President Dr. George Manneh Weah has called on Liberians to aspire to higher and nobler endeavors, by emulating the courage, endurance, selflessness and commitments to the principles and ideals of democracy as portrayed in the works and life of the country's First President, the late Joseph Jenkins Roberts.
"It is therefore, befitting for such an honor to continue to be accorded the memory of this distinguished Statesman as a challenge to all Liberians to aspire to higher and nobler endeavors, by emulating his courage, endurance, selflessness and commitments to the principles and ideals of democracy as portrayed in his works and life as the First President," President Weah said.
President Weah's message was contained in a statement read on his behalf by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., at the First United Methodist Church on Ashmun Street on Monday, March 15, 2021 during programs commemorating the 212th birth anniversary of the late President Joseph Jenkins Roberts.
"President Joseph Jenkins Roberts was a generous and humble man, who knew that the onerous tasks of nation-building would require people who were educated and ready for the leadership and maintenance of Liberia," President Weah added.
In accordance with law as passed by the Legislature, each year, March 15 is celebrated as national holiday in observance of the birth anniversary of the late President Roberts, First President of the Republic of Liberia.
The indoor program at the First United Methodist Church on Monday, followed the rededication of the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Monument held at Ducor, Snapper Hill.
He noted that the late President Roberts exclusively and purposefully left a significant portion of his property to harness and nourish the capabilities that lie within Liberia's youth, particularly talented young people with financial barriers to education and skills development.
He recalled that shortly after the independence of Liberia, it was clear that the country needed to have a means of not only educating its citizens for public and private services but also developing future leaders, hence the creation of Liberia College, now the University of Liberia.
"He served as its first President, bringing his leadership experience and skill to the young Institution of Higher Learning," President Weah narrated.
According to him, these extraordinary initiatives of Liberia's First President, Joseph Jenkins Roberts, established him as a visionary who was concerned with the welfare of succeeding generations of Liberian youth on whom the nation would depend for posterity.
The Liberian Leader stated that the late President Roberts knew that in order to sustain its independence and to grow, the difficult task of building Liberia into a progressive Nation would require people who were educated and ready to assume the mantle of leadership.
"Based on this vision of President Roberts, the Joseph Jenkins Roberts Educational Foundation developed a Scholarship Program to provide opportunities for quality education for the children of Liberia. Many Liberian students have benefitted - and continue to benefit - from this program and I encourage those students currently enrolled in the program to take advantage of the opportunities and maximize their learning experiences to be future leaders and career professionals in our nation," he said.
President Weah congratulated the committed and hardworking members of the First United Methodist Church who, over the years, have faithfully contributed to the success of the J. J. Roberts Education Foundation since its inception in 1876, and urged them to continue the extraordinary dedication to the young people.
He called on the education sector to collaborate with the J. J. Roberts Educational Foundation to remain committed to the vision of President Roberts and be creative in developing modern educational programs for today's students.
Also speaking during the program, Liberia's Vice President Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor called on Liberians to always have positive mindset of their country, no matter the challenges they are face with.
Vice President Howard-Taylor said though the government is making significant effort in championing the cause of the ordinary people, much is needed in improving the living condition of the underprivileged citizens.
According to VP Howard-Taylor, there is a need to begin a new era that will make Liberians feel the impact of their leaders, stating that having negative perception about Liberia as a citizen will only worsen the country's situation and lead to unpatriotic acts.
The Liberian Vice President has meanwhile, expressed sadness in the manner in which some Liberians say negative things about their own country despite professing of having love for their nation.