Home Guest Opinion Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meet: A Traditional Foibles of The New Order

Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meet: A Traditional Foibles of The New Order

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Dr. Mwalimu-Koh M. Blonkanjay Jackson
Ivy League Scholar, Education Specialist

“Thinking Thoughts”
In my thinking thoughts I soon became aware that Liberia’s traditional annual national county meet had concluded and little Rivergee and Rivercess are the new champions. Each time I reflect the structures of the recent county teams and the events that unfolded, I developed a hunch that the whole affair could be referred to as a “Kpa-Kpa-Kpa” event because it exemplifies mistakes of the past that continue to haunt the sports sector in this so-called new era of Liberia.

Back in the Day Traditional County Meets
County meets back in the day were different from this era. Those days, 90% of the youth and young adults who participated were genuine sons and daughters of their counties and were recruited from the counties. The goals for staging the games were manifold but smart. First it was to spot potential talents within the counties that could be drafted for big teams including Barolle, IE, Bame, St. Joseph’s Warriors, and the national team. Consequently, a number of the players on the national teams those days were spotted from county meets. I remember my sister Coteebo, and two of my cousins Phelicia Greene, and Mary Toe came from Borh and Neegbah, way across the Cestos River to represent Rivercess County in Monrovia. Many of our boys from Rivercess including the Alamandines, the Tarrs, and the Kortees all came from Rivercess to play in Monrovia. Of course Saryee went on to play for Booker Washington Institute (BWI) and other teams as a formidable defending mid-fielder just from the county meets. The late Phelicia Green was recruited to run for the national track-and-field team and performed so well that she was honored and employed by the Liberia National Youth Organization (LNYO) at the time, a unit at the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

From experience, participating in county meet was not based on an imperative to win but rather for exposure experiences for our young people and the unity of the country, It was a time when all of our citizens especially those from the leeward counties and rural areas who had never seen the capitol city, would come together. Massive family visits took place. When returning, school fees were paid and the participants took gifts and new things back to Rivercess. Although sometimes our players returned without trophies and medals, we still celebrated them while some of us wished we had such an opportunity to go to the capitol city, Monrovia, to participate in such a national event. Back in the day, even to play on the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) was an achievement.

During those days, the sons and daughters fought tooth and nail to defend their counties with patriotism and “valor unpretending”. They were not paid by number of games nor demanded expensive apparel to parade in front of the stadium crowd. They were our patriotic sacrificial lambs called to defend their respective heritage like soldiers on the battlefront.

New Era Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meets
Unfortunately, county meet in this so-called new era, took on a peculiar status that people are referring to as “ Kpa-kpa-kpa. For the sake of my Brabees, when we say something is Kpa-kpa-kpa in Liberia it means the thing has foibles or weaknesses; it is fake; it is corrupt; it has flaws: it is not genuine. The current county meet is “pay for play,” it is politically motivated, and it is episodic. There is hardly any patriotism and its original goals have been totally diluted and spiraled.

Play for Pay Mercenary Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meets
You see my Brabbees, these days, 90% of the people who play for the respective counties are not sons and daughters from those counties. They are mercenaries or “play for pay” people who are representing the county. These days it is common to find a young man named Garley originally from Grand Gedeh playing for Cape Mount against Grand Gedeh, while a Korlubah would be playing for Rivercess against Lofa. It is also common for county officials to contract the players of an existing club in an urban community like Kakata or Monrovia to represent the county while young people in the counties are denied opportunities to display their talents.

As this essay goes to press, the Rivercess sports committee owes its football squad two salary payments for two games and five games for the kickball team. The kickball team has been threatened with eviction because of overstaying in the apartments rented to accommodate them while they were flying the national colors of Rivercess. The chairman of the sports committee threatens to hold a press conference on the alleged neglect demonstrated by the Legislative Caucus to pay the players and defray the cost of hotel accommodation.

Politically Motivated Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meets
These days, the allotment for preparation to the counties are never sufficient to defray all costs. As a consequence, windows are open for politicians to compete and show off regarding who has more love for the county or who is more a people’s legislator. Instead of contributing to their county sports budget, Rivercess politicians and other legislators usually offer gifts to individual players instead of supporting the overall sports budget of the county.

