Dr. Harry F. Moniba, Liberia’s former Vice President:Seen from afar yet familiar and honorable
J. Marsilus Flumo(December 1st 2004)
"....Seen from afar yet familiar and honorable” is a tribute to Dr. Harry F. Moniba, our former Vice President, in fulfillment of the old saying that, “When you educate a son/daughter, he/she not only belongs to his immediate family/tribe but also to the nation.”
On Thursday November 25, 2004, Liberians in the United States gathered at the homes of families, friends, relatives, and loved ones to partake in Thanksgiving.For us Liberians who have come to make this tradition a part of ours, “turkey day,” as all—Liberians as well as Americans—fondly refer to Thanksgiving Day, has come to symbolize a time not only to give thanks to God for giving us a second lease on life but also an opportunity for family reunion.
Unlike past Thanksgiving celebrations where good food, merrymaking, and memories of meeting family members, relatives, friends of old time, and loved ones excited nostalgia, we were greeted with a shocking and unexpected news of the sudden death of Dr. Harry F. Moniba, former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, in an automobile accidenton U.S. Highway 127 in Lenawee County in the state of Michigan.In a matter of hours, news of this sad event which traveled like wildfire reached most Liberians residing in the United States and, in our Liberian parlance, “spoiled” the Thanksgiving and the reunions all had planned to celebrate.
“Seen from afar yet familiar and honorable” is a tribute to Dr. Harry F. Moniba, our former Vice President, in fulfillment of the old saying that, “When you educate a son/daughter, he/she not only belongs to his immediate family/tribe but also to the nation.”
To the immediate family members, the Gbandi Community, and the people of LofaCounty, I, on behalf of my family and the people of NimbaCounty and Liberia, pray for God’s guidance and strength that you may carry on.The loss of your son is not only a loss to the immediate family, the Gbandi Community, and the people of LofaCounty but also a loss to the people of NimbaCounty and Liberia.
Dr. Moniba dedicated his life and service to Liberia.He maintained dignity and integrity when it did not appear to be fashionable.In a tumultuous time, he was a reassuring voice, indeed a rarity.More honorably, he, with grace, undeservingly took the blame for the actions of others for the sake of national unity.
Ironically prevented from succeeding President Doe during the Liberian Civil War after the death of the president because of the very leadership qualities—quietude, being reflective, reasonableness, calmness under pressure, etc.—we crave today, this son of the soil who, perhaps, had more gravitas than any of the remaining candidates in the 2005 presidential elections, preoccupied himself with national rather than personal interests.
Dr. Moniba steered clear of exploiting public resources for personal gains in his public career.More importantly, he never gave up on Liberia.He left a legacy of respectability and honor: he gave to Liberia more than Liberia gave to him.We can never thank God and the people of LofaCounty enough for giving the nation such a great and illustrious son.
As we grind our teeth in shock and disappointment at death, a phenomenon always personified as having cold hands, for being particularly cruel to Liberia by snatching Dr. Moniba, a potential president, during a cold icy afternoon on Wednesday November 24, 2004, I cannot imagine an opportunity more befitting for coming together as a people and nation to begin the true process of national reconciliation and restoring the dignity and respectability that once permeated our society than the passing of this great son who gave his life to our country.
National reconciliation in Liberia requires more than national reflection and coming to terms with the consequences of the turmoil over the last fifteen to twenty five years.It requires adopting the appropriate attitude and taking the necessary actions to restore the nation.The river of reconciliation has many tributaries that must be attended to in order that it may flow uninterrupted.Some of these tributaries include the search, forensic identification, and a more befitting burial for Presidents William R. Tolbert, Jr. and Samuel K. Doe.For now, let the first public display of national reconciliation begin with this tributary—Hon. Harry F. Moniba, former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
For this reason, I request Chairman Charles G. Bryant, members of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly, our international supporters, and my fellow Liberians that we come together and give Dr. Harry F. Moniba, our former Vice President, a grand and appropriate state funeral befitting of a leader who gave his life and service to our country.