"True Reconciliation, Peace and Economy Viability”
Speech Delivered By
Francis N. Kateh, MD, MHA
AT The Sinoe County Association
In The Americas
Taylor University, Upland, IN
July 8, 2006
July 13, 2006
Mr. Tarpeh, Members of the Executive Council, Special Committee on Samuel Morris, The President, Faculty and the Student Body of Taylor University, Members of the Sinoe County Association in the Americas, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, my Dear Brothers and Sisters. It is with great honor that I accept your invitation to serve as the Key Note Speaker for this historic occasion convening here at this memorable Campus of Taylor University. My family and I are internally grateful for this honor.
“Famous Christian mystic; Apostle of simple faith; Exponent of the Spirit-filled life”, chiseled on his tombstone. Who is this man? In the words of biographer Lindley Baldwin, class of 1898, records the story in Samuel Morris, published by Bethany House. “Facing certain death following his capture by a rival tribe, the young kru man was miraculously freed when a light appeared and a voice impelled him to flee into the jungle. He obeyed and made his escape, hiding by day and led at night by the mysterious light. He was converted to Christ by a Methodist missionary, a Taylor graduate, and baptized under the name Samuel Morris. Eventually, he was able to work passage on a ship bound for New York and went on to Taylor University, then in Fort Wayne. Samuel’s effect on the school, students and faculty alike, was electric. Indeed, he touched off a season of religious revival in the city. He modeled a simple trusting faith that captivated those about him. People came from miles around to see Samuel and hear him talk. His life seemed to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, he took sick in January of 1893 with an illness from which he never recovered. He died on May 12 of that year, but his influence lives on. Word of his story and donations received in his name enabled the University to weather an immediate financial storm. In this way he is credited with preserving the institution. His legacy to Taylor is lived out in the school’s continued commitment to Christ-centered education and in those men and women who prepare themselves for lives of service in Christ’s kingdom. His most enduring epitaph is the one chiseled on the living hearts of those who follow in his steps”.
Why did it take us a century for us as Liberians to realize this legend whom others adored, admired, asked to intercede on their behalf to His Brother, Jesus Christ, and His Father, God? It is very difficult or impossible to explained, but in retrospect on why our people had forgotten their son, Kaboo, could be deduced that perhaps his family thought he was killed because his ransom was not paid, or since the story was known that God, His Father rescued Him, the next thought could be that after his arrival in the United States, he might have been sold as a slave and therefore the end of the story. But in this public forum, I wish to express my thanks and appreciation to Taylor University for not extinguishing the flame of Kaboo. They have set the flame not only on the table or the top of the mountain but at the highest peak so that the flame can be shown not only in Fort Wayne, Upland, Indiana, the United States but all around the Universe.
My brothers, sisters, and friends, we gathered on this mount to deliberate on many issues, but prominent amongst the many issues is to rekindle the spirit of our dear brother, a true son of Liberia an integral part of the Kru tribe. Now, that we have found him, what next? I am very sure we have learned so much of this simple yet remarkable young man taken as a ransom dehumanized yet his love for his country and people can not be overemphasized. He would have loved to return home and spread the gift that he had in abundance which was the Holy Spirit, but not only that, he saw and underwent the physical pain that erupted due to intertribal conflict, but in spite of the pain and suffering he underwent, he would have loved to spread the gospel of peace, tranquility and co-existence. About a hundred years later after he left the shores of Liberia, Liberians found themselves in a civil crisis that divided the entire nation putting tribes, families, and individuals at odds even to the point of the wanton destruction of lives and every fabric of our basic infrastructures.
Liberia has gone back many decades in terms of development. What is interesting is the fact that the civil conflict brought all of our dark thoughts and deals to light in which cannibalism became a talisman for fighters. These were not strange behaviors because as kids we all remember the “Heart-Man” or “Bojo”, as commonly called in Cape Palmas. Our wicked deals that transcended from generation to generation were brought before the entire world to see. Now that the chapter is gradually closing, we need to fill the vacuum with something tangible that will help us achieve the status we once had which was the Star in the then Dark Continent of Africa. My country men and women, distinguished friends, I have stopped by to let you all know that if there had been no opportune time for us as a nation to fill the vacuum that has left after the cleansing of wickedness, selfishness and personal greed that has perpetrated our nation from generation to generation, I am convinced that the time has come for us to allow Prince Kaboo to become the Beacon that will lead the New Liberia towards True Reconciliation, Peace, Honesty and Economic Viability. We need to learn of our Mahatma Ghandi, our Martin Luther King, Jr. our Nelson Mandela, who is Samuel Kaboo Morris an Icon and a Legend that we need to share with our nation and tell the story from Mano River to Cavalla River. We need to place him on the highest peak of our nation, from Mt. Wologisi, to Mt. Nimba, and Mt. Putu so that his light can shine all over the country and direct our hearts in achieving true reconciliation and a lasting peace, which eventually will make our economic viable. Because we know that in “Unity Success is sure” and in true peace and reconciliation, tranquility will become the hallmark, and intertribal conflict will be no more. Respect, Honesty, Justice and Patriotism will be song that will be sung from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas and we all will be proud of our nation and wonder how we got over…
We need to tell his story and let his life become a beacon of hope that can rekindle the spirit of oneness, the desire to help in the rebuilding of the basic necessities that are needed so desperately which will enable our beloved country get back on the map amongst nations. We can not do it if we continue to put our personal pride and what is there for me or us, in the fore front. If we have not paid heed to the words of the Late John F. Kennedy, permit me to paraphrase, “ask not what your country can do for you or your tribe can do for you? But what you can do for your tribe that will bring about true unity that will permeate into development of the country”. I think this is the time to inculcate those words in our minds so that we can meditate on them daily.
Before we forget, let us be cognizant of the needs of our people; education, acceptable health care, better sanitation and reconstruction of roads and rebuilding of homes. In order to accomplish these, we first need to put aside our differences and unite so that together we can make a difference in the lives of our people. They have struggled so long and we should not add to their suffering by breeding disunity.
Finally, there has been discussion with Taylor University in establishing a partnership with the association that will seek to advocate, educate and disseminate the information of our Legend, my Hero, Samuel Kaboo Morris. It is my ardent hope that this discussion will come to fruition in the interest of the people of Liberia. We should not compartmentalize Prince Kaboo to only a specific town, city or tribe. By doing so, we are diminishing the Power of this Legend and the Legacy he has already shown. We need to make him a National Hero by echoing his love for Liberia, by sharing his ambition of spreading the Gospel of Peace to his captives, and genuinely reconciling our differences so that in the end, we can allow Prince Kaboo (Samuel Morris) to become the Beacon that will lead the New Liberia towards True Reconciliation, Genuine Peace and Economic Viability. May God Bless US AL and Save our Nation.