Kiiton Press

Ganta Mission School Ode




Written by

Dr. Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Sr.,

Class of 1963


Verse 1: 

Verse 2: 

             Verse 3:


We hail Thee Ganta Mission 
Our Alma Mater’s Name;
We proudly sing your praises,
For what we’ve gleaned from Thee.
The knowledge and the skills that
You taught us loud and clear,
Are strongly anchored deeply 
Within our hearts and minds.

We’re proud of our foundation
Forever grateful be; 
Your children of tomorrow
Prepared to lead the way.
Through many of life’s pathways 
We’ll blaze the rugged way, 
To make the crooked places 
As straight as they should be.

Now bless your sons and daughters
We pledge our loyalty;
With tributes and our duties,
As guardians of your trust.
When we have gone from these walls
Committed to your cause, 
Give us the strength to labor
For all humanity.

Since I composed our School Ode  in 2006, the song has
been sung every year at the Alumni Association Conventions
and conferences.  We also learned that the students, staff and
faculty at the Ganta Mission School in Liberia sing the song
regularly at school and during occasions when they gather
together for programs, celebrations, school closing and
graduation ceremonies.


The Lion is our Mascot 

Brief History of Ganta United Methodist Mission School
                                        by Dr. Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Sr.,

Ganta United Methodist Mission School, known then as Ganta Mission

School was established by Dr. George Way Harley and Winifred J. Harley in 1926. The Harleys were Methodist missionaries from America assigned by the Methodist Episcopal Church Mission Board to open a new Methodist mission station in the hinterland in Gompa, now (Ganta), formerly Central Province, and now known as, Nimba County, Liberia.

Dr. Harley was a graduate of Harvard and Yale Universities Medical schools. He and Winifred met at Yale when they were students there. They married and took on the missionary assignment. The day they left the USA for Liberia, at their farewell church service, they sang, “Lead on O King Eternal, the day of march has come.” That is one of the reasons why the tune of the Ganta United Methodist Mission School's, School Ode has the same tune as "Lead on O King Eternal, the Day of March has come." For them, the day of march has come, when they shall be marching into an untested territory; a territory where western civilization has not taken hold of the people. They are marching into a country where western education has not reached many people. A territory disturbed by tropical diseases such as YAWS (Frambesia), Malaria, Hookworm, Trichuiasis, Leprosy, Leishmaniasis, Lymphatic filariasis, Onchocerciasis, Shistosomiasis, Tuberculosis, and many more awaiting for cure. The day of march has come when they shall build a mission that will transform lives and physical landscapes.

Along with their pioneering tasks of medical mission building which included the establishment of a dispensary, a hospital, a clinic, a laboratory, a leprosarium, workshops [mechanical, electrical, saw-mill] farming and agricultural projects, and a church, they also established the first Methodist school in the region.

In her mud hut in Ganta, Mrs. Harley started teaching a few children A. B. C. until they moved to the new mission station. On the station, the first school building was a “small square classroom with walls of split corkwood [musanga Smithii] and upper portion open for light and air. The students lived in a half-dozen native style houses, furnished with wooden beds, iron pots, and lanterns. Boys furnished their own sleeping mats and clothes. They cooked their own food.” Mr. Henry Miller, one of the missionaries that followed the Harleys to Liberia, was the first instructor at the school. In the morning Mr. Miller taught the classes and in the afternoon, the students worked at the carpentry or did other tasks with Dr. Harley. Religious education was a part of the education.

In 1928, Henry and Kate Miller were assigned by the Board to head the Nana Kru Mission station. Rev. R. L. Embree, a representative of the overseas Mission to Liberia, who was also the president of CWA, (The College of West Africa) had promised the Harleys that he was going to find a replacement for Henry Miller but the search was very difficult especially since he was hoping to get a Liberian teacher. Because of the difficulty in finding a Liberian teacher, Mrs. Harley took on the teaching responsibilities. She would leave her two babies for a few hours each day to teach at the school and spend additional few hours to help with the patients.

