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Depict, Promote Liberian Cultural Values in Dress codes

By Guest blogger, Robin Dopoe Jr.

Editor: J.S. KAI-LEWIS
 


Liberia Culture Ambassador Juli Endee (2nd from right), at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry celebrating the new Intellectual Property Law; (Bottom) she dressed in  traditional attire during the visit of US first lady Michelle Obama. (Photos credits C Liberia Clearly) 


It is not my intention to disrespect Juli Endee and her title as Liberia Culture Ambassador; in fact, I hold her in high regards for the vital role she plays in helping to restore peace in Liberia through culture during the 14 years of civil crises.
For me, I believe Ambassador Endee will forever go down in history as one of the few cultural leaders who used their skills during the height of the wars to convince soldiers to disarm and seek peace, for which she is admired by Liberians and foreign residents.
However, in recent times I have come to notice that Amb. Endee is falling short of her task as Liberia’s Culture Ambassador.
Using her position back then to promote peace was great, but it is still required of her to be the symbol of Liberia’s culture, especially through her physical appearance.
Ambassador Endee knows very well that culture is not just limited to arts and beliefs systems; it also comprises a particular way of life, including dress code. Therefore, her recent public appearance at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry dressed in western clothes caused me to question her cultural orientation.
From the top, her hair was done in weaves, eyebrows shaved, with false eyelashes, which is not part of the traditional look of Liberian women.
The danger in this is that because of her status, young girls would copy this ‘look’ and take it from simplicity to immorality.
She will then find it difficult to admonish these girls against copying the western way of dressing, when she herself is involved in the same practice.
However, during the recent visit of US first lady Michelle Obama to Liberia, Amb. Endee’s dress code was purely traditional, which signaled to Mrs. Obama that Liberians respect their cultural heritages and values.
The dress worn during Lady Obama’s visit is what’s expected of Endee in her role as ‘Culture Ambassador’ on the daily because it represents us and encourages everyone to help resurrect Liberia’s decaying culture. By dressing that way, she will continue to motivate people to emulate her in promoting and respecting Liberia’s cultural values and norms.
Commenting on her title as Culture Ambassador to a Chinese media organization, she said "I got it as an honor from the Liberian people in 1995 for promoting the culture of Liberia through my dress code, music, dance, attitude and discipline in terms of culture - and for all of the research I have done.”
If one of the many reasons she got the title as Culture Ambassador was through her dress code, then why not continue to dress like that and in the process spread knowledge of our traditional dress code and influence someone to make local threads his/her daily norm?
Amb. Endee, as a woman from a cultural and traditional background, you should know that any foreign dress code or artificial accessory you apply directly throws a dark cloud over Liberia’s cultural trajectory.
Again I ask, does she see that the appearance of other African traditional leaders on a daily basis actually promotes their respective country’s culture because of the way they dress?
The Ambassador knows this, but it seems that she is forgetting her duty, which is totally harming the process of sustaining and promoting Liberia’s culture.

Ambassador Endee’s recent appearance is promoting the neglect of Liberia’s cultural values to many people, and is the result of talking and not taking action.
 In closing, since the end of the war, the Ambassador has not done much in the way of really promoting our traditional ways of life.

Postscript
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author’s, and in no way represent the views of  C Liberia Clearly.


Robin Dopoe, Jr., is a freelance art and culture writer for the Daily Observer newspaper in Liberia. The Nimba born, is the Press and Public relationship officer of the Liberia Nation Movie Union. Not only that, Robin is also a music coach and a bio write.

Contact Robin on Facebook with the name Robin C. L Dopoe, Jr

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