Remarks Made at the UNIBOA-MI Reunion



Remarks Made at the UNIBOA-MI Reunion

Dr. Somah

Syrulwa Somah
NC A&T State University
Greensboro, NC 27411

Fellow Bassa and Friends, I'm very, very sorry that I couldn’t make it out to Detroit tonight to join you due to health reasons, in spite of all the preparations I had made, and my burning desire to meet and chat with all of you.  Nonetheless, I think today is a special celebration for all Bassa. The fact that most of you had to take time away from your families and work to travel to Detroit to discuss issues of great importance to the Bassa districts and people of Liberia, shows your unflinching commitment to not only unifying the Bassa people in these United States, but also in helping the Bassa people in our native homeland. I want to thank you for your commitment, and to admonish you never to relent in that regard.

It is a healthy thing for we the Bassa people to unite.  We the Bassa people have a great history of leadership and progress that must be shared with the rest of the world. The other day, a group of Bassa brothers, sisters and friends helped me to put together a symposium on African Governance, Philosophical Thought and Rule of Law at the University here in North Carolina where I teach, and it was a resounding success. The symposium featured my new book, Nyanyan Gohn Manan: History, Migration and Government of the Bassa”, and many African Americans and others who attended the symposium were fascinated by the rich culture and leadership history of the Bassa. Some of you at this Bassa Convention were at the symposium, and you know what I am talking about.  But we the Bassa people can do more to project a positive image of our culture and leadership abilities to the outside world if only we can unite and work together. I want to plead with you never to lose sight of this objective, regardless of any individual disagreements you may face in your current deliberations, or in your person-to-person interactions after this convention.

I am speaking of the very essence of being Bassa, of knowing not only what the other is, but also sharing our experience and our reality. And it means sharing what you are and what you have.  Simply, it means my humanity is in any sense bound up in yours. It's not that "I think therefore I am," but it is that "I am because we are". Our Bassa heritage has taught us this concept that a person is a person through other persons. We must be vigilant – always. Only by being extremely aware of what is happening, only by being extremely delicate and careful with each Bassa, only by being truly sharing and truly understanding of each other – will we be able to deal with geo-political dynamics, including all other aspirations.

I must hasten to tell you the importance of Bassa history lies in our ability to educate, inspire and uplift all people of Bassa descent, and to enlighten the rest of humanity about Bassa cultures. It is a source of strength, cultural pride, and inspiration that we, as Bassa, can draw upon to improve our people, our communities, and our lives. When all Bassa begin to understand the heights we have achieved in the past, and the many great obstacles we have overcome, we will start to realize our true potential as a people and a nation.

The fact that many aspects of African society, technology, and civilization, were invented by people of Bassa descent, is something that all Bassa need to know. How many of us know that a Bassa military general conquered India? How many of us know that two Bassa brothers Piankhy and Shabaka were pharaohs in Egyptian Dynasty (Cushite period 730-656)? How many of us know that the first people in Liberia to trade with Hano of Carthage 520 BC were Bassa? How many of us know that Bassa was the ‘trade language’ of Liberia? How many of you know that almost all the civil administrators in Liberia up to Tubman were Bassa? Perhaps even more profoundly, how many of us know why every ethnic group in Liberia wants to be Bassa, act like Bassa, speak Bassa and marry Bassa women? Bassa are the oldest people in Liberia, and that they were responsible for the creation of the first major structured government before the era of liberated-Americans of African decent.

Unfortunately, many of our people remained unaware of the achievements made by our ancestors. The basic education about Bassa history should be a part of all of our children's lives from an early age, not only in school, but also in the home. It should also continue to be developed, advanced and promoted at the highest levels of education, just as the studies of other cultures have been promoted.

The purpose of my book: “Nyanyan Gohn-Manan: History, Migration and Government of the Bassa” is not simply just a matter of writing just another book. It is about every one of us being able to develop the fundamental understanding that we do have a history to be proud of, and to acknowledge, accept, and embrace in our lives. Through the processes of slavery, Liberialism, colonialism, and Christianity, Bassa have been denied their true heritage. Some have even been lead to accept, whether consciously or subconsciously, the myopic notions that God speaks and understands only English. For some of us who have refused, or who are ashamed, to speak our Bassa language, what would you do if the judgment day came and God only spoke Bassa? Don’t laugh! It is just a thought. For we still have more soul-searching to do still on this big Earth before we return to whence we came. Some of you might think that we came from heaven, and some of you might think that we came from another planet. But all in all, we all came from somewhere. And where that somewhere is continues to be a mystery to all of us!

When we as Bassa people get to learn about our history, we will have learned to love ourselves, believe in ourselves, and rely on our own abilities. Bassa history can be a powerful force that can benefit us all. And by embracing it, we can lay a solid foundation for the next generation of Bassa. A generation that will be able to look to the past with great pride, and to the future with great hope. Let me say that all of you have contributed to this book. But I want all of you to get a copy and read it and be eager to make even greater contributions to the next edition four years from now. You share a great responsibility. For you are the architects of Bassa's future. All of our hope is the pillar of Bassa world. Good luck with the convention, and please let me know how I can help and participate in the next convention. Thank you for granting me this great opportunity to greet you all in the name of Bassa.


Your Bassa Brother,


Syrulwa  Somah, PhD


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