Special Awards In Pictures

-Ellen: From 159th To 170th Independence Anniversary

Hereafter, the name Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will remain ingrained in the hearts of Liberians as well as all national fabrics, for the good or bad reasons. A daughter of two counties – Bomi, Sinoe – her story will be told in different political theaters in different ways.

Ellen end 9x6Which way the audience will go, the watchword could be “The first democratically female president” to be followed, perhaps, by her “fulfilled and unfulfilled promises,” and not forgetting her self-effacingly indescribable political style for which many refer to her as “Liberia’s smartest politician.” Having presided over the affairs of state for little over a decade including activities marking the observance of Independence Day, the President played her last role on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 with a call for sober reflection. Until otherwise, that aspect of her presidency has ended. The New Republic reports.
A drenched atmosphere around a fairly and glamorously decorated Centennial Pavilion ruptured into reverie, anxiety as well as befuddlement when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf took the podium for her first Independence Day statement to the nation on the observance of the 159th Independence Anniversary on July 26, 2006.

Awe, incredulity and uncertainty filled the air as the President bounced unto the scene, heavily guarded by dangerously-looking gun-toting SSS officers who would stop at nothing when the president is at risk.

On this glorious day, the first democratically elected female president was presented her first task of rallying her countrymen and women to the cause of nation building, security, peace and reconciliation and many other issues that befell a country that was beginning the trail of regaining her lost glory to years of civil war.
Almost on the verge of departing the scene after somehow successful but turbulent administration of the affairs of State, President Sirleaf returned to the same stage on Wednesday, July 26, 2017 to mark the 170th Independence Anniversary with a great depth of sober reflections. By all accounts, the Ellen ghost will no more be seen or felt in any Independence Day celebration, though she will still be recognized as former President.
Though time still left for her two-tenure presidency which ends in about six months’ time, July 26, 2017 climaxed her participation in such a nerve-racking state function as head of state during which all state resources are brought to bear.

Deeply aware of the end getting nearer and nearer, and flanked by other officials of government who defied the showery weather to honor their country’s cause at the Centennial Pavilion Wednesday, the Liberian leader was without her usual expressionless posture.

Very quietly as the program progressed, so many thoughts might have overwhelmed the president as she glared in deep reflection of her presidency.  She must have considered what the politically, socially and economically broken country she inherited would be after her; she must have also thought more about who her successor would be and how Liberians are going to miss her. She must have also considered ‘the promises’ in the realm of fulfillment or not.
Of course, of the many things she reflected upon would be the honors of the office of president, the ovations and the unequal status, the security protection, the fleet of cars that constitutes her presidential convoy, and many other pleasantries.
It was the twelfth and last Independence Day celebration to be held under her watch as President of a country that had no time or had little time to appropriately observe its Independence Anniversary due to a very grudgingly devastating civil war when men tested their manhood and God-given abilities, while scrambling for territorial gains.
From the podium at the Centennial Pavilion where she uttered her first Independence Day remarks on July 26, 2006, calling on Liberians to unite and forge a common front for sustained peace and development, she also uttered her last Independence Day remarks on July 26, 2017, calling on Liberians to reflect.
“If Liberians are interested in changing or re-directing the course of the Liberian society - from the worst - to the old good days, when everything proceeded in line with societal norms – they should listen and reflect on the oration,” the President said.
Rallying Liberians to reflect on those statements uttered by National Orator, Dr. Hermon Brown as we determine what role each and every one of us would play in sustaining the peace, she congratulated Liberians and residents who turned out for the celebration of Liberia’s 170th Independence Anniversary.
Orator Brown dedicated part of his oration to Pres. Sirleaf’s stewardship over the nation, wherein Liberians are enjoying twelve years of uninterrupted peace. He also referenced the Government’s role.
“Madam President you and your government saw the resolve that God had placed in us, and you took the position that the resilience of your people was the only statistics that mattered; and announced publicly that the WHO’s calculation was wrong and that their predictions will not come to past. Madam President, this was an occasion when the courage of your government was met with collective commitments of your people to defeat the virus; and inspired by your leadership, we succeeded. We salute you,” the Rev. Dr. Hermon B. Browne said passionately.
The Fire Ruckus
One thing likely to remain stuck in the heart of the President as she prepares to leave office is the ruckus that erupted when the Executive Mansion gutted fire, thus disfiguring the hilarities and other trappings that signify such national convocation.
Whilst preparing for a state dinner for visiting guests including former Ghanaian President, John Kuffour, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and others in the Chandelier Room on the 5th floor, profusely billowing smoke spotted in one of the rooms sent guests cowering for their lives.
Less than expected, the fire had spread unto the 4th Floor closed to the presidential office and everyone took unto their heels, and by this time, the dinner had become a thing of oblivion.
In efforts aimed to eschew serious national disaster as well as diplomatic chaos, officers of then Special Security Service (SSS) rose to the occasion, bundled the President and her guests out of the building through one of the many escapade channels.

While the cause of the fire was being investigated and former Minister of State Morris Dukuly tendered his resignation for failing to exercise oversight, a somehow timid President surfaced at the Foreign Ministry where she told reporters she would operate from.

Twelve years down the line, President Sirleaf has been administering the affairs of state from the Foreign Ministry while renovating the State Access remains a controversial issue.

Things to remember
Another reflection she would not avoid is the introduction of nation-wide rotational celebration of the National Independence Day, and her preoccupation would be whether she achieved the essence of the exercise.
The essence was to decentralize development as the government endeavored to undertake cut-crossing development projects. In her calculation it would be in the interest of the country and people in other parts of the country when programs marking Independence Day observance were held outside of Monrovia.
Pres. Sirleaf began the rotational Independence Day observance with Grand Bassa County, followed by Kakata, Gbarnga, Sanniquelle, Tubmanburg, Voinjama, and Greenville.
Another issue that is likely to remain with the Liberian leader as she ends her duty of presiding over such program is the breath-taking process of finding orators. She was able to bring to the fore as orators the likes of Kimmie weeks, Father Robert Tikpor, Chief Flomo Togba, Charles Minor, Christopher Dugbe Nyan, and others who heroically put Liberia’s case on the front-burner of public discourse. Whether her successor will trek the same path or discontinue could be a concern for the Liberian leader.
During activities marking the 171st Independence in 2018 under a new administration, there would be no Ellen Johnson Sirleaf contacted for planning, picking of orator and any other thing befitting such awesome occasion. Indeed, the two-term president has come to the end of presiding over national Independence Day activities.

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