Executive Director's Corner
About Mr. Beyan Kota
Dedicated to achieving equality in opportunities for the blind and others with disabilities in Liberia, Beyan G. Kota stands out as Liberia’s CBR representative ensuring the enjoyment of all rights for full social inclusion and participation in development.
Under his visionary leadership, he brought together a group of young blind and partially sighted students along with few dedicated sighted and professional Liberians, to revise the degenerating plight of the blind in Liberia, and has contributed so much to improving the quality of life for the blind in Liberia that it would be difficult to recite the smallest numbers of his contributions.
Mr. Kota is a pioneer in the field of disability activism and advocacy. He is a revolutionary in advancing inclusive equitable quality education for special need students and others with disabilities, and particularly initiated public awareness regarding the rights of the blind and their vital role as rights holders, and what right they have to be in society. Through his efforts as a champion of civil rights and his work as a founding father of the Liberia Christian Association of the Blind, he led blind people of Liberia through the dawn of equal opportunity to a place that he called the “Promised Land for the blind”. It is a land situated east of Monrovia, on the Monrovia Roberts-field highway where blind people are given the opportunity to acquire the skills and confidence, they need to be fully productive and independent. Mr. Kota’s life is perhaps the most valid testimony to what people can achieve if given the opportunity. Mr. Kota has not simply claimed this gift for himself. He shares it with thousands of others. As a result, blind people today have the opportunity to live independent and fulfilling lives. His life and work continue to benefit many blind people and by extension persons with disabilities and Liberians as a whole. Individuals with disabilities and other well-wishers who shared Mr. Kota’s vision of equality will honour his life by continuing to advance new avenues of opportunities for all Liberians.
In 2005, he brought into being Liberia’s state commission on disabilities the formation of which yielded a measure of understanding and hope that would have not existed without his inspiration and guidance. Beyan Kota, as he is commonly known, is a builder who can take a piece of deteriorated property and transform it into a valid asset. He did so when he transformed a forest land into a community of development, and research for the blind and partially sighted where dedicated professional sighted people work together with others for the common good of the blind in Liberia. Mr. Kota in 2003, provided similar leadership to the National Union of Organizations of the Disabled by revitalizing the Union and developed the blueprint for its institutional functionaries.
As a leader Mr. Kota organized and led a march of nearly 1,600 [one thousand six hundred] citizens with disabilities at the seat of the national legislature in 2004, where he read a statement petitioning honourable members of the National Legislature to enact laws for the protection of their rights to education, employment and their participation in the national governance process of Liberia. In addition, he also contributed to the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2008 under his leadership, he lobbied with the National Legislature of Liberia and succeeded in getting the government to accede to its legal provisions.
Beyan G. Kota is naturally an extemporaneous speaker. He currently serves as West Africa’s Regional Representative on the governing Board of the African Union of the Blind (AFUB) and an executive member of the World Blind Union. He is also an executive member of the International Council on Education for the Visually Impaired, Africa Region, representing the blind people of Liberia at the General Assembly of the World Blind Union with headquarters based in Toronto, Canada.
In August 1996, Mr. Kota perceived the necessity for the blind to move freely and the need for the state to ensure traffic safety for the blind and a guarantee of their rights to safe travel by using the white cane. As a consequence, he again petitioned the National Legislature of Liberia and a law was enacted in June 2013 on the use of the white cane to safeguard the rights of the blind to access public facilities in Liberia. The law aims to guarantee the rights of the blind to access information and public documentation in electronic and other formats that the visually impaired can use. The law also applies to other alternative means of communication such as Braille for the blind and sign language interpretation for the deaf, their children and other family members.
Mr. Kota dreams of a future for the blind that has never existed in Liberia and which cannot exist without education and research. His dream to achieve this, gave him the urged to negotiate partnership collaborations with several international organizations and he successfully attracted support from likeminded organizations as the Danish Association of the Blind (DAB); African Union of the Blind (AUB); World Blind Union (WBU); World Braille Foundation (WBF), national non-profit agencies as well as individual philanthropists. The network of partnership with these agencies has tremendously yielded fruitful results, ranging from a support for human rights and human resource development to organizational capacity building and membership strengthening.
Felt by tens of thousands who know of his life and work and by many others who have never seen him. He is a political leader who can galvanize others to action; a speaker with a vibrant voice that can stir the human spirit. He is an impeccable adversary of injustice and a stalwart champion of the underprivileged. Evidence of Beyan’s achievement is demonstrated in the role he played on behalf of the Government of Liberia to negotiate the Marrakesh Treaty at a diplomatic conference in Marrakesh, Morocco in 2013, where he represented the Government of Liberia and with many other nations present at the meeting, successfully concluded the International Treaty. He was along with many ambassadors and diplomas of over 160 countries who finalized the WIPO Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Visually Impaired and others with Print Disabilities.
Mr. Beyan Kota