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A Family Tribute To The
Late Dr. Alfred Ndebe Amah Sr.

I thought the task of giving a family tribute/eulogy was probably the most emotionally difficult duty to perform. It is especially more complicated when the deceased person to whom final respects are paid was an individual of substance not only to his personal benefits, but also for the general good of his children, his wife, his relatives, his community and the greater society. Ever since his untimely demise, I like many other members of the family, have been unable to come to grasp with the reality of the death of the most affectionate and pragmatic man we have ever known in all our lives.

Bongoli Ndebe Amah, based on your sound and analytical views on issues and everything I knew about you, I can hear you now asking me "JB, why do you choose to give me a family goodbye without asking my permission". You are also probably saying to me "JB, come down and tell Betty to come down too." Because you lived a life of peace, I can further hear your soothing voice saying "and JB do not forget to make sure Victor and Victoria are not to worry because they have a long way to go." Certainly, I know you will never conclude these pieces of advice without asking that I inform Alfred Jr., Alfreda and Jaso to come down also because they are brother and sisters. In fact you would probably be little more furious and would ask me to check on Comfort and Welly because they live just too far from the rest. Just when I thought you were all done, you would then say, "look JB, one more thing, tell Alphonso and Luther to calm down and remain stable and not worry too much because Alphonso has a long way ahead just like Luther has bigger responsibilities ahead of him" Then your conclusion to all these messages would be "my man, tell all our brothers to take it easy and let brother Momo & Oldman Varfee return home to the village and trust the Lord". You would most likely end by saying "tell every one that I love them and I miss them very much."

Alfred, based on our personal and perfect life-time relations as brothers, I can most certainly discern your thoughts on these real life issues even as you now lifelessly lie in this coffin. As we come together to pay our last respect as a family, we pledge to live by the perfect examples you set for family unity. For us you were the role model for sustainable family survival and a shinning example of a responsible father, husband, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and a friend indeed. You stood against broken relations and never relented in mending family fences of peace and genuine unity. You championed the calls of academic and moral excellence and fortitude. Your push for academic excellence and other scientific advancements were never pursuits you personally sought for your immediate family and friends. You spent more than half your days on earth helping to improve the life and future of society as a classroom teacher. With a terminal academic degree, you had countless opportunities to vie for jobs that would pay you far more than an ordinary professor of chemistry. However, your resolve to serve mankind and society far exceeded the usual avarice for money. Although you are no longer physically with us as a family, we take solace in your firmness of heart and your unaltered decision to serve humanity during your earthly sojourn.

It was based on that commitment of purpose that propelled you (in the last few days of life) to roll up your sleeves and move back to your native land to lend a helping hand. Although you were untimely snatched away by the ugly hands of death, you left an indelible mark of service of which we will forever remain proud. The blue print for the future development of the institution for which you briefly worked in your home-land are said to be the best in the history of that organization.

Your commitment to duty aside, you always did everything you could for the safety of the family. In 1990 (the first year of the Liberian civil war) you personally took a series of life-threatening risks as you went through barricaded communities and gun-bearing check points in search of food for the kids and other family members. When told to avoid going out frequently, you often argued that your life was far less important than the lives of the little ones who desperately needed food to survive.

But that was then at the height of the Liberian civil uprising in 1990 because in the year following, you clearly proved to me that you were prepared to lay your life down for me. I remembered on one early evening in Feb 1991, we had both agreed to visit a female relative behind the Kizito Church in Paynesville, Liberia . As we went through a military check point, we were ordered to submit to physical body checks before passing thru the gates. We both were ordered to hold up our hands as high as possible. As we held our hands up, the guards began to physically check on ours individual persons through shirt and pants pockets, socks and even shoes to determine if either or both of us had had any rebels connections. As we did so, a rebel INPFL identification card dropped from one of us on to the ground. The guards picked the ID card up but were unable to determine which of us owned it because it had no photograph of the owner. For reasons unknown, the guards accused me, JB Amah, of being the owner of the ID card and a rebel sympathizer. We were immediately taken to the "gate commander" and I was summarily slated for possible execution. At this point you quickly interrupted the commander and told him you were the actual holder of the identity card and that if death was the ultimate consequence for the offense, you would prefer to die instead!

So at that point, you sacrificed your life to save mine because security guards at the check point cleared you of any punishable offense but you spoke the truth even when it meant your death by "firing squat". On that day your affirmation of the truth saved both of our lives. Who else could have given up his life so easily in order to his brother's? But this was the exact life you lived, a life of truth and forthrightness.

Today as we look back to all that you have been and meant to us as a family, your timely departure has now created a family vacuum that will never be filled. Your constant contacts with family members and friends, your "wise man" sayings, parables and jokes on every occasion will never fade our memories. You stayed focused and persistent on every detail of life. You sought for and advised each of us to seek for professional excellence in every human discipline. You never wavered in your determination to keep the family properly netted by reaching out to each one in the family whether they were distant uncles and aunts, or foster brothers and sisters, or adopted nephews and nieces and so forth and so on. For you the family always meant "one unified group of relations ordained by God to live happily together" and on that premise you considered every member of the family as being equally related to you. For this we will forever miss you.

Although it wasn't a common thing for us to discuss death, we seldom discussed what each of us would desire when we died. On at least one occasion, you clearly indicated your choice of a final resting place to be in your home country. Although it is not my personal will to have you laid to rest in the US, circumstances regarding your untimely departure have occasioned a unanimous family decision to have you laid to rest in the United States. I therefore join Mrs. Betty Amah and all the children to appeal for your spiritual understanding on this most critical issue.

Alfred, it saddens me personally and very deeply, like every family member to see you depart without explanation, but God loves you best. Rest in peace until we meet on that great Rising Up Morning under the watchful supervision of the Almighty.

JB Amah
- Tel: 484-904-6170


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