The Harley Family 1928 In the background, the mud-and thatch dispensary (Photo from A Third of a Century with George Way Harley by Winifred J. Harley)
In 1930 when Rev. Embree returned from furlough, he saw a lot of changes that have taken place on the mission station. When the Harleys were preparing to go on their furlough, Rev. Embree brought in Cyril Henry, a young West Indian, to head the school. Cyril Henry, previously, was in charge of the school at White Plains, but the White Plains school was closed down. Mr. Henry was very reluctant to take charge of the Ganta Mission School. He declined Dr. Harley’s offer, so the Harleys had to stay for one more year until the next Methodist Conference before leaving for their furlough. The Harley’s replacement was a teacher from Garraway by the name of Miss Hattie Hooks. Miss Hooks was asked to come to Ganta, leaving her school in Garraway, on the Kru Coast, which was being closed because the Board was trying to consolidate its work in Liberia. Mrs. Harley said this about Miss Hattie Hooks: “She proved a sincere, conscientious teacher who served Ganta Mission well during its need.”

In 1932 when the Harleys returned from their furlough, they reported that Miss Hattie took very good care of the mission station. The Harleys had returned with some of their friends who expressed interest in the work at Ganta. Mrs. Harley wrote: “There was much work to be done! Miss Hooks had responsibility for the school and each of us took on weekly class. Alfred took the schoolboys in the late afternoon for drill and soccer. He was to spend half the day on mission work; and the other half he was free to go off with his paints and easel.”

By 1935, it was time for Miss Hooks to leave, but because there was no one immediately in line to take her place, she had to remain for another year until Elmo and Mary Taylor Tabb arrived. The Tabbs were former missionaries who have served in the Congo. Elmo Tabb was to take over the responsibilities of the school and the Sunday school. His service at the school was short lived after whipping one of the students for climbing an orange tree belonging to the Mission. Momo Massaquoi, an assistant, took charge of the school after Elmo Tabb left. There were much difficulties during the first ten years. The Harleys needed someone to organize the work of the school.

In 1938, on their furlough, while speaking at one of their home churches in New Haven, Connecticut, they met Mildred Black and “B. B.” Cofield. After hearing the Ganta Mission story, both of them wanted to join the Harleys in the mission work. B.B. and Martha Cofield (1950) with the daughter of Griff Davis, the young photographer with USAID who took this picture.

“B.B. Cofield had come from Alabama to attend Yale Divinity School. He decided to interrupt his training to come to work at Ganta. He went home and married Martha Hanes, thus more than doubling his usefulness.” The Mission Board asked them to stop first at Kakata to take charge of B.W.I. until the Phelps Stokes people could find a permanent principal. Mildred Black sailed with the Harleys to Ganta. Upon her arrival, and with the assistance of Momo Massaquoi, Mildred Black, affectionately known as “Kau Black”, “organized four grades with subjects corresponding to American standards, plus a preliminary class for beginners.” Mildred "Kau" Black The Harleys and others thought that the school should stop to grade 4. This was 1938. Therefore the stone house, Hartzell Building, was built to accommodate only four classes, a library, the principal’s office and an assembly hall upstairs. The school operated for a few years with only 5 classes, beginner class, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade class. By 1950, it was decided that the standard of the school should be elevated from 4th grade to 8th grade. When girls started coming to the school in later years, a hostel was built for the girls. Students, boys and girls were coming from every county and Province, to attend Ganta mission school because news was spreading all over the country that there was a very good school in Ganta. Most of the Government officials were finding ways to send their children to Ganta Mission School. The girls’ hostel was funded by the Women’s Division of the Mission Board. That Board had been responsible previously for sending nurses to the hospital. The women's board was referred to as Women Society of Christian Service. But now, they call it United Methodist Women. They built the girls' hostel in Ganta.

                      B.B. Martha and eight-year old Bonnie, Furlough 1949

In 1941, the Cofields were released from the job at B.W.I., and B. B., Martha and baby Bonnie went to work in Ganta. Martha took over the school while B.B spent much of his time with the religious activities and helping Dr. Harley with other routines of Mission Building. More missionaries and nationals were teaching at the school by the mid 1950’s. When Martha Cofield took over the school in 1952, Jackie J. Wrotto became her assistant principal in later years. Ruth Longstaff, Charles Britts, and others took on the responsibilities of the school during those years.

