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In the Slums of Monrovia – By Arnold A. Alalibo

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By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | January 27, 2018 – 

The distance between Clara Town, the slum where George Opong Weah (ex-international footballer and Liberia’s president-elect) grew up in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, is less than an hour’s drive to the presidential mansion. And yet, they are a world apart.
How did Mr. Weah proceed from childhood in the slums or ghettos of Monrovia to Europe’s most illustrious football pitches, and now he is set to access Liberia’s seat of power as President? So, how did the man known as “King George” to his teeming supporters contest and won Liberia’s foremost job?
He won because he is a grassroots fellow. He is a luminary; but he has the country at heart. It was his talents and tenacity which gave him a route out of Clara Town and engaged in league football in his country, Liberia.
He eventually dropped out of school to enable him ruminate on his chosen career. The decision, however, endowed him with opulence but it rebounded to haunt him very badly almost two decades later.
Weah’s life transformed when the current Arsenal football club’s coach, Arsene Wenger, spotted him playing for a team in Cameroon. The manager took him over to Europe where he played for AS Monaco, and later advanced to Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, Chelsea, Manchester City and Olympique Marseille.
In his playing days, the global football star winnowed lots of accolades, winning FIFA World Player of the Year and Ballon d’Or in 1995, Best Europe Footballer of the Year as well as Best African Footballer of the Year/Century Awards, all in the same year.
But in the midst of the veneration, he never disremembered his country which was then deeply entrenched in a devastating civil war that claimed over 250,000 lives. He bankrolled the indigent Leone Stars, his national football team, to prosecute matches abroad and made sure they brought pride and honour to the country. These acts are still commemorated. And today, he has been recompensed. The iconic footballer flaunted that the round leather game is first and foremost a mental contest to which physical strength is an essential complement. It is in recognition of his skills that King Pele placed him on his list of “world’s 100 greatest living players.”
His retort to “adult education” after his soccer career actively exhibited a truly motivated man who understands the value of education. After all his attainments, he humbled himself and returned to sit for his school certificate in 2006, then proceeded to seek tertiary education till he obtained a master’s degree. I think he is probably one of the best equipped Africans for the office he has been elected into. Having been raised in a slum, he would have no extenuation if he fails to comprehend the needs of the less-privileged, and having been in the Senate, he cannot but be intimate with the workings of the legislature. The former football icon is prepensed a man of peace and his attitude to politics is simply exemplary. In the 2005 presidential election, he was narrowly beaten by the incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, yet after the election, he maintained a non-rancorous relationship with her.
He was eventually announced the winner of Liberia’s presidential run-off recently after routing his closest rival, Vice President Joseph Boakai, in the first democratic transfer of power in decades following two devastating civil wars.

Now, the former Chelsea player is set to replace Sirleaf, who became president of Africa’s oldest republic in 2006. When the election results were declared, a highly elated Weah quickly posted the following expressions on his twitter page:
“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on. The Liberian people clearly made their choice… and all together we are very confident in the result of the electoral process.” Indeed, Liberians have spoken but George Weah must understand that his job is well cut out for him. First, he must sustain the peace which has prevailed during the years of democratic rule.
Second, he must work harder to bolster the understanding and sympathy his country has relished from the international community and explore the enormous goodwill to Liberia’s advantage. His disparaging upbringing and eventual victory are inspiration to African youths, but let him realise that all eyes are observant on how well he will justify the obligations his electoral triumph has placed on him.
































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Posted by on Jan 27 2018. Filed under Africa, Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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