Remembering Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan -Day The World Crushed for Tens of Thousands of People

Rains of tears flooded the Motherland as thousands mourned following the shocking news of the passing of then one of Liberia’s contemporary intellectuals, public servants and statesmen on October 30, 2020. Then on November 26, nearly a month later, the sore caused by the death of Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, Public Works Minister of Liberia, hurt terribly painfully as he was being buried after a parked funeral service at the Sacred Heart Cathedral on Broad Street. It was a doomsday for many—educated or illiterate, rich or poor, rural or urban—as the country was flustered in grief on that day. Today, November 26, 2021, is exactly one year when the wild world cracked before friends, family members, admirers, colleagues for an erudite but meek Liberian who touched many lives before meeting his fateful fall. The Analyst reflects on the man’s records and how Liberians wept themselves out for him.

The Sacred Heart Cathedral on Broad Street, Monrovia, is expected to be drenched with tears and sorrow today as its officers and members, joined by friends, relatives, admirers and colleagues of fallen Liberian statesman Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, hold a memorial ceremony in his honor.

The erudite Public Works Minister on October 30, 2020 died in the Ghanaian capital Accra where he was flown when he had encountered a powerful stroke in Monrovia.

The family of the late Public Works Minister has already issued a circular announcing the event and encouraging friends and associates of the fallen Liberian lawyer and legislator to turn out to celebrate his first memorial service.

On postal developed for the occasion, the family wrote: “Oh how art thou Mighty fallen! Though our hearts are shattered in many pieces, on this First Anniversary we give all Glory and Praise to God Almighty to the gift given to us as Vlah.”

The family recalls: “On Thursday, November 26, the Nyenpan and affiliate families laid to rest one who was the cornerstone of our Families, the Honorable Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan. This event created an irreplaceable vacuum in our families.”

The wounds of the passing of Hon. Nyenpan is still fresh, just a year away, and it is expected much of the grief of November 2020 will surface again.

2020 Was Doom and Gloom of Many

A family member (some said his sister, others said his niece) of the late Liberian Public Works Minister could hardly control her emotions as his remains were being ushered from an airplane at the Roberts International Airport. The former Senior Senator of Sinoe County had died in Accra, Ghana, where he was quickly flown with funding from Government to treat a fatal stroke he suffered in Monrovia.

Vlah sister or cousin was heard nearly sounding like Job who was afflicted by family tragedy as recorded in the Holy Book. Paraphrased, this is how she lamented. “Vlah, you have killed us. You have deeply crushed our world. How else can we live without you? Woe untold the day Vlah left us in this kind of way. May those whose hands behind his death be thundered to death. Oh, October 30, 2030. You are horrible, terrible day. You are doleful, heartless day. You stole away our pride. You dimmed our smiles. Oh death. Oh Vlah, our pillar. Our strength! May that day never see the light.”

She was not the only person who felt the pinch or is still feeling the torture of the passing of the late Liberian Public Works Minister. They wept. And they did profusely.

Tributes of all strength, emotion and wit flooded the airwaves and the social media. He was an enterprising young man of the Sarpo tribe of Sinoe County. He was a Senior Senator of Sinoe County. He was an attorney of law. And he was sitting Minister of Public Works of the Republic of Liberia. Thus, eulogies came from every facet of the country.

Vlah, the Great Man

Born on March 20, 1964, Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan was only 56 when he met is demise.  Before his he death, he was one of President Weah’s favorite Ministers, serving as Public Works Minister.

The late Minister Nyenpan hailed from Sinoe County. He was of the Sarpo stock, from a town called Grisby Farm in Butaw District. The majority inhabitants of Grisby Farm reportedly originate from Voogbadee, Juarzon Statutory District.

He had served for nine unbroken years as Senior Senator of Sinoe County until 2014 when he lost the post during a midterm senatorial elections.

Vlah, as he was commonly called worked as Deputy Managing Director for Technical Services at the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company during the transitional period of Liberia.

He earned a BSc Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Liberia. He also graduated with LLB Degree from the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia. He practiced law.

Besides being an astute public servant, Vlah was a socially popular person around whom many ordinary people gravitated.

He had a large following due to his liberal, pragmatic intellectual clout and his humanitarian nature.

He was one of the faces of Sinoe County in contemporary Liberia and of the Government of Liberia which he served with utmost passion as Minister of Public Works

His appointment as Public Works Minister by President George Weah in 2018 brought him to revered public prominence, as he proved to be one of the President’s most loyal servants and articulate political appointees.

He was a workaholic that President Weah in 2019 announced his most favorite public servant.

Because of his humility and hard work, Vlah, as he was popularly known and called, was named Person of the Year, Minister of the Year, Senator of the Year by several media institutions in the country.

Bleak Moment for Many

The Liberian nation nearly submerged into trepidation and grief when it was announced that the first Public Works Minister of Liberia under the George Weah administration had passed.

From that fateful date of the announcement, tributes and eulogies took over newspaper pages, radio talk shows and the social media.

President George Manneh Weah was one of the first few persons that sent our eulogies and condolences to the family.

President Weah said the deceased minister would be remembered for his humility, family values, love for country and strong work ethics, which resulted in the development of many rundown infrastructures in the country.

For his dedication and service to country, the Minister received a special plaudit from the President last year as a mark of encouragement.

The President extended his profound sympathy to the family of the bereaved, praying that they take solace in the Lord during this trying time for them.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor who was believed to have had intimate relationship with the deceased, wrote on her Instagram page: “Oh death, where is thy sting; Oh death, where is thy victory? So Mobutu is gone and people are moving around without even mourning for a day! Ay ya, what is sacrifice! Only what is done for God is permanent.”

A number of scholastic colleagues were also on hand with lamentations and moving tributes.

A Liberian journalist Hassan Bility, now a human rights defender, also added is words when he wrote: “Senior Comrade Mobutu, you truly were the ‘bad road medicine’. You built roads, many roads. Your academic excellence, creative ingenuity, selflessness, gracious attitude and care for Liberia are unsurpassed. You initiated me and others into student politics at the University of Liberia, during our freshman debut. You made sure we scored A’s. Above all, you mentored me and many others.”

He continued: “You were a revolutionary soldier and fighter. You were a brain. I salute you and will report for duty when you’re being laid to rest. But rest assure, commander, that we will soldier on as you commanded; for we know, through your revolutionary teachings, that the ‘Hero’ of a revolution is produced by the revolutionary smoke on the “battlefield”. Mother Liberia, you once told us, must be placed above all else.”

Another comrade of Vlah Nyenpan, J Frederick Barclay, wrote: “Though your days among us were too brief and our grief at your loss is never-ending, we draw comfort from the knowledge that you have found safe refuge in The Lord and in our hearts, where no darkness or pain can touch you now. We bless You with love, light, and our gratitude. You were a good boss and mentor to me, Mo-Vlah! You will never be forgotten. Rest In Perfect Peace Sen Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan.”

A longtime friend of his, Dennis B. Toe, also had these words “Whatever that was on mind including not being with my visiting brother from the States was put on hold. I drove to his house and there was that broad usual smile awaiting me at the gate with the befitting pleasantries to usher me in. I initially thought my being there was for an hour or so. But every time I asked to leave, he would say no. In fact, to extend my stay, without asking me, he asked the cook to prepare some dry rice. I was obliged to stay. And I was with him till 5pm. Little did I know that that meeting would be my last encounter with that special someone that today we called the late Public Works Minister Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan. Let’s take wisdom in these words as we mourn. Gbarku! I don’t know when but I am sure we will meet again on those beautiful shores. Good bye brother.”

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