Tribute to an Outstanding Liberian Judge By Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor

In African
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Mankind, down through the ages has come the cry for knowledge and more knowledge. Around us, everything is changing and nothing seems permanent and fixed. The mountains crumble away, the rivers dry up in the Sahara Desert, and cease to flow, islands sink and new seas are formed. The great oaks, in all their majesty must succumb to transition, to change, or death. Man goes on his way and crosses the borderline into the unknown and seems to end his existence in the twinkling of an eye. Is there any part of man, therefore, or any part of nature, that is immortal, unchanging permanent and conditional? Still, there was always the quest for knowledge and the desire for answers to problems unsolved. Why are we here? Who are we? Whence have we come? And where do we go? Is this personality of ours, this individuality which we strive to build up through idealism and the elimination of undesirable traits, merely a temporary or imaginary creation of us ?



Judge Johannes Zogbay Zlahn was born unto the union of Samuel Zlahn and Oldma Vonyee Karsiah, in Marlay, Nimba County on February 15, 1956.  He received his secondary education from Hillwood Mission School in 1979. He enrolled at the University of Liberia, with the intention of studying medicine in 1980. He was an employee of the Firestone Cocola Factory from 1978 to 1983, when he relocated to the United States of America and enrolled at Rhode Island College, Rhode Island. Upon the receipt of his graduate degree from Rhode Island College, he enrolled at Syracuse University Law School, where he graduated with honor in 1993. On the day of his graduation, he was recognized as the only man of color.


In October of 1993, he was employed as an Associate Attorney at the Benjamin J. Murawski Law Firm, located in Boston, Massachusetts and in 1995, he moved into the employment at the Alan Katz Law firm, also as an Associate Attorney. In 1998, he got married to his childhood sweetheart, The Beautiful Amelia Zlahn .  I even  participated in this wedding as a master of ceremony.

 In 2,000, he returned to Africa to help to liberate his homeland from the yoke of oppression fostered by the Charles Taylor government. He returned to the United States again in 2002. In 2007, he was employed by the United Nations legal team in Monrovia, Liberia, and in two years, he became a Civil Court Judge at the Temple of Justice. He was in this position until his untimely death.


According to Newspapers accounts, just days before his death, Judge Zlahn had addressed the opening of the Civil Law Court, saying: “We as judges have allowed our fraternal relationships and love for our brothers and sisters, who are lawyers to influence our decisions, which have invariably led to various disciplinary actions being taken against us”  .  Judge Zlahn’s death came exactly five days after he confirmed the 2016 U.S. Department of State’s Human Rights Report that judges in Liberia are corrupt, because they accept bribes to award damages in civil cases. Judge Zlahn, 61, died on Saturday, March 25, at his Zayzay Community residence in Soul Clinic, Paynesville, outside Monrovia (Daily Observer, Liberia).

Judge Zlahn left behind nine children. They are Kawyeah, Dorwon, Karmeh, Atiyah, Johannes Jr., Vonyee, Sehwon, Eric and Wonser Zlahn.

Let me close with the following eulogy verse:

"Nature it seems stands on its head

When you mourn the loss of a great man

Today we remember his life with us

                                                           The years of laughter and fun                                                           ,

We’re thinking of all the times that we shared

  And though we are bowed with grief

Today we celebrate the great man we once had

Because it is our firm belief

That his life enriched us in so many ways

Brought sunshine and happiness into our days

And though we are heartbroken and very sad

Today we admit that we’re also glad

That we had him, if only for too short a while

Not yet but sometimes we’ll remember and smile."



About the AuthorMr. Edmund Z. Bargblor, knew the late Judge since July of 1990. They were good friends. Mr. Bargblor is a former Deputy Managing Director of the National Port Authority of the Republic of Liberia. He is an Educator . He has written series of articles,  some on Liberia  and other African countries. He can be reached at [email protected]



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