By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
The life we live in is such that what one decides may not necessarily be what one may experience in the future. Also, one may find himself/herself in a certain situation or condition that such person never thought about to happen in the future. Sometimes people in their childhood may foreseeably desire to become part of a profession or engage in certain activities but would later find themselves in different profession or a strange world.
I gathered this too while reading through the book written by former US First Lady, Mitchell Obama. In her book entitled:’ BECOMING,” Mrs. Obama recounted: ‘I used to tell people what when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician.Why?Becuase I loved being around little Kids and I quickly learned that it was a pleasing answer for adults to hear.Oh,a doctor, what a good choice…’.
Today, what she had thought or envisaged to become in the future did not come to reality as she is not a pediatrician or doctor. Likewise, one of my professors at the University of Liberia is today visually impaired (blind).
Equally, there are people who were born without health problem, but may later turn to be in a state of incapacitation or breakdown because of accident or unforeseen situation, like in the case of the late Tom Kamara of the NEW DEMOCRAT” who became crippled because of injuries during the Liberian civil conflict. .
I say this to bring to focus on the present condition of my brother, (not by consanguinity) ALFRED NYANFORD NIMELY, who was militarily retired from the US Navy in May 2013. He joined the US Navy in August 11, 1994, after arriving in the US in 1993.
Alfred and I slept in the same room and on the same bed from elementary days for many years in New Kru Town.
In that room, we had a policy, which said, ”If your own comes, I will go outside and if my own comes, you go outside.’ “Own” here at the time referred to girlfriend or “jues” at the time. This system continued until Alfred and I had to separate because he had then found a room.
Let me say that we were so committed to this policy that we never double-crossed, as we were our brother’s keeper. But one thing I can admittedly say is that if a lady took a friend along with her to either of us, one of us would capture that friend.
Despite some of those bad habits, we took our education seriously. Both of us graduated from the New Kru Town Elementary School, then, popularly known as “CLUB HOUSE” in 1975 with honors.
Unlike other young people, we never fussed or created a situation of acrimonious exchanges. Yes, as human beings, given our idiosyncrasies; at times, we differed on issues, but that did not lead us to a cat and mouse relationship. Interestingly, we shared characteristics. We were interested in academic activities and also sports, for which we were members of the LEEDS UNITED football team, a name taken from an English team.
When we entered the then William R. Tolbert High School, now D. Twe High School, we actively participated in the school’s extra curriculum activities. He was in the choir (bass section), then at the time known as the”VOICE OF THE ATLANTIC.’ I was in the school’s press club, something that prepared me for where I am today as a journalist.
Besides, my brother was an active member of the school’s SPECIAL UNIT,” a group that brought accolades to the school for its splendid performances during the annual ‘AUGUST 24 National Flag Day Parade by schools in the principal streets of Monrovia. This day is special to me because it is my birthday.
At Tolbert High School, we were joined by two others-Victor Weah Dixon and Joseph Nimely Doe (now Darlington Doe), making us four good friends. Joseph Doe was a very good drummer in the school’s culture troupe. We were known and admired in the school for our amity and friendship. Of all, I was the oldest.
All of us were also active in student politics. Those days, we established the school government like that on the national same by referring to officials as “Minister”.
Despite our involvement in the extra curriculum activities of the school, Alfred and I academically competed, as we did in elementary school, graduating with honors in December 1981. I graduated as the valedictorian of that highly competitive class, while Alfred took the second place. Upon graduation, we sought vacation jobs with the then MESURADO Group of Companies.
Prior to that, as part of the hustle ‘to make ends meet’ Alfred and I did labor-intensive jobs with a sawmill company to the area where the present Duala Market is located. Noticeably, in spite of the issue of the merger income as casual workers, that opportunity helped us to know the different sizes of planks.
