Blazing the Trail

By Rod Nyennatee Lewis

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted May 24, 2002

When I was awarded a full scholarship by the German Government in 1969 to study architecture, an eye opening experience occurred when I began my studies as the only person of African descend in the Architectural department at the University of Kassel.

On the first day of lectures, during the break, several students came over to my desk and asked if they could touch my hair because they had not seen hair like this before. When I allowed them to do so each of them said in German: "Wie Wolle", translated in English "Like wool"...

That evening, as I lay in bed thinking about my first day at school in a foreign country, I opened my Bible to the book of Revelations, Chapter 1 Verse 14 and read: "...his hairs were like wool ... and his feet like unto fine brass ... "

I then turned to the book of Mathews, Chapter 3 verse 13 and read: "The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt (Africa) and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him..."

It dawned on me that the continent of Africa had served as an asylum for the Son of God, the redeemer of the world. The Son of God had hairs like wool and feet like burnished brass. The Son of God resembled an African child ... and Africa protected Jesus from the hands of Herod.

At this juncture, you may be wondering where all of this is leading. Well, stick around for a while as we put the puzzle together.

Let us first ask ourselves why Africa, which offered the Son of God asylum, why a people, with hair like wool and feet like burnished brass, is so destitute today. Why Liberia, a country on the continent of Africa given to its people by God's command is in such disarray today, with everyone at each other's throat even after the end of a seven year war? Why hasn't God answered our prayers? The reason can be found in the Lords Prayer: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those whose trespass against us..."

On April 22, 1980, thirteen former government officials were executed without due process simply because the were "Americo- Liberians" and thereby guilty of exploiting "indigenous" Liberians for more than "one hundred and thirty years". The "Americo-Liberians" are descendants of African slaves who left America in the 1820's for the shores of Africa.

If one does not suffer from selective amnesia, one would recognize that there is something missing in this story. If the "Americo-Liberians" are descendants of slaves, then their ancestors must have been sold by "indigenous" Africans to European slave traders to be exploited for more than "four hundred years" in the cotton fields of the Americas.

A people, with hair like wool and feet like burnished brass, a people with the looks of the son of God engaged in the trade of human cargo, one of the most inhumane acts in the history of mankind, which is responsible for the fate forty million African Americans who are today still struggling for equal rights and equal protection under the laws of the United States.

Now that our memories have been refreshed we can now embrace the following statements": If you live in a glass house you do not throw stones"...He who is without sin let him cast the first stone. One cannot safely drive forward if one is constantly looking into the rearview mirror..."

Having acknowledged that "All have sinned...," we can all now get on our knees, "indigenous" and "Americo-Liberians" alike, and ask God to: "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us..." Now that we have "reconciled with our brothers and sisters" we can now embrace each other as fellow Liberians.

Where do we go from here? With hair like wool and feet like burnished brass, we must realize that our bodies are temples of God and that we are here on earth in the service of God. We must cleanse our vessels of malice, deceit, prejudice, selfishness and greed "and do unto others as we would have them do unto us..." Only then will God dwell within these vessels of ours and direct our thoughts and actions.

Only then can we truly go on to lead Liberia and Africa, which we love with God's blessings and His hand, and knowing that here on earth, His work must truly be our own.

About the Author: Roderick Nyermatee Lewis was born in Sinoe County, Liberia. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects. He recently published his autobiography entitled "Blazing the Trail." It chronicles his journey from the financial strain of day-to-day life in Liberia to studying Architecture in Germany and to his current stay in the USA. The book is available at: or at

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