(Left to right)
Martha Coifield,  Ruth Longstaff Burgess, Dagmar Peterson, Mildred Black, in the yellow at the far right and Uniola Adams (back to camera)  

By 1955 students were now graduating from the 8th grade instead of the 4th grade. Teachers at Ganta mission were now all high school graduates and above. By the 1960s, much improvement has taken place. Mrs. Harley had this to say about Ganta Mission School. She wrote: “The School at Ganta Mission has such an excellent reputation that it could easily be filled with students from the more sophisticated parts of the country. But we have given preference to boys and girls from our own "tribe" and neighborhood. The village Christians have been particularly anxious to put their children in school under the influence of a Christian institution. However, in about 1938 when Mildred Black headed the school, Hartzel buildidng was being constructed. Before the building was completed, they realized the need to expand because the demand for education and the number of student population was expanding. It was this time that the main school building was constructed and named Hartzell Building because the “building funds had come from sale of a discontinued school on the Kru Coast, which had been named for Bishop Joseph C. Hartzell who made notable efforts in Liberia at the end of the last century.” At this time five small dormitories were constructed behind the Hartzell buinding for boys. Students leaving for home after morning school [Washington house, Carver house, Aggry house, Harris house, and King house and a Kitchen-dining room were built closed by for the boys. The first few years of the school at Ganta, there were only boys because the prevailing beliefs among the local people at the time was that girls are not fitted for school, only boys need western education. There were 2 sessions of classes from Monday to Friday. Biginners, 1st, 2nd, & 3rd graders attended the afternoon sessions and the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders attended the morning sessions. Due to the fact that there were 5 classes in the morning, one of the classes met in Manchester building located across the street from the church. Manchester building was the previous residence for Teacher Joma Massaquoi and his family. In 1960, the Massaquois moved to live in one of the newly constructed faculty homes behind the boys' dormitory. That provided opportunity to renovate Manchester building by adding 3 additional classrooms in the building. By, 1962, Manchester was able to accommodate 3 classes. Grades 6, 7 and 8 met in the morning in the Manchester building. From 1961 to 1963, I had all my classes in the Manchester building. I had my 6th, 7th and 8th grade classes in the Manchester building.
Local boys and girls who have studied at Ganta Mission School have gone on to other institutions of higher learning and have acquired advanced learning. Some have earned degrees of all kinds, Ph. D’s, M. Div., D. Min., B. Sc. M.A., M. Th., B.D. etc., in many fields including Theology, Education, the sciences and the humanities. Others have earned their medical degrees such as M. D., some R.N, and Masters in Public Health and other medical fields. Still, there are those who have earned the Bachelors degrees and Masters degrees and others have learned many professions and skills in different fields around the world. A few have come back to serve the institution and the country. Many graduates from Ganta Mission are making tremendous impact around the world.

                                                   Mrs. Martha Autry
Martha Yah Kpala Suah, who now goes by the name Martha Autry was the first girl in all of Nimba County to graduate from High School (CWA) The College of West Africa, a United Methodist College Preparatory High School in Monrovia, Liberia. She was the first female from the Mah ethnic community to finish high school. She has been a role model for both boys and girls that came after her. Mrs. Martha Autry graduated from Ganta Mission School in 1955 and also from CWA in 1959. She is our Pride and Trailblazer--the first of the Harvest. After she graduated from Ganta Mission School, she came back at some point and taught classes at Ganta Mission School. I was one of her 3rd grade students in 1958. I was in her Afternoon class in the Hartzell Building. We all love you Mom Autry-- Affectionately known as "Sis. Martha".

