you were charitable to My Cause.” May the family of Jes now find solace in the honorable life of a loving son, understanding sibling, caring father, considerate nephew, uncle and relative but true to the axion: “A friend in need is a friend indeed.

Edwina Avezaat Taylor Flathen: “When I first heard the news two days ago, I thought that it was a sick bad joke, and did not pay it no heed. Jes could not be gone, he is always there, even when you have not spoken to him for months and you finally make contact again, it’s like there was no gap in time. I just opened up my facebook after a week of not being online and something told me, go to Jes’s profile just to make sure that it was a lie. Sadly, it seems to be not a lie. I am in shock, I cannot believe it. Have known Jes for so many years and all of my many encounters with him has always been great and one to look forward to. Not only was he so handsome with those beautiful eyes but he had that cockish smile at times when he was trying not to laugh. I remember back in 2009 when I was in Liberia with my kids, the middle one had just had her birthday, Jes was one of the guests and he brought her 3 white birds, she is 18 now and asks me from time to time what happened to her birds that Jes gave her. Another occasion, he gave the youngest a rabit. All my trips back home, no matter how busy he was, he always made time for me and always welcomed my business associates to Liberia. He gave me sound advice, was a great friend and a great host.

“His pride and joy Robin, was all he talked about a lot whenever we were having a drink at his place or mine, he would go “ Edwina, you know that Robin graduated with honors from University?” I would say, yes Jes I know that, you have told me that before like a gazillion times. What was so special about the way he kept repeating this was that one could see the love, pride and joy he had in Robin his daughter, so it was easy to not get annoyed by him repeating it over and over. Am in tears as I am writing this, can hardly see the screen, but I must forge on and pay my tribute to my dear friend Jes. I will miss you very much, you were one of a kind. Always looking out for me and having my back when I am back home. We had loads of laughs and meaning conversations, which I will miss. As crazy as you were at times ( tja, we are all crazy in some way or another), you were a wonderful and kind hearted person. In me you left a good legacy of a great friendship, one that lasted through the decades. Thank you for that Jes, you will always remain dear and remain in my memories fondly.

“To Robin, it’s hard. It will get harder and it will hurt like hell. You will get stronger as time goes by where your heart will slowly start to heal. Take courage and strength in knowing that although your dad is gone in the physical, he really loved you and he will always be watching over you. To the Sirleaf family, my heart goes out to you, but please be gentle on your hearts because heaven got an angel and he will always watch over you.”

Princess Jaryeanna Quiah: “Kind and lively soul gone to the great beyond. Angels must have rejoiced the day you were called JES. I pray you have eternal rest wherever you are , and you surely wouldn’t cross Jordan alone. Heart felt sympathy to your family, especially to your most cherished Robin. God be with you till we meet again.”

Tony Alfred Joe: “Good morning, Afternoon or Good evening to all following us, for those who don’t know me, my name is Ms. Bendu S. Siryon representing Monrovia Oil Trading Corporation (M.O.T.C.). This is one of the hardest things I believed I have ever had to do, for the past couple of weeks, I just kept thinking, are there any words good enough to speak of my lovely and down to Earth Boss? he would have been so honored and humbled by all the love his family and friends, that are here to celebrate his life, the number of people who are to pay their last respect is only a testimony to the lives he personally touched. We have come to memorialize our Boss, our Hero, the man who saw himself in the commoners.

“His death left us with headache that no one heal, his memories are treasures no one can steal, some may forget him now that he’s gone but we will remember no matter how long, you will always stay Loved and remembered in every way; no tears, no verse can ever say how much we missed you, that man is a success who left the world better than he found it, who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s Beauty or failed to express it, who looked for the Best in others and gave the best they had, please give me Grace as I struggle through my thoughts and ideas and try to articulate what an amazing person Mr. James E. Sirleaf was; memories are more than a link to the past, sometimes they’re all that we have that will last, his life was a Blessing to many of us, his memories a treasure, he was loved beyond words and we gonna missed him beyond measure for someone who meant so much and loved by all he knew, you left behind a trial of tears and precious memories. Loved the sunshine in his smiles and kindness in his heart but Heaven saw that he was tired which meant he had no part to play again, and now that he’s gonna be laid to Rest, we pray that our Dear Angels guard him with Great care, for he was someone wonderful and words just can’t convey how much we wish he was here once more with us today.

“My sincerest condolences for your terrible loss, we hope you find a little comfort in memories and remembering the good times you are gone from our sights but never from our hearts. May his Soul and the Souls of other Faithful Departed Rest in Perfect Peace and Light Perpetual Shine upon Him, Rest on Chief!!!

David Garnett: “Life sometimes surprises us. We’re happy when those surprises are good but a surprise like the one we got on December 22nd 2021 was one that devastated us all. We were shocked, saddened and bewildered to hear of the passing of JES (James Ebreem Sirleaf), the elder brother of our CWA (College of West Africa) class of 1975 classmate, Charles E. Sirleaf. Please know Charles that our prayers are that God will comfort you and your family and receive the soul of your dear brother. We stand ready to assist in whatever you need to put his mortal remains to rest. Kindly let us know what we can do to help. With our deepest condolences, for and on behalf of “Amuteh”, David A. Garnett, President, CWA Class of 1975.”

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