An Honorarium to Michael Kpakala Francis: Archbishop and True Liberian Hero

By R. Wesley Harmon

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 1, 2004

Chosen to lead the Catholic Church and its institutions in Liberia, Michael K. Francis rose to the challenge, and exemplified a rare kind of leadership, such that is absent from the landscape of our beloved country, Liberia.

His is a kind of selfless, people-oriented leadership style, a style alien to Liberians in general, so-called politicians in particular. Under his leadership and guidance Catholic institutions in Liberia grew by leaps and bounds, even in the face of a brutal fourteen-year civil conflict that claimed the lives of countless Liberians and foreigners residing within our borders. He added many new institutions to the already existing, excellent repertoire of accomplishments of the Catholic Church in Liberia. Institutions like the Don Bosco Polytechnic University, and Radio Veritas are but a few which provide testimony to the foresight of this great man.

His material accomplishments notwithstanding, Bishop Francis, as he is affectionately called by everyone, even by those who are not Catholic, as I am, is best know as the people’s advocate.

His was the voice of the “common man”. He spoke bravely on behalf of those who could not speak in their own defense, in Liberian terms, we would say, “He spoke for the man or woman from the village”. He dared to stand up and challenge the powers that be to advocate the cause of every Liberian man, woman or child.

Excoriated by Samuel Doe, threatened with imminent death by Charles Taylor and his hooligans, he did not flinch in the face of personal danger. He dared to stand up and identify the ills of our society. He identified those who would harass, maim, kill or destroy our common patrimony with impunity. Evil men shy away from him for fear of exposure of their evil intent and their evil deeds.

Liberians everywhere need to come together and intercede with Almighty God on behalf of this great Liberian hero, that The Lord may see fit to raise him from his bed of affliction and return him to being the people’s advocate. In my opinion, he is unequalled in championing the cause of those who cannot speak in their behalf.

O what a difference one life lived in the service of others make. Who will The Lord raise up to take the mantel of speaker of the people from Bishop Francis? I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

Evil still lurks in Liberia today, even though the grandmaster of evil, Charles Taylor, is no longer there. Without Michael K. Francis to articulate those evils, “How wither shall we go?”