Cultural Group Complains Minister Rennie To Pres. Weah

The Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) has complained the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) to President George Manneh Weah for allegedly shunning and outrightly disrespecting the group on two separate occasions when it reached out to him in its desire to assist in fostering peace and understanding among the beleaguered post-war citizens, survivors and victims of the Liberian civil war.

DATI stated the complaint when an open invitation was extended to President and First Lady Clar Weah as well as officials of government.

“We would like to invite you and Mrs. Weah, all officials of government of the Republic of Liberia, as well as the diplomatic and international community in Liberia, to attend The Rabbi Joe Gbaba Peace and Cultural Festival in the beautiful Southeastern City of Harper, Maryland County from April 15-17, 2022. The theme of The Rabbi Joe Gbaba Peace and Cultural Festival is “Bah Noh Deh Doh. It is a Greboexpression that means, “Let us be one.” The festive gala is in celebration of my 48th Anniversary as Liberian playwright, theatre director, actor and producer and of the 45th Anniversary of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc.’s (DATI’s) founding as the oldest surviving theatre organization in Liberia.

“Also, Your Excellency and Mrs. Weah, we apologize for sending you an open invitation, which we would have preferred to forward to you through the Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism, Honorable Ledgerhood J. Rennie, since our modus operandi as a performing arts organization falls within his oversight.”

Further, DATI considers Minister Rennie’s alleged actions as deliberate attempt to strangulate the efforts of Liberian college youths who are members of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. that have devoted their limited resources, talents, and precious time for nearly three years to fostering the Presdient’s peace agenda in Liberia.

DATI went on to display two proofs, to corroborate their disgruntlement about the Minister Rennie’s alleged brazen use of his official capacity as Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism to undermine and sabotage their peacebuilding project in Liberia.

“On Wednesday, September 1, 2021, at the precise hour of 2:57 AM U.S. Eastern Time, we wrote Mr. Rennie electronically via his email address (ledgeej@hotmail.com) the correspondence below and copied Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. Peace Advocate officials of the DATI Montserrado Dougbor and Maryland Gbenelue Chapters including the following: Statesmen Hillaryson Soe, Jr., Regional Director; Albert T. Ninneh, National Secretary General; Henry Garjay Brumskine, former Director, DATI Montserrado Dougbor Chapter; Meshach Sieh Elliott, Director, DATI Maryland Gbenelue Chapter; and Stateswomen Precious A.S. Sampson, Assistant Director for Administration DATI Montserrado Dougbor Chapter and Philomena M. Arkue, Treasurer, DATI Maryland GbenelueChapter; :

Dear Minister Ledgerhood Rennie: The Peace and Charity of Christ. I am writing to inform you Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc., a duly registered Non-governmental Organization in Liberia and the United States of America, is renovating its national headquarters building on Duport Road, Paynesville, Montserrado County, Liberia, to establish the DATI Peace and Cultural Center in Liberia. The DATI Peace and Cultural Center’s primary mission is to promote peace and reconciliation and national unity and carry out peacebuilding and civic education and cultural studies programs through the performing and visual arts and Afrocentric literacy.

“For instance, we will offer courses in Liberian History and Culture, Dance, Music, Peace and Civic Education, and Literacy, including computer studies and culinary art. Similar efforts are being made in Harper, Maryland County at the Harper Museum building where we secured office space to carry out the same cultural and educational activities. 

“We would like you to kindly serve as our Guest of Honor at the formal opening ceremony to be slated either in December 2021 or early January 2022. The actual date will be forwarded to you when the renovation is completed.  

“Meanwhile, we would like you to please provide us a letter of reference attesting to the contributions DATI has made in the cultural and educational arenas of Liberia over the past four decades since its founding at the University of Liberia in 1977. “We urgently need this document to assist us interact with both governmental and nongovernmental organizations that may not be aware of our track record as custodians of Liberian culture and as Liberia’s longest surviving theatre organization at home and abroad. I have attached our Articles of Incorporation document to confirm our legal status as an NGO in Liberia…

DATI further claimed that Minister Rennie is yet to respond to this communication that was written seven months ago.

Moreover, DATI management also made claim of writing Minister Rennie on Sunday, February 13, 2022, at 9:05 AM U.S. Eastern Time, via an electronic invitation to him as Liberia’s Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism.

Below is the content of the letter:

“Mr. Ledgerhood J. Rennie, Minister, Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs & Tourism

Dear Minister Rennie:

The Chairman of the Board of Directors, Executive Director, Officers and members of the Honorable Body of DehkonteeArtists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) cordially invite you to celebrate the 48th Anniversary of Rabbi Joe Gbaba as Liberian Playwright and Cultural Icon, and the 45th Anniversary of the founding of Dehkontee Artists Theatre at the University of Liberia in 1977. 

“The celebration will be culminated with the launch of The Rabbi Joe Gbaba Peace and Cultural Festival to be held in Harper, Maryland County, Southeastern Liberia, from Friday, April 15th to Sunday, April 17th. The goal of the festival is to promote peace and national unity, preserve the history and culture of Liberia, and create cultural awareness and national consciousness among Liberians at home and abroad. 

