Put the National Cultural Center Where It Belongs: in Bomi’s Dowein District

first_imgMost of us have heard of Bai T. Moore, the celebrated Liberian and international cultural icon, who did so much for cultural reawakening in Liberia.But how many of us have heard of Dwuala Bukele?  Well, he was the inventor of the Vai Script, the written  expression of the Vai language.  It was one of only two African languages that have their original scripts, unrelated to the Latin or Arabic alphabets.  In other words, they are original.So what is the point about these two men?  What is the relationship between Bai T. Moore and Dwuala Bukele?   Both of them hail from the same Dowein culture that links the Vais (Dwuala), Golas and the Deys (Bai T.).  These cultures have very deep and strong linkages with indigenous cultures that crisscross Montserrado, Margibi (especially the greater Kakata-Firestone area), Bong, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Lofa and Gbarpolu counties.   It is in these cultures that the Porro and Sande traditions are strongest.Bai T. Moore’s remains are buried in Dimeh.  Not far up the street from Dimeh is the Besao Cultural Village, a place that Bai T. frequently took cultural enthusiasts on pilgrimages.  We understand that some of the early Liberian kings are buried there. The point we are trying to make is that we know of no better place for the National Cultural Center that in the Dimeh-Besao areas.  But the Ministry of Information and the Liberian government want to plant the new Cultural Center in Marshall, a place totally alien to Liberian indigenous culture.  We know of no Porro or Sande bushes in Marshall, nor do we know of any substantial cultural groups in the area.  What we do remember is that when Mr. John Bestman opened his  motel in Marshall a few years ago, he invited Julie Endee and her Crusaders for Peace to do the cultural honors for Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and other dignitaries.On the other hand, there are many cultural activities ongoing all of the time in Dimeh and Besao.  Both the Porro and Sande bushes are in Besao.  Unconfirmed sources say it was in Besao that President Tolbert joined the Porro Society.  We understand that in 1978 he accompanied the King of Lesotho to Besao.  And King Njola, one of the signers of the Land Treaty with the settlers, is buried in Besao.  Another very powerful historical figure, King Sao Boso, is buried not too far from Besao, in Gbarpolu, most probably in Bopolu, one of the county’s main towns.This Dewoin area we are proposing for the location of the National Cultural Center is, it seems to us, the most natural place for such a center.  What is there in Marshall besides the fishing village of Fanti Town?  Yes, there is the proposed new headquarters of the Liberian Maritime Authority, but that is not a cultural but a marine institution.  They have their performances, but these are on the sea.  We hope that one day they will build a dry dock there for the repair of vessels traveling to West Africa.Marshall is also a potentially great tourist destination.  We pray that it will be the home of at least two five-star hotels.  The tourists could travel from there to the Dowein District to see first class cultural performances.  That would be an expedition that tourists would fondly remember.We trust that the government will see reason to change its mind about where to put the National Cultural Center and place it where it belongs, in the Dowein District, especially Besao, which already has an open air theatre and all other facilities relevant to a cultural village.  The people of Besao have made it plain that they would welcome the National Cultural Center in their area.  The culture is already there in abundance.  All that will be needed would be build a modern theatre, an Arts and Crafts Shop, and the 23 or more cultural villages to accommodate the acrobats, artists, dancers, dramatists, drummers, singers and all other cultural experts from Liberia’s 16 major ethnic groups. There, as they did for decades in Kendeja, they can dwell together in peace, harmony and creativity, practicing and refining their crafts and preparing to present their ingenious cultural displays to the nation and the world.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Tobacco Control Council finally launched

first_img2 years after legislationAlmost two years after Guyana passed legislation to regulate the sale and use of tobacco products, the Government has finally assembled a council which will be responsible for enforcing the law.Dr Shamdeo Persaud has been named Chairman of the 9-member council, and Attorney Cassandra Alves as the council’s Legal Officer. Other councillors are Mahadeo Ramjag from the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), Shailendra Rai from the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS); Desiree Edghill, Executive Director of Artistes in Direct Support; Melissa Del-Richards, Assistant Director of Sports; Dr Mayon Amsterdam, Technical Officer at the Public Health Ministry; Dr Latoya Gooding from the Giving Hope Foundation; and Chronic Diseases Coordinator Dr Kavita Singh as the council’s secretary.The mission of the council has been influenced by the Public Health Ministry’s framework of the Health Vision 2020, which is a post-Millennium Development Goals agenda for Guyana through expanding universal health coverage and enabling health-enhancing behavioural and cultural changes in and through the delivery of improved health services.The council was established following the mandate of the Tobacco Control Act, which stipulates that a council be established with the important role of advising the Minister on matters related to tobacco control and the administration and enforcement of the Act.Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence has said the council would play a pivotal role in how the ministry addresses non-communicable diseases.“It is my strong belief that you (the council) are well positioned to do the things that are required of you, because you represent all sectors of our community and you can interface with our citizens in our community groups — of the entertainment sector, of social media, our religious organisations etc — to spread the message of how important it is of us kicking that habit of smoking,” Lawrence asserted.The council’s Legal Officer, Cassandra Alves, told the gathering that Guyana is the first country in the Caribbean to implement a Tobacco Control Council. She, however, outlined the hard road ahead, as several regulations need to be implemented and enforced.“In accordance with the regulations passed last year, the tobacco industry had to start complying with the rules on the 25th of February this year, and they have started. We still have some problems with compliance; some people have stretched out the image too much, some have opted to not put certain things, some have put things on the package that they were not supposed to put there.“The tobacco industry cannot even put on the package a health message that they have made up, but only those that are prescribed by the regulations,” Alves explained.The Tobacco Control Bill was passed in the National Assembly on July 27, 2017. At that time, Guyana had the third highest prevalence rate of smoking in the world. However, in 2018, Guyana received the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) World No Tobacco Day Award for the passage of the bill.The bill bans smoking at all indoor workplaces and certain outdoor places, such as in any waiting area or queue in a public place, including but not limited to any public transport stop, bus stand or bus park.The legislation will be enforced by the application of several penalties in the form of fines and prison sentences for ‘certain transgressions’. These range from a fine of $200,000 along with 6 months’ imprisonment for persons who breach the new regulations, to fines for business entities of up to $9 million dollars.Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence (sixth from right) along with the Tobacco Control Council memberslast_img read more