The Inquirer (Monrovia)

Liberia: 'You Are a Hero'

The Managing Editor of the Independent INQUIRER Newspaper has described ailing Catholic Archbishop, Michael Kpakala Francis as a hero in the society for his countless contributions to peace and tranquility in the country.

Speaking yesterday when the staff of The INQUIRER paid a visit at the home of Bishop Francis, Mr. Philip N. Wesseh extolled the Archbishop for his role in promoting peace in the country and contributing to the fight for press freedom and freedom of speech.

The visit of The INQUIRER staff at the home of the ailing Archbishop is part of activities marking the 22nd anniversary of the paper. Yesterday marked The INQUIRER exactly 22 years since its appearance on the newsstands in 1991.

Mr. Wesseh in brief remark told the ailing Archbishop, "You played a major role for peace; you will never be forgotten. Some referred to you as the conscience of the society but we will always remember you as a true hero for your stance and your advocacy for social justice," he informed Bishop Francis who is now reduced in a wheelchair and speechless.

The INQUIRER boss further added, "Your presence in Liberia at the time encouraged us and gave us strength. Because of your stay here we were also encouraged to stay as well. When there was problem at one point we went to you and you gave us pieces of advice, and we have reached this far," Mr. Wesseh said.

He said there were several newspapers, about 15 in the country during the time of the crisis, but The INQUIRER is and remains the only surviving post-war newspaper adding, "And we think we owe it all to you too. Your advocacy for press freedom and freedom of speech helped us a lot to reach this far; we are not happy with your present condition but we thank God that you are still around us; we see you as a hero never to be forgotten in this country and what you worked for, what you planted has grown today, so we cannot forget about someone who fought for social justice," the Inquirer boss intimated.

Among other things, PNW praised Bishop Francis for his role in the realization of peace in Liberia following years through his advocacy.

Responding, an aide of Archbishop Francis lauded The Inquirer for the visit and said the Bishop wants to see people visiting his home. Madam Mercy K. Blyden said Bishop will on February 12, 2013 celebrate his 76th birth anniversary and would want friends and relatives to be part of the celebration.

The independent INQUIRER Newspaper, Liberia's oldest and only surviving post-war newspaper began celebration of activities marking its 22 years of existence yesterday.

The paper was organized by a group of young Liberian journalists led by the late T. Max-Teah on January 15, 1991 to fill the communication gap created as a result of the civil conflict.

The group which included, Gabriel Williams, its first Managing Editor, Roger Seton, S. Togba Slewion, J. Grody Dorbor, Emmanuel Nah and the present managing editor, Philip N. Wesseh, who was its first News Editor, felt troubled at the time that there was no independent newspaper.

According to historical facts, even though during the ceasefire, a group of journalists initially organized what was known as the "Torchlight' newspaper under the aegis of Prince Johnson's Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).Notwithstanding, the journalists did not feel safe under such atmosphere as the INPFL was attempting to have control over its editorial contents.

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