Standing with the Altruistic Struggle of the Progressives, Part I

By: Moses Uneh Yahmia


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 2, 2016

                  



 
 
 
 

This series is part of our honest efforts to provide a proper and sincere interpretation of the political history of Liberia, specifically with the involvement of the progressive forces. Part I of the series will provide a historical background of Liberia, and as well expose to the reading audience the underlying factors that led to the self-sacrificing struggle of the progressive forces. Part II of the series will make our audience understand why he are convinced and became influenced by the altruistic drive of a group of people by providing an honest appreciation of the progressives’ struggle in Liberia. In Part II, we will also provide some salient rebuttals to the lopsided arguments usually proffered by elements from a backward camp that mutilate and distort the history of our country for selfish gain. We will elaborate on the legacy of the progressives, and as well state the trajectory on which the present generation can trend to establish a better Liberia for future generations.  

After slavery was abolished in the 19th Century, Freed African American slaves were given two options: repatriate to Africa, or stay in America and suffer the brutality and bankruptcy of discrimination. Many chose to stay in America and fight for their freedom; because they had no idea of their ancestry in Africa. Few took the option of repatriation due to their aspiration to experience total freedom after centuries of languishing in the cesspool of captivity. They chose coming back to their land of origin in order to establish a land of freedom where life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness would be inalienable rights.  

Thus, Liberia emerged in 1822 and became an independent political entity in the year 1847. The territory was established to settle or find a new home for repatriated African American slaves after slavery’s abolition. This process was sponsored by the American Colonization Society (ACS) - an organization which was founded in 1816 in the United States of America with the aim of assisting the repatriation of free slaves from America. From 1822-1839, Liberia was a colony headed by an agent who was chosen by the ACS. Liberia also existed as a Commonwealth headed by a governor from 1839-1847, and finally gained independence and established itself as a sovereign nation on July 26, 1847.

Unlike other African settlements (South Africa, Gold Coast, Rhodesia, etc.) which were referred to as colonies and controlled dominantly by Europeans, the Liberian state was principally controlled by two groups of people: freed slaves from America (Americo-Liberians), and rescued black Africans from Slave ships (Congoes). These two groups, along with the indigenous masses, became the inhabitants of the space call Liberia. The settler slaves, specifically the African American slaves alias Americo-Liberians dominated the state politically and economically from 1847-1980. This political and economic control was initially captained by two political parties (The Republican Party and the True Whig Party) from 1847-1870. The Republican Party which consisted of light-skinned or mixed race Americo-Liberians, who were called mullato at the time, experienced an early demise in the political history of Liberia. Their time on the political scene came to an end in the year 1870. The True Whig Party, a political organization which consisted of dark-skinned Americo-Liberians and the assimilated Congoes became the chief architect of a One-party state which lasted from 1870-1980. 
During the settlers’ (Republican Party and True Whig Party combined) One Hundred Thirty- three years (133yrs) of political and economic control of Liberia, the culture, aims, and aspirations of the indigenous masses which up to present makes up the majority segment of the society, were disregarded. Culturally, the masses of the people opted to preserve their traditional African heritage which is illustrated in their dress code, daily meal, language, as well as social norms and values. They aimed to tap on the perceived sophistication of the settlers in order to establish a nation where everyone will be given equal opportunity regardless of one’s social, economic, political, or religious origin. Building a nation that will appreciate the labor of the people and bringing forth men and women who will manage the resources which were held communally for the benefit of all were also the indigenous masses’ aspirations.

Unfortunately, the settler slaves refused to coexist with the masses of our people. They continued what Dr. J. Mamadee Ghorpu-Dolo Woah-Tee, Sr. termed in his book “America & Liberia: A Mother/Stepchild Relationship Betrayed as “The once oppressed becoming the oppressor”. A group of people who were once denied social, economic, and political accommodation in the United States of America chose to replicate the agony and misery of their misfortune at the expense of the indigenous masses of the people. They ridiculed and vilified the tradition and culture of the indigenous masses. How the masses of the people danced, ate, spoke, and wore clothes became mockeries to an elite group (settler slaves) who suffered severely from identity crisis, and who were also casualties of the sad part of the American history.

