A FATHER’S WISH GRANTED
Former Minister of National Defense, Founder of Unity Party Reburied Near his Grandfather
Rodney D. Sieh, Rodney.email@example.com; Stephen Kollie, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mamkamadu, Quardu Gboni, Lofa County –
he last time Binyah Kesselly spoke with his father was on March 25, 1993. Eighteen years later, the Kesselly family fulfilled the wish of a dying father, son, grandfather and one of the founders of the ruling Unity Party, former defense minister Dr. Edward Kesselly, who was reburied in on the left side of his grandfather in a colorful ceremony in the Mamkamadu, Quardu Gboni, Lofa County last Saturday.
For the younger Kesselly, the burial was a fulfillment of a long quest to fulfill his father’s final wish before his death. “We talked about a whole range of things but one thing but one thing that stuck in my mind was his parting words before he hung off the phone. He said if I were ever to leave this earth, please bury me near my grandfather.”
On Saturday, the wish was granted and the younger Kesselly, now Commissioner of the Bureau of Maritime Affairs was glad that a quest has been fulfilled. “It has been 18 years, I brought you home. I feel like my job is done. I hope you are proud. I am proud of the legacy you left in Liberia is one that we should all aspire .To those of you who did not know, my father, I hope I can set an example that is miniscule in comparison to what he has done and what he left on this earth.”
The late Kesselly was the first standard bearer of the Unity Party, founded in 1984. The Unity Party participated the first post-1980 coup elections, running against then-President Samuel Doe in October 1985. The Party has remained active in Liberian politics since, and is now the ruling party in the Republic.
The party finally tasted victory in 2005 when its candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf won the presidential elections after defeating football legend George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in a run-off. The party also won three seats in the Senate and eight seats in the House of Representatives.
In the previous elections, held on July 19, 1997, the UP presidential candidate Johnson Sirleaf won 9.58% of the vote. The party won seven of 64 seats in the House of Representatives and three of 26 in the Senate.
During the reburial of the late Kesselly Saturday, Sirleaf paid homage to the party’s founder as she urged partisans to help the ruling party continue the dream and vision of its founder.
Said Sirleaf: “When the trumpet sounded and the casket was being brought forward for the loss of a son of the nation, who have done so much. I wanted to cry in gladness for a wife who too have done so much for the nation and I wanted to cry for the sons in gladness for them to have walked in their father country and in carrying out his last wish. We remember him as one of those who contributed to the democracy which we enjoy today.”
Continued Sirleaf: “We remember him as one of those who joined the men and women in arms to protect the safety and security of this country. But most of all, we remember him as a partisan and a friend. One who you could talk to with the highest of intellectualism but also with the lowest of the street talk. I join others to celebrate his life and I join the partisan in inheriting his legacy that we will take on. And so as we bring your son back to you, we have enabled us to carry on his work.”
Varney Sherman, Chairman of the ruling party described the ceremony as a celebration of the life of a great man as he urge partisans of the party to
For us from the Unity Party, to all Liberians who are here, we are not here to bury Edward B. Kesselly. We believe that was done in 1993. We are here to celebrate his life and to infuse the people of Quardu Gboni and Lofa that we are near the moment. You give Liberia a son who distinguish himself and you know what? We are closed to the moment. That day we want 100 percent.
The reburial, organized by the Quardu Development Association/FASO and coincided with the association’s annual homecoming or Faso. Faso in the Mandingo language means home coming.
The late Kesselly’s mortal remains were previously buried at the Duport Road Cemetery in Paynesville in 1993.
He was the son of General Binyah Kesselly, who became Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia (A FL)
The late Dr. Kesselly was educated at St. Patrick’s Elementary and High Schools in Monrovia. Following completion of his secondary education, he entered Xavier University in Ohio, United States of America, where in 1962 he took the Bachelor’s in Political Science. He then entered the University of Chicago, where in 1965 he earned the Master’s degree in International Relations. He then traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, and entered the Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales of the University of Geneva, where he received a diploma in 1967.
He later matriculated to the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, where in 1971 he took the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Political Science. His doctoral thesis was on The Organization of African Unity.
In 1972 President William R. Tolbert appointed Dr. Kesselly Special Assistant to the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The following year Kesselly was transferred to the Ministry of Information, where he was appointed Minister, becoming for the first time a member of the President’s Cabinet. In 1978 President Tolbert appointed Kesselly Miniser of Post and Telecommunications; and in 1979 Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Urban Reconstruction.
Shortly after the 1980 coup, the late Kesselly was detained briefly and following his release, was appointed vice president of the Mesurado Group of Companies. In 1983 he was elected Chairman of the Constitutional Advisory Assembly, which revised the Draft Constitution prepared by the Amos Sawyer-led National Constitutional Commission. The document became Liberia’s new Constitution of 1986, which took effect in January of that year, when the newly elected President of Liberia, Samuel K. Doe, was inaugurated.
Dr. Kesselly served as Minister of Defense during the Interim Government of National Unity(IGNU). He died in Geneva, Switzerland on March 29, 1993, following a brief illness. His wife, Mrs. Linnie Dunn Kesselly, and their four sons survived him.