Government Pays Homage to Professor Sankawulo

The late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo
The late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo
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The Government of the Republic of Liberia has paid a Special tribute to the fallen Liberian statemen, Honourable Professor Wilton Sengbe Sankanwulo, former Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government (LNTG II) owing to his invaluable services rendered the state.

 

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Liberian Government, in the Gazette read by Senior Ambassador At Large, Honourable Carlton A. Karpeh, described Professor Sankawulo as a Renowned Novelist and Folktale Writer; Author; Administrator; Educator; Faithful Servant of God; Patriot; Septuagenarian and a Dedicated Public Servant. The Gazette said Professor Sankawulo is one in Liberia who can be compared with Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe.     

 

Professor Sankawulo passed away on Saturday, February 21, 2009 at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, in Sinkor, after a period of illness. He was 72nd. The remains of Professor Sankawulo was on March 18, 2009 laid to rest at the Sankawulo Compound in Nyanfor Town, Gardnersville, outside Monrovia.

 

 The funeral service of Professor Sankawulo which took place on Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at the Centennial Pavilion on Ashuman Street, Monrovia, was attended by officials of government, religious leaders, sympathizers, family members, friends and students of the deceased.

 

As a mark of last respect to the memory of Honourable Professor Wilton Sengbe Sankawulo, the National Flag of the Republic flown at half-staff from all Public Buildings in Bong and Montserrado Counties from 8:00a.m. to 6:oop.m on Wednesday, the day of the interment .

 

 At the funeral service, Senior Ambassador At Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Honourable Carlton A. Karpeh, read the official Gazette on behalf of the Liberian Government while Justice Minister, Cllr. Philip Z. Banks, paid the tribute on behalf of the Government of Liberia.  

 

The daughter of the fallen professor, Minnie Sankanwulo Ricks, on behalf of the family paid tribute while the right Rev. Dr. Sumoward E. Harris, Bishop of the Lutheran Church of Liberia delivered the funeral discourse.

 

The Liberian Government, in the Gazette described Professor Sankawulo as a Renowned Novelist and Folktale Writer; Author; Administrator; Educator; Faithful Servant of God; Patriot; Septuagenarian and a Dedicated Public Servant.

 

In the tribute to memory of His Excellency Wilton Sankawulo, and read by the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Banks noted that the Government and people of Liberia will greatly miss Honourable professor Sankawulo, stressing that professor Sankawulo was a functionary writer, dedicated public servant, a scholar and an educator who dedicated his invaluable services to the nation.

 

Others personalities who paid tribute  include the president of the University of Liberia, Dr. Emmet Dennis; the Minister of Education, Dr. Joseph Korto, and  Kenneth Y. Best, Managing Director of Liberian Observer Corporation.

 

 The late Professor Sankawulo began earning his fame as a Prolific Liberian Writer in the 1970s. Among his Notable Novels and Short Stories are: “The Rain and the Night”, his first novel, “Marriage of Wisdom”, and, “Why No One Knows When He Will Die”. Some of his famous short writings are “Tolbert of Liberia”, “What My Country Needs Today”, and, “One Hundred Questions About Liberia”. Others are,”In The Cause Of The People”, “Only God Is Wise”, “Sun Down At Dawn” and “Humanistic Capitalism”.

 

Meanwhile, the late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo was born on 26 July 1937 in Haindi, Bong County, Republic of Liberia, unto to the blessed union of Dougba and Naisua Sankawulo, both of whom predeceased him.

 

The Deceased, began his educational pursuit at Kpalopele, Lutheran Mission, near Haindi, in Bong County, where he received his initial and elementary training. Young Sankawulo, having embraced the Christian faith under the ambit of the Lutheran Church in Liberia of that area, and being imbued with the ambition in Christian Education, the Deceased attended several Lutheran Mission Schools, and was for his life time a staunched and dedicated follower of that Religious Denominational Doctrine.

 

He first enrolled at the Totota Lutheran School, and later continued at Sanoyea Lutheran School, where he completed his Junior High Education. He moved to Lofa County and attended the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI) in Salayea, Lofa County, from which he successfully graduated and obtained a High School Diploma in 1959.