As expected, upon graduation, we entered the REAL WORLD,” as economists would say for the future. Alfred entered the University of Liberia where he did a one-year course in demography. Being inspired by that, he entered the under graduate program in 1987, majoring in economics and minoring in accounting. However, the 1989 civil conflict prevented him from completing his studies.
For me, I joined the mainstream media, initially with the MIRROR newspaper of Edward Davies, in 1982, as a cub reporter. Later, I joined the DAILY OBSERVER Newspaper in May 1983, as its correspondent in New Kru Town. Alfred was at the university and I was at the Daily Observer when the civil war intensified in 1990, thus causing us to separate. Alfred found himself in Freetown, Sierra Leone, while I remained in Liberia, with the so-called and self-styled freedom fighters.
Really, I did not know that Alfred had fled to that neighboring country for security reasons, as many others did owing to the war at the time. I got to know this when I was told that he wanted to talk with me from Sierra Leone. Guess what! All he wanted me to do was to find his girlfriend, Chris Tapson, who I was fortunate to locate in New Kru Town. Thank God that they have been happily married since August 6, 1996 and reside in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
For years, we were out of contact. It was until 1994 when I visited the United States on the International Visitor’s Program in New York that we met. Later, I gathered that he was successful in joining the United States Navy, something for which I was in a state of ecstasy for my New Kru Town brother.
In 2012 when I was on my way to the United States to attend my daughter Patience’s graduation from high school, Alfred promised to be there as one of the DJ’s. Unfortunately, few days to the time, he fell down on June 11, 2012 while leaving an event hosted by Liberians in North Carolina and injured his spinal cord, thus preventing him from attending the planned event. With that bad news, I then thought about the issue of the uncertainty and unpredictability of life.
Even though we have not seen each other for years, we kept the line of communication open, as I promised to with him whenever I visit the USA. And so when the opportunity came to attend my daughter Patience’s graduation in that country, I added few days to spend some time with him to see his condition.
As I was leaving the Jacksonville Airport, I began to imagine what would be my reaction emotionally to see my brother in such health condition. That is, to see this one-time energetic man now bed-ridden, and only rely on machine to do something.
But as I approached him, his countenance strengthened me, thus making me emotionally strong. Again, Alfred and I found ourselves in the same room. But this time, on different beds, and not the same bed as it were in New Kru Town those days.
The few fays I spent with Alfred, mainly in the room was a time of reflections as we shared pleasantries, joked and laughed over some of our past deeds and activities. Our interactions were therapeutic, as I saw him in a mood of happiness. We also reflected on the number of TALENT SHOWS’ we attended at the now dilapidated E. J. Roye Building on Ashmun Street and other areas.
Our laughter was so much that his wife, Chris, got concerned and paid intermittent visits to the room, only to receive a response from us, ”Our New Kru Town talk”. From there, whenever she heard us laughing, she would say, ‘your on your New Kru Town talk?” That was how Chris then referred to our conversation during the few days I spent there in Jacksonville, Florida.
To widen the scope of our conversations we invited through the use of the telephone some of our former classmates to reflect on the past. Some are in the USA and others in Liberia. Two of them included Cllr. James Verdier, former Chairman of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and Mrs. Edina Jleh Doe-Sawor, who now works at the American Embassy in Monrovia. Edina was referred to in school as “Mosquito.”
Thank God she had put flesh on her body today that she can no longer be called in such a derogatory way. The other person who came in the picture was Miss Sayjleh Seekie, who now works with CEMENCO. She was admired those days in school because of the way she used to walk in school. To say it the Liberian way, ‘she knew how to rock herself.’ ..
To conclude; let me say that it was great that after a protracted period, I was able to meet my brother. I admire him for psychologically accepting his present condition happily during his therapy and also saying with hope, “God knows why.”
Yes, indeed, no one knows tomorrow. In the case of my brother, he never thought of being in such a condition in the future.
This is why I agree with my late grandmother who always told me, “Never you laugh at a crippled person because you do not know tomorrow, as it would be you tomorrow.”
I Rest My Case.