AUTHOR’S INTENT THROUGH THIS ARTICLE
Like each of my previous written commentaries on the current reigning FIFA’s “greatest African Footballer”, now sitting in the Presidential Seat of his Country, my purpose through this article is to “educate” Head of State George Manneh Weah on how to infuse into governance his talent and disposition that enabled his having the entire footballing world “spellbound” from Europe over a decade and earned for him the “World’s Football King” title in 2005. His “minimal performance” on developing the country—seen in extreme poverty of majority of the citizenry, handicapped national healthcare systems, and “messy national educational systems”—is a proof that he hasn’t got the full rein of “knowledge” of solutions to the nation’s “problem” in education, agriculture, and health sectors. He needs tutelage or reminder from “educated seniors”
Clarification: I do not intend to ridicule the Head of State through any of the photos used for this write-up—each being a pictorial message of the subtopic it’s on top.
For this article, the Author’s focus is on only three areas—Education, Agriculture, and Health. These are the main driver of development of any nation.
“DRIBBLING” FOR EDUCATION, AGRICULTURE, AND HEALTH
For a less-educated person’s understanding, ‘dribbling’—in football—means moving the ball with the leg while the player’s body is swaying to different directions—all aimed at keeping the ball from a marker (opponent) and pass by him (or her)
Footballer George Manneh Weah was a “master” of this art. I was his fan and emulator of it from the first time I watched him playing for his childhood community’s Second Division Football team—Young Survivors (of Clara Town community)—against La Modelle International, the Second Division Team of my childhood community (West Point) in the capital in 1986. Some of his admirers, during that time often said, “he dribbles with his eyes”, referring to the player looking to his left-hand side while his right leg controlled the ball and beat the marker in close range.
For his First Division Team—Invincible Eleven—George Weah became a “wizard dribbler”, sometimes causing the marker to sway to the left (in opposite direction of George’s body) with Weah’s body movement or eye contact.
With each of his European First Division Teams—Arsenal, Chelsea, AS Monaco, and AC Milian, the Liberian “disbalanced” his marker with his dribbling skills.
On this dribbling skill, his Ghanaian Teacher and academic coach during his High School days, in the mid-80’s, started calling him “Oppong”, the name of a popular Ghanaian football star in his native country—Ghana.
On disposition (character), George Weah was calm, jovial (but not boasting) and ‘educating’ people about ‘how to dribble’.
Now in Government (Head of State), George Manneh Weah can apply each of these outstanding footballing skills and character on developing of Liberia’s education, agricultural and health sectors.
The “dribbling” part is to put his political opponents (or critics) “off guard”. The best way to do this is to “outstandingly improve” this sector. And he should choose the “outstanding” implementers—including opposition bloc’s members who have deeper knowledge of the sector. When you offer a job to an “opponent”—I mean a person qualified on academic qualification, talent, or performance-proven record from another place—that “critic” will be “silent”
The “disposition” component is maintenance of “light-spiritedness” in the face of stinging criticisms from political opponents. Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf showed it when she was President. She referred to some retired Army officers, who had maltreated her during her house-arrest or jail time during the Presidency of Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, “my husbands” and she would crack a joke during some of her chatting sessions with them.
“CELEBRATING” SUCCESS IN Education, Agriculture, and Health
Like the scene created by a player who scored a goal, a government official “celebrates” his or her success in a patriotic venture.
Footballing George Manneh Weah has scored several mesmerizing goals for his community’s Team (Young Survivors), First Division Team (Invincible Eleven), and each of his European Teams. (The photo above is of the Liberian celebrating a goal for Chelsea Football club of England)
Right now, President George Manneh Weah is “governmentalizing” his footballing type of ‘celebration’—with dancing, clapping, or singing as sign of satisfaction of electrification of Liberia’s capital (Monrovia)—of Montserrado County—and the capitals of many of the country’s other 14 Counties. For examples, many parts of Bomi and Grand Kru Counties are “glowing” with electric lights—the first time since the end of Liberia’s civil war in 2003. Mr. Charles Taylor’s Presidency didn’t do it; Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Presidency didn’t.