 

During his educational sojourn, he traveled and met one of his lifelong classmates and friend from the fifth grade class constantly through and onward to college, at the Cuttington University College, in the person of Dr. Walter Gwenigale, now Minister of Health & Social Welfare, Republic of Liberia with whom he had intimate fraternal relations until his death.

 

In 1960, Young Wilton S. Sankawulo, matriculated to the Cuttington College and Divinity School, now Cuttington University College, from which he graduated with honors in 1963. As a young university student, his Professors, Mr. John Gay and Judy Gay, among others, noted his collated brilliance and his ever churning craving for writing, as a result of which, Young Wilton S. Sankawulo wrote many short stories first published in the Cuttington Review, the College Literary Magazine, under the auspices of Mrs. Judy Gay, Faculty Review Board Advisor, and, Cuttington lead English Teacher, her Husband, Mr. John Gay.

 

While at Cuttington, Sankawulo met and included in his bond of friendship another classmate called, Kenneth Yarkpawolo Best, who-today is a Publisher of the Daily Observer Newspaper, with whom he also became academically intimate. Many other classmates of his included Dr. Ansu G. Mason, Mr. Bayron Tarr, Mr. Charles Mulbah, David Copley, Mrs. Deborah Harmon Hines, Dee Wright, Dr. Elwood Dunn, Dr. Emmett Dennis, Mr. Henrique Tokpa, Dr. James Tarpeh and Mrs. Jeannette Carter.

 

The Deceased was awarded a fellowship to study Sacred Theology at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California, United States of America. There he acquired a Master of Divinity Degree. While in the United States of America, he thereafter attended the University of Iowa, and participated in its Famous Writers’ Workshop, successfully earning MFA Degree in English.

 

Upon his returned to Liberia in the 1960s, the late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo began his illuminating Public Career at the Department of Information and Culture Affairs, now Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, where he served first in the Press Bureau with enthusiasm and proficiency, a performance which earned him the Position of a Director of Overseas and Press Bureau in that Ministry.

 

 In 1973, the Deceased was appointed Special Assistant to Dr. Edward B. Kessely, the then Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism, and had singular pleasure of meeting and forming an alliance of friendship with Bill Frank Enoanyi, another prolific writer, who became Director of Public and Overseas Bureau, in place of Professor Sankawulo, and who has predeceased him by a few weeks. The Sankawulo’s Children recall with great favor and attachment, that the late Bill Frank was known to their Father, and in their home, until his death, by the warm alias of “Plenty Torkpor and One Fish”.

 

The Deceased last Position at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism was Director Specialist for Research, in which he served for almost a year and then was transferred out of the Ministry to the Executive Mansion, due to his expertise, dedication and achievements, as a Writer and a Researcher to the Position of Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs, where he met again Dr. Elwood Dunn.

 

 In 1985, he was made Director General of the Cabinet, Republic of Liberia and subsequently in addition, he was appointed Special Assistant for Academic Affairs to the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe. It was in this Position, that the Deceased helped the late President Samuel K. Doe to complete his academic studies, which led to President Doe’s graduation from the University of Liberia in 1989.

 

The late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo maintained his teaching Position at the University of Liberia, and later at Cuttington University College, which was his Alma mater, with professionalism, as Associate Professor of English and Literature up to and after the Civil Unrest in Liberia. The Deceased, being an Author and a Man of Enlightenment also served as a Writer for the Education Secretariat of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, Montserrado County, Republic of Liberia.

 

The Deceased having established a vibrant reputation as a Thinker, a Writer, an Educator, Administrator and a man of creativity, transparency, demonstrated proficiency in his capacity as a renowned Statesman and avid religious participant, was destined for higher levels in Government.

 

 By unanimity of the Council in 1995, Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo was chosen, named and installed as Chairman of the Council of State of the Liberia National Transitional Government, a Position through which he contributed immensely to the peace and stability of our Native Land, Liberia, in concert with other members of strong inclinations, such as Hon. Alhaji G. V. Kromah, Dakpannah Charles Ghankay Taylor, Dr. George E. S. Boley, Honorable Oscar J. Quiah and veteran Paramount Chief Honorable Tamba Taylor, all together Popularly referred to as the “Collective Presidency”.

