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Self-immolator Ponpon bags Int’l Service Award

Self-immolator Activist Leroy Archie Ponpon has received the International Service Award (ISA) from the A.M. Kyne Collegiate Resource Center in conjunction with the Office of the First Lady of Liberia, Madam Kartuma Yarta Boakai.

The Award is in recognition of his stance against rights abuse and societal ills, which led him to set himself ablaze here in 2020 to draw government’s attention to salary delays for judicial staffers.

By: Emmanuel wise Jipoh

Monrovia, Liberia, March 4, 2024 –Though many here might have forgotten his stance against rights abuse and societal ills, which led him to set himself ablaze here in 2020 to draw government attention to salary delay for judicial staffers, Activist Leroy Archie Ponpon has received the International Service Award (ISA) from the A.M. Kyne Collegiate Resource Center in conjunction with the Office of the First Lady of Liberia, Madam Kartuma Yarta Boakai.

Mr. Ponpon might have gone unnoticed in recent years, since he blew the trumpet for injustice, pouring gasoline on his body before setting himself ablaze on the ground of the Temple of Justice in Monrovia, but much of the world seems to still cheer him for his bravery and exemplary action as he bags the International Service Award, among 46 other individuals who made devastating impact in the Liberian society but are gone unnoticed.

Activist Ponpon, among other top-notch personalities including former Minister of Defense, Retired Major/General Prince Charles Johnson. III, and former Liberian warlord-turned evangelist Joshua Milton Blatyi, affectionately known as “Butt Naked” Dr. Adam M.  Kyne, co-host of the award were recognized for their exemplary services and immense contributions towards impacting Liberians’ lives.

Dr. Kyne said specifically, Mr. Archie Ponpon was given the award because of his stance on Human Rights Violations here, which has made an unwavering and positive impact on the lives of citizens, as Liberia gradually reshapes.

Ponpon went down in history here, on November 2, 2020, when he became the first Liberian and a government worker to riot against the former ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Administration, by setting himself ablaze on the ground of Temple of Justice due to unpaid salary for judicial workers, after several weeks of protest in demand of unsettled arrears owed them.

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The self-immolator might also be hailed for staging three days of hunger strike in 2018 in front of the United States Embassy near Monrovia, demanding then President George Manneh Weah to declare his assets.

Ponpon first grew fames in 2011, when he burnt down the Norwegian Flag in protest, stating that former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, didn’t deserve the Noble Peace Prize Award given by the Norwegian Government for her immense contribution to stabilizing peace in Liberia and across Africa.

The International Service Award, which was presented to honorees on Saturday, March 2, 2024, at Effort Baptist Church in Paynesville, signifies unnoticed Liberians’ commitments to patriotism, and unwavering dedication to speaking about ills in society.

Amb. Dr. Michelle E. Richards, head of the International Service Award team, said the Award is a replication of her own achievement, as a human rights activist, winning President Joe Biden Presidential Life-Time Achievement Award which embodies the goal of humanity.

“This is an Award I want to share with all of the countless people throughout the world – combating human rights violations; this aligns with a recognition of me as a recipient of the Joe Biden Presidential Life-Time Achievement Award,” which speaks volumes of humanity and it is my goal to travel across Africa to honor deserving people, who are making meaningful impact in the society,” Dr. Richards said.

“And as I always research and found Liberia as one of the poorest countries in the world, it is my hope we erase that spectrum and catalyze positive change in our communities, and repossess this our land with many resources.”

According to her Liberia, is a land endowed with many natural resources, noting that the most important resource of the nation is its citizens, and it is important that Liberians take cognizance of this fact and repossess their inheritance.

For his part, the honoree, Activist Leroy Archie Ponpon, expressed delight in receiving global recognition, without knowing that all they did in activism have been recorded in history.

He said the Award provides further inspiration and motivation for him to do more in advocating for human rights and engaging in political and social activism.

“I am pleased to be receiving this award by Global International Service, “whom without knowingly recognized our work done with human rights, activism, and I’m honored by this moment to do even greater things”, Activist Ponpon said.

He pledged to remain vigorous in his activism, thereby transcribing in a more refined minor as it relates to data analysis and reporting, saying “Look at those issues that need to be looked into, and how to be robust but in a more comprehensive way, as we continue our stance irrespective of human rights, political and social justice.”

In remarks, Liberia’s First Lady, Madam Kartuma Yarta Boakai, reminded the honorees of their immense power to make a difference in uplifting those around them.

She commended them for their remarkable achievement, which speaks of their unwavering commitment and dedicated selfless service that has made profound impact on the lives of Liberians.

“Your commitments to service is not only commendable but genuinely inspirational as it has immense power to change the environment around you and help create a better future for our nation”, Madam Boakai noted. Editing by Jonathan Browne

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