The Ambassador of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo, has lauded outgoing United Nations Development Program Country Director Dr. Kamil Kayode Kamaluddeen for his immense contributions to peace, good governance and infrastructural development as well as the rule of law in Liberia.Director Kamaluddeen, who is affectionately referred to as KK, has left an indelible mark on Liberia as a development specialist by the policies and strategies he helped to draft—leading to some considerable levels of developmental improvement in the country, Ajisomo said.Speaking at a cocktail reception held in KK’s honor in Monrovia, Ambassador Ajisomo said “KK has been passionate about development in Liberia and is a true son and patriot of the African continent.” Ambassador Ajisomo, who is also a Nigerian, added, “Any of our compatriots who come to Liberia on assignment firstly has to get in touch with KK to get an orientation, because of his reputation as someone who helps others integrate in the Liberian terrain; and KK is referred to as the ‘Landlord.’”Dr. Kamaluddeen served Liberia for nine years, though intermittently. His first stint was when he served as Economic Advisor and Head of the Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDP Liberia, from 2002 – 2008 before returning in 2013 as Country Director.KK was very popular in the diplomatic community as well as among his Nigerian compatriots all because of what many describe as his high level of humility, selflessness, commitment to duty and accessibility. Many of them praised him for helping them settle in successfully upon their arrival in Liberia.Acting Foreign Minister Elias Shoniyin said KK will truly be missed because he has been a strong pillar to rely on. “KK has been a true friend to this government and our country. He was very instrumental in the crafting of the Poverty Reduction Strategy that helped us significantly to set us on our path of national development,” the Minister said.The Minister described KK as a “development-oriented” individual who built up on the Community Based Initiative (CBI), which was set up by his predecessor, Antonio Vigilante.The CBI provided the stage for community participation in the country’s decentralization process to provide municipal services in Liberia’s 15 counties—a program that led to the realization of the County Service Centers in some counties.Responding, KK said his tenure may have come to an end, but he is leaving as a very proud man, adding that he is grateful to God for his contribution to Liberia.“We strongly believe we could not have done this alone so we appreciate the capable teams we were fortunate to have worked with. They too, must be appreciated,” KK said. According to him, his greatest achievement is leaving in a peaceful country. “We’re very happy that Liberians have embraced peace and I’m of the conviction that this peace will be sustained because without peace there can be no development,” KK said, adding that he now considers Liberia a second home.“Many of our compatriots from the ECOWAS region made a lot of sacrifices to ensure that peace comes to Liberia. Some of them did this with their lives. So I’m glad that this dream is being realized and I’m also glad to have been a part of transitioning Liberia from its war era to a stable country on the path of development,” he said.KK, who has over 15 years working experience with the UN, replaced Mr. Dominic Sam as UNDP Country Director. He has extensive professional, academic, administrative knowledge and experience.UNDP, the UN’s global development network, advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help empower people and build resilient nations, and has been working in Liberia since 1977.UNDP is currently providing technical assistance within the framework of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2013-2017, which is fully aligned with Liberia’s mid and long term development strategies.According to KK, UNDP’s interventions are meant to ensure that the country is peaceful and has inclusive politics, a diversified economy, and stable institutions. “We have also been helping to ensure the laws are enforced fairly, land tenure problems have been resolved, natural resources are efficiently managed and health and education standards have reached those of other middle income countries,” he said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Brumfield, who takes pride in her defense, couldn’t help but chuckle at the rare blooper. Ever since seventh grade, around the time when Taja began playing travel ball for the Cal Sparks, basketball has been as much a part of her family’s life as attending church. Taja has gone from playing street basketball at Victoria Park to showcasing her skills on the travel-ball circuit to winning a CIF Southern Section Division I-AA title with the Jackrabbits in 2005 to finishing runner-up in the same game a year ago to bouncing back to win the Southern California Regional and CIF State Division I crowns. At 8:15 tonight at the Walter Pyramid, the 5-foot-11 senior forward will lead the Jackrabbits, the No. 2-ranked team in the country by USA Today and the No. 1 team in the state by Student Sports Magazine, against Brea Olinda (30-0), the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. On Tuesday, Taja Edwards scored 12 points to lead the Jackrabbits (30-1) past Bishop Amat in the semifinal and back to the finals, where they fell to Lynwood a year ago. Taja, who played a very limited role in the Jackrabbits’ 2006 championship campaign, tore her ACL during summer travel ball. Often times, Brett, Taja and her teammates analyze footage, breaking down Jackrabbit performances. On Sunday night, they had a good laugh about how Brittany Brumfield turned the wrong direction to defend a La Jolla Country Day player on an opening tip, and the player scored an uncontested layup in a game the Jackrabbits won earlier this season. CARSON – The tile in their cozy family room will remind you of the parquet floor of the old Boston Garden. Only this one is a rust color and is well-polished with no dead spots. This is where Taja Edwards of Poly High, with her parents Brett and Cynthia, retreat to spend hours going over basketball game film on their big, black mega-screen television. The pain went beyond her knee, as Pac-10 and other Division I college programs backed away from offering scholarships. This past summer, however, Taja, who has been listed as one of the top players in the country by Street&Smith magazine in 2006 and 2007, proved to scouts that her knee was fine, and she signed with Fresno State earlier this year. “I can deal with life. I was more concerned about her feelings,” Brett Edwards said. “My thing was to encourage her, to try to put things into perspective. The big-time schools that were recruiting her, it’s their loss. (They) couldn’t see past the brace she had on. … I knew her work ethic, how hard she worked to get back to where she is right now. She reached her goal, which was to get a free education.” Brett and Cynthia caught basketball fever when Taja dropped out of the youth church choir and gave up the piano. “I stopped going to choir practices. I started taking basketball more seriously,” Taja said. “I don’t play piano that much anymore. I had a keyboard that sat in my room. I thought about (playing), but I was so tired from basketball practice. So I gave up my music for a pair of Nikes.” Today, for five months each year, Taja, her parents, and her sister Alaja live on the road, traveling throughout California and the country. Travel ball fees run from $1,400-$2,200. Meals are not included. “If we had to pay for it, we wanted her to be 100 percent (committed),” Brett said. “If not, she could play (in the park) where it’s free.” Brett, an electrician, and Cynthia, an accountant, may not have signed up for the entire travel-ball experience, but gradually became consumed by it. Brett is an assistant coach, and Cynthia organizes everything from fund-raisers and to travel accommodations for the girls as they showcase their skills for hundreds of college recruiters and evaluators at events across the country. “You prioritize your life,” Cynthia said. “Sometimes, I’d wake up in another state, and (think) `Wow! I’ve used up all my vacation time to come babysit.’ Then I would get them up and get them together. I love the mentoring part of it.” Earl Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (562) 499-1338. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!