A Liberian of the Kru tribe of that country, my journalism career has made me a very curious person whose curiosity has made me to know a lot of things by practical experience and skills practice and applied professionally. For instance, driving and moving earth equipment such as caterpillars, tractors and light vehicles was not something that I formally learned from people or institutions. What this should mean is to tell of the fact that education is not only in the classroom, but it is a process of know and gaining new ideas through human determination and applied skills. This was exactly how I went through life to reach to the medium height that I find myself today, as a career journalist and Information Officer of a foreign mission. However, it is a know fact that every journey through which life is acquired is not an easy one as one may see in my case.
Born unto the Union of Mr. Johnson Weah Jarkloh (a fisherman and sailor) and Madam Anna Jlopleh-Jarkloh (a farmer) on November 27, 1964, I started my academic sojourn at the Panwhan Public School and went through the doors of Sanquin Jr. High School and Sinoe High School where I completed my Junior High (Jr. Secondary) School education. The fourth of seven children – five boys and two girls now - scattered around Europe and Africa, this third boy of my illiterate parents was really born in a remote village [Panwhan Town], Sanquin Municipality which later becomes a district in the Southeast, Sinoe County to be précised. Upon the death of my dad in 1983, Bill left the Sinoe High School in Greenville City and went to Monrovia, the Capitol City of Liberia, to continue his education.
Meanwhile, He was a cameraman while going to school in Greenville, owing to the fact that he has no source of support as his poor parents were far away in the remotest part of the County – Sinoe. Greenville is the Capitol City. Consequently, Bill was working for one Jonah Tifueh, a brother of his friends Emmanuel Shine and the late William Butch, whose mother’s generosity caused him to live with the family eventually. It was at this time that Jonah asked Bill to take his camera around, promising him five Liberian dollars on every pack film used.
It was a quick service camera which I carried around nightclubs, entertainment centers and school campuses to ensure that I make life possible and gain something with which I would pay my school fees and contributed to class activities. That I did - and it worked well - until 1983 when I found myself in Monrovia as a result the death of my dad.
My coming Monrovia was painful. I felt for my dear mother, whose companion was my dad. Amid adversities, my mom was busy on the farm while my dad was on the sea – all struggling to sustain the younger ones. But the death of my dad left my mom vulnerable as all of us who used to help her farm and fetch fish were all away from them, except for the last two brothers – Rudolph (now in Ghana) and Justine now in Monrovia. Besides, my dad sometimes could take to Greenville by Canoe, produces of the farming they did at home, sold them to complement efforts at schooling. So his death pierced my heart and I decided to return home to my mom to help her. By this time I have promoted to the 10th grade at the Sinoe High School.
she said: “Your future is bright, I can see. You will be a blessing to us if you go to Monrovia for school. Let me pour this my mother blessing: Your suffering is limited. Jobs will look for you and no enemy of yours shall succeed – for the God I serve says to me that your enemies are your footstool.” She then sipped the cup and poured the water on my back from her mouth. I then agree to take the challenge of life.
But my mom wanted all her children educated. The genius who is the second of us the brothers and sisters, Joseph N. Jarkloh was already in Russian at the Odessa Polytechnic Institute pursuing a Masters of Science Degree in Radio and Electronic Engineering; Morris Karpeh Jarkloh, now a Methodist Cleric with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology (BTh.) was teaching a local Junior High School, Martha M. Jarkloh, the third of my parents children was in Monrovia pursuing a high school diploma (she now works with the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization) and I the next in line was now back home, joining Rudolph J. Jarkloh and Justin J. Jarkloh – all kids at the time – to be with our mom fro her help and comfort. Tina G. Jarkloh, who next to me, was already in Monrovia with our aunt, although she hadn’t started school. But our mom did not like her children to be unlettered like her and dad; she begged me to go Monrovia to her sister, Klaplah-dee to continue my school. When I was insisting to stay and help her farm, she said: “Your future is bright, I can see. You will be a blessing to us if you go to Monrovia for school. Let me pour this my mother blessing: Your suffering is limited. Jobs will look for you and no enemy of yours shall succeed – for the God I serve says to me that your enemies are your footstool.” She then sipped the cup and poured the water on my back from her mouth. I then agree to take the challenge of life.
