The orator of this year’s Independence Day celebration, Bishop Bennie D Warner will be arriving in Minnesota from Oklahoma on Friday, the 28th of July 2006. The BushChicken, through the instrumentality of Dr. Mariah Seton, spoke with the Bishop at his home in Oklahoma last night via telephone about his trip and the message that he has for the Liberian people in Minnesota.
In a rather upbeat mood, the Bishop expressed happiness to be able to visit Minnesota for the third time since he has been in the US. He stated that he likes the people of Minnesota and considers Minnesota to be the epicenter of all things Liberian in the Diaspora. He also likened Minnesota to a small Liberia, saying “Minnesota is a microcosm of the wider Liberia society.”
When asked about his message to Liberians during this period of reflection and soberness, the Bishop responded that he would be speaking about a wide variety of things Liberian. But, his theme will center on the three tenses: Liberia; past, present and the future.
He further broke the tenses down to the past, our history, where we are coming from. Our present situation, what is at stake as we celebrate a hundred and fifty-nine years of statehood. Our future, now that we have elected a new government, what can we do to nurture and support it. He enumerated the many roadblocks to development, the main one being illiteracy which he termed, “the mother of all problems of underdevelopment”. He mentioned health and the twin scourges of malaria and aids that threaten the social structure of our society. These are the things we need to think about as we move into the next century; real changes, and massive educational programs and infrastructural development. He emphasized, we have no time to waste.
I asked him to offer advice about those planning to go home soon, and then I reminded him about the statement he used in an interview in 1998 when asked about one day returning to Liberia when he said "There's really no reason to go back, at our age and stage, "We're just going to grow where God has planted us."
In reply, he said, for now the time is ripe. We have a young democracy and we are all needed. But, don’t go home just because you want to work with the government. Don’t run home to be a liability on the country. Go into the private sector; do business, farming, and industry and establish clinics. That is what you should plan to go home for. Go home to contribute your quota.
In a paraphrased quote from the late US President John F. Kennedy, he said, “Ask not what Liberia can do for you, but what you can do for Liberia.” Liberia has done so much for you, now it is time you show what you can do.
On the national front, he commented on the statement made by the police director in Liberia, he said that he hoped that it was misunderstood since it is not right in this age and time for the government to legislate the way we dress. He went on to say, that we live in a multicultural society and as long as your religious practices are not in violation of any laws, there should be no problems.
It can be recalled that the Police Director allegedly cautioned Muslim women in Monrovia about wearing their Burkhas in public and implied that it was a tool for terrorists. The Police Director has since denied the story.
The Rev. Bennie D. Warner was in the United States on church business when he learned that a revolution had occurred back home in Liberia. The year was 1980. The VP and his family were in Indianapolis at General Conference, the top legislative gathering of the United Methodist Church. Warner had served as vice president of Liberia, in addition to being bishop of the Liberia Central Conference since 1973.
We wish the Bishop a wonderful stay in Minnesota; Liberians will be out in full at the Grand Rios Hotel and Retreat Center.
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