MONROVIA – The Liberian community woke up to the shocking news of the passing of one the country’s pioneering journalists in the early morning hours of September 14, 2022 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital where veteran Philip N. Wesseh had been admitted following a protracted illness.
The well-rounded media practitioner and trainer, who doubled as Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper and an instructional staff at the University of Liberia, had sought medical attention in Ghana in April this year through the kind intervention of President George M. Weah who provided funds for the ailing veteran journalist to undergo thorough treatment in Ghana.
Minutes after news of Attorney Wesseh’s demise made the rounds on the Internet, glowing tributes started pouring in from institutions and individuals that have benefited from the fountain of knowledge that ‘Gina’ opened up to aspiring journalists over the three plus decades of his journalism career.
For the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), Gina’s passing has left a deep void on the media landscape.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing today of veteran Journalist, Philip N. Wesseh of the Inquirer Newspaper. GINA as he was affectionately called, was a consummate professional whose impact on the media in Liberia is profound. He was a boss and mentor to many including several ALJA members. We extend our sincere condolences to his bereaved family, the staff of the Inquirer Newspaper, and the Liberian media. May his soul rest in perpetual peace and may light eternal shine upon him.
“I had my first Journalist Internship through the Liberian Media Center sponsored by UNDP and seconded to the Inquiry Newspaper. I was then accepted by Veteran Philip Wesseh (Atty). I gathered news at Temple of Justice with reporter Sebo Daniels, an ordeal I appreciate to this day. Rest well veteran. You have helped in ways you won’t believe,” says Elchico MF Fawundu, Sr., a career diplomat assigned with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia.
As for Pastor David S. Yadeh Chea of the Harvest International Church on Bushrod Island, his chance encounter with Attorney Wesseh changed his life.
“I just got the news and I am in tears of the passing away of the man who transformed me into a newspaper editor overnight. I remember it was one morning in January 1991 that I walked into the premises of a newly-formed news outlet called The Inquirer Newspaper, then squatting in the old Ministry of Youth and Sports building on Newport Street, Monrovia, Liberia to honor an appointment with the news editor Philip N. Wesseh.
“I met with the team comprising then Managing Editor Gabriel Williams, then Business Manager Roger Seton and the News Gina Philip N. Wesseh, then news editor. Williams and Seton had doubts that I, with a degree in Chemistry and Biology, was a material for handling an emerging major newspaper but Philip Wesseh dared to try me. In no time, I found myself a desk editor, copy editor, and proofreader sitting behind the desk handling the news scripts, typeset scripts and dummies of the great Inquirer Newspaper.
“I went on to supervise the works of some of the big names in Liberia’s newspaper journalism including Togba Sam Slewion, Budu Kaiser, Nyanatee Allison, J. Wesley Washington, Isaac C. Yeah, Sidiki Trawally, Gibson W Jerue, Bedor Wla Mark B. Freeman, Massa Washington, J. Grody Dorbor and columnists like Political Commentator J. Andrew Robinson and Economic Columnist Siamai Kromah among others.
“Wesseh and the news team would leave the production of the paper with me supervising the layout. During those days there were no cell phones to call the news editor to seek advice after he had left. So, I would make decisions without the news editor’s input about dropping some stories and selecting some stories when the need arose in order to ‘send the paper to bed’.
“I left The Inquirer Newspaper in May, 1995 to go into full-time church ministry but thereafter, whenever I visited the Inquirer Newspaper news room and production was on, Wesseh would yell, ‘Yes, today’s production is great. The copy editor is here. Let him look at the dummy.
“Rest well. Rest in Peace. I will miss you. Rest in peace, my chief, Gonzaa, the News Gina Philip N. Wesseh. It is well,” lamented Pastor Chea.
According to family members, funeral arrangements will be announced later.
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