By Samuel G. Dweh | Freelance Development Journalist & president of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) |Contacts —+231 (0)firstname.lastname@example.orgemail@example.com |
The created-black skin color of Mr. Leroy Archie Ponpon, who became popular for his pro-gay right sermons and self-immolation, has been transformed into the complexion of a person with ‘whitish’ pigmentation (albino)
In March, 2012, Mr. Ponpon opened a gay-rights interactive session with students of the State-owned University, two months after co-forming the Movement for the Defence of Gay and Lesbians in Liberia (MODEGAL) with a like-mind colleague Abraham Kamara.
The interaction was disrupted by flight of stones from some of the students toward the ‘lead discussant’, and Mr. Ponpon was later whisked away to safety out of the University’s compound.
Days later, his mother’s house was mysteriously razed down by fire; some of the concerned people attributed to action by some of those bent on silencing Mr. Ponpon on his pro-gay rights stance from all angles.
The two incidents—attack at the University of Liberia and blazing of his parent’s house—pushed the Activist deeper out of the menacing glare of the public.
Mr. Ponpon resurfaced to the Nation’s knowledge on November 2, 2020, with setting himself ablaze, using gas, in the premises of the Temple of Justice. This was his unique method of calling Liberia’s attention, as well as the Global Community’s, to the Judicial Branch’s ‘failure to release his salaries’ for a 12-month period, according to his complaint released to relatives and friends before and during the self-immolation.
Montserrado County Senator, Abraham Darius Dillion, visited Mr. Ponpon in his community—West Point—Monday, February 1, 2021, a day after his medical discharge from State-owned Health Center, John F. Kennedy Medical Center, in Sinkor.
Finding the Activist’s home in a ‘densely populated community’, houses-compacted West Point posed several challenges to the Senator living in a sparsely populated ‘Barnesville’. With his entourage, he marched between routes that measured half of a yard, slightly veered off tiny paths to avoid colliding with one of many house’s occupants partially blocking the only route, and galloping to avoid stepping into human faeces abandoned on the road between houses by a community member who couldn’t reach the community’s toilet house or the community’s beach (the major defecation ground for more than 6o% of the community people)
Senator Dillon met a totally transformed Leroy Archie Ponpon (physical feature wise): entire body ‘whitish’ (from the self-immolation) and black spots everywhere in the peeled-off skin, much of his face and wrists and most fingers of both hands hidden in cloth bandage. There was tiny hole in the bandage at his mouth for his speech to another person.
The meeting was held along the community’s main street, near the beach—preferred by the host—about two meters away from one of West Point’s notorious bases for drug consumers/traffickers/sellers.
During discussion with Mr. Ponpon, Senator Dillon, whose political bloc (Liberty Party) is in a political parties’ merger named “Collaborating Political Parties (CPP)”, said his visit was more of a humanitarian one than a political one. He thanked individual persons and organizations that had rendered some kind of assistance to the Activist throughout his ordeals.
On his humanitarian mission, the Senator, a native of Grand Bassa County, told his host that he had come to deliver money from a United States-based group that had read news stories about his self-immolation ordeals had been moved to help with cash.
“However, I can’t disclose the amount of the money, due to the security of Mr. Ponpon,” Senator said to the crowd of West Point residents that had formed a circle around him and Mr. Ponpon and were anxious to hear the figure. He presented a sealed envelope.
The Activist thanked the Senator for the gesture.
Senator Dillon gave personal money to Mr. Ponpon’s family, through his wife; and to a Youth Group of West Point.
When he was leaving West Point, Senator Dillon was ‘ambushed’ by various persons and social groups of people living in the Township—some hailing him; others begging him for money. He released between two hundred and four hundred Liberian dollars to each of the lucky persons—dozens. He did the ‘Coronavirus hand shake’ (fist into open hand) to each person who opened his or her palm for ‘hand shake’, cracked a joke with persons of different age brackets.
“This is my first time seeing a Liberian politician that’s so simple—less conscious of his high governmental status!” said elderly woman, Elizabeth Broh, age 79, a laid-off employee of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC), street-cleaning unit, who received two hundred Liberian dollars from the Senator. The Upper-Chamber Lawmaker met her standing in front of her zinc house decorated with recent election photos of only Thomas T. Fallah, political opponent of candidate Abraham Darius Dillon in Liberia’s Special Senatorial election on December 8, 2020. “My party’s candidate never exhibited such humility.”
When Senator Dillon was out of West Point, Activist Archie Ponpon welcomed questions from journalists.
To this writer’s question about his new perception of Senator Dillon, he replied: “My perception of him remains the same, humble and caring, even though I had vehemently disagreed with his political views on Party’s level and on many national issues.”
West Point community is perceptually divided over resident Leroy Archie Ponpon’s self-immolation. Majority of people are against the action.
“Such action is stupidity to the extreme!” reacted Madam Elizabeth Broh, the resident mentioned earlier, responded to my question about her feeling about the action. “Is he the only government worker who the government was indebted to over twelve months? Other government’s workers haven’t received their salaries for fifteen months. My personal story: a white man whose sanitation company the Ellen Sirleaf’s Government gave sanitation contract to escaped with five months’ salaries of all the workers including me and other elderly workers. Life was extremely hard on me and many of the other elderly workers, but none of us thought about killing oneself.”
A member of the community’s drumming-based musical group, named “Music Madrid”, defended Mr. Ponpon’s action. “Different people have different methods of expressing their disenchantment over personal exploitation. Setting self on fire was Archie’s method of calling the Government’s attention to his plight,” he