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Thursday, December 7, 2023

From Rivercess to Monrovia, With My Poor Mother

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By Paul Yeenie Harry

My mother didn’t go to school. She has never sat in a classroom before. She does not know the difference between an A and a B.

Her husband, my legal father, was acting stupid on her in the interior in Rivercess County, and she angrily, but determinedly, left him and came to Monrovia, bringing me along.

She went from church to church and from prayer-related institution to prayer-related institution, praying hard. But she also worked hard.

She sold palm oil around, walking as far as Congo Town and other places. She fried kala and sold it right in front of our house in Chu-Gbor.

She sold pepper, bitter balls, okra, cubes, etc., right in the Joe Bar Market on the Old Road. She also sold muan-muan, fresh fish, dry fish, etc., in the same market.

If the fresh fish didn’t get finished, we would find wood to dry the fish, using some huge cut metal drums.

She was looking for it for us day and night, just for us to eat, wear clothes, go to school, etc.

I was wishing to attend St. Patrick’s High School, CWA, or one of the other expensive schools in Monrovia those days, but my mother never had the hand. She could not afford.

She tried and sent me to Haywood Mission School on the Old Road in the 1980s, another expensive school those days, but I dropped before the first semester could even end because my mother could not afford the tuition and fees.

I don’t know what made her brave that time seh!

Anyway, she sent me to a blackboard-divide school, commonly called Bull Frog Island, an elementary school in Chu-Gbor.

I stayed there until I graduated from the 6th grade. I used to walk to school. Thank God the distance was not faraway. I didn’t even care.

Upon graduation, I entered the Ellen Mills-Scarborough Junior High School, a poor-children, government school, located around the Old Road Junction near former President Sirleaf’s current residence.

The building is now used as the headquarters of ALCOP, a Liberian political party. I used to walk to school and from school every day. Da na small walking I did.

When I graduated, I entered William V. S. Tubman High School on 12th Street in Sinkor, anothe poor-children, government school.

I thought by entering high school my walking would have ended, not knowing, it was the beginning of real walking.

We used to walk from Chu-Gbor on the Old Road to 12th Street in Sinkor and come back home after school.

Those days, we used to look for very strong shoes for school. Da small walking we did? Puah!

When I graduated from Tubman High School, I got a scholarship, through the grace of God, to attend A. M. Zion Community College (now, A. M. E. Zion University), which used to be located in Congo Town, occupying the building that is now the former headquarters of the Unity Party.

You would think that by entering college, I would be considered a big boy then and would no longer walk, but it was the opposite.

I continued my walking career that I had started in my elementary days.

Can you imagine, my people? I walked to go to school when I was in elementary school. I walked to and from school when I was in junior high school.

I walked to and from school when I was in high school. I walked to and from school when I was in college. Walking da my area!

Lord, thank you for giving me strong legs.

Here are two main points I wish to indicate. First, don’t allow your background to determine your life or future. Remember this!

Second, I have heard some people say no one can give what they don’t have.

Da lie! Da very big lie! I say this because my mother never had education, but she gave me education.

It is quite possible for people to give what they don’t have.

Mama, thank you for leaving my father in Rivercess and coming to Monrovia yah. Most importantly, thank you so much for sagaciously concluding that you should bring me along with you.

What if you had left me in that interior? Where would I have been today, my dear mother?

Let me wipe my stupid dry butt and look forward to the holiday tomorrow yah.

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