Can Grand Bassa Shine as an Educational Beacon?

first_imgGrand Bassa County (GBC), boasts being second only to Montserrado in terms of historical and political significance. It is the nation’s second county; and in 1838, it merged with Montserrado to become the Commonwealth of Liberia. Grand Bassa is second to Montserrado also in terms of the number of Liberian Presidents from that county. Our second President, Stephen Allen Benson, hailed from Edina, GBC. So did the ninth, Anthony W. Gardner, and the 12th, Joseph James Cheeseman, also from Edina. The majority of Liberian Presidents hailed from Montserrado, the exceptions besides Grand Bassa being Grand Gedeh-born Samuel K. Doe and Nimba-born Moses Blah, successor to President Charles Taylor. Grand Bassa also produced some of the nation’s outstanding men, one of whom recently died, Dr. Walter Brumskine, Liberia’s first and only urologist. Another Brumskine, Charles Walker, twice unsuccessfully sought the presidency. Veteran Certified Public Accountant David Farhat, former Finance Minister and current member of the Board of Directors, Central Bank of Liberia, also unsuccessfully sought the presidency. From GBC also hailed James A. Morgan, President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate and patriarch of the Morgan family. Sons included Ambassador James A. Morgan, President Tubman’s perennial Chief of Protocol, Counselor Lawrence A. Morgan, former GBC Superintendent, former Attorney General and founder of an airline, DATCO that flourished in the 1960s and 70s. Senator Morgan also produced many daughters, one of whom, Mrs. Frances Wilson, became the wife of Chief Justice A. Dash Wilson. One of Senator Morgan’s sons, Lafayette, a Certified Public Accountant, was Minister without Portfolio under Tubman. Another eminent statesman that hailed from GBC was G. Flamma Sherman, Consul General of Liberia to London, Liberia’s first Ambassador to Ghana, and later Secretary, then Minister of Education. His former wife, Mrs. Louiza Sherman, built Buchanan’s first modern hotel, Hotel Louiza. Another prominent GBC son was Counselor Lafayette (Fate) Harmon, father of two other prominent Liberians—Emmet and Joshua Harmon. Joshua was former GBC Superintendent and later Senator. Emmet, the older brother, was a prominent businessman and politician. Unfortunately, his main legacy is that he and Samuel Doe rigged the 1985 presidential elections. Fate Harmon also produced a daughter, Mrs. Annie Diggs, Dunn, Mendscole, mother of several outstanding sons—Ambassador Lafayette Diggs, his brothers Arnu, one of our early professional animal husbandry experts; Dr. Joseph Diggs, Liberia’sfirst radiologist, Milt Greaves, a brilliant student from the Booker Washington Institute who became an outstanding broadcast journalist and author of a ripping book, The Fist of Machiavelli. Milt migrated to the USA following the 1980 coup and became President of the Public Broadcast Corporation ofTennessee. Another son, Eddie Dunn, became Chief of Protocol of Liberia. Annie also had a prominent daughter, Joyce Mendscole, a lawyer like her grandfather, who served the United Nations system for over three decades.There is, of course, the eminent scholar and political science professor, Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, an author of the Historical Dictionary of Liberia and several other books, including his latest, three-volume Annual Messages of Presidents of Liberia, from J.J. Roberts to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.Another Bassonian, Prince A. Page, became one of Liberia’s outstanding jet pilots. T. Nelson Williams II, former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company, whose grandmother was an unlettered Bassa woman, is also scion of Grand Bassa. His father, T. Nelson, Sr., served many years as Deputy Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism and later, first Chair of the Department of Mass Communication, University of Liberia.Another eminent GBC son, who hailed from Compound No. 4, is Dr. S. Byron Tarr, a noted international economist, former Minister of Planning and Finance, respectively, author of a UN study, Taxation of Transnational Corporations: the Liberian Experience. He was one of the key contributors to the successes of the Governance Commission.Joseph Gbadyu became, along with Rev. Abba Kanga, producers of the Bassa Vah written language.Outstanding female Bassonians of today include Gender and Development Minister Julia Duncan Cassell, Etweda Cooper, both former GBC Superintendents, and Senator Nyonblee Kangar-Lawrence.Then there is Dr. Levi Zangai, former President of the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU), now President of the Grand Bassa Community College (GBCC). The GBCC is poised to move into a new 250-acre modern campus in Paynesberry, across the Benson River.The GBCC is the main point of this Editorial. During a recent tour of the new campus, Dr. Zangai pledged that the GBCC is soon to become Liberia’s IT hub and a “center of excellence.” According to him, that is what President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has decided to make GBCC.The nation is watching to see this dream fulfilled. The GBCC is Bassa’s leading educational institution. There was a long time ago the BIA Mission, located off the road to Buchanan, run by American missionaries. Moses K. Weefur, Principal of the Booker Washington Institute, and Mrs. Agnes von Balmoos, famous Director of the UL Choir, traveled all the way from Grand Cess, in then Kru Coast Territory (now Grand Kru County), to advance their education before entering high schools in Monrovia.The two best known private high schools in Grand Bassa are the Bassa High School and St. Peter Claver, both in Buchanan. These schools trained several generations of Bassonians. These, along with Bassa High, will become the chief feeders to GBCC, where students seeking higher education can acquire solid training in Math and Science as well as English and History, then go on to learn Agriculture, Computer Science, Nursing, etc.What is the vision? What is a computer hub? India and Singapore became computer hubs in the 1990s and 2000s when their expertly trained computer technicians benefitted richly from outsourcing by American banks, telephone and GSM companies and other industries. Soon, the locals were raised to middle class, helping their country to progress rapidly in technological and industrial development. Hopefully the government, Bassonians and development partners will help GBCC to achieve its dream of transforming the county into an Information Technology hub.The Bassa people must also begin to realize their immense geographical potential—all their rivers that are great for hydro-electricity and tourism; and their rich farm land, which still lies in bush with hardly any farms in sight.Cashew nuts grow naturally, especially in Edina. When will Bassonians take advantage of the world demand for cashew nuts?Can GBCC take the lead in developing the county’s agriculture, industry and tourism? We hope and pray that it can—and will. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more