- 19 Dec
VP BOAKAI SATUDAY DEC. 17, 2016 DELIVERED COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS AT THE FIRST GRADUATION EXERCISE OF THE GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE:- Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County
C o m m e n c e m e n t A d d r e s s
Honorable Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr.
Vice President of the Republic of Liberia
at the First Commencement Convocation
of the Grand Gedeh County Community College
“The Honorable Law Makers;
My Esteemed Superintendent;
Other County and Zwedru Municipal Authorities;
Our Illustrious and Wise Chiefs and Traditional Leaders;
Our Pioneering Class of Graduates of GGCCC;
Administrators from other Universities and Colleges;
Proud Parents, Guardians, and Well-Wishers
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Hello Graduates! Hello GGCC Family! Hello Parents! Hello Well-Wishers!
I have come on this unique occasion of the First Graduation of the Grand Gedeh Community College to extend to you my warmest felicitations and heartfelt congratulations to our graduates, and to you all for this milestone of great achievement today. Consider this as not only historic occasion, but equally a joyous one and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this history and joy.
I have long held the strong disposition that education is the best legacy any country can give to its citizens. And that is what brings me here today, notwithstanding my well stuffed itinerary this season. Besides, I could not resist the urge to put aside other competing engagements in favor of my presence here, considering the overwhelming gesture you accorded me on my last visit here last April. I still recall how moved I was when—against the punishing effects of that huge downpour of rain and blinding darkness—you firmly held your ground to give me such a mammoth welcome on my arrival in Zwedru from Harper. I still stand grateful and appreciative of that show of love and support. I cannot thank you enough.
My Compatriots, Friends, and Well-wishers;
The strides we have made as a people as a consequence of the present Government giving unique opportunities to our young emerging leaders to attend college in their own counties shows how far we have come as a nation to providing equal opportunity for all our citizens irrespective of where they live.
In fact, the utmost importance attached to education by our Government is clearly underscored in the establishment of strategic county community colleges. Grand Gedeh Community College is a prime example.
It was unheard of years ago, that young people could attend college locally in their counties. Here we are, today, young Grand Gedeans do not have to worry about the numerous challenges involved in moving to Monrovia to pursue a better life and an assured future through obtaining higher education. Let me pause and give thanks to the Board of Trustees and County Leadership for their role in establishing this Community College. I am familiar with it because I also played a modest role.
If the opportunity you all enjoy today was available to young people in my generation, surely it could have lessened the untold and punishing burden some of us had to bear through years back in our quest for higher education to be able to serve our country today.
In retrospect of how far we have come, I am glad that God poured His courage and resolve in the lives of some of us, molding us into the trailblazers of a generation of Liberians we turned out to be. True, we still have challenges. But despite of all odds, we still believe in a real bright future for this country—a future we can salvage if we stand united and reconciled with one another and put the interest of our country above all else.
Your County, Grand Gedeh, has served as a symbol of reviving hope and reconciliation for the people of this country. When the late President Samuel Doe emerged as the leader of the then People Redemption Council (PRC), that historic development ignited great hope in our people for outstanding possibilities.
It can be recalled that even our two Presidents—Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Alassane Ouatarra of La Cote d’Ivoire—presided over a reconciliation meeting with the elders, traditional leaders, and local authorities along the border in their quest for harmony and cohesion. While we do not, in hindsight, overlook his shortcomings, missteps, and frailties as a human, his leadership gave real reasons to all young Liberians to dream and aspire to even the nation’s highest office. This historical fact we must not ignore so quickly.
Now that we have moved from our ugly past of brutality of wars and suffering, it is about time that all Liberians everywhere unite and learn to work together to build our nation together.
As we celebrate this first and historic graduation today, I want us to reflect on the topic: “Education for service and Reconciliation: A call to the Grand Gedeh Community College Graduates.”
Many educated people in our society today do not consider their education as an opportunity to serve their nation and people. Instead, they only think about cheating and plunder, keeping their people and country poor and destitute. I should urge you to relish the noble act of service to country and humanity. Rabindranath Tagore summed it all up when he said, and I QUOTE:
I slept and dreamed that life was happiness.
I wake up and saw that life was service.
I served and learnt that in service Happiness is found. (UNQUOTE)
As a son of Lofa County, and a proud Liberian, I was given the opportunity by President Doe to serve my country in various capacities. And I did serve in the best way I knew how. I can never complain that President Doe ever denied me the privilege to serve my country owing of my County of origin. He knew I could serve my nation to the best of my ability. And I am glad that he had confidence in my ability to serve and to deliver. I also believe that all of us in leadership should be inclusive in providing opportunities to serve our country irrespective of county or tribe.