The reason for which politicians participate in county meet activities is usually not due to pure love or patriotism, but rather for political gains. They use the history of their giving and participation to solicit votes to be retained at their Senatorial and Representative positions. This is why contributions to the teams take on internal competitions among politicians instead of a social gathering of camaraderie.
Episodic Kpa-Kpa-Kpa County Meets
Of late the county meet has been episodic. A few years back in the final football match between Nimba and Grand Kru Counties, the Nimba football team walked off the field because it felt cheated. During the protest, Nimba fans beat on cars and threatened more severe violence. It was by some divine providence that the jam-packed stadium did not erupt into a stampede where lives would be lost and valuable properties damaged. Instead of a rematch, Minister Zeogar Wilson awarded the trophy to Grand Kru in an unprecedented manner at a poorly attended program.

Recently Bomi felt cheated but did not react as equally as Grand Gedeh. In the Grand Gedeh and Nimba County case, the Grand Gedans were reckless and violent when the referee cancelled a goal.. As protest, in addition to the players walking off the playing pitch, Grand Gedans attacked the referee for cheating and ransacked the stadium. The referee was later expelled while a prominent Nimbaian admitted that indeed Grand Gedeh was cheated and that the cancelled goal was a clean goal. Rumors have it that the referee was compromised by Nimba officials.

From Kpa-Kpa-Kpa to Quality
My Brabbees, I posit that one of the perfunctory roles of the Cole-Bangalu-Yonton-Bryant administration of the Ministry of Youth and Sports should be to move the national county sports meet from its current Kpa-kpa-kpa status to its traditional standards. At its traditional standards, one of the goals was to spot youth and talents from leeward counties and rural communities to position them as feeder to the national and division teams. The other goal was to offer equal opportunities to all youth and young adults for exposure of life beyond their ecological niches. The goal to elevate the efficacy of the MYS was given as the canopy over all of its activities and value for money.

Liberia has female and male national teams which are hardly relevant and have been struggling without success to return Liberia to its previous revered status in the global sporting arena. In this new era, scouts are always perched globally to recruit talents for foreign leagues and clubs; our local division teams are also thriving to groom their young players for the global sporting stage.

While those opportunities are available, Liberia is recycling Montserrado County based local players and leaving out talents in the rural areas and leeward counties. Truth being told, to be an inclusive event that would offer opportunities and access to all youth, recruitment of county team players should be limited to young people who live in the county as first priority. This done, the competition would be genuine and removed from its present kpa-kpa-kpa status where mercenaries play for pay, money changes hands for referees to cheat, and violence and vandalism are quelled.

Benediction
My Brabbees, at this point, the Minister of Youth and Sports should begin to pray to the Compassionate Savior so that future National County Sports meets can be purged of deficient, deceptive, corrupt kpa-kpa-kpa vices. Let me therefore leave MYS Minister Jeror Cole Bangalu with the words of the 17th Century hymn writer Ms. Fanny Crosby, when she penned, “Pass Me Not O Gentle Savior” Note the fourth stanza.

  1. Pass me not, O gentle Savior,
    Hear my humble cry;
    While on others Thou art calling,
    Do not pass me by.
    o Refrain:
    Savior, Savior,
    Hear my humble cry,
    While on others Thou art calling,
    Do not pass me by.
  2. Let me at Thy throne of mercy
    Find a sweet relief;
    Kneeling there in deep contrition,
    Help my unbelief.
  3. Trusting only in Thy merit,
    Would I seek Thy face;
    Heal my wounded, broken spirit,
    Save me by Thy grace.
  4. Thou the spring of all my comfort,
    More than life to me,
    Whom have I on earth beside Thee,
    Whom in Heav’n but Thee
    Simply thinking thoughts.

About the author:
The Rivercess man, CEO and founder of the Diversified Educators Empowerment Project (DEEP), Dr. Mwalimu-Mkoh M. Blonkanjay Jackson holds a Doctor of Education from Waldenu U, a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Master of Science in Mathematics Education from St. Joseph’s University; he is a Yale University Teachers Initiative Math Fellow, and UPENN Teacher Institute Physics Fellow. He is a part-time lecturer at the UL Graduate School of Education. Mr. Jackson served the government of Liberia diligently for four years and returned to private practice as Development Specialist and Education Engineer. The MwalKoh-Koh can be reached at 0886 681 315.

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