As a result, involuntary culturally assimilation took the center-fold of Liberia’s history. Members of the indigenous masses who were hungry and thirsty for  educational and economic opportunities but lack access to these due to their indigenous background had to adopt the undefined practices and beliefs of the settler slaves, thus letting go their unique traditional culture. Their dream of occupying a space where everyone would hope together, and collectively move forward was sabotaged by a clique who created for Liberia a history of conquest. The majority of indigenous masses were relegated to the rural area and deprived from benefiting from opportunities in a land left behind by their ancestors. If one was not a member or attached to the elite family, the church (Methodist & Baptist), or the Free Mason (Fraternity), acquiring education, a decent living, and a space in the Liberian society were impossibilities.

The people’s aspiration to have a prudent and efficient management of the resources which were collectively owned and meant to benefit all and sundry was sent to utopia by a gluttonous elite who prided themselves as superior because they had come from America. The labor of the native indigenous Liberians was abused at the various plantations, mining pits, public and private construction sites, and the homes of members of the settler slaves. Liberian natives were even shipped as slaves to the Fernanda Po and Sao Tome to work on huge plantations in the 1920s and 1930s, specifically under the presidency of Charles D. B. King. These acts of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man led to the space we occupy today to be void of all characteristics of a nation that exists with one people, and one destiny.

The True Whig Party, which was by 1870 the most powerful political party in Liberia, and had monopolized power, operated a government that was not democratic in practice, but rather oligarchical. This is evidenced by the Liberian indigenous masses being bereft of participating in the governance of the state. In fact their representatives were chosen from Monrovia without their knowledge and involvement. This isolation of the majority segment of the space call Liberia was justified by the administration of the 1847 Constitution which disallowed the native population from attaining citizenship until the early 1900s during the regime of Arthur Barclay. Even when they attained citizenship, it was de jure. Hut taxes, introduced by Arthur Barclay in 1910 were imposed and collected by coercion which usually resulted to resistance, brutality and death. The Kru war of 1915 shows the gallantry and fortitude of tribesmen of the motherland against social injustices such as the hut taxation.

Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh

These callous and barbaric treatments of our people by a minority segment of the Liberian state persisted ingloriously until some young men returned from school in America in the 1970s. They came back to the motherland not with a manipulated mind. Acquiring tertiary education from a western land did not out root their African heritage. They came back with a dream of agitating for a space that will take into consideration all of the people, their culture, historical experiences, and the establishment of a political entity (nation) of equal partners, irrespective of one’s social, religious, or tribal background.

These men were regarded as the “Progressive forces” which consisted of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), and the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL). In their quest to establish an egalitarian society, where everyone will be given the opportunity to develop and exhibit his/her talents and skills, they were aided by the radical leftist students’ movement which included mainly of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU), the University of Liberia’s campus-based Vanguard Students Unification Party (SUP), and students from the Cuttington University . The students became influenced by the altruistic struggle of the progressive forces, and helped in providing ideological justifications throughout the republic. This set the pace for an all-encompassing revolutionary agenda that was aimed at attaining social, political, and economic justice for all in a land that had been directed and controlled by a pillaging oligarchy (True Whig Party).
To be continued…………..


Author's Statement: Moses Uneh Yahmia is a senior student of the University of Liberia. He studies Political Science major, Economics minor, and with emphasis in International Relations. He can be reached via: moseswyalc@gmail.com, www.facebook.com/mosesunehyahmia, +231776355802/+231886944248.


Kandajabab Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Be corrected, Mr. Yahmiah: The True Whig Party was founded in Clayashland in 1869 by Edward James Roye AND NOT IN 1847!

What the young one does not know, he ASKS the elder (ie. Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah) instead of behaving as Freetown Sylvester Moses, who writes UNTRUTHS dangerously believing that "no one is in town"!
Kandajabab Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 02:42PM, 2016/08/02.
Sylvester Moses
At last, the phantom Kandajabab Zoebohn Zoedjallah is showing his true colour: a half - baked hater depending on argument ad hominem, and ignorant generalizations. That he stalks me steadfastly, even on issues I didn't raise a voice about, shows that past comments debunked his spoonfed certitudes, and worldviews. Of course, a snake can't hide his movement or venom for long from a skilful tracker even underneath green leaves or grass.

