Liberia: Former Boston Resident and War Refugee Now Running for Legislature

9 June 2023
The young Africa

A Liberian refugee who escaped civil war to immigrate to Boston as a seventh grader has returned to his home country and is one of the top candidates in a race to join the Liberian House of Representatives.

Jefferson Gblnzuh Krua, now a dynamic entrepreneur and transportation engineer, grew up on Harrison Ave in Roxbury and attended Boston Latin Academy, graduating in 2005 before heading to Cornell University to study Civil Engineering. After graduating, Krua furthered his studies at Virginia Tech, earning a master’s degree in Transportation Infrastructure and Systems Engineering before working as a systems analyst at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, D.C.

Eight years ago, Krua acted on his need to be a part of his country's development by moving to Liberia. "There are already millions of Jefferson Kruas in America working to solve its problems," Krua says. "Liberia needs me way more than America does."

In Liberia, Krua has had a wealth of experiences and accomplishments. As the visionary behind the award-winning news outlet, The Bush Chicken, he has demonstrated his commitment to unbiased journalism and keeping the public informed. The publication consistently received recognition as one of Liberia's finest newspapers, earning more excellence awards from the Press Union of Liberia between 2017 and 2020 than any other media outlet in the country. He also attracted over US$1.7 million in investments for three companies in Monrovia, including the introduction of the first American restaurant chain in post-war Liberia, Pinkberry.

He has also worked with notable organizations such as the Liberia Electricity Corporation, UNICEF, and Millennium Challenge Account-Liberia. Krua's advisory role to Liberia's former Education Minister George Werner further underscores his dedication to improving Liberia's education system. Additionally, he has actively served on several boards, including Friends of Liberia and the We-Care Foundation.

Now motivated by a profound dissatisfaction with the sluggish pace of development in Liberia and rampant corruption within the Liberian legislature, Jefferson Krua seeks the representative seat in his home district in the more rural Nimba County.

Liberia emerged from a civil war in 2003 and elected Africa's first female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. However, the country has struggled to find its footing over the past six years. Liberia has among the world's lowest levels of electricity access and one of the most expensive tariffs. Additionally, less than 10 percent of Liberians have access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation services.

To attract voters' attention in his district, Krua has already embarked on projects to provide access to clean drinking water and solar street lights across his district. On June 17 at 4 p.m., he will be holding a fundraiser at the 12th Baptist Church (142 Warren Street, Roxbury, MA) – his home church when he lived in Boston – to solicit funds for many of these community development projects.

Lawrence Paye, who watched Krua grow up in Boston, expressed hope that many Bostonians would come out to support him. He added, "I'm proud of who Jefferson has grown into. He has always been passionate about Liberia, and I have no doubt he will be one of those forces to transform that country. He embodies the notion that refugees can come to this country to attain an education and then return to their homeland to implement the principles of American democracy and sound governance they learned here."

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