                                       J. J. Wrotto

After the Cofields retired, the school was handed to J. J. Wrotto for his supervision. For many years, Jackie Wrotto was a Beginner teacher. He was a real talented man. He knew very many children's songs and games children enjoyed. In the mornings, he worked at the Ganta Mission Hospital Laboratory with Saye Didi, Doe and other Lab technicians. He taugth afternoon school. Some people have referred to him as a self- educated man. He had a special and profound teaching technique all his students enjoyed. From 1961 to 1971 he held the position as principal of the school. While at the same time, he was serving as a Lay Leader of Miller McAllister United Methodist Church on the Mission Station. In the picture above he is seen with his right hand lifted up giving the Benediction. Eventually, he studied the Liberian statue and the law and became a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate in Ganta. His tenure from 1961- 1971was also very remarkable. In later years in the 1970, much work at the school was expanded. New principals came and served.   A gymnasium was built for indoor sports. The standard was raised from elementary school to a junior high school and then to a high school. Additional school buildings were constructed. During church services, he interpreted for the large Mah speaking congregation that did not understand the English language.  He interpreted from the English to the Mah
language and from the Mah language to the English language, but mostly from
English to Mah.  Below you are looking at Rev. Nya Garmi Zuaglay on the left
and Mr. J. J. Wrotto.  Rev. Zuaglay at the time, was the interpreter at the Miller McAllister United Methodist Church and also the head of the Literacy Adult
Education Program.  He, Mildred Kau Black and others were engaged in
translating the New Testament from English to the Mah language.  Thanks to Caleb Domah for this picture.  The picture was taken in 1966 at Miller MAllister UMC    during one of the church services there. 
Many principals have come and gone.   Many students have also come and gone. The Liberian Civil War had a devastating affect on the school. But under the leadership of Herbert and Mary Zigbuo as mission superintendent, and John Gbilia as principal of the school,  lots of reconstruction work went on. Additional facilities were 
built to meet the demands.

                            Rev. Herbert Zigbuo __________________________________________________________________ John Gbelia was the school principal when Rev. Zigbuo was the Station
Superintendent. It was Mr. John Gbelia, the school teachers and students,
along with Superintendent Zigbuo that approved the School Ode in 2006
and adapted by the Ganta United Methodist Mission School Alumni Association
 _____________________________________________________________________ The School Principal that took over the school after Mr. John Gbelia was
Rev. Pricilla Legay-Jaiah. She was the first Liberian Woman to serve as Principal
of Ganta Mission School and the first female ever to serve as Superintendent for the Ganta Mission Station.

Superintendent for the Ganta Mission station.   She holds a Masters' degree in Social Work (MSW)
and another Masters degree (M.Div.) in Religion and
the Christian Ministry.     _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Many of the graduates from Ganta Mission School went to high school and graduated. Some even graduated from colleges and universities.
 Others went to professional schools, medical schools, school of nursing, education, theology, political science and other professions.
Some even came back and worked at Ganta Mission Hospital,
Gbarnga School of Theology, J. J. Roberts Elementary School, CWA,
and other places. I would like to document their activities with the
church, but this brief history is devoted to only Ganta Mission School.
We wish to express our thanks to those Ganta Mission graduates who came
 back to pay their tributes to the Methodist Church with their service.
This site is devoted to the work at the school; 
Ganta United Methodist Mission School.
Nevertheless, we acknowledge all the Ganta United Methodist
Mission School Alumni who returned from studying and 
contributed their quota to the Liberia Annual Conference,
no matter where in Liberia and in whatever the  profession or capacity
they served the church. We say, thank you.


         Winifred J. Harley, A Third of a Century with George Way Harley in Liberia. (Newark, Delaware: Liberian Studies Association in America, Inc. 1973) Liberian Studies Monograph Series Number 2.

                       Click on the title of the book below.  Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland.

George Schwab and George Way Harley, Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland. (Harvard University: Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. XXXI. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Peabody Museum. 1945).

         Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Impact of the African Tradition on African Christianity, (Chicago: Strugglers’ Community Press, 1985 second printing.) pp. 105-109.


Dr. Nya Kwiawon Taryor, Sr., Former Dean and President, Gbarnga School of Theology, Liberia Retired Clergyman from Northern Illinois Conference Originally from the Liberia Annual Conference 8th grade class of  1963,  Ganta United Methodist Mission School, Liberia 401-545-9073  cell 401-432-7102  home/business Ganta Mission's First Website, Please click here: Ganta United Methodist School

 Ganta Mission's Second Website, Please click here:  Ganta Mission School 




1. Letters from 1922-1980 
2. Notable and Quotable:  George Way Harley (1894-1966)
3. William and Mary Collection
4. Guide to the George Way Harley Papers, 1911-1975

For the electronic copy of Tribes of the Liberian Hinterland, 
please click on the following:  George Way Harley

              Publications by Dr. George Way Harley


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