This silly attack reminds of the below quote from the third inaugural address of Liberia's 17th head of state, President Charles Dunbar Burgess King (1875 - 1961), who was of Freetown Creole descent, and some say was actually born there:

"There should be a solidifying of our populations into one
compact... There should be no words known in our National
Vocabulary of Speech or even of thought as 'Americo - Liberian';
'the country man', 'the new - comer'; 'the Sierra Leone man'; or
such like terms of designating the various elements of
our population".

And if the grandson of that apologist doesn't stop stalking Gbayahforh/ Sylvester Moses, (son of Wetoe Moses and Siclorh Moses), a man whose paternal grandparents were businessman Gbarlie Jah of King William Town, and Sithorn Clan Chief Nimneh, both from Sinoe County, there would be consequences. Put this advice in a note book, Ebu King, because you would do well to remember this date.
Sylvester Moses at 05:32PM, 2016/08/02.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Sylvester Moses, your first paragraph premised on I Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah been a "phantom" after several commendations from you whenever I debunked others(Emmanuel Dolo, Alex Redd,Josephus Moses Gray, etc. etc.) for spewing misinformations, lies, unpatriotic propaganda, and claims they cannot substantiate as is your case now, reminds us of a happening in a nearby village recently where,:

a thief confindently, but very stupidly, believing the village was empty with everybody gone on the farm, went insanely hysterical shouting "I see ghost, I see spirit, I see Mammie Wata," when he astonishingly saw a very beautiful girl with very long hair coming out the doors of one of the houses of the village!

As for your "silly attack" on someone you call Ebu King, and who I do not know "from Adam", all I can say is that you owe that person an apology, for I am Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah and have never ever had any wsestern name in my entire lifespan.

In fact, the only person with the name of King been a Liberian I can bet I can reference is the Sierra Leonean EMIGRANT - Charles Dumber Burges King who came to Liberia assimilated into the minority ruling class(the settlers) identical to and with his Creole aristocracy from which he was born in Freetown, and became President of Liberia; but was forced to resign for his criminal and wicked liability in selling his fellow human beings into slavery.

And mind you with all such develish actions on the part of this emigrant who "held the highest office" of another country,his Liberian settler counterpart William VS Tubman appointed him later as Liberiaś Ambassador to the United Nations! Imagine!

As for your naration of your linnealogy, not that we do not know that the Krus domiciled in Freetown have never ever abandoned their Liberian nationality. I simply referred to you as "Freetown Sylvester Moses" as a jest prompted by your cunning insinuation that Sierra Leoneans are better thinkers and actors than people of your own motherland - Liberia! Period! In fact, from now on I shall refer to you as S. Moses Wehtoe-Gbayahforh Jah whether you like it or not!

That said, considering your claim to be well grounded in History and Literature, we look up to your take on Moses Uneh Yahmiaś claim that "the True Whig Party of Liberia was founded in 1847"- a claim we say is totally wrong!

For the True Whig Party was founded in 1869 in Clayashland by one of Liberiaś presidents -Edward James Roye of darker skin who was later assasinated, and in whose evergreen memory and honor the E.J.Roye building in Monrovia is named! At least, you you will not be "sent to asylum" for intellectualizing on whether the True Whig Party was founded in 1847 the wrong date or 1869 the right and correct date!

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 03:46AM, 2016/08/03.
sylvester Moses
Ebu King,

"Creole aristocracy" my foot! Throughout recorded history, wealth and culture grew around areas where population centres had sprung up. For example, port cities, trade routes, etc. The Krios in Freetown didn't go there with known wealth; as a matter of fact, most were rescued from slave ships bound for the Americas. But jobs, and schools were there hence residents took advantage. This isn't a Creole or Krio phenomeonon - it is universal.

For instance, the various contrasts between town and country have since Homer form a theme of literature. In other words, some Americo - Liberians, Congua, and Creoles didn't get educated or rich by supreriority qualities, but because they got opportunities - the opportunities denied some of them by racists in the Americas and West Indies.

Mind you, Didwho Tweh got educated at CWA, Columbia, and Harvard as a result of opportunities in Monrovia where he was born and raised, not for any innate talent he had which his tribesmen in Sinoe County lacked. That he was elected into the House, and became a presidential candidate for first UPP, and then the RP were all outcomes of that foundational opportunity.

