Home EditorialGuest Analysis Liberian Journalists’ Yearning for Being in Country’s National Legislature: Solomon Watkins ‘Pushing’, Too

Liberian Journalists’ Yearning for Being in Country’s National Legislature: Solomon Watkins ‘Pushing’, Too

by News Manager

By Samuel G. Dweh; Writer, Author, freelance Development Journalist and member of the Press Union of Liberia; member & former president of Liberia Association of Writers (LAW)
+231886618906/776583266/ samuelosophy@yahoo.com, samuelosophy1@gmail.com

Journalist Wellington Geevon Smith in the Senate, representing Rivercess County. Journalist Jonathan Paye-Layleh, former Correspondent of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), is yearning (craving) to represent a District in his native Nimba County. He’s carrying out economic empowerment and unification projects for various age-groups in the District he wants to represent in the House of Representatives. The news stories of these projects are written by himself.

The other Journalist with ambition of being in the National Legislature of Liberia is Yoneman Solomon Williams Watkins, to represent Electoral District #10 of Montserrado County. He had been a Reporter for different print and electronic media institutions: FOCUS, INSIGHT, The Independent, The Tribune, African Standard News Magazine, Liberty Radio, Xinhua News Agency (Chinese News Agency), and New Narratives. Like his ‘senior media colleague’ Jonathan Paye-Leyleh, Solomon is turning would-be voters’ attention to himself through economic empowerment programs—focusing much on women and girls.

On Sunday, June 5, 2022, the ‘political entourage’ of Journalist Y. Solomon Watkins (the name on his political program’s banner) was welcomed by a group of 80-plus young people with combination of political slogans and educational chants in the premises of a Church in Peace Island Community, Oldest Congo Town, a part of Electoral District #10. The Church’s edifice was venue for the combined graduation ceremony for Congo Town’s Set (R.C. Lawson Community’s batch and Peace Island Community’s batch) for students trained under his skills acquisition/empowerment Project. The photo of the ‘Special Guest’ was on a small banner pinned to the right-hand side entry/exit point of the Church (used for this story, above) Opposite the image was what appears like the title of his educational project: “Accelerated Skills Acquisition/Empowerment Program for 5,000 women & Girls in District #10, Montserrado County. Theme: Empowerment Brings Development”

Majority of those welcoming the House of Representatives Aspirant for the 2023 Legislative and presidential elections were attired in T-shirts with photos of what they had been taught: bath and washing soap production, tie & dye production, chloride production, and detergent production. Both front and back of each T-shirt bore the title of the Project: “Watkins Initiative for Nation (WIN)”, with a Motto: “People! Our Concern.”

The political slogan was “Amandlia….Awethu”, originated from Black South Africans during their fight against racial discrimination against them by White Supremists making up of the national Government.
One of the educational chants was: “When you want free school to learn how to make soap, vote Solomon Watkins for Representative.”

Some held posters. Information of two of the posters were: “Hon. Solomon Watkins Must Win Come 2023!”, and “The Noble People of Peace Island Welcome You Hon. Solomon Watkins…We Love You And Recognize Your High Level of Impartation Within Our District (District 10).”

Later, the special guest was led into the venue of the program, in an aura of political and educational chants from majority of his guests—mostly men. The outstanding showman was Alphonso Daywoe.
Students’ productions were on display in the hall, on a table opposite the entrance.

The Program’s Master of Ceremony was Delano C. H. B. Massaquoi, Chairman of Watkins Initiative for Nations Political Action Committee (WINPAC)
Before the Vision Bearer made his speech, he was gowned by the body of students as the body’s way of expressing its gratitude for his educational empowerment of each member. Student Edith B. Karngar read the Gowning Statement.

“We are gowning Honorable Y. Solomon Watkins on his performance of empowering women and girls, as well as men and women, in our District. However, if he failed on empowering people while he’s in the House of Representatives, we will pull off the gown from him,” she said, reading a portion of the Gowning Note.

Student Karngar’s relayed comment by the graduating body was greeted with political chants, applause and laughter from other participants.

Addressing his hosts, after the introductory parts of the program, the Journalist-turned Politician began with thanking the teachers who had served as channels for his empowerment of women and girls in District #10, and the younger people who have come out to be empowered.

Giving his background, Mr. Watkins told his hosts that he had come from a poor background, so he knows what having no money to sponsor your education means. This is the main purpose of us establishing WIN, he added.

“With the support from persons at this graduation ceremony and other District 10’s people keenly following our empowerment activities, I’m sure we can win the electoral election of the District,” Watkins said, and added: “I can say, with high hope, even though the election is still far, we have already won!” His face glowed with smile after expression of his ‘faith’.

A political chant shot up from the audience of graduating students and political followers after Watkins’ last comment. “Amandlia!….Awethu!” Alphonso Daywoe sparked to political chant.

Body of graduating batches of WIN marching into the program venue.

Some components of the graduation program, before the remarks of the Vision Bearer, were enlightening.

One was a drama performance on how to prepare each of the students’ products being displayed. Six persons, representing six of the skills acquisition categories, went up on the stage. Each person self-personified a product, saying “I am”, then called the name of the product, and lectured the audience about the ingredients and the preparation stages.

The drama was facilitated by Trainer Watchen Olive Zarzar. “I’m representing one of the students who was struck with Stroke, so she couldn’t be here with us today,” Teacher Watchen reported to the audience.

She used the opportunity to tell the audience about some of her personal challenges and upholding of integrity during her interactions with students. “During many training days, my students annoyed me, but I never insulted or fuss with any of the students,” she claimed. Later she posed a challenge to the body of students: “If theirs is any student here who I insulted or fussed with in class, rise and tell our guests here.”
Nobody rose.

Thirty-six persons enrolled at the R.C. Lawson Community’s Teaching Center, while 46 persons registered for the Peace Island Community’s Teaching Center, Trainer Watchen Olive Zarzar, told this writer during an exclusive interview. “But some of the student left the training due to various personal issues, mostly financial. The Watkins Initiative for Nation’s vocational school is tuition-free. After registering, only come. The training materials are provided by Honorable Y. Solomon Watkins,” she explained.

Ms. Zarzar started as a student in 2021, and became a Trainer in 2022, she told this writer during the interview.

Some of those who formed part of the Graduation ceremony were: Edward Blamo, Journalist; Mr. Emmanuel S. Doe, Chairperson of Chugbor Block A, Old Road Community, District #10; Mr. Sylvester Varmah, Journalist and Media Person of WIN; and Youtha K. Mangoad, who read the Profile of Mr. Watkins.

WIN was established in September, 2014.
Some of the other educational and professional backgrounds of its Vision Bearer include: Susan A. Berry High School (now defunct) in Monrovia; African Methodist Episcopal Zion University (AMEZU) in Monrovia, earned BPA in Public Administration. He is currently a candidate of Masters at the Cuttington University (CU) Graduate School of Professional Studies in Congo Town. Mr. Watkins is a former Communications Expert at the United Nations Joint Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS); and currently Technical Officer at the Secretariat of the Liberia Coordinating Mechanism (LCM) to fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), and Malaria.

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