“RECEIVING AWARD” FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE ON EDUCATION, AGRICULTURE, AND HEALTH
However, other compatriots expect the Global football icon-turned politician to do more—connection of the entire County to the national electrification grid. With the unwavering financial support of European Union (EU), this can be possible.
The ‘complete national electrification project’ can be achieved, however, if the current “Africa’s greatest footballer” names and shames “stinkingly corrupt” project implementers—EU’s representatives and Liberian government officials. The project won’t be complete when EU’s representatives continue reducing the project’s funding with “lobbyists’ fees” or “Consultation fees” (thousands of Euros or Dollars), while Liberian Government’s representatives continue jerking amounts (for themselves) which delay purchase of equipment or brings substandard materials.
In 1995, a 29-year-old Liberian (born on October 1, 1966) was crowned “World’s Footballer”. Prior to the award, he never had certificate from any Football Academy, unlike the game’s greats—Marco Van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Diego Maradona, etc.—he had watched on his television screen in his Liberian slum community named Gibraltar (part of Clara Town)
In the world of football, Award is one of the following: trophy, golden football boot, or golden ball. Footballer George Manneh Weah was given the last one—golden ball—by Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the World’s football governing body, on endorsement by a sweeping majority of world’s greatest footballers (active and retired), world’s renowned football coaches (active or retired) on a vote on “the most outstanding footballer”—in terms of consistency of scoring and huge income generation to FIFA and the player’s Team (from his outstanding performance)
For the Presidency, for the sake of this article, Award is the citizens’ electoral votes for retention of George Manneh Weah as President of Liberia in 2023 (the end of his term as required by Liberia’s constitution)
His “outstanding performance”—which would be shown in transformation of Liberia’s educational system from the current “mess” (sex for grades in High Schools; bribery for graduation at universities, etc.) to “best”; improvement of the nation’s health sector (with current problems of quack doctors, drugs shortage, etc.); and weak agriculture sector (predominantly subsistent farming and huge government’s reliance on imported foods)—is the trump card for the “second term”. Establishment of the “right team” (of performance-based qualified persons) is the reflection of the “skill” and “less complaint” (on critics’ distracting comments) is the “disposition.
BEING CLOSE TO “POLITICAL OPPONENT” ON DEVELOPMENT OF LIBERIA’S EDUCATION, AGRICULTURE & HEALTH SECTORS
During his footballing day, George Manneh Weah received “hard tackles” (against the leg or eye) by his markers. Sometimes he was stepped on by an opponent while he was on the ground (after a foul against him) Yet, he extended a “friendship hand” to the opponent’s outstretched to get him back on his leg. (His head-hitting against the chest of a marker in Italy’s Serie A was a way of telling the guy, “your fouls against me is too much now”)
In politics or government, the ‘tackle’ takes a different form: outright condemnation (on any work—even a perfect one) or insult from a political opponent.
A person who had regularly experienced leg-breaking or eye-damaging “hard tackles” in soccer (a profession) over a decade shouldn’t be painfully moved much by “political attack” (no physical contact)
On political attacks, President George Manneh Weah should take ‘maturity’ cue from the person he succeeded: Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. She referred to her political attackers as “noisy minority”, and offered jobs to the ‘loudest critics’ (based on each person’s performance-based experience) at different Government Ministries and Agencies, and sent some to United Nations bodies to be Liberia’s “Permanent Representatives” there (foreign Lands) You remember the anti-President Sirleaf critic who said the Head of State “has desecrated the Office of the President of the Republic of Liberia” and the other critic who toured around with a woman’s pant (dyed red) over a stick and announcing that the pant was the President’s? The President was calmed and silent on each of these “stinging attacks”. This magnified her political stature before many people in the opposition bloc, some of whom started calling her “outstanding politically mature President”
I am imagining George Manneh Weah being sworn as Head of State of Liberia in 2023—after suddenly (positively) transforming Liberia’s education, agriculture and health sectors through governmentalization of his outstanding footballing skills and character in the remaining period of his first presidential tenure.
Are you thinking with me? Or you are seeing with me?
Samuel G. Dweh is a member of the Wedabo ethnic group of Grand Kru County, situated in the South-Eastern part of Liberia. He’s a member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), and President of the Liberia Association of Writers (LAW) He can be reached via: —+231 (0)email@example.com