President George Manneh Weah took Monrovia by surprise Wednesday, 28 March when he led First Lady Clar Weah with over 100 of his officials, including protective guards to a local food center in the heart of Monrovia, an area that does not usually host VIPs to have lunch.
As the presidential motorcade arrived at the premises and the President disembarked along with First Lady Weah and other entourage, regular customers, who had gone to have lunch, in a show of respect, left their seats to make way for the First Family, while others went to bring additional seats.
President Weah and his entourage, including the First Lady, ate two sumptuous Liberian dishes, Palm Butter and Pepper Soup, famous to the Kru tribe here, which the President hails from, according to President Weah’s Special Assistant, Sekou Kalasko.
Speaking to OK FM, a local radio station in Monrovia, Sekou recalls that during his inaugural speech in January, President Weah challenged Liberians not to be spectators in their own economy, but to become active participants.
“The President just decided, I don’t need to eat at my house, but I will just go at a cooked bowl shop. He went there and it was fine to see; some people started totting chairs, including the owner of the shop”, he narrates.
This came as a marked departure from his predecessors, including former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who ate lunch at the Executive Mansion, rather than coming down to sit with ordinary Liberians in an area far less exquisite for their status to eat.
The President’s move yesterday perhaps signifies a strong message to Liberians to wake up and become active players in their economy. It also shows his readiness to patronize Liberian-owned businesses.
“The President intends to regularize this to other local food centers in the city”, Mr. Kalasko reveals. Among the entourage of the President, were Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe, ex-Education Minister George Werner and staff of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs.
-Story by Jonathan Browne