Hundreds Throng Providence Baptist Church to Pay Last Respect to Gabriel Baccus Matthews

Saturday, 29th September 2007
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at funeral, flanked by Speaker Tyler (L)
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at funeral, flanked by Speaker Tyler (L)
Photo Credit: Ousman Diallo/Executive Mansion
Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was on Saturday among hundreds of sympathizers who thronged the Providence Baptist Church in Monrovia to pay their last respect to the fallen veteran Liberian politician, Gabriel Baccus Matthews.

In an official Liberian Government Gazette read by Executive Mansion Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Emmett Kennedy, the government recounted the dedicated and committed service the late Matthews rendered the country in the various capacities he served in government. The statement noted that the Government and people of Liberia have lost a statesman and an astute politician.

According to an Executive Mansion release, tributes also came from Matthews' family and several political groupings including the United Peopleís Party of which the late Matthews was Chairman Emeritus, the Alliance of Peace and Democracy (UPP/LPP coalition), the Congress For Democratic Change as well as the ruling United Party.

Tributes were also paid by original members of the erstwhile Progress Alliance of Liberia (PAL) including Oscar Quiah, Wesley Johnson, Marcus Dahn, as well as former political ally, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh.

In his funeral discourse, Father Robert Tikpor of the Catholic Archdiocese of Monrovia, described the late Baccus Matthews as a lone voice in the wilderness, whose footprints will forever remain enshrined in the political history of the country.  Father Tikpor said the death of the fallen political activist should serve as a rallying point to unite all Liberians.

Earlier, an elder son of the late Matthews, Mr. Bacchus Matthews, Jr. paid a courtesy call on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at her residence in Sinkor. Mr. Matthews thanked the President for the support the family has received from government to facilitate the burial of his late father.

Later in an interview with reporters, Mr. Matthews brushed off criticisms in some quarters that government did little to contribute to his fatherís wellbeing while he was alive. He said it was not the Presidentís responsibility to take care of his father while he was ill. ďMy father always told me that everyone is responsible for himself and his brothers; we as a family did what we could and cannot blame anyone for our shortcomings,Ē Matthews maintained.  He said the government made available 15 thousand United States dollars to help with the funeral expenses of his father and the family was grateful for the assistance.

The late Gabriel Baccus Matthews, whose body has been interred in Virginia on the outskirts of Monrovia, died three weeks ago at the Catholic Hospital in Monrovia.

He is credited for his unwavering commitment to the promotion of multi-party democracy in Liberia.