Monrovia — January 17, 2022, marks yet another birthdate of the late Rev. Jonathan Emmanuel Zekpehgee Zekpehgee Bowier was a former Minister of Information, a Storyteller or a Historyteller. His loved ones are remembering him.
Many knew Rev. Many knew Rev. Bowier because of his vast knowledge of history about Liberia, and the rest of the globe. He was a radio host in Monrovia who narrated “accurate” historical accounts about Liberia until his death. Many Liberians, particularly the younger ones, knew him as an historian. He rebuffed this request on numerous occasions. During those radio appearances and or at workshops and or symposiums, he said some famous quotations, which I have endeavored to piece together in his memory as the nation posthumously remembers him on his 72n birthday, this Monday, January 17. Some of what this write up contains are the last interview I conducted with him on his 71st birthday before he went home to be with his Maker.
He began by introducing himself and briefly describing his life. “My first name was Emmanuel before I was born, which means “God is with me.” Elizabeth Wilson of the Church of the Lord Alladurah gave him this name. I was born in the plantain leaf of a house in Abrahima Kabba’s Compound in Grand Gedeh County. My father moved there with seven of his wives because he was afraid that other men might molest his wives. My father believed that his wives would have been safe with the Muslims. My maternal grandmother called me Jedehnee, which means in Grebo “You can see now?” Because my mother was pregnant with me, other wives claimed she was lying and saying it was “dirty waters” in Grebo. Because the other wives wanted to have the child of prophesy, my maternal grandmother was there to relay the message to my dad. My father called me Jonathan when I was born. This was because God had promised him a child through the church. Zehkpehgee is “Leopard.” My grandmother gave me the name Jedehnee. My grandmother said that people would accuse me of being a fraud, but in the end I’ll always say “Ehn, do you see now?” “
According to him, all throughout his 70 plus years, he lived according to the meanings of his names, especially the one his maternal grandmother gave him.
He stated that he always said to people who doubted or refused his advice: “Ehn, you see now?” “
“During the 1990, when I was Information Minister, some people accused me of being a rebel sympathizer and they went and told [President Samuel] Doe that I was fooling him. I would have told President Doe that if he had listened, he would still be alive today. But, I can only tell them, “Ehn you’re seeing now.” If Doe had listened and resigned, he might still be alive today.
Some of his famous sayings
According to Rev. Rev. Bowier says that nothing is new. “Everything that you see around here today is a result of the past. To attach the new mat, you must sit down on the old mat. To help solve their problems today, young people must sit down with older people. “
I asked him why he wasn’t working in government with all his knowledge about governance. He replied, “In fullness of time. One of my close friends shared with me that at one of President [George] Weah’s appointment meetings, someone suggested my name as Information Minister. Then another person spoke up and said that if you appoint this big mouth old man, then he will put salt in our gari. My friend told me that they should keep their gari and I would keep my bag of sand. If I do accept to work in government, it will be in the fullness and time. “
He told me he would help the government train their public relations people free of charge. He also said that the Minister of Information should read every newspaper and inform the President about the most important happenings in the country. He wanted to tell the President all the good and bad news. If I had to speak to Weah, he would know the truth. I’m not here to make babies feel good. According to Liberia theory, the President is not supposed to feel bad. He was not called up to work for the government until his death.
Rev. Bowier set out to write a book about all the things he knew regarding Liberia. His first book was titled “Liberia’s Palava is Too Hard to Talk”. It is sad that he didn’t publish the book before his death. His widow, Mrs. Ruth Bowier has made a promise to help some of his friends publish his manuscripts and create a library in his honor.
Tributes from wife
” My husband Reverend Bowier, was a great man and my best friend. He was a tireless supporter of Liberia’s peace. We will be forever grateful for his lessons. Your contributions to this country were crucial. You will be remembered for all your outstanding work. I love you, but God loves you best. Ruth Soe Bowier, your sweet wife, says “Relax on my husband.”
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Tributes from his children
“It’s been 204 days since your passing, and it still doesn’t seem real. Your sudden death came without warning. We are all so sorry for your loss and grieving in our own ways. But, we will keep making you proud every day.
“Mama Liberia, you’ve lost a great man! He loved you. He loved you so deeply that he could not contain his feelings. He yearned to be back with you, even while he was living in another country. We didn’t understand it as children, but we now do.
“My people, at times you felt our father’s quick tongue and harsh criticisms, but he felt the necessary truth was needed to get things done. Keep God first, learn more about Liberia’s history, and be the change you desire to see. Your loving children, God and Mama Liberia, thank you for supporting our dad for as long as possible.
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