‘We Won It With Our Blood & Tears’–Kofi Woods Raps On Free Speech, Press Freedom

There is no way one individual or a group of persons can exclusively claim the glory for bringing free speech and press freedom in Liberia, former Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods declare Monday (May 24) in Monrovia, while challenging the country’s media to amplify the voices and works of the nation’s ‘invisible heroes’.

Woods speaking to journalists at Nubian FM in Payneaville
Woods speaking to journalists at Nubian FM in Payneaville

“We’ve fought all our lives to create the condition for so many media institutions to flourish in Liberia,” Woods stated when he visited and toured facilities of Nubian FM 96.7. “It will not be reversed by anyone because we earned it in the blood, sweat and tears of Liberians.”

Nubian FM is a new education and entertainment-driven radio station in Paynesville City, established by a returning Liberian entrepreneur Emeka E. Obiamiwe. A Nigerian origin, Emeka grew up and went to school in Liberia, but was among the thousands who fled the civil crisis to the United States.

Emeka E. Obiamiwe, CEO of Nubian FM 96.7
Emeka E. Obiamiwe, CEO of Nubian FM 96.7

Back home to see different Liberia decades later, he has set up his own station to join the many on the ground, but says he brings new dimension and programs which will focus on education, entertainment and youth engagement.

Identifying him with the new media entity, Woods insisted that press freedom and free speech have not been earned on the benevolence of anybody.

“All of us around here fought, made sacrifices to make it possible to have the media landscape that we have,” Woods, currently practicing law after stepping down from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government in 2013, noted.

The former renowned infrastructure minister argued that “We can only make it better; we can only exercise the social responsibilities we have in line with what the law says, as we work in the perimeters of the law.”

Emeka Taking Woods through the studios, explaining plan of actions and the kind of equipment
Emeka Taking Woods through the studios, explaining plan of actions and the kind of equipment

Woods described his visit to Nubian FM as part of his commitment and support for press freedom and social justice in the country—a cause he has stood to promote since his youth, adding: “Nobody, no individual, no government will give you it. Freedom, justice and democracy, we all fought for it in no small way.”

Woods said he was attracted to the station based on its programs such as ensuring competition among young people through the exchange of ideas, and to attract them to academism.

Plans by the station to restore the prewar high school competition, concerts, debates, quizzing, among several others, was very excellent as it will help to challenge students to take learning serious said the former student activist.

“When I was in high school, I was part of my teams [quizzing, debate]. I collected newspapers from the streets to read and be informed. As a result of this, I was able to compete in current events—science, mathematic and lots of things because of those kinds of challenges at that time,” Woods recollected.

Woods signs onto the guest board of Nubian FM
Woods signs onto the guest board of Nubian FM

He lauded the Emeka for returning home with a new idea of mass communication in reaching out to the public, especially the youth, saying this is what Liberia expects from its citizens in the Diasporas.

“My visit here is just an attempt to support this kind of initiative; I am very excited about it, and this is the kind of initiatives Liberians should embrace and support.”

Woods furthered told his friend: “I am proud of you Emeka, and we will work to support this initiative, though I am not part of this establishment and have no share in it, but it is worth supporting programs that promotes the exchange of ideas through civil, academic and intellectual means.”

The former Labor Minister then challenged Nubian FM and the rest of the country’s media including civil society go beyond the obvious to recognize those he referred to as the “invisible heroes”.

“You have to highlight issues of development and report on how a farmer, how a teacher, how a nurse goes to work every day with such commitment,” Woods advised. “We need to be able to amplify the works of the invisible heroes: those people who are normally ignored, who are never talked about even in the footnotes of our history.”

Woods said it was time for the media to take the lead for society to go back and recognize those set of people. Society and the media, the Liberian human right lawyer indicated, were throwing honors only at those who are wealthy and forgetting those who really deserved those flowers.

These invisible heroes including teachers, farmers and nurses were sacrificing for the rest of the masses everyday and deserve honor, he emphasized.

“We need to find a way to amplify their voices—these are the people who make Liberia strong, who make it possible for us to be here, and so we must continue to find a way to recognize them. While there are big award programs out there, let us find a way to recognize the invisible heroes—our teachers, our doctors, our nurses and people out there who clean our streets with the city corporation.”

Woods and Emeka in a jolly mood as he leaves the station at the end of his hourlong visit
Woods and Emeka in a jolly mood as he leaves the station at the end of his hour-long visit

Emeka of NuEra Inc. said he is in the country to give a new dimension to the work of the media and to take multimedia and entertainment to new heights. Writes D. K. Sengbeh. dakasen1978@yahoo.com; +231886586531

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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