Monday 11th December 2017,

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Perception that North Minneapolis is a “Bad neighborhood” Challenged

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Initially, people had every reason to feel discourage or stay away, especially so when a venue scheduled for a well deserved occasion is stereotyped as a “Bad neighborhood.”

The “Bad neighborhood” analogy left most people with preconceived minds that the north side of Minneapolis is not the best place to be during late night hours.

Pres. Baba Tura and other officials of MMA; Photo by Lassana Bamba

Pres. Baba Tura and other officials of MMA; Photo by Lassana Bamba

Perception of the area proved to be the opposite, the night hours in North Minneapolis felt gloomy with a bit of cold texture to it. Stereotype didn’t stop community stakeholders from coming out to attend the inaugural ball of MMA, The Minnesota Mandingo Association.

Itching to grace the ball left some worried that they would be late. The incoming leader of the association had promised change, ‘Program will start as scheduled.’ Even though it was an hour 30 minutes late, it is very unusual for MMA to begin a night program before 10.  To President Baba Turay’s credit, there are others who conclude that the program on October 15, 2016 is a good beginning.

The fulcrum of the young community leader’s earliest progress of changing the status quo largely depended on the speech he delivered to what appeared to be a small audience from the onset.

“I want to begin by thanking you all for being here tonight. Also, I want to thank my own community, the Minnesota Mandingo Community, for the confidence that they have placed in me and the rest of my incoming officials by electing us to lead this great community for the next two years. We are thankful and honored to have been chosen from amongst many, many other equally qualified individuals across our community who could do this job.”

Pres. Baba Turay of MMA, this picture was taken at another occasion; Photo by Lassana Bamba

Pres. Baba Turay of MMA, this picture was taken at another occasion; Photo by Lassana Bamba

Pres. Turay told his diverse audience, that the community and their country Liberia is at a critical juncture. He said the road to reconstruction as well as rehabilitation after many years of brutal conflict is challenging and needs a foresight to navigate.

Speaking on the theme, “The Importance of Unity and Education in the Process of Community Building and Empowerment,” he said unity and education stand out as the most important requirement to put both the community and Liberia on the map of civility. The community leader affirmed that there is a clear recognition of the role unity and education play in overcoming hardship and poverty.

“However difficult it may be, a united community with its members possessing a good educational standing is still viewed as uniquely situated for its members to enjoy a better livelihood. It is crucial that we empower ourselves through unity and education. If we seek to be truly competitive wherever we find ourselves, we have to rededicate ourselves to coming together as a people and acquiring solid education.” 

He noted that unity is absolutely essential especially when national political leaders today are incapable of trusting each other, “We at the grassroots community levels must come together, this is so because if humanity is to ever resolve the major problems in the world today, communities like ours must start working together towards their collective good,” he added.

MMA Former V.P., Mamasu Komara Dudu; Photo by Lassana Bamba

MMA’s Former V.P., Mamasu Komara Dudu; Photo by Lassana Bamba

In order to effectuate possible change, there must be cohesive psychological unity and cooperation, the president affirmed.   Pres. Turay’s educational message resonated well with the audience. It came at a time when MMA’s former Vice President, Mamasu Komara Dudu had just graduated on the same day with Masters in Social Work from St. Mary’s University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The graduation ceremony was graced by a very diverse community of supporters.

Pres. Baba Turay expressed contentment about recent increment in graduation rate in the Mandingo community, especially in Minnesota. “I have noted with interest and happiness a trend of consistency in our communities in this regard. We are seeing a lot of initiatives in our community aimed at achieving this end as shown by the many graduation announcements we are seeing on websites and other media platforms from our people.” He is however calling on community members not to relent in their quest for quality education.

“To those of you in school at this point in time, I say thank you for being trendsetters, to those of you thinking about going to school, I encourage you to do so without further hesitation. Our community needs you to make that commitment now. Take advantage of the many educational opportunities our host country has to offer.”

The occasion was graced by community organization leaders such as the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, the Federation of Lofa Associations in the Americas and the Federation of Liberian Mandingo Associations in the USA, Felmausa, including three of its chapters, Wisconsin, Matex’ Dallas branch and Arizona.

The author of Harrowing December, an acclaimed book by many readers, Momoh Dudu served as Guest Speaker, while Frank Ngafua of the Liberian Consulate in Minneapolis served as Installing Officer.

The occasion which ran through the rest of the night was climaxed with beautiful songs from a diverse genre. Though it was a cold night, but some sweated profusely while dancing.

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