The Angel You Don’t Know: Harvard’s Fundraiser Blights Kennedy’s Values

first_imgOn May 16, 2014, the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) launched a $500 million dollars fundraising campaign. HKS claimed the funds will “allow HKS to provide a new level of leadership and innovation while bringing meaningful and positive change to the world.” HKS invited its super star, Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to showcase its global leadership model. While President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done many important things for Liberia and Africa for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, her two-term record on democratic leadership disqualifies her as an envoy of Kennedy’s values of public service and democracy on the world stage. It is important for HKS not only to train “exceptional public leaders”, HKS must also model on the global stage its values by associating only with leaders committed to strengthening democracy-no matter who they are and even if such a move hurts fundraising efforts.John F. Kennedy is known worldwide for strengthening democratic institutions, empowering ordinary folks through the Peace Corps and public service, evidenced by President Kennedy’s favorite quote, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, on the other hand, has demonstrated an extraordinary contempt for democracy by usurping the authority of citizens to vote for local government officials.The Liberian constitution gives the president vast powers, including the power to appoint all cabinet members and their deputies, heads of all government agencies and public corporations and governors of all political sub-divisions in the entire country.In 2009, President Sirleaf struck a devastating blow at the very core of the republican form of democracy by seeking new powers to exclude citizens from electing local government officials who control many basic aspects of their lives. President Sirleaf argued and won the authority to appoint all mayors and city councilors, adding to her already vast powers. This act by HKS super star and outstanding fundraiser has rendered the republic impotent by usurping the powers of citizens to vote. It is incomprehensible and unjustifiable for an elected official who sought the vote of Liberian citizens to effectively disenfranchise voters immediately after they voted to make her Africa’s first female president.This undemocratic act in a republic, not a monarchy, jeopardizes security, justice and access to equal opportunities. For example, in obtaining the power to appoint government officials in nearly all aspects of government, President Sirleaf has worked to establish undue powers in her own hands and in the hands of the elite few, including her sons, friends and family members.Considering the many top government officials recruited from HKS, including the dismissed Airport Manager and other relatives and friends of the president represented in high-salaried positions within the Sirleaf Administration, one can conclude that the administration has done more to enrich members of the elite, her sons and family members than it has done to improve the quality of life for ordinary Liberians.The administration set its own standards for who can work in government (including educational requirements that would be unavailable to ordinary Liberians) as well as corresponding salaries and benefits that far exceed those paid to public servants across America. For an impoverished post-conflict country with an annual budget of $583 million, Liberian representatives earn at least $84,000 per year while cabinet ministers and heads of public corporations can take home up to $180,000 excluding benefits such as gas slips, medical benefits, and housing privileges. Compare that to salaries earned in Massachusetts, where the annual budget is $36 billion dollars, lawmakers earn $62,000 yearly. In New Hampshire with a budget of $11 billion dollars, senators and representatives earn $100 yearly. In both cases, lawmakers receive no cars, gas slips, no armed body guards, or other tangible benefits. Liberian citizens live on less than one dollar a day but the elite officials’ excessive and costly travels include first class airline tickets. The Sirleaf administration’s standards are unrealistic, given the revenues generated by Liberia. The high salaries and benefits, in practice, only benefit the Liberian elite and these policies are helping to create an elite ruling class and permanently sowing the seeds of discord and more political instability.According to, Liberia has 85% unemployment. Most citizens lack access to electricity, running water and basic services. In fact, Liberia, a country of 43,000 sq. miles has only one registry of motor vehicle located in the capital city Monrovia,  where the 4.5 million citizens must travel up to 300 miles go to get driver’s licenses and register their vehicles. Imagine how Americans would feel if President Obama appointed all governors, including Governor Patrick of Massachusetts, all mayors and directors of public transit such as Massport. Imagine living in a country so centralized that every citizen must travel to one office to get a driver’s license and vehicle registration. In Liberia, citizens must also travel to the centralized post office to mail letters and every citizen must rent mail boxes because the Liberian Postal Service does not deliver to homes.  President Sirleaf wields more powers in Liberia than the queen of England who rules over a monarchy, not a republic and who lacks the powers to appoint all mayors, including the mayor of London.According to the May 16, 2014 Harvard Crimson article, President Johnson Sirleaf was very clear about her primary role. “My first role is to inspire women,” she said. “You must accept the fact that there will be vulnerability in response to (disaffected citizens’) needs… and that’s part of what leadership is all about.”  After benefiting from the ballot cast by Liberian citizens, the president immediately began to undermine the voting powers of citizens in a country where bullets, not ballot determined the leaders in the past two decades.                                      Irving Christo said: “Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions; it guarantees equality of opportunities.” By concentrating undue powers in her own hands and in the hands of her children, family and friends, systematically widening the gap between filthy rich Liberians and dirt poor citizens, by closing all avenues of opportunities for Liberians without access to American colleges and universities and deliberately eroding democratic institutions through unjustifiable disenfranchisement, President Sirleaf earned for herself a seat at Harvard’s fundraising table. However, I am surprised that the HKS has betrayed the values of President Kennedy by turning a blind eye to President Sirleaf’s actions designed to weaken democracy and snatch ballot powers from citizens who have struggled for two decades to transition from bullets for ballots.Torli H. Krua is founder of the Universal Human Rights International (UHRI). UHRI promotes democracy and citizens’ initiatives in Africa and refugee rights in the United States of America. Krua, a resident of Brockton, MA is a native of Liberia and pastor of Dorchester-based Ziah Mission Church. Please send comments to: harlankrua@gmail.comShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Liberia to Host 2018 AYEE Summit

