Analysis by Sherman C. Seequeh
The father of Africa Literature, legendary Chinua Achebe, was a prolific writer who, through his writings particularly in Things Fall Part, popularized his native Igbo culture and by extension brought Africa wisdom to incontestable prominence. To use the words of Sir Francis Bacon, Achebe sufficiently “chewed and digested” instructive African proverbs, which he correctly defined when he said, “Proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten” and he used proverbs quite profoundly in his literary pieces. One of the most popularly quoted proverbs is, ‘If a child washes his hands, he eats with kings.’
There are but two reasons why this catchy African proverb fits and describes George Manneh Weah as he becomes a sensational guest at the First Paris Peace Conference where over 70 world leaders gathered. Yes, he proves quite a sensational guest at the conference taking a look at footages showing him swarmed by world leaders whose body languages bespeak awe, admiration and humility for a Liberian president.
Take a look—American journalists will say ‘take a listen’—at the media team’s dispatch from Paris: ‘President Weah used the occasion to hold brief discussions on peace and Liberia’s development objectives with several world leaders including US President Donald J. Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the host President Emmanuel Macron, among others.’
Though the Paris Peace Conference is neither a donor meeting nor an economic and trade forum, and no one should ask for monetary returns from Paris, President Weah, still wanting to maximize every opportunity for the good of Liberia, “has directed Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar Findley to utilize diplomatic channels to ensure opportunities for deeper bilateral discussions with those leaders in the near future.’
Meanwhile, as he is joining the likes of President Macron of France, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, to launch the 2018 edition of the Internet Governance Forum at UNESCO headquarters, President Weah is harnessing ‘cooperation between Liberia and UNESCO in the areas of Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET), education, sports and preservation of Liberia’s cultural and historical heritage.’
Seeing the fellow from right here in Gibraltar, Clara Town, attracting so much attention from sons and daughters of advanced civilizations is totally inconceivable for a child unless he had washed his hands.
Surely, someone eating his ‘kokodolo’ somewhere on Broad Street or in Gardnersville would wave off all this move and say, ‘so, what much?’ But looking at this Barclayville progeny, busying his palm in the palms of the world’s most illustrious and revered leaders, with their apparent approving gestures of his stature and presence amongst them, is glass-ceiling breaking for slum-breeding children. It cannot and should not be dismissed on mere political platitudes; for this is not an ordinary or mundane social transformation of a totally ordinary Liberian. This is why one can say of the President, ‘if a child washes his hands, he eats with kings.’
The second reason the President’s electrifying presence at the world-leaders dominated Paris Conference fits for archiving in the Library of Congress is that just yesteryears, or a couple of months ago, this child from West Point was labeled as completely unfit, if elected President, to sit with African peers not to mention companions from the West. During the 2017 electoral campaigns, and even several years before that period, it was said rather spiritedly that George Weah would be a curse and embarrassment for Liberia on the world stage. Some had argued that his predecessor, who largely benefited from the country’s huge postwar international empathy, would leave behind a vacuum of external embracement the country enjoyed under her leader and that George Weah, as President, would be unable to fill the void. It was predicted that the country would sink back to its war-time state of international isolation.
Echoes of live photos and commentaries coming out of Paris, France, hugely contradict the doomsters’ predictions. George Weah, as President, is not ignored. He is not scorned. He is rather in a warm embrace with Donald Trump of the United States. He’s in a handshake with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. German’s or Europe’s Iron Lady, Angela Merkel, is seen passionately staring in his face. And there seems to be quite a frenzy of camaraderie and clamor for association.
And, please, let no one repeat the tired refrain of ‘soccer stardom’ as reason for the attraction to President Weah. Those who are seen embracing and edging on a Kpaku Gbeh Tarpeh Weah from New Kru Town are people who dwell in civilizations that have produced ace soccer legends and other celebrities far more renowned and celebrated. And there are stars currently making far more incredible strides in their fields, and are more admired. When people meet at world conferences like the one held in Paris, they don’t go around looking for soccer legends or celebrities. God forbade! They do go around looking for companions and like-minds who act like them, share values and direction, and look like them. Thank God we have one who has washed his hands and is eating with kings.