Honorable Roger SWY Domah:
TNR: Please give us a brief history of your life
Rep Domah: Honorable Roger SWY Domah hails from Nimba County from a village called Gbeiyee Duayee which is the headquarters of Gbeiyee Chiefdom. I was born in Saclepea, grew up in my own village with my maternal grandparents in Duahnpa, but I was taken at an early age to Yekepa by my maternal uncle who I stayed with up his redundancy in Yekepa in 1988. I later moved back to Saclepea, spent a year and then moved to Ganta where I pursued my high school studies, the Ganta United Methodist School and graduated with some little break-in; spending some times in Guinea during the war and spending some times in the Ivory Coast and came back to Monrovia and after the April 6 I moved back to Danane and after the war, I moved back to Saclepea and started during some contributions.
It was there that I started the United Methodist Church as the founding pastor, my brothers and myself started a school which is now a public school, the Ylamba Public School. We started it as the Ylamba Memorial Academy, named in honor of our great grandfather who was also a warrior. We also in the process initiated the establishment of Radio Ylamba which is now managed by Mr. Kennedy Domah. So these are some of the establishments.
TNR: When You became Actively Involved In Politics?
Rep Domah: I started getting involved in politics during my high school days as student leader at the Ganta United Methodist High School, I actively participated in student politics at CWA Junior college before it was changed to the United Methodist University, I was part of the leadership. When I went to Zimbabwe, I also led the student body there very successfully before coming to Liberia to work with the church. I worked with the Ganta Hospital, CMB, JFK before going back to the church and worked as the principal of the Ganta United Methodist High School and also served as Associate Pastor of the Miller McAllister United Methodist Church in Ganta.
I got driven in politics in 2009 and I was in the process of completing my master’s program at Cuttington university and some university students from my chiefdom gave me the challenge that because of the relationship built with them over the years, even though I was not a worthy man, but the way I responded to some of their requests that came to me, and encouraged them. Imagine when I was still in college I encouraged some of those boys to come to Monrovia and we were in the same room and they felt I could be an umbrella for them and they wanted me to run in the 2011 elections. I had family consultation, the results were affirmative, so, I then started the process, but the problem at that time we had couple of persons who had tried running from my district, like 2005 we had like three persons who ran and the experience after the elections, our people said no we don’t want lots of people running from the chiefdom, but we need just a person. If all of you go you will waste your resources and at the end of the day you remain divided, not speaking to each other and so, based on that experience we just want an individual to run, so, Gbeiyee chiefdom had primary and I was the youngest, we were nine in numbers. We went into the process and I emerged victorious. The process started 2009 and ended 2010. But unfortunately right after the process, the issue of the demarcation came about and there where my defeat actually started from because people saw the momentum and the demarcation put out some wrong footing, but to maintain the support based, I contested the 2011 elections on the ticket of the Liberia Transformation Party (LTP) and we went through and we were not successful.
I resigned from JFK and moved to Ganta to work closely with my people and since 2012 and up to the time of the elections, we continue to engage the constituency not looking at clan, tribes and religion; but holistically engaging the constituency and at the end of the day 2017 elections, we were successful after running on the Unity Party ticket. Even getting on Unity Party was a tough decision because imagine being a teacher, there were lots of people who have interest, politicians and some government officials have interest on the ticket, but I just kept my faith to succeed because of the strategies we put into place and at the end of the day, we succeeded and it was a surprise for lots of people why will this party take me. I am not somebody who talks a lot, but I like to work behind the scene; so why they were concerned about this man doesn’t have this, and whatever they were saying, I was working behind the scene.
TNR: How is your district?
Rep Domah: We have a huge challenge in the district, a lot of people believe that I can take care of their children especially in term of their education responsibility and that’s the primary reason that lots of people believe in me for and there are huge expectations because young people want to go to school, although the resources are not there, but we are making attempts. As we speak, we have over 150 students at various colleges and universities that we are striving to keep going. It’s really challenging, but school administrators are doing well based on the relationship we have built over the years.
TNR: What’s the composition of your district?
Rep Domah: The district is split between two statutory districts and two administrative districts. If you work on the other side, the other people will feel that you are leaving them. That’s the challenge about running district number seven and we have two urban areas; the Bahn area and the Saclepea area, whatever you doing in Saclepea you have to do same in Bahn area. It requires lots of resources, and presently the government doesn’t even have; so, there are lots of challenges. In the rural parts of the district, there are communities that are not accessible by roads. Just recently I toured most of those areas, Nyansin old town, Gonkartee Village, these are communities that are not accessible by roads. You either ride motorbike or you walk or you go to Beagonpa and we went to those places and it was surprising to them and I heard one of the old men saying “Even during campaign some of those people who were running don’t have the courage to walk that distance, but they will rather send people to relay their ambition.” So, it was their first time to see a sitting lawmaker going to them, spending Christmas day and new year day with them rather than spending it in the city and it was shocking to them.
TNR: How is the relationship with your constituents?
Rep Domah: We are building cordial relationship with our constituents. We are ensuring that we are visible and our presence is felt and what we identified as development priorities, we are working on them.
Have you been able to link the Capitol Building with your constituents especially with the perception that lawmakers are in the building to only think about themselves?
Rep Domah: You know unlike in the past where leaders will hide from those people because of the pressure of their requests. I make myself available. There are others who will come and make request in the district and others will come and say honorable we just came to speak to you because we were feeling for you the way everybody was bringing their problems, we could feel the burdens, so if we don’t come around don’t think we don’t like you. So, some of the constituency members are beginning to understand that the man is not just here with bags of monies, he’s here on policy issues and to push the interest of the district. The fact that this can come from constituency members, our voters, our citizens, it means they are beginning to understand. The perception is that once we come here, we have nothing private to do and whatever we get belongs to them and so they must get all out, but I am glad that some of them are beginning to understand the position that we find ourselves in and the burdens that go along with it.
TNR: On the overall how do you see the Legislature to be?
Rep Domah: For me I don’t feel disappointed because in my life I have lived not seeking employment, but someone who is on a mission, so I didn’t come here with the expectation of getting rich. Most of our colleagues who came with that perception, lots of them are feeling disappointed that they came and the way they expected things to go are not going that way and so you can feel the downheartedness in them. For some of us, we are used to mission, giving back to our people, so if it is not there; we explain to the people that even though I have the mind, the heart to help you in this way, but this is the situation and so as long as some of our constituency members are understanding that, I feel okay and I don’t feel disappointed.
What you hope in the next five years?
Rep Domah: We are really hoping that national government can execute development package holistically and not focusing in a particular area. Although the government is prioritizing roads, but the roads are only limited to few selected areas where we have people of influence and we think that this should be done considering all communities, particularly where development is driven, there must be population and we hope that Nimba county can be prioritized. If you look at the census result, Nimba County comes second to Montserrado County, so, if you are paving roads in Grand Bassa County, Gbarnga and you are boasting about it, you must also start moving with development initiatives in our own county where we have the population and the county is also contributing a lot in term of revenue to our national economy. The government should begin to pay keen attention to Nimba County and it’s a challenge to ensure government attention is drawn to Nimba.
Rep. Domah: I pray that the God I serve will give me the courage to make a big difference.