Who is Liberia’s Transitional Chairman? -A Personality Profile

By Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

August 25, 2003

Gyude Bryant
Following nearly three months of hard negotiations aimed at finding a comprehensive framework for durable and sustainable peace in Liberia, the Accra conference has finally produced the much needed results, culminating in the formulation of a post-war transitional administration headed by a Monrovia businessman Charles Gyude Bryant. But who is C. Gyude Bryant? What has he stood for over the years?

Mr. Bryant is a devout Christian and is happily married to Rosie Lee-Bryant, a union blessed with three children. He has been an active communicant of the Episcopal Church of Liberia. Since 1984 Gyude has diligently served the Church as Chairman for endowment and has held many positions including his election in 1996 as Chairman of its Diocesan Board of Trustees, a position he retains until this day. He has also chaired the church’s Boy’s Town Institute, a mission involved in the rehabilitation of child soldiers for the past seven years.

Mr. Bryant is a graduate of the Episcopal-owned B.W. Harris Episcopal High School in Monrovia. He later matriculated at Liberia’s second oldest higher institution of learning, Cuttington University College (CUC) in Suacoco, Bong County and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics. Fresh from college, Gyude was hired in 1972 by the Mesurado Group of Companies, then Liberia’s largest private conglomerate, to serve as fleet manager of Mesurado Fishing Company. He later joined the National Port Authority (NPA) in 1973 to head its planning and development department.

He has long enjoyed a productive and successful career as an entrepreneur and has, for more than twenty-five years now, drawn on a proclivity for risk taking in a bid to venture into business, especially in the private sector. Consequently, he founded the Liberia Machinery and Supply Company (LIMASCO), of which he is the President and Chief Executive Officer. LIMASCO is credited for being a distributor of mining and port handling equipment. It has had a long record of find achievements and reliability.

Besides being a devout Christian and an entrepreneur, C. Gyude Bryant is a political tactician, a consummate consensus builder who has been active in the civil and political affairs of Liberia since the 1970s. Following the lifting of the ban placed on political activities by the military junta in 1984, plus the need to enhance multi party democracy in Liberia, he joined a number of other prominent Liberian and business leaders in founding the Liberia Action Party (LAP).

He soon played a leadership role when the military junta clamped down on and incarcerated opposition politicians following an attempted coup and political bickering, resulting from the 1985 presidential and legislative elections that the late President Samuel K. Doe reportedly rigged and subsequently declared himself winner. Those elections were reportedly acclaimed by independent observers to have been won by Jackson F. Doe of the Liberia Action Party. As a result of disturbances occasioned by the process, the military junta moved in and incarcerated many of its political opponents, including LAP partisans.

Charles Gyude Bryant is among few opposition politicians who had been resident in Liberia throughout, providing political leadership, even during the country’s turbulent time.

He was elected on Thursday, August 21, 2003 by contenders to the armed conflict to steer Liberia’s transitional state of affairs. He tells journalists he brings a "neutral, reconciling and healing" character plus a "balanced quality" on the job. "Liberians have spent a lot of resources on retribution… and we can’t continue with that," he stressed. He also told a galaxy of reporters how he is up to the task and was elected by the warring parties because they don’t see him as a contentious person and one who posses a threat to anybody.

Liberia’s newest transitional leader is down-to-earth and could to change the psychology of Liberian youth from war to a more meaningful and productive venture as well as healing the social ills occasioned by decades of fratricidal civil melee in the country.

A Bryant-led transitional administration, he intimated, hopes to do away with the practice of the politics of "exclusion," which he said are among vices inimical to the tenets of democracy and the building of a vibrant society.