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Archive for December, 2009

In fulfillment of a promise to spend Christmas with the people of Gbarpolu County, and the people of the once remote notorious prison town of Belle Yellah, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to the delight of the people kept her promise when she and a host of Government officials and members of the diplomatic corp visited their town on Christmas day.

For the first time in the nation’s history, the town once famous for the political prisons where previous governments locked up dissidents is being linked to the rest of the country by a motor road being constructed by the Government.

The President is reported to have walked about three hours to reach the town by foot, when it became clear road construction crews from the ministry of public works would not be able to clear the thick jungle fast enough for the Presidential convoy that was following behind, to reach the town by Christmas day.

With Government officials and the Ambassadors of the United States and China following, the President walked through the dense Belle forest, crossing creeks, connected sometimes only by makeshift bridges that challenged even those who use them regularly.
The crowd sang and danced while women spread their lappas on the ground as the President and her entourage walked to the recently constructed meeting place for an official program. County officials, led by Superintendant Gertrude Larmine and the Legislative Caucus, were present, and lavished praises on the President for fulfilling her promise to spend the Christmas with them.

The President thanked the citizens for the warm welcome, and reiterated that her visit was in fulfillment of a promise to the people of Belle Yellah that she would spend the Christmas with them. She apologized for the delay in reaching the town, but assured them they would spend Christmas night together.

The Liberian President also thanked all those who had made the trip, taking time from their families to spend Christmas in Belle Yellah. She was particularly full of praises for the Minister of Public Works and his engineering crew for their hard work. “We intend to turn Belle Yellah into a place of hope from a place of horror,” the President told journalists later in an interview. // The decision by the President to spend the night in Belle Yellah took many residents by surprise since accommodation, especially for a President, poses some challenges, which the President acknowledged. “We will all stay up, tell stories, and dance as it is done when a stranger comes to your town and there are no sleeping places,” the President suggested.

It was worth the wait because, as the night progressed, and with the President keeping her word and staying awake, enjoying the traditional music and dance, there came word that the road crew was about to enter the town. The news spread like wildfire, and like an army of ants, residents, with their flashlights, began to move towards the construction site to witness, firsthand, the history that was unfolding before their very eyes.

At 3:15 a.m., the first vehicle, a caterpillar, followed by a fleet of vehicles, roared into Belle Yellah as its residents chanted. they hugged one another and welcomed the convoy into Belle Yellah – the first entry of a motor vehicle, a dream – which the President described as a fulfillment of a promise to the people of Gbarpolu to end the isolation of the town and bring development to the area.

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