first_imgMr. Pewee delivers press statement at YOCEL’s office Monrovia After it was earlier announced that the 2018 edition of the annual Youth Education and Empowerment Summit (AYEE Summit) was scheduled in Kigali, Rwanda, the organizers of the summit have now changed the venue to Monrovia, Liberia.According to the Founder and Executive Director of Youth Coalition for Education (YOCEL) Beyan F. Pewee, the decision to move the international youth event back to Liberia is based on the overwhelming support from the Liberian government, especially from the ministries of Education and Youth and Sports, including partners.It may be recalled that after a successful launch of the summit in 2017 at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County, near the Roberts International Airport (RIA), a special organizing committee unanimously agreed to host the event in Rwanda, to give other young people the opportunity to aspire to greatness by becoming agents of positive change.“We realized later that Liberia needs the AYEE Summit the most, because this will serve as a golden opportunity to promote and enhance youth-related issues in line with the government’s ‘pro-poor agenda’ by showcasing the country’s talents at regional and international forum,” Pewee said.The essence of the summit is to ensure that young Liberians are given the opportunities to network and become productive citizens for sustainable future.“We have added a new edition called the ‘Brain Date,’ to give participants the chance to network with stakeholders, partners, donors, and entrepreneurs, to attract support for their individual activities and also expand their scope of operations,” Mr. Pewee said.He added, “We will also have more participants and experts in this 2nd edition who will educate and motivate the young people to greatness.”This year’s event will commence from November 18–22, with hundreds of young Liberians expected to participate, including former heads of states and top business and civil society leaders.Meanwhile, after several requests made by local and international delegates, the organizers have reduced the registration fees for the summit, with local delegates paying US$75, instead of US$180 as previously announced, while international delegates are to pay US$150.Over 120 delegates from 22 countries in Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East attended the summit last year in Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Sign This Petition to Name a Canadian Building After Nathan Fillion

first_img He doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame or a caricature on the wall of Sardi’s.But actor Nathan Fillion may soon get his name on a park building in Edmonton, Canada.Lauren Hunter recently launched a petition to rename the Warehouse Campus Neighborhood Central Park after the Edmonton native.AdChoices广告“The City of Edmonton is turning downtown parking lots into a new Central Park that doesn’t have a name yet,” according to the online description.“To honor great Edmontonian actor Nathan Fillion,” Hunter wrote, “we propose we build a small building on this park, and call it… ‘The Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion.’”In just two weeks, the petition has garnered more than 9,000 signatures (my own included).Fans have been leaving messages of support, suggesting that “Brilliance deserves to be recognized” and “We deserve nice things.”“Whereas there used to be an A/V Club commenter named ‘It Takes a Nathan of Fillions,’ I think it’s extremely important to North American civilization that this tradition of Nathan Fillion-based workplay should continue,” David Buchmann wrote today.“I’m signing because it’s the right thing to do,” Terry Soucy stated simply.One person even suggested that a Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion would be reason enough to visit the Canadian city.Neither the Edmonton government nor Nathan Fillion immediately responded to a request for comment.Most famous for his roles as smart-mouthed space smuggler Captain Malcolm Reynolds in Joss Whedon’s sci-fi/western masterpiece Firefly (and later Serenity) and the ruggedly handsome crime writer Rick Castle in murder-mystery series Castle, Fillion has stayed busy over the years.(If you haven’t seen them yet, I highly recommend Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog and Con Man [not least of all because the latter also stars Alan “I am a leaf on the wind” Tudyk].)Fillion can currently be seen as LAPD cop John Nolan in The Rookie.More on Fans Create Petition Urging for the Return of Iron ManPetition Seeks to Sell Montana to Canada for $1 TrillionStephen Byrne’s Animated Firefly Trailer Needs to Become a Reality Stay on target This Uncharted Fan Film Proves Why Nathan Fillion is the Perfect Nathan …Santa Clarita Diet’s Second Season is Much More of a Sitcom last_img read more