11 October 2017

Liberia: Ailing Haja Kamara, Others Defy Odds to Vote

The desperation to see a better Liberia was yesterday demonstrated by thousands of voters across the country, including ailing Haja Kamara, at polling places when they showed up to vote.

Mrs. Kamara, a 'pressure' patient who is unable to walk without help, braved the storm by the aid of her husband, Abraham S. Kamara and entered polling center #4 at the Calvary Temple A.G.M School in Jacob Town, Montserrado District #2.

Win or lose, the ailing woman stole the show at the hugely crowded precinct when she was escorted, beaming with a smile, in the scorching sun.

Addressing the Daily Observer, her husband, who spoke on her behalf due to her inability to express herself as a result of the advanced state of her illness, said even though his wife is not well, she is conscious and understands what the country has gone through despite her abundant natural wealth.

"My wife is in pain but she always tells me that inasmuch as she is still alive and has her senses functioning she wants an improved country with all basic social services for her children and other Liberians.

"She loves this country and believes that the best thing she can do to keep it at peace and moving forward is to decide at this time on who becomes the next president and members of the House of Representatives," he said.

Explaining how she fell prey to the deadly disease which has made her nearly paralyzed, Kamara said "ten years ago my wife fell in our bathroom while taking her bath and when she was rushed to MAWA Clinic in Vai Town, Bushrod Island, she was diagnosed with hypertension, known as pressure.

"We have visited all the major health centers around the country, including JFK, but we have not found a solution to her problem. I grieve daily because my wife can no longer do any physical activity by herself. I bathe her and take care of her in so many different ways while our children are away," he lamented.

He said he and his wife had eight children but due to sickness and other natural challenges, four have survived and are all in school. "Our marriage entered its 38th year last month and our children are doing well in their studies. I pray that my wife recovers so we will enjoy from our children tomorrow," he said with a hopeful sob.

Concerning their decisions on who should lead District #2 and the country as a whole, Kamara said even though their votes remain their secrets, they did not vote on tribal or religious affiliation, nor on mere campaign promises from candidates.

"Whoever wins we will accept him or her but our prayer is that this district should become a better district than what we see it today," he said.

Voters turned their backs on the past as they face the future by voting in a new leadership to steer national affairs

For her part, first-time voter Leona Dahn said the experience of standing in long and boring queues to decide on who becomes a leader to run the country, alongside the House of Representatives, is historically tedious but necessary.

"I have been in this line since 7 a.m. today (the interview took place at 3:18 p.m.) waiting my turn to be called in there to vote, but as you can see, the process is very slow," she said, adding that inasmuch as she was tired, she could not afford going back home without casting her vote.

"Things are so hard in this country and I think the only way we can make the change real is to be patient and vote for the right leadership," she noted.

Presiding officers at all the polling centers visited termed the process as calm and peaceful except for a few where voting started late and the identification of some voters' information became a challenge at some point.

Top among representative candidates in District #2 are incumbent Sekou Kanneh, Col. Jimmy W. Smith, Eric K. Yeasu and Flomo Kellen.

Col. Smith, who came second to Kanneh in 2011, is hopeful to unseat the incumbent on grounds that the basic developments yearned for over the years by the electorates did not materialize in Kanneh's six years as representative. He told his supporters recently at his official campaign launch that class politics have enveloped the district, thereby causing tension along religious and tribal lines.

"When I am elected we will have a district council whose work will be to unite all of us, irrespective of tribe, religion and economic status," he said on Thursday, October 5, in the Rehab Community of Johnsonville Township.

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