Lofa County, a political sub-division situated in western Liberia, has fared a long way in standing quite astute in meaningfully contributing to the socio-economic development process of the country, having metamorphosed from what it had earlier been referred to as the Western Province.
With a very distinct culture that generates its strength from the hard work of its people, the county had expanded for several decades to include what is now Gbarpolu County, drawing on the Belle, Gola and Kpelle tribes. It was not however until the late 1990s that its size was reduced to what it is now, with seven districts including Salayea, Zorzor, Voinjama, Kolahun, Foya, Vahun and Quardu-Gboni.
Agricultural production serving as normal chore of its inhabitants, it serves as major bread-basket for the nation spanning many decades ago up to the past Liberian civil crisis when it became wrecked out of atrocious events.
Throughout the 1970s, the county had boomed with socio-economic activities, particularly with the Lofa County Agricultural Development Project (LCADP), the Liberia Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) and cooperative societies at their best, allowing its people access to job opportunities.
The county’s capital, Voinjama, had experienced social amenities to the delight of the Tubman and Tolbert administrations, with electricity and water made availability to residents, while communication facilities were also provided by government.
Whilst it became impossible for all youths of school-going ages to have migrated to city centers in search of higher education, the county can however pride itself for the number of educational institutions constructed and well-managed.
Notably are the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI) in Salayea, the Zorzor Lutheran Mission, Zorzor Central High School, Zorzor Rural Teacher Training Institute (ZRTTI), the Voinjama Multilateral High School, Kolahun High School, as well as those of Foya and Vahun.
Not at all strange to have witnessed bulk of its citizens involved into the teaching and nursing professions, especially with a nursing school operated by the Lutheran Church of Liberia (LCL) in Zorzor, the ZRTTI continues to serve as beacon of hope to many Lofaians, thus making education a must in nearly all of its communities.
Dating as far back as the 1960s when Robert Kennedy became its first superintendent, followed by that of Dr. Edward Sumo Jones and Thomas N. Brima, the people of Lofa had not truly been seen in the limelight of political governance. The style of governance in the past had always been characterized by community development, with towns and villages priding themselves with construction activities.
With the turn of the century, however, especially following the coup d’etat of April 12, 1980, political consciousness began to be regained amongst the citizenry, although never far from their implicit involvement into agricultural production.
Reinforced by the appointment of the late Mr. Gayflor Yanquoi Johnson as superintendent of the county, trend in agricultural production had been maintained, witnessing increase in the number of large farmers, prominent among who became the late Paramount Chief Tamba Lamin Taylor, Senator Kekura Bayoh Kpoto, the late Musa Gboni Kamara, the late Melton S. Clinton, the late Peter Worlobah Howard, Sr. and the late John Worlobah, all of the Konia forest.
Assuming another leadership role as Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Superintendent Johnson was later replaced by Mr. Marvie, continuing where the former took off with the same message of community development through hard work.
Since then and in spite the discord that had set in as a result of attending problems of the past civil crisis, most times witnessing the Lormas and Mandingoes at loggerheads, much is now desired of the people of Lofa County, taking great cue from the historic Unification Monument of the late 18th President of the Republic, Dr. William V.S. Tubman and the development fever long ignited by Liberia’s 19th President, the late Rev. Dr. William Richard Tolbert, Jr.
A New Day
Whilst the county has had to experience changes in its local administration over the decades, now witnessing Superintendent Lavela Kortimai at his best, amidst great reconstruction challenges, the county can now be said to be vigorously embarking upon its usual chore, although with little or no huge investment thus far made, other than the ADA that has been temporarily shut down.
Rightly indicated in recent months by the Vice President of Liberia, His Excellency Joseph Nyuma Boakai, that the celebration of this year’s Independence Anniversary in the county marks the beginning of substantive development, road construction is indeed the panacea to engendering true growth of the political sub-division.
"There is more to be realized from Lofa in the months ahead," remarked an independent-minded Lofaian, when asked about the prospects of the political sub-division. He is convinced that as soon as the problem of paved road can be adequately handled, with even Zorzor initially benefitting, prices of essential commodities will automatically drop, thus freeing government of the headache."
Having already taken a leap by embarking upon the expansion of towns and villages, expensive it has been in transporting materials to the county, amidst bad roads that had exacerbated the plight of citizens, at least the Ministry of Public Works and its contractors have vowed to make the various routes pliable for the season, something that may give rise to more socio-economic activities in the area.
Projects earmarked for Dedication
As originally planned by county authorities, each district is expected to dedicate priority projects in commemoration of the Independence Day. Whilst there is no semblance of prestigious ones, at least, with districts tailoring their activities against the limited budget provided, those of Voinjama present themselves as true showcase, particularly with the Presidential Palace, Guest House, Junior College, the housing project undertaken by the National Housing Authority (NHA), the Police Barracks, etc. adding to the beauty of the city.
Whilst great concerns had been expressed over the restoration of electricity and water, facilities greatly required, optimism however abounds that alternative sources are likely in calming the atmosphere, in view of the number of visitors expected to attend the occasion.
Meantime, whilst the Quardu Gboni district has also undertaken a number of projects, Paramount Chief Musa Kamara is in high gear, assuring Lofaians that everything would be done to make the celebrations historically befitting as traditionally known of citizens of the county.
The District of Foya, observably, is expected to leave lasting impressions on the minds of celebrants, with the Intofawor Cooperative Society of Mr. Henry T. Foryoe poised to display hectares of lowland transplanted with effective water management, coupled with a barn that is under preparation to be visited by the Liberian leader, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. A dam, considered the largest in Liberia and jointly undertaken by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other partners will also be dedicated.
Whatever the many dedicatory ceremonies may mean, at least the Independence Day celebrations will, indeed, reawaken Liberians to community development that can succeed only if the people of Liberia remain ever united, eschewing laziness and deception. The way, therefore, to go is the LOFA WAY.