“Funds raised from the event will be used to renovate and furnish DATI’s office at the Harper Museum and when renovation is completed, the office will serve as DATI Peace and Cultural Center and as DATI’s regional headquarters for Southeastern Liberia. We will be offering courses in Liberian Music, Dance, History, Culture, Peace Education and Conflict Resolution, Home Economics, as well as Afrocentric Literacy: Reading, Writing, Community Engagement and Civic Education.

“As this event is historical and indeed the first of its kind since more than four decades ago in Liberia, we would like to solicit your support to help publicize this event so that it may achieve the desired effect of creating cultural awareness and national consciousness among Liberians at home and abroad.

“I attached our brochure which provides a history of DATI and all its contributions over the past forty-five years to give you an insight on our goal and objectives as a performing arts organization.

Sincerely,

Management of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc…”

According to Joseph Gbaba, DATI founder, Minister Rennie’sresponse was that he was not sure he might be in country at the time of the festival.

Gbaba added; “I personally followed up with a phone call and conversation on Sunday, February 13, 2022 at 5:35 PM U.S. Eastern Time to appeal to Mr. Rennie to attend our function. In our telephone conversation, he stated that he is not certain he may be in Liberia at that time when the festival may take place because his travel schedule is unpredictable. I concurred with him on that given his position as a government official. “However, I asked what the Ministry of Information could do to help publicize the event for the greater good of all Liberians and foreign residents and tourists. Mr. Rennie said, ‘Your event is a private event so government cannot support it. You must publicize it on your own…”

The pending festival will be held in Gbenelue, Cape Palmas, Harper City, Maryland County from April 15-17, 2022, for the combined grand celebrations of Rabbi Joe Gbaba’s 48th anniversary as Liberian Playwright, Theatre Director, Actor, and Producer, and the 45th Anniversary of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) founding at the University of Liberia in 1977.

Among the distinguished guest list of personalities expected to attend this historic and cultural gala is a stateswoman Madam D. Sheba Brown, Chair of the Board of Directors of DehkonteeArtists Theatre, Inc. in Liberia. Mrs. Brown has served on DATI’s Board since 2019.

In a communication sent to Mrs. Brown on March 1, 2022, Alfred J. K. Nugba, Chairman, DATI Gbenelue Chapter Rabbi Joe Gbaba Peace and Cultural Festival Planning Committee, wrote: “DATI Gbenelue Chapter is officially inviting you to please be her Speaker during her up coming Festival program scheduled for April 15-16, 2022.We believe you being the Chairperson of the board you will be able to pass a proper message of Peace through Arts as DATI understands…”

Mrs. Brown in turn replied: “Acknowledged with thanks and accept with humility to be your Guest Speaker.”

A stated by the Executive Director of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc., Dr. Joe Gbaba, “Mrs. D. Sheba Brown has been a sister and friend for many decades. We grew up in Monrovia and attended the University of Liberia. She is a great socialite, humanitarian, a mother, and a patriot. She is soft-spoken, reliable, frank, diplomatic, and she is willing to do anything that will engender peace and unity in Liberia. Before I launched the DATI Kukatonon Peace Project in Liberia, I prayed that the Lord would designate peace-loving people to be a part of the project. One person whose name readily came to mind to serve as Board Chair was D. Sheba Brown.

“When I approached D. Sheba to be a part of the planning and implementation process of the DATI Kukatonon Peace Project as I did with many other Liberian ladies and gentlemen, she consented without hesitation and she was the very first person to donate towards the start of the project nearly three years ago. Unlike many Liberians who join organizations for their own self-interests and immediate gratification but leave when their wishes and caprices are not fulfilled, Mrs. D. Sheba Brown has remained faithful to our goal and objectives of attaining and maintaining peace and reconciliation among Liberians at home and abroad. She has demonstrated a high level of patriotism, realizing that the DATI Kukatonon Peace Project is not about Dr. Joe Gbaba but about Liberia and the Liberian people.

“Besides, her love for children and country has been a compelling force and inspiration for all DATI youths who have committed their limited resources as volunteers for nearly three years without complaint or dismay. Hence, it is noteworthy to give Mrs. Brown the mother of our peace project and a renowned Liberian feminist, the opportunity to share her experience as a mother and stateswoman with the youths of Liberia during my 48th and DATI’s 45th Gala in Harper City, Maryland County, Republic of Liberia.”

The Rabbi Joe Gbaba Peace and Cultural Festival will be the first of its kind for over fifty years in Liberia. The DATI Kukatonon Peace Project is a grassroot initiative supported by ordinary Liberian citizens at home and abroad who yearn for lasting peace and reconciliation among Liberians at home and abroad. The data gathered thus far from DATI’s donors list reflects that most of the donors are Liberians from Southeastern Liberia with Marylanders taking a slight lead over Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, and Sinoe Counties. On the international level, there are African American donors and one donor from the Republic of Sierra Leone.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.