Alpha Phi Alpha honors Liberian President

JANS –  In a ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity gave Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf its Alpha Award of Honor. The award is the highest accolade presented to a nonmember of the fraternity. Ms. Johnson Sirleaf also was given the first ever Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Medal by the fraternity.

The awards were bestowed Jan. 19, at Paynesville Town Hall, during a rechartering ceremony of the Eta Epsilon Lambda Chapter. Johnson Sirleaf is the third Liberian president to receive the Alpha Award of Honor.

“This is a very special evening. I am proud to see the brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha return to Liberia,” said Johnson Sirleaf. “We believe that this is just another example of the Alpha culture, the Alpha spirit.”

An economist, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf, 73, is a graduate of the University of Colorado and Harvard University. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, she is credited with breaking down many gender barriers in her country and has been lauded all over the world as a powerful and stabilizing force for Liberia.

In 2005, Johnson Sirleaf made history when she became Africa’s first elected woman head of state. In 2011, she shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Last year, voters returned her to office. Her second inauguration was held Jan. 16, making her the first Liberian president to have a second term in the first successive, peaceful democratic transition in 20 years.

“What an honor to be in Liberia to witness President Johnson Sirleaf’s second inauguration,” said Herman “Skip” Mason, Jr., Alpha general president. “And, to present her with an honor named for our most iconic member and an international humanitarian for peace worldwide, Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

“Her work, ensuring the rebuilding of Liberia, supporting the Liberian Educational Trust and her leadership in stopping violence against women, are very much in line with the tenets of Alpha Phi Alpha. We salute President Johnson Sirleaf and are honored to present her with these well earned awards and recognition,” Mason said.

The first Alpha chapter in Africa was established in Monrovia on Oct 6, 1958. David N. Howell, former CEO of the Liberia YMCA and 17 Alpha brothers were designated by the international leadership to establish Eta Epsilon Lambda Chapter there. A second chapter, Kappa Phi Chapter, was established at the University of Liberia and Cuttington University in 1976.

Charter members of the Eta Epsilon Lambda Chapter include: John T. Woods, Alexander Brewer, Sebastian Muah, T. Nelson Williams II, Olu Menjay, W. Emmett Walker, Henrique Tokpa, Gerald Sherman, Tony Hubbard, Henry Benson, and Emmanuel Bowier.

Among those attending the ceremony were Liberian Vice President Joseph N. Boakai Sr.; President Pro-Tempore of the Senate Gbehzongar Findley; government officials; members of Alpha Phi Alpha; and members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Eta Beta Omega Chapter.

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