Let’s not Weep, But Celebrate -Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe encourages siblings as they lay to rest 96 Years Old mother- Elizabeth Menguah Gongloe (1923-2020)

Death, the end of life, leaves painful feelings in survivors of the deceased that cause grief, but Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA) and a well respected lawyer in Liberia, has said that the death of his beloved mother, Elizabeth Menguah Gongloe, is worth celebration and not weeping.

During the funeral service of his beloved mother on July 4, 2020 in the family’s birth town of Glehyee Zorpea, Yarwin Mensonnoh District, Nimba County, Cllr. Gongloe told his siblings and sympathizers that his mother lived long enough to see all of her children grown up as men and women.

“One good thing is that none of us predeceased her, and she lived for so long that we cannot exactly state her age because she did not tell us when she was born. She told us that she was born before the arrival of Firestone in 1926, and by her account of the experience, she was indeed born before that time. We concluded that she was born in 1923 and died at 96 years.  The age could be more than that, and I am happy that she lived this time of her life. So let us celebrate instead of crying.”  

Though he did not shed tears at any point of the funeral, the Cllr. Gongloe appeared sad in posture and tone.  He told the gathering that his mother and father lived lives that left positive marks on their children and many other people. He also remarked that both of them lived full lives.

Mr. Wilfred Gongloe, a classroom teacher who died earlier, met his wife Elizabeth Gongloe in 1946 and they married in 1948.  Their conviction and subsequent conversion to Christianity came when some Baptist missionaries visited Quoipa, Bong County in 1951.

Devoted to her Christian principles and virtues, Madam Elizabeth Gongloe, her profile notes, was earnestly given to prayer and Christian teaching in her home, something her daughter, Edith Gongloe-Weh, said left a positive mark on the children and made them who they are in the society.

Prior to becoming a Christian, she was one of the many concubines of a local chief, Bowah, and she was without a child for many years.  Even after marrying her own husband Wilfred Gongloe, she went without a child many years.  “The situation worried her, but did not shake her faith in Jesus Christ.  She became the subject of community gossip that she was barren and would never bear children,” narrated by her surviving daughter, Edith Gongloe-Weh.

Without wavering in her faith, she kept praying fervently until 1956 when she gave birth to her first son, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe after whom she bore seven other children.  The children include Edith Gongloe-Weh, Kehleboe Gongloe, Daakiayi Gongloe, Cllr. Philip Gongloe, Mercy Gongloe, Gloria Gongloe-Mulbah, and Renèe Gongloe-Gibson. 

Unlike her husband who was a teacher, Gongloe had little to no formal education. “Our mother was not educated, but she was always encouraging her children to go to school to graduate from high school, and after high school she would encourage them to go to the university, and this is why we named her ‘Mama Degree.’ Our father, a village teacher, earned $50.00 those days and it —–was difficult to support children going to school, but mama would make farms to complement his effort,” said Edith while narrating Mother Gongloe’s profile.

Madam Elizabeth Gongloe, as old as she became, endured faith-wavering attacks.  She was once bitten by a venomous snake that was never seen, leaving her hand paralyzed. In 2011, she underwent a major surgery, and during that operation, there was an error that family members thought would bring her to the end of life, but with the intervention of one of Liberia’s most experienced and internationally recognized surgeons, Dr. Vuyu Kanda Golakai, she recovered.  After many years of stability, she turned to show weak posture in June this year and finally gave up the ghost on the 24.

Children and close relatives praise Madam Gongloe for living a Christian life and impacting Christian women by her teaching.

The funeral service was attended by some high profile officials of the Liberian National Bar Association and top lawyers including Cllr. Wilkins Wright, former Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, Cllr. Bobby Livingstone amongst others, and Representatives Johnson Gwaikolo of Nimba County District 9 and Roger Domah of District 7, businessman Musa Bility, and officials of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA).

Tributes

Not many of the sympathizers interacted with the deceased directly, but from experiences with her children, they knew Mother Elizabeth Gongloe was a woman of principles who instilled invaluable life virtues in members of her family.

Cllr. Bobby Livingstone representing the LNBA said:  “We are here to pay a tribute to a mother who bore children that others are wishing to emulate in society.  As you see one of the children, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, he is one person who has demonstrated that he is very honest and very sincere and that Liberia needs, but this society may not accept the likes of Gongloe. But if Liberia were a country to have the need for good people, we would have people like Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe as President of this country, but this society may not need people like Gongloe.” 

“People of this county, Nimba, you have one of the best persons to take on a position national leadership in Liberia. Cllr. Gongloe, regardless of who you are to him, does not back you for doing wrong; he was emphatic to tell the national government that it was wrong to remove Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, and we as members of the Bar uphold this as the Bar’s view without regret. Cllr. Gongloe, when the Bar gave him some money for hotel bill while traveling to Nigeria for a meeting, the Bar association there took care of all his bills and he was sincere and honest to bring back the amount that the LNBA gave him, something that many people, not all, but many of us, cannot easily do,” said Cllr. Livingstone.

In his tribute, businessman Musa Bility said:  “Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe is the only one in Nimba who has made me to feel a part of Nimba County.  My first business that I established, Cllr. Gongloe was the one who registered it for me without taking a cent.

Following the internment during the rainy day of July 4, Cllr. Gongloe and some men and women were seen singing and dancing traditional songs the Liberian lawyer is known for while living the  village life decades ago.

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