Pres. Akufo-Addo Adores Liberia’s Mary Brownell -Describes Her A “Lively Personality” of Great Stature

Liberia has produced heroes, and heroines too. Mary N. Brownell was a great Liberian heroine who lived her live fighting for peace, human rights and equality.  Liberia lost her on 14 March 2017 to the cold hands of death. But as a legendary figure who earned both national and international appear, Madam Brown death has not been left lying down. She is constantly remembered in grand assemblies with Liberians and foreigners exalting her works and her ideals. On 14 March 2022, one of such occasions was held when national and international speakers attended a symposium, largely virtually, in her honor at which time moving tributes were made. Amongst the speakers was Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who also praised the Liberian feminist legend, as The Analyst reports.

As Liberians heaped posthumous praises on one of Liberia’s female progressive icons, Mary M. Brownell, celebrating the fourth anniversary of her death and her progressive records and legacy, international VIPs also joined the chorus.

To celebrate the anniversary, a symposium featuring five distinguished panelists was at the African Methodist Episcopal University on Camp Johnson Road, with most of the speakers participating virtually.

The Guest Speaker was His Excellency Nana Addo Akufo-Addo President of Ghana, Chairman of ECOWAS, while other panelists were Sarna Daraba Kaba, Elizabeth Mulbah, Barbara Green Seyon, Massa Washington, and Aisha Oyebode.

The ceremony was organized by Forum of Liberian Women Elders, Liberia Institution for      “Growing” Patriotism and Obaa’s Girls Education Outreach.

In his keynote address, the Ghanaian President praised the late Brownell as a great woman who made left positive indelible marks on the sand of history.

He expressed his happiness to participate at the symposium, which was commemorating the 5th anniversary of the homecoming of Mary Brownell.

“I had the great fortune to meet her when she came to stay in our country during the times of troubles in Liberia in the 1990s, which sent thousands of Liberians into exile in Ghana,” the Ghanaian leader said.

He added: “It was impossible to forget her – tall, with a powerful presence, lively personality, outstanding intellect and, above all, a great commitment to the promotion of young girls and women, with an unwavering belief in the value of women to the development of society. Fearless, she had a great sense of humor and gave us her extraordinary children,that is the two (2) I know, Boima and, especially, Miatta, who has done her mother proud by helping to organize this occasion”.

According to him, peace, human rights, good governance and security walk-in tandem.

“I might add that respect is often the unstated but constant companion of peace, human rights, good governance and security; and wherever these four go, respect always follows. When a country is peaceful, is committed to upholding good governance and respect for human rights, and provides security for its citizens, that country is respected,” he said further.

“If the African continent is to take its rightful place in the world, it has to shed its image of instability and overcome the wars that have plagued us for so long. Those who seek to play meaningful leadership roles in Africa would necessarily have to prioritise the establishment of a peaceful atmosphere on the continent. I do not talk here about the peace that we find in the cemetery, nor do I wish for us the security of the bonded slave market.”

For a continent where political independence was necessarily characterized by a language of struggle and war, it is a crying shame that many countries have had more violence and instability after independence and liberation, than during the struggles and wars that brought independence, according to him.

He said, “Not to put too fine a point on it, we have not got our politics right. The fights between various political groupings after independence have often turned out to be more vicious than the fight to throw out the colonialists and imperialists. Sometimes, these fights have not really been political at all, but have been merely the continuation or resumption of ancient feuds, clothed in modern political or pseudo ideological garb.”

He said in Ghana, political instability described much of the early decades of their independence, and they became notorious for sampling every and any type of political experiment.

“The instability was coupled with the collapse of the economy, and led to the exodus from the country of many of our citizens and professionals, a situation with which you, in Liberia, are also familiar,” the Liberian leader noted.

The ECOWAS Chairperson further said: “I am happy to state that, for the past twenty-nine (29) years of our 4th Republic, we have enjoyed political stability under a multi-party constitution, and the longest period of stable, constitutional governance in our hitherto tumultuous history. The separation of powers is now a real phenomenon in Ghanaian life, promoting accountable governance.

“The fight against corruption has gone beyond propaganda, and is demanding of public officials higher levels of acceptable conduct. Efficient public services are now within reach. We have, in this period, experienced, through the ballot box, the transfer of power from one ruling political party to another on three occasions in conditions of peace and stability, without threatening the foundations of the state. The Ghanaian people have manifested in this era their deep attachment to the principles of democratic accountability, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the rule of law. It has also brought with it more or less systematic economic growth, and boosted immensely our self-confidence”.

President Ado said “We are nowhere near where we ought to be of course, especially if you consider that we have just celebrated our 65th independence anniversary, but we are able to say that we are making significant progress.”

He acknowledged a major threat to the realization of peace, human rights, good governance and security in Africa has to be the challenge posed by terrorism and violent extremism.

“Over the years, we have learnt, most often through bitter experience, that terrorism and violent extremism are not restricted to particular geographic locations or jurisdictions, as the impact of a single terrorist incident in one part of the world resonates throughout the world.”

He said the fight against terrorism and violent extremism cannot be limited only to military means, vital as they are. Broader policies must also be put in place to create opportunities and jobs for our youth if we are to deal successfully with their root causes.

Speaking further, he noted: “Firstly, through education. We have, as a matter of great urgency, to ensure access to education for all our youth, especially our young girls. We are told that 89 million young Africans of school-going age are not in school. That has to stop and stop now. In Ghana, at great cost, we have, since my assumption of office in January 2017, instituted a system of free secondary education, which has increased enrolment by nearly 50%. 1.6 million Ghanaian children are currently beneficiaries of the Free Senior High School policy, the highest number of pupils in secondary school in our history.

“The cost of providing free secondary school education will be cheaper than the cost of the alternative of an uneducated and unskilled, youthful workforce that has the capacity to retard our development and to pose a threat to the peace and stability of our nation.”

“Secondly, through the structural transformation of our economies. With the majority of the continent’s economies dependent on the production and export of raw materials, it is not surprising that our youth want to leave in search of greener pastures elsewhere in economies that generate more jobs. We cannot continue travelling this worn path of the limited success of being exporters of raw materials. We have to embark urgently on the structural transformation of our economies.    The only way to ensure prosperity for our populations in Africa is through value addition activities, in other words, through industrial development with modernised agricultures, in transformed and diversified economies. We must rapidly leave behind the old agrarian economies, embrace the technological and digital potential of the new, modern economies, and, thereby, give opportunities, jobs and hope to our young people, to live dignified, productive lives here in Africa.”

He also mentioned good governance, stating that it is important that “we promote and develop, on the continent, a system and culture of accountable governance, free of corruption, whereby our people are governed in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberties and human rights, and the principles of democratic accountability.”

Such a system requires, he said, building strong institutions of the state, such as well-resourced    Parliaments and Judiciaries, efficient law enforcement agencies, and effective security forces, that see their responsibilities and allegiances to the wider public interest, not just to the conveniences of the government of the day. Innovative, creative mobilisation and disciplined use of public resources are, therefore, of the utmost importance in this struggle for national development. It can be done.

“It is my fervent wish that we leave this year’s Symposium with a renewed sense of purpose and a clear strategy on how to build prosperous and progressive countries, essential to the socio-economic development of Africa. That is how we can help fulfil the vision and goals of Mary Brownell’s life.”

“I believe strongly that, despite its numerous challenges, Africa is on the cusp of building a great, new civilisation, which will unleash the considerable energies and huge potential of the African peoples, so that we will make our own unique contribution to the growth of the world civilisation.”

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