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Hon. Varfin Donzo of MN

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VOM Exclusive Interview with Hon. Abe Kromah, Chairman of the Federation of Mandingo in the United States of America FELMUSA.

Hon. Kromah, you are welcome to Voice of Mandingo News.

Q. How does it feel to be the first chairman of FELMAUSA Board?

It has been a privilege and a blessing to work with responsible members of

our community for common objective and vision for our community. I fell blessed and humbled by the opportunity.

 

Q. What does being the chairman of FELMAUSA Board mean to you and what Constitutional power(s) you have that is not shared with other members? The Chairmanship of the Board is a very important responsibility. The Chairman is the epithet of the various opinions exposed on the Board. The Chairman solicits consensus of the representatives and makes decision based upon those consensus on the Board. The Chairman speaks for the Board and conducts the affairs of the various Board meeting. The Chairman sets the agenda of the various meetings. The Chairman receives and approves all communication to and from the Board of Directors, so it is a very hectic responsibility.

Q.  How concerned are you about the enormously high levels of dissatisfaction with your chairmanship, particularly your relationship with the Executive? I don’t know the yardstick for the enormity of the so-called dissatisfaction, but we just want the folks both the new guys and the old fellows to understand that this federation was created with certain fundamental and core principles. We will not relent to articulate such principles.  

 

 Q.  Mr. Chairman, there are some folks who say that you have squandered your chairmanship with too much negative attacks and that you are unbecoming a chairman of the Board when you should have been negotiating with the executive about a way forward, how do you respond? And why are you in the center of every problem emerging within FELMAUSA? The present negotiation with the administration was our arrangement. We appointed the fellows that initiated the contact with the executive. So I don’t know where you found those folks. Like I said, we take the responsibility of building this one of a life time organization a little more serious than others. To decipher the everlasting contradictions for a better tomorrow for our community, we will not outsource that to no amount of insincerity and duplicity. I just have little patient for mediocrity and hypocrisy.  

 

Q. Do you believe a chairman of FELAMAUSA Board should engage in unwarranted attacks on other members of the community? What lessons do you draw from the current back-and-forth between you and other members on the listserv? Do you have any regrets? How are you going to operate differently to try to make FELMAUSA a better organization? Would you support a suspension of the listserv? You name me one unwarranted attack we have had on any member of the community and I will express the biggest remorse ever. Name one. I was drawn in to one during the Bi-election where the community made the decision to support professor Kromah. I contributed to the debate as everyone did but when it took different trends; we disengaged and left the topic. There were people defending the personal attacks that we were subjected to by some in the community, and a whole round of vicious and vitriolic expressions ensued. Our inability to condemn those unacceptable comments from persons that wrote in our defense was indefensible as a leader in the community. So we later took responsibility and apologized to all of the brothers involved in an open letter. The folks accepted our apology and we moved on. Helping our people has been my life time endeavor and nobody not even the naysayers with any track record in our community can impede that drives. We have stood before guns and propaganda far bigger and organized than 3 or 4 loose cannon with no track record.   Q. Do you think there will be a convention in this 2011? If so, how do you think the convention will be funded? There will be a convention and it will be funded by the federation, no doubt.

 

Q. Mr. Chairman is it fair to say you are FELMAUSA’s biggest problem because you seem to be the focal point of every issue and you also seem to have issues with every leader of FELMAUSA. What is it that you have against the leaders? And why do you think your actions antagonize the majority of the people? Maybe because I take my responsibility a little more seriously than most folks; my disagreement has been on fundamental principle and oriented issues, the issues of the Board’s constitutional responsibilities, period. In most instances we have prevailed as with the scholarship funds. Our contention was to allow the various states through the Board have a say in the proposed projects as proscribed in the constitution. After several months of debates, the administration finally presented the proposal to the Board for approval.

It is just these 3 sometimes  four persons with loud mouth but empty on substance that use the listserv  to buttress each other. Take for example, the little guys had the same view they harbored right during the formation of the federation. They were there when we were elected unopposed, and their voice were even louder during the last election when we were elected with a landslide. So where was the majority disapproval during these open elections?  The majority now is as I told you previously these brothers struggling to get even at all cause for no reason. These brothers sat and refused to affiliate with their respective states, not even came to conventions, some did not want this organization to survive its first convention, but are today masquerading as the savior of the federation. I have no problem with people having epiphany, that is fine, but to be hypocritical about it bring the detective in me to investigate their intentions. The present constitution crisis is a typical example, but I leave that for another interview.  

 

Q. Your critics have said the Board is undermining the current administration to ensure it fails because you and President Dukuly do not get along when it comes down to running the affairs of the Federation. How do you respond? And why are you against the release of the proceeds from last convention? How do you expect the administration to operate without the fund necessary to do so? The present administration under the stewardship of Mr. Dukuly works for FELMAUSA, I work for FELMAUSA. I will not wish or encourage any administration to fail. Our differences are directed at fundamental issues. The interpretation of the assigned responsibilities under the constitution became one of the reasons we have had issues. And the absent of a constitution and a well defined fiduciary that will guarantee the safeguard of the federation’s fund was an issue we are not prepared to compromise, no not on my watch. One of the reasons the funds from the convention were withheld by the Board. The Board felt that in the absencw of a fiduciary spelled out in a workable constitution, it was in the interest of the Federation and the community to safeguard the fund hoping that the constitution would be rectified in time and then the funds would be deposited in the Federation’s Bank account. But the constitution convention was in July and the administration made mention of the constitution in October, go

figure. Whatever transpired from July to October is classified.  