 

It is the outlook of history that his choice at the time was more as the Mediator, being a Neutralist, and not a leader of any Warring Faction. However, his neutrality, which brook no intransigence, was erroneously interpreted as reticence to progress by some Stakeholders.

 

He made several visits abroad in the performance of his duties to enable the Voice of Liberia to be heard in International Fora for Peace. One of such trips was as Head of Delegation to the United Nations Conference of Heads of State and Governments in 1995, when the late Honorable J. Rudolph Grimes, former Secretary of State of the Republic of the Liberia, the late Honorable George A. Padmore, former Secretary of State of the Republic of  Liberia, and Liberia’s former United Nations Representative, Madam Neh Dukuly-Tolbert, now Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary accredited to the People’s Republic of China, were members of that Delegation.

 

 In 1996, Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo again led a Delegation to the Franco African Summit Conference in Yaoundé, Republic of the Cameroon, which included Mr. Edward Golobo Clinton, presently Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary accredited to the Republic of Ethiopia, and the African Union and Ambassador Carlton Alexwyn Karpeh, then Liberia’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary accredited to the Republic of Cameroon, and now Senior Ambassador of the Advisory Council in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where matters of vital interest to the State of Liberia at the time, among other International Issues, were discussed. And so it was.

 

The late Professor Sankawulo, at a certain time relinquished his Career with the Church Ministry, to devote his life to research and writing, dealing with Liberia’s Traditional Culture. According to him, he made this sacrifice because he felt that very little attention had been given to the preservation of his Country’s Traditional Culture, which was passing away in his opinion.

 

 In his vocation, he said, he had been inspired by Liberia’s Foremost Folklorists, Bai T. Moore of Renowned memory, and Dr. S. Jangaba M. Johnson, a once walking Encyclopedia of Culture of Liberia. Though a Novelist, Poet and a Short Story Writer, Professor Sankawulo, himself, was best known as a Folklorist.

 

The late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo began earning his fame as a Prolific Liberian Writer in the 1970s. Among his Notable Novels and Short Stories are: “The Rain and the Night”, his first novel, “Marriage of Wisdom”, and, “Why No One Knows When He Will Die”. Some of his famous short writings, are “Tolbert of Liberia”, “What My Country Needs Today”, and, “One Hundred Questions About Liberia”. Others are, ”In The Cause Of The People”, “Only God Is Wise”, “Sun Down At Dawn” and “Humanistic Capitalism”.

 

His two Novels which reputedly will bring him popular acclaim in that Country, and were completed before his demise, and are slated to be published in the United States of America (USA), are, “The Birds Are Singing”, and, “Wind Blows In Fuama”.

 

Most of Professor Sankawulo’s stories appeared in the Publications, such as Pan-African Journal, Negro Digest, African Arts, and, World Encounter. The late Professor Sankawulo also produced an Anthology of African Stories, entitled: “More Modern African Stories,” published by Fontana Books.

 

By these writings and publications, Books, Short Stories, and cultural exposes, Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo, ably becomes a National role model depicting Stature, which can be accomplished by other Liberians, if by writings, they emulate Wilton S. Sankawulo. He is one in Liberians who can be compared with Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe.     

 

The late Professor Wilton S. Sankawulo leaves to mourn his Passing His Wife: Madam Amelia Yata Korpelleh, four (4) Children: Roland Sankawulo, Rose Sankawulo Cooper, Minnie Sankawulo Ricks and Wilton S. Sankawulo, Jr.; his two (2) Sisters, Gbesse and Evelyn; his four (4) Adopted Children, Wellington Sankawulo, Semaya Sankawulo-Dennis, Moima Sankawulo Pulano and Moses Sankawulo; two (2) Daughters-In-Law, Jacquelline Banks Sankawulo and Diana Pailey Sankawulo; two (2) Sons-In-Law, Stanley Cooper and Felix T. Ricks; Thirteen (13) Grand Children; two (2) Great Grand Children, and a host of other Relatives, Families and Friends in Liberia and abroad.