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Miatta Fahnbulleh: 12th graders seeking lawmaker jobs

Famous Liberian musician Madam Miatta Fahnbulleh has warned that if Liberians are not careful, children coming out of high school will be running for legislative seats because of the attraction of the salaries of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“There was never a time when the discussion was young people going into leadership. Never! In my time, you knew we had to evolve. When I was 35 – 40, it never occurred to me, [to] go and be a senator. No, it was not,” Madam Fahnbulleh told a recent interview.

“But today, you find children in the 12th grade planning their run for the House of Representatives. And you know why they’re going there. So like I said … the indoctrination of the voters, we have to work better at that,” she added.

Salaries for Liberian lawmakers have been very controversial here, with suggestion that they earn approximately above US$5,000 after some cuts were made in recent year.

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They are also entitled to many other extra benefits including gas slips, scratch cards, and the employment of about 10 persons each in their offices.

Giving her perspective on Liberian voters and leadership here, Madam Fahnbulleh argued that until voters understand what democracy is and what voting is for, the country is going nowhere.

To some extent she blamed the leadership quality that country has on the decision of voters for the caliber of people they choose at the ballot box, thereby stressing the need to educate voters ahead of elections.

But she suggested that those who are responsible for advocacy are either embarrassed or ashamed of the one medium that the country has – the indigenous languages to get the message across to the general population.

Madam Fahnbulleh acknowledged that English is the national language here, but also pondered how do you go to Sass Town and want to speak English there when grandma Josephine has not approved of what you are saying. 

Additionally, the Liberian musician lamented that Liberians have now lost their dignity and pride, saying they care no more for integrity and  humanity.

In the interview conducted following the observance of the 5th anniversary of the passing of her mother, Sister Mary Brownell, Madam Fahnbulleh argued that the way an outsider saw Liberians in the 1940s was about a proud people, but that has changed today.

“We are now, to me, we just seem to be a people almost in a cannon … just bumping into each other, just to grab. We’ve lost our pride, we’ve lost our dignity, we’ve lost everything as a nation,” she added. 

Giving her reaction to U.S. Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy’s recent publication in relation to the sanitary situation in Monrovia, Madam Fahnbulleh said it’s good for the American Ambassador and the Europeans to say whatever about Liberia.

According to her, she has personally made the same noise back in 2018 about the filth which was about six feet high right around her area.

But she said she was deemed frustrated and considered an opposition when she raised the issue about the mountain of garbage right in the city.

“So since you don’t want to listen to us I’m happy that the American Ambassador can come up and tell y’all the same thing we’ve been saying,” she said.

She noted that there are intelligent people and geniuses in this country “that we refuse to accept or listen to.”

Earlier talking about the fifth anniversary of  her mother Mary Brownell’s passing, Madam Fahnbulleh said it was decided to establish what is considered the Mary Brownell Legacy.

She said following a series of activities, there was a provoking and academic discussion held about where they go from Mary Brownell’s departure to how do women carry on, among others.

Madam Fahnbulleh said the academic discussion had fantastic panelists, home and abroad, while the President of Ghana and Chairman of Ecowas, Nana Akufo Addo, served as the keynote speaker.


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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