 

Q. Are you willing to work with President Dukuly in the interest of the

Federation? This is not about Mr. Dukuly or Abe Kromah. It is about FELMAUSA and our community. That has and will always be my concern. Presidents come and go and the basic core problem of our community still remains. I made a promise to myself to protect the image of this institution and to build a wholesome environment for future generation to strive in, which is the promise I hope to keep. Whatever it takes to achieve or do the work of our people, I will do. Baring this constitutional Paralysis which is not the President’s doing, we had discussed the creation of a national ID card for all of the various states, the possibility of providing insurance for those among us without one. We had unnecessary intervention and external infusions which hindered those very important plans. But all is not lost, we are not going away, we will still be here somewhere to ensure that those plans see the day of light. So, yes I am and have made effort to work with every president including Hon Dukuly. We hope one day we will craft a manifesto where the political, social and economic need of our community will be structured, and we can boast of our own culture center, and high school, built in the Jacob town area where the folks walk more than 15 miles to get to the nearby school system. These and many more are still priority of mine even when I am no longer the chairman of the Board. We made

impact in our people lives outside of FELMAUSA and we will continue to do that anytime and anywhere.  

 

Q. As Chairman, what accomplishment are you most proud of? And by the way, do you think you have done enough? We have achieved what we set up to do in our community, which is to be part of the formation of a platform that will serve as a stage where our aspiration is agenda. We have done our part and we will be encouraging some of my young brothers to take it from where we stopped. They can now set goals and talk of legacy. The only legacy I set up to do was the formation of this federation, and by the grace of God, I was fortunate to have brothers and sisters who though to defy the naysayers and persevered. We were opportune to provide the acronym and authored the first draft of the first constitution of this illustrious organization. That for me was a privilege and a blessing that surpassed any achievement. I would have hoped to accomplish the establishment of ID card for the membership of the Federation, which would be implemented by the executive.

 

 Q. Recently, President Mohamed Dukuly and High Power delegation of the

Federation met President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The focus of their discussion centered on the pending FELMAUSA health mission to Liberia. Press release issued after the meeting did not mention the land disputes in Liberia. As a result, we have received mix reactions with some criticizing the leadership for not pressing President Sirleaf on the land disputes while others are saying that it was too early to discuss anything with respect to the land issues since it was their first meeting. What is your reaction? It was a missed opportunity that eluded us, but I am convinced we will have that opportunity one more time before the general election in Liberia. The safe return of all lands in the hands of bandits is the responsibility of the chief law enforcement officer. I have no doubt that something is being done to address that pivotal national security concerns to all Liberian. A reminder would have been the right thing to do, but maybe the administration has reasons that are yet to be made public.      

Q. Mr. Chairman, you are very smart and intelligent and you have earned two masters’ degrees. In a community as small as ours, anybody in your position will be proud of that achievement. Are you? Is it true that you generate all the controversies to show superiority and to boast, as your critics have said, of the masters’ degrees?

Well thank you, but be careful with that, there is a guy who thought graduating from Tubman high, the university of Liberia with a 3.4 GPA and obtaining two masters’ degrees from two different disciplines and working on your PHD still don’t  put you in certain class. There are about 3 persons in our community and a 4th one an outsider, who has already abused his welcome in our midst, will stop at nothing to get my attention. They used each other as proxy to create consensus, but the community has now caught up with their shenanigan. You are a legitimate news organ, take a realistic look at our community you will see there are just 3 persons who are louder than all but are empty on substance.  They will probably disagree with you. I have had some philosophical differences with few of my brothesr in the community. I had fundamental disagreement with Mr. R Mohamed Konneh, our founding president, a guy that shares my vision for this Federation. I respectfully disagreed with that farsighted brother on the issue of the scholarship project.

We differed as to the role of the Board vis-à-vis the approval of the Scholarship project. But at the end of the day the president saw it fit to submit the scholarship proposal to the Board for approval and the scholarship project is today one of FELMUSA signature achievement thus far. I have had some disagreements with the current president on similar grounds. We both at some point in time misinterpreted the constitution to meet our liking, which was one of the reasons for the revision of the first constitution. Since the constitution convention, we have had several meetings to discuss the constitution. We finally met and crafted a plan of action for governance notwithstanding the constitution.  

This is one topic I have refused to talk about because, there is nowhere in the length and breadth of the website world have we spoken of the blessing and opportunity bestowed on us by the Almighty. Like I mentioned there are handful of guys that for some reasons or the other have issues with anything associated with us.

They are louder than the content of their issues, but since they are just a tiny percentage of thousand of community members both back home and the Diaspora, we have at this point ignored them after trying frantically to engage them. It is not difficult to identify them on the listserv and on the website; they buttress each other on their divergence. However, I still consider them as brothers with probably the same passion I have but different approach. Some have said that most of these brothers are just envious and suffering from their own short comings, I have disagree with those sentiments, but it becomes apparent on the daily basis that some of our brothers have allowed their personal disdain for us to becloud their judgments.      

 

Q. Election is fast approaching, since you cannot run for the chairmanship

anymore, are you considering a run for president?

We have achieved what we set up to do in our community at this point. Our quest was to be part of the formation of a platform which is now serving as a as stage where our aspirations are agenda. We have done our part and we will be encouraging some of my young brothers to take it from where we left it. They can now set goals and talk of legacy. I am not closing the door of coming back one day to contribute at some executive level. But for now I will work behind closed door to see our plans geminate. The only legacy I set up to do was the formation of this federation, and by the grace of God, I was fortunate to have brothers and sisters who thought to defy the naysayers and persevered. We were opportune to provide the acronym and author the first draft of the first constitution of this illustrious organization. That for me was a privilege and a blessing that surpassed any legacy.  

Thank for your interview, Happy Holiday.