Maryland Sign MOU with Liberia

Tuesday, 28th August 2007
Superintendent Jackson and Governor O'Malley signing the MOU.
Superintendent Jackson and Governor O'Malley signing the MOU.
Photo Credit: Liberian Embassy/Washington
Washington, DC - The long awaited Sister State Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the State of Maryland, USA; and Bong and Maryland Counties of Liberia was Monday signed at the State House in Annapolis, the Maryland State Capital. The Memorandum of Understanding is to provide an opportunity for Bong and Maryland Counties of Liberia on one hand; and the State of Maryland, USA on the other; to further enhance cultural and historic understanding and cooperation, and to promote international trade between the USA and Liberia. The agreement will also seek mutual interests with opportunities for cooperation in business and industry, arts and culture, and also education exchange and health.

At a well attended Program in the hot summer afternoon, the MOU was signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on behalf of the State of Maryland; and Superintendents Sie-Teba Neufville and Ranney Jackson on behalf of Maryland and Bong Counties respectively; while the Liberian Ambassador to the United States, Charles A. Minor, and the Interim Secretary of State for the State of Maryland, Dennis C. Schnepfe witnessed the document on behalf of their two governments.

A release from the Embassy of Liberia in Washington, DC, says the ceremony was attended by high profiled Liberians including Maryland County and Bong County citizens residing in the USA; members of the Maryland State Legislative Black Caucus, Officials of the State of Maryland, and members and officials of the Maryland Sister State Program. Also at the signing ceremony, were LPRC Managing Director, Harry Greaves Jr., President for the Marylanders for Progress, Roberta Browne, Former Monrovia city Mayor Daniel Johnson, Former Bong County Representative James Larsah, and former B. W. Harris High School Principal J. Wah-Doe Bedell, among others.

The Signing ceremony was originally set to coincide with the celebration of Liberia’s 160th Flag Day Anniversary, but it was called off due to the unexpected late arrival of the Bong and Maryland County Superintendents from Liberia.

The release quotes the Embassy’s Minister Counselor for Public Affairs, Samuel Abu as saying that the Sister State relationship with Liberia is significant because of the historical ties between the State of Maryland and the people of that Liberia. He said it was from the State of Maryland that emancipated slaves and freed men and women left to establish the Maryland in Africa, which is today Maryland County in Liberia. Three of Liberia’s former Presidents, Stephen A. Benson, Daniel B. Warner and Garretson W. Gibson, were born and schooled in Maryland, USA before they migrated to Liberia and later became Presidents.

The Maryland Sister State Program was established in 1980 to provide a forum for the promotion of international cooperation and understanding, through broad based citizen participation in a variety of exchanges in the areas of education, culture, business, sports, professional, transportation, healthcare, women issues and many more. Maryland State has nine other Sister State relationships in four continents. The Sister State relationship with Liberia is the first on the African continent.

The signing ceremony was climaxed by the exchange of gifts, and Governor Martin O’Malley of Maryland was gowned with a beautiful hand woven traditional costume from Bong County. Citations from the Chair of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, Senator Verna L. Jones, were also presented for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ambassador Charles Minor, and the two Superintendents, congratulating them in recognition of their leadership and commitment to the development of the historic MOU signing, and the implementation of the Sister State Program between the State of Maryland and the two Liberian counties.

Meanwhile, the two Superintendents have begun holding discussions with stake holders and the business community to initially identify areas of mutual benefit to their two counties. They are to also meet with Higher Education authorities and tour the Morgan state University of Baltimore and the Prince Georges Community College in PG County. The Liberian delegation will also hold economic development meetings with county executives of Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties before their departure for Liberia. Earlier over the Weekend, the two superintendents toured the oldest US Naval ship, “USS Constellation,” at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore; and they were also taken on tour of the U.S Naval Academy in Annapolis.