When I cam to Monrovia, Aunt Klaplah-dee said she could not afford to send me to school. “Not everyone in the family can know book. Some of your friends are at the Freeport throwing bags of rice to make life for their people,” se said in an apparent thought of making me a bread winner for Tina and I who were now under her roof along with her biological children and grand children. But I insisted on schooling. I went to the Duala Market in Monrovia –this market was within the proximity of my locality. I totted loads of marketers from cars to - selling tables for dims, nickels and at most quarters of a dollar. The aggregated collection was used towards my entrance at the D, Tweh High School in 1984, and I was able to matriculate at the school.
At D. Twe I started my journalism career as an amateur. Named News Editor for Voice of the Atlantic, the press club of the school, I served as the newscaster, representative the press club to the Student RECORDER Newspaper on which all schools of the time had representations. When General Thomas Quiwonkpa’s attempt to overthrow the Samuel Doe Government failed in 1985 when I was an eleven grad student, I was one of those called to active national journalism by the Ministry of Information. For me, that was the beginning of the blessing my mom told me of. The MIRROR Newspaper I was seconded by the Ministry trained me through workshops, local seminars and refreshers courses. I then took responsible assignments such as reporting the National Legislature, the Judiciary and other parastatals o0f government. From Cub Reporter I was elevated to reporter and then to senior reporter. From their after my completion of the D. Twe High school, I was sponsored to the Certificate course of the Mass Communication Department of the University of Liberia where I earned a Certificate in 1990.
Today, the need for education has become an indispensable factor of life. This has drawn me back to the University of Liberia for a Bachelor of Acts Degree in Mass Communication with emphasis on Broadcasting – doing my senior courses. But education is dynamic. It isn’t achieved only through classroom lessons, but through other interactions. So I worked with a number of Liberian newspapers. To name a few in recent postwar Liberia,The INQUIRER, THE NEWS, THE ANALYST, THE NEW VISION and www.frontpageafrica.com/ online outlet that has arouse my interest in internet journalism have topped the list. Interesting, while in active journalism, I am applying the Public Affairs skilled gained in school, at the Embassy of Ghana where I work as Executive Officer for Information. I was taught public affairs reporting and public relations at University of Liberia, and the opportunity at the Embassy is an avenue for practice of these skills. But I will never forget my mom, for her prophecy has come through. Everywhere I work, I was called to the job instead of seeking jobs. I am always contented with my work putting into it my best – so I always won awards at work places – either reporter of the year, best feature writer of the year and others.
Moreover, one thing that suited me in contemporary journalism is my involvement with internet journalism. This started with my online reportage with the U. S. based Liberian online agency, frontpageafrica.com/ the climax of this interest is my recent attendance of the Panos Institute West Africa initiated Regional Workshop on ICT issues. This workshop has introduced to me a new dynamism in journalism, and brought to sharp focus the participation of the ordinary citizens in shaping their destiny through the dissemination of information. The discussion at this added more to may achievements, especially having discussed the channels and ways they are used to ensure that the ordinary people participate and have a say in the governance process I for instance through the use of the cyber communication on internet and mobile phones. This has arouse my interest in the information communication technology of information societies, and they way these channels of communication help the people to participate in decision making processes that affect their well-being through person-to-person and person-to-institution contacts. I will appreciate if I should participate in more of these workshops, to explore new dynamism in area of concern so as to enhance my potentialities and my contribution to society and humanity. My dear readers, this is the first of the series of articles about my experiences of life - I mean experiences covering my very existence. Many more will follow.
About the Author:
The Author of this article, Bill K. Jarkloh, is a career journalist. He edited several Liberian Newspapers, including The NEWS, The ANALYST, The POST etc. He won the Press Union of Liberia's Best Feature Writer of the Year award and held the title for three consecutive years from 2001-2004. Bill is a senior student of the University of Liberia reading Mass Communication and minor in Sociology. At present, he writes for the FrontPageAfrica online outlet based in the United States as a Monrovia correspondent and is editing the NEW VISION Newspaper based in Monrovia at his free hours. Bill is the Executive Officer of the Embassy of Ghana for Information. He is traditionally married to pretty Ms. Korpo Kortimai, a Woman and Child right advocate.