Stakeholders Discuss Plans to Promote Liberian Culture

Stakeholders for the promotion and revitalization of Liberia’s rich cultural heritage on Friday converged on the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) conference Room to chart a way forward to promote Liberia’s rich cultural heritage.
Speaking at the stakeholders meeting which brought together teachers of Liberian culture from schools and other interested parties across the country, the Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism at MICAT, Hon. Lance K. Gbangonyon stated that to reactivate cultural awareness, they have earmarked three things.The Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Lance Gbangonyon said , “Their project is threefold, they will first of all start by a short term plan by bringing together various schools in Monrovia and its environs, secondly to propagate the Liberian culture in all the 15 counties such as Margibi and Grand Bassa counties, and thirdly to work with line ministries to enhance the implementation of their plan,”.
He named the line-ministries in the initiative as the Ministry of Education, Information, Culture affairs and Tourism; Internal Affairs ministry and the ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection with the Education ministry being the lead ministry to design a national school curriculum.
Mr. Gbangonyon who said he hails from Nimba but was educated in Ghana up to the Masters Degree level, said one thing he admired while residing in Ghana and other countries is their attachment to learn their dialects such as Twi, Fanti and Ashante that are taught at the school level.
He said learning the language can make children become proud and enthusiastic about their culture, something that Liberians have to begin to coordinate and start doing in their schools, adding that the Bassa and Kpelle languages can be a starting point to be taught in Liberian schools as these two dialects are the most widely spoken in the country.
According to the MICAT Deputy Minister, he personally prefers Bassa because there are many tribes such as the Gio, Kru and Grebo that can easily understand Bassa instead of Kpelle. He also mentioned the role that the Ministry of Commerce will be expected to play.
He said their meeting was to prepare a stage before going to stakeholders and organizing the technical and other committees, adding, that his ministry will jump start the process beginning with Montserrado County.
He expressed the need to call for annual cultural festivals in which schools will participate with MICAT, Education and Internal Affairs ministry taking the lead before going to various partners for consultation and support.
Introducing the meeting earlier, the MICAT Director of Culture Mr. Darius Gweh said Liberia formed the Bureau of Culture in 1972, but was not ratified by the National Legislature until later on.
He said the Act creating the bureau mandates it to conduct and execute programs for promoting Liberia’s cultural activities, adding that despite certain disadvantages Liberia is one of few countries in the world with unique cultural values such as the handshake.
“I doubt claims by some people that Liberia’s cultural values are lost given that we are signatories to all UNESCO cultural conventions such as the ones in 1949, 1953 and ten years later. Liberia is however criticized for not domesticating cultural protocols signed with UNESCO,” he said.
Mr. Gweh observed that this time around under the administration of President George Manneh Weah, we want to portray a positive image of Liberia’s rich cultural values as they want to bring culture back to the schools.
“Nowadays many of us can speak our local languages and can teach them to our children while some Liberians do not even care, it is our responsibility to revive our cultural heritage, let’s start to get the rat from the tail after killing it which is starting from the homes,” Gweh said.
He said some people even shy from their names such as Flomo and Kollie, but rather prefer to change their names to Flomoson and Kollison among others, adding that since the ministry of information responsible for culture cannot do it alone, they have therefore called the stakeholders meeting
Also speaking at the occasion, the Assistant Minister of Culture Madam Margaret Ciooper Frank, whose husband Gregory Frank Artus is a well known international Liberian artist said she is no stranger to Liberia’s cultural platform as she has acted in a movie called ‘Jauety’.
She thanked participants for coming and invited them to the next round of their stakeholders meeting where many more new faces will be invited.
At the end of the meeting stakeholders began organizing the 4-member working group technical committee members.

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