Liberia Heritage Advocates (LHA) has condemned what it calls the bastardizing of one of the country’s precious cultural practices, the celebratory powdering of guests and achievers.
The LHA says this is admirable traditional ritual that is mainly found in Grand Gedeh County or among the Krahn ethnic group of Liberia wherever they are found.
According to Heritage Advocates, it is a hospitable practice through which sweet powder or sometimes smooth white or grey ashes are sprinkled on the forehead or shoulders of important guests, heroes, heroines, and great achievers in so many respects, as a way of hailing their feats.
LHA notes that recent developments in Grand Gedeh County where some people, with no scientific evidence, legal proof, or traditional grounds, accused some of their kinsmen of bewitching fallen Representative Erol Madison Gwion with the traditional hospitality powder, have the propensity to destroy this unique and beautiful cultural practice by demonizing it to other people in Liberia, Africa and other parts of the world.
The group says while it joins the bereaved family, people of Grand Gedeh, and Liberia in mourning the shocking demise of a great statesman Gwion, it is dangerous and unacceptable for some people, with apparent political motives, to designate one of the country’s rich cultural practices as a medium of witchcraft without any scientific, traditional or legal evidence.
It expresses fear that, if not checked, this unwarranted action by some misguided individuals to incite the unsuspecting citizens against their precious heritage, put them against each other, and draw them into violent acts, could have a long-lasting negative connotation on the county, and could also scare away people from other parts of the country and the world, including potential tourists.
The Civil Society Organization also condemns those spreading dangerous rumors and promoting trial by ordeal, thus inciting anxious and angry citizens to deepen disunity, envy, and detraction by attacking fellow kinsmen and their properties in the county.
It expresses sadness that at a time when the entire county must come together to pay due respect to their leader and one of their brightest sons, some insensitive individuals would choose to play politics and undermine the homegoing of a man who spent his life fighting for and serving his people.
LHA terms as shameful and distasteful, the actions of some selfish and shortsighted individuals to play politics in time of mourning and sober reflection in their quest to gain political relevance at the expense of the dead.
It extends condolences to the bereaved family and members of the 54th Legislature, describing the late Representative Erol Madison Gwion as a dedicated and humble public servant whose contribution to his people and country will forever be remembered.
Meanwhile, the Liberia Heritage Advocates is calling on the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, and the House of Representatives to work along with Gwion’s family and bring to light his cause of death to ease tension and possibly institute necessary actions required under the law against those spreading rumors and chaos in the county without any substantial grounds.
Grand Gedeh County District #1 Representative died on December 4, 2023, in Accra, Ghana, following a period of illness. Editing by Jonathan Browne