“Ma Mary” as she is affectionately call by many, and indeed admire by dozens of others for her lovely smiles at all times during your first interaction with her is this week our Personality; her numerous contributions to the growth of Liberia is being featured on this page.
Mother Brownell was born 86 years ago today March 12, 1929, in Cavalla, Maryland County. At age five, she was brought to Monrovia to begin her education.
Her educational sojourn began at the Suehn Baptist Mission in the then Bomi Territory, (now Bomi County) in 1937 when women were not yet in the mainstream of education. Following the completion of her primary education, she enrolled at the high school division of Liberia College known subsequently as Laboratory High School and Martha Tubman Academy, where she obtained her high school diploma.
With a passion for teaching, she pursued studies in Education and first obtained a Bachelor’s degree from Teacher’s College, University of Liberia, and later a Master’s from San Francisco State College (now University). She became a passionate and lifelong teacher. She started at the St. Patricks School and later became principal of the Botswain School.
She also served as an administrator in the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS), the Catholic School System and the Bong Mines School in Bong County. Ma Brownell is now retired and is not too often seen in public gatherings.
Ma Mary Brownell holds a M.Sc Degree in School Supervision from San Francisco University, United States of America. She also holds a B.Sc Degree in Elementary Education from the University of Liberia.
Ma Mary has worked as a classroom teacher and later as administrator for several private and public schools in Liberia, including, Bong Town School, she is founder and former National Chairperson of the Liberian Women Initiative (LWI); former President, Women Development Association of Liberia (WODAL), among several other organizations.
She served as Commissioner of the National Elections Commission (NEC) responsible for Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties and has oversight of Budget and Finance while at the National Elections Commission.
She is the lovely mother who over the years molds her children to becoming successful Liberians, including the celebrated Liberian musician and social activist, Miatta Fahnbulleh, and her brother, Dr. H. Boimah Fahnbulleh, Jr., security advisor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
A religiously grinded Liberian is a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia, where she is also respected among parishioners of that great house of God.
One of the major events Mother Brownell attended in recent years was the University of Liberia’s commencement convocation in December, 2013, where she served as Commencement Speaker.
In spite of her age, Ma Mary Brownell’s intellect and voice are still sharp—so sharp that she can perform even the teaching role.
Comparing her youthful days to that of today’s generation, she wonders what will become of young people of today and Liberia in general considering the poor orientation of today’s youth.
“There are too many differences between your days and my days,” she told a duo of Daily Observer reporters. “During our days, children, especially girls, could not stay outdoors after 6 p.m., and when any parent of a different family saw a neighbor’s child outside after 6 p.m., that parent would discipline the child and the child would not be a fool enough to complain to his or her parents, lest he or she receive double punishment.”
“In our days no single parent disciplined or trained a child, but parents did it collectively. No different parent will do it for another person’s child today because either the child insults that person or his/her parents take that person to court,” she said.
Ma Brownell is of the strongest view that because female children at early ages are used as bread winners and are allowed to be exposed to the streets, cases of rape as well as unwanted pregnancy continue to rise as do children without responsible fathers, found daily on the streets.
These circumstances, she said, will also increase poverty and crime in the country.
She frowned at gender advocacy groups, including the Ministry of Gender and Child Protection, for doing little to initiate programs that will address the plight of street girls, noting, “They (advocacy groups) are only there to advocate for funds that will not be used to address the purposes for which they are intended.”
This ends this week personality of the week.