Today, we are living in real trying times of the real test of national reconciliation and unbending unity. Unless we all endeavor to celebrate our diversities and cherish our unity, learning to work together for the common good of our dear Liberia, our aspirations for a better Liberia will be a mere mirage.
Frankly speaking, for our age as a nation, we are behind developmentally as compared to the other nations in the sub-region. We cannot afford to propagate the message of hate and tribalism or bigotry, which can only hold us down further as a people. Even more so, we need to break out of our shells of limitation to more forcefully confront the duty to move our nation forward. There is no reason why we cannot produce enough food to eat and export.
As the former South African President and world revered personality, Nelson Mandela, admonished, “There is no time to hate at all. We’ve got work to do. We must build our divided nation and rewinding hate will only slow us down. Certainly, there is no time to hate.”
As we move toward a real defining moment in 2017, we must all unite against hate and division. We must all unite against conflict and instability. We must all unite against any form of violence and win a victory of hope, reconciliation, honest service, and unity for our dear nation, Liberia. With reconciliation, we can win together. When we are reconciled with each other, we can provide better opportunities for young people. When we all keep the peace and unity of our country, we can do a lot together to make Liberia a great and prosperous country.
To foster reconciliation, we must avoid the practice of exclusion, stigmatization, and alienation. We need not be reminded that a son of Grand Gedeh can be as patriotic to this country as a son of Lofa. Similarly, a daughter of the great County of Nimba can love this country much as a daughter of any of the other fourteen counties.
Today, in many respects, it has become fashionable to hear shouts about the need for generational change. This is a concept that has been so misunderstood or misused to the point that it is now latent with a subtle message of division. Often, many young people have found themselves stranded in the argument that younger people must now push aside older government functionaries from the governance structure of the nation. They simplistically interpret this to be generational change.
I am confident that within the walls of academia that you have trod the last couple of years, you must have had great opportunities to engage in stimulating intellectual conversations. I pray that yours were conversations, you would agree, that do not espouse an imagery or reality of generational change or gender bias, as an act in sidelining or pushing aside a more experienced older generation or capable female partners.
We must be mindful that raw biological age does not determine any person’s world outlook or philosophical perception of human existence and development. One can be as old as the Biblical Methuselah and yet still bear the most forward looking world outlook orientation. In the same way, one can be as young as a young adult and yet hold a world outlook that is as backward as backwardness can be.
The world has harbored a good list of very young national leaders whose twisted outlook or world view has led them to pull their countries down into retrogression and chaos. The same is true with a good number of older statesmen and women. The mechanical interpretation of the concept of generational change to simply mean replacing one elderly leader with a juvenile should therefore be avoided. Leadership—and a sound one too—requires more. Experience, demeanor, foresight, patience, and level-headedness must inform our measure of good leadership, not just numerical age. And so, preparing oneself solidly for the challenges of service to country must be paramount.
We all know that we are living in a difficult era. We cannot promise that there will not be difficulties and challenges when you leave the walls of this Institution. Your response, your attitude, and actions will determine your success in the market place. In fact, a guru on leadership theory and practice, John Maxwell, once said, “A difficult time can be more readily endured if we retain the conviction that our existence holds a purpose, a cause to pursue, a person to love, a goal to achieve.”
Hence, let me convey to you, our beaming graduates, my deep pride in you for your academic sojourn and achievements. You need to be aware however that, as the Bible teaches, “To whom much is given, much is expected”.
Now that you have been trained, it is time to give back not only to yourself, but also to your country, the only country that you have, Liberia! You will agree with me that your educational sojourn has been a joint venture, involving your parents, relatives and other friends, who stepped forth to be on your side to make you productive citizens today. You cannot afford to turn a blind eye to others when you are in the position to assist and to serve your country in a more honorable way.
We together as a nation, face the challenge of connecting this every segment of this country with quality all-weather roads. A good first step in that direction will be for us all to put behind us our usual complaints and blame games, roll up our sleeves, and focus on building this country for all. You, the graduates, are now prepared to take that first step.
But to prepare yourself for even greater tasks in your national duty, you are urged to take the next step toward upgrading your aptitude by aiming for your undergraduate degrees. Know that the more prepared you are, the better your chances of expanding your contribution to your nation and people.
As I drove into this part of the country on many other occasions, I observed that, notwithstanding the huge challenges, we have numerous opportunities here for an improved community and citizenry.
You have been given this education to give back to your community. Education is to make you serviceable and capable of solving problems in a peaceful and organized way. As we approach the milestone of 2017, each of you must be well- groomed and better informed agent of reconciliation and hope. As the legendary Mahatma Gandhi suggested, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Liberia depends on you, as it is time to THINK LIBERIA, LOVE LIBERIA and BUILD LIBERIA.
God bless you and your families and God bless Liberia.
Thank you very much and CONGRATULATIO”