P R E S S R E L E A S E
THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS
C O N G R E S S F O R D E M O C R A T I C C H A N G E
C D C – U S A
Liberian national patriot and torchbearer of the grassroots struggle for social justice, George Manneh Weah, graduates with distinction from Devry University today Saturday June 25, obtaining a Bachelors degree in Business Management with emphasis in small business and entrepreneurship.
Ambassador Weah’s achieving a formal college education adds another laurel to an incredibly long list of achievements, which span the gamut from keeping the hopes of the Lone Star alive through personal football successes and organizational leadership during the nation’s darkest days of war, culminating in his winning FIFA’s coveted World Best Player award in 1995; through humanitarian and scholarship assistance to dispossessed and impoverished students and citizens; to organizing a formidable grassroots political movement and winning the first round of presidential balloting in 2005.
Notes an observer commenting on Weah’s college success: “There was a time George Weah was the lone and brightest star from Liberia, when all else was chaos and blood. In the 90’s I watched a video on CNN portraying the macabre bloodletting that had convulsed the country and afterwards, the anchor said ‘meanwhile, George Weah of Liberia has just won the FIFA World’s best Footballer award’. The contrast of bad and good from Liberia was stunning and it moved me to tears. His achievements always reminded the outside world we are a capable and humane people. He made me want to always be a Liberian and to see him graduate from college is a testament he was born to achieve.”
Similar commentaries have regaled the public space in the run up to the graduation as scores of Liberians have arrived in Florida to celebrate with the national Patriot. Among the impressive array of dignitaries is CDC’s illustrious Standard Bearer, the Harvard educated lawyer and accomplished and respected diplomat, Winston A. Tubman, who leads now wields the mantle to take the grassroots struggle of our battered and marginalized people to the level of electoral success. The gathering and programs in Florida are both a celebration and a retrospective of a wonderful and storied individual whose rise from the slums and ghettos of Gibraltar, Clara Town, to his launch of a major political movement is the stuff of a best selling biography.
Reflecting on his days of punishing poverty lived with his beloved grandmother, the teary eyed George Weah said to a gathering of friends and party officials that: “Life is both a journey and a promise. All I think about now is the kid who is spending sleepless nights draining water from bedrooms, just as I used to do with my grandmother. What future is there for these kids? Maybe they may not be as talented as I was to break out of poverty. I had to get a college degree to inspire them so that they see school and education as the way out for them. I dedicate this degree to all such suffering children and people just as I dedicate my politics to free them from misery.”
The above is a moving statement that captures the chronic class and status divisions inherent in Liberian society. Today, a significant fraction of the nation’s youth experience similar pangs of poverty and deprivation Weah experienced, an indication that very little progress has been made in improving the quality of living standard for all Liberians.
Research has amply documented that poverty impedes children’s ability to learn. Poverty certainly did affect George Weah’s education, since the young George had to devote significant hours to fetch food from friends and relatives, depriving him of critical hours needed to build foundational skills in reading and math.
The Childhood Poverty and Policy Center (CHPC) documents similar case studies of children forced to work at an early age to provide food for families. Says the CHPC: “Poverty denies opportunities to people of all ages. Lost opportunities in childhood cannot always be regained later – childhood is a one-off window of opportunity and development. Poverty experienced by children, even over short periods, can affect the rest of their lives”.
Having now acquired a college education and borne the brunt of these excruciating circumstances, the Vice Standard bearer of the CDC aims to use his education, experience and politics to ensure the majority of the nation’s children do not undergo his early childhood experience. Over the next several months, he and the Standard Bearer Tubman will crisscross the country to explain the CDC’s vision for building a more prosperous and equal Liberian society. George Weah will share stories of the challenges of his upbringing and will communicate the meaning of his college degree for children who, like him several years ago, face dire and protracted hunger on a daily basis, depriving them of energy, stamina and motivation to master reading and math skills.
But these trench battles are a few weeks away. Today the Vice Standard Bearer, in the company of his beautiful and accomplished wife Clar Weah, Standard Bearer Tubman, dignitaries from a wide array of international organizations and CDC officials and relatives, can look back to appreciate the trails he has blazed both for himself and for his country and fathom the miles he has to yet to trek.
CDC-USA wishes Ambassador George Manneh Weah a sumptuous celebration and God’s speed in liberating the Liberian people. We believe his college graduation puts to rest questions of his lack of formal education. Of course, we know there will still be critics and skeptics whose concern has really never been about Weah’s formal educational credentials but about his claim to national leadership. We dismiss these elements as hate-peddlers wallowing in the vortex of venom and having nothing substantive to offer the debate on the advance of Liberia’s socio-economics.
It is to this richer minefield of ideas we turn in a few weeks, even as we celebrate with Ambassador George Manneh Weah on the occasion of his baccalaureate achievement.
Muyan, CDC Muyan! Muyan! Muyan, Manneh Muyan! Muyan
Signed Secretary General
Mrs. Piso Saydee-Tarr