So forget the silly superiority complex, Ebu, it isn't working.
sylvester Moses at 05:15AM, 2016/08/03.
Kandajabab Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Well, we shall leave you with your "Ebu King" fantasy, once you have now tacitly accepted and agreed that there was a Creole aristocracy in Sierra Leone, but such tiny privileged group or social class advantageous in terms of wealth and power "isn't or weren't s Creole phenomenon, but a universal phenomenon"!
Kandajabab Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 01:40PM, 2016/08/03.
Sylvester moses
Ebu, just close it, fool!
Sylvester moses at 02:43PM, 2016/08/03.
Kandajaba ZOEBOHN Zoedjallah
Well, no one in his just mind retaliates to an insult directed to or at someone he or she does not know. My (I Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah´s) primary interest and position here had been TO PROVE YOU OR ANYONE WRONG that "there had been no adversarial relationships between the Creole settlers and the natives in Sierra Leone, and there had been no Creole aristocracy within that national population"!

Hence, once I have adequately done that and also proven that the only essential difference between Sierra Leone and Liberia viz national political governance is or was that while the British put in charge the MAJORITY INDIGENOUS IN SIERRA LEONE, the Americans put in charge the MINORITY SETTLERS IN LIBERIA, I should have no standing in whatever case between you and "Ebu King" whoever he may be.
Kandajaba ZOEBOHN Zoedjallah at 03:28AM, 2016/08/04.
sylvester Moses
Charles Ebu King,

If you want to deny your grandfather because you're a coward who would rather masquerade in some concoction of a name, have it that way. But my main point is that "opportunities" are central to social mobility regardless of geography or race and that was what made the difference between the lives of the repartriates to Sierra Leone and Liberia, on one hand, and those they left behind in the ante - bellum South or wherever, on the other. As for your resilient emotional defense of the past political dispensation in Liberia, the answer is in plain sight (bloodline), and that's understandable. However, be reminded that the fact that oppressed Blacks became oppressors of other blacks by aping all the sordiness of European colonialism was an anomaly in the Pan Africanism movement.

Mr. Moses Uneh Yahmia

Sorry for using this space to engage in an argument with Ebu King - an irreverent defender of past political oppression. Anyway, vis -a - vis your topic "Standing with the Altruistic Struggle of the Progressives", one wonders whether altruism had anything to do with the goals of the progressives. Of course, you know that the word 'altruistic' refers to "showing a disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others". Whereas, though MOJA and PAL intended to improve the lot of the masses, they had political agendas of their own.

Definitely, never mind the good intentions, these were not organizations which heads your cap would've sat on well. Their objectives could be called 'just causes' or 'patriotic', or something else, but "altruistic" they were not. It is important to note also that the affirming goals of the progressives, and the ambitions of some members collided; for instance, let's not forget that the present Sirleaf government is an offshoot of the 1970's Progressive Movement.

To end, a series was promised, so we must suspend judgement, nonetheless, I thought you should be extra cautious of the arch of your argument. The Krus (ironically, a people not known for biting their tongue) say "Whin mor sorhgbie, eni sohrn" meaning 'words are rocks, they don't rot'. The implication is obvious - one may be held to past utterrances, and detractors do define others by them.
sylvester Moses at 07:07AM, 2016/08/04.
Moses Uneh Yahmia
It is comical how a Zoebohn has taken up time to distort what was wriiten by me. What in this narrative authenticates the establishment of the TWP in 1847: "Unlike other African settlements (South Africa, Gold Coast, Rhodesia, etc.) which were referred to as colonies and controlled dominantly by Europeans, the Liberian state was principally controlled by two groups of people: freed slaves from America (Americo-Liberians), and rescued black Africans from Slave ships (Congoes). These two groups, along with the indigenous masses, became the inhabitants of the space call Liberia. The settler slaves, specifically the African American slaves alias Americo-Liberians dominated the state politically and economically from 1847-1980. This political and economic control was initially captained by two political parties (The Republican Party and the True Whig Party) from 1847-1870. The Republican Party which consisted of light-skinned or mixed race Americo-Liberians, who were called mullato at the time, experienced an early demise in the political history of Liberia. Their time on the political scene came to an end in the year 1870. The True Whig Party, a political organization which consisted of dark-skinned Americo-Liberians and the assimilated Congoes became the chief architect of a One-party state which lasted from 1870-1980."
Moses Uneh Yahmia at 01:15AM, 2016/08/07.

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