Who Heads Liberia’s Interim Administration? A Personality Profile Of Bishop Augustus B. Marwieh and Dr. George Toe Washington

By: Moses M. Zangar, Jr.
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective

Atlanta, Georgia

July 21, 2003

Liberians at home and in the Diaspora continue to wait indefinitely as nearly two months of intensive political deliberations amongst the country’s 18 registered political parties as well as civil society groups have so far failed to produce an interim administration that should culminate into an acceptable framework for peace in the country.

As the debate for who heads the transitional arrangement continues, many prominent Liberians from far and near, with enviable moral standing and academic credentials are fronting to take up the task.

Two of such individuals are Bishop Augustus B. Marwieh (Ph.D.) and Dr. George Toe Washington. This piece is the first in an attempt to scan the profiles of personalities seeking the interim presidency of Liberia.

Bishop Augustus B. Marwieh: - A septuagenarian, God-fearing man and a father imbued with exceptional acumen of reconciling God’s people. He is passionate, all embracing and is said to be a neutral figure in the carnage that has ravaged Liberia over the years.

The "people’s Bishop," as he is affectionately called, is a household name in Liberia. He is one of the world’s outstanding citizens and visionaries who has diligently served his country and people, the church and Africa in many respects. Bishop Marwieh is extensively recognized throughout the United States as an ambassador of good will between the peoples of Africa and the U.S.
His is know for his deep commitment to the social, cultural and economic emancipation of his people which is the hallmark of his mission.

Born in a cassava field in a native village while his mother was digging for cassava, Bishop Marwieh has risen from modest beginnings to sit on some of the highest councils in the world. He did not enter school neither wore clothes until he was 15 years old. Ten years later, he graduated from both the University Laboratory High School of the University of Liberia as valedictorian and from the B.J.K. Anderson School of Business and Commerce with high honors.

Bishop Marwieh is highly educated and has earned many degrees and laurels in a wide-range of disciplines from his studies at the University of California (Berkeley), Bay Cities Bible Institute (Oakland), Simpson Bible College (San Francisco), Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (Mill Valley) and Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena).

In his quest to further grow in the grace and knowledge of God, he studied at the School of Pastoral Care of the North Carolina Baptist Hospital and the Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Dr. Marwieh attended the Summer Institute of Linguistics at the University of Oklahoma, where he translated his native language to writing. The Bishop received a Bachelor’s degree in Theology in 1958 and a Masters in religious education two years later. In November 1960, the Progressive Baptist Church following his graduation ordained him. In December of 1960 he returned home to serve his country and people.

He also holds a doctorate degree (Ph.D.) in Missology and Economic Development with emphasis in empowerment and nation building.

The bishop has attended and spoken at a host of international conferences including the International Congress on World Evangelism in Berlin, Germany, the West African Congress of Evangelism in 1966 in Ibadan, Nigeria. In 1974 he served as convener and speaker at the international Congress of World Evangelization in Lausanne, Switzerland.
As a result of his outstanding contribution to Liberia, he was knighted as Knight Commander for African Redemption in 1978. In 1986 he became one of the six good-will ambassadors appointed by the Liberian Government serving for national reconciliation among the country’s political parties.

From 1961-1965, Bishop Marwieh availed himself to a special invitation from the late Dr. William R. Tolbert, then vice President of Liberia and key leader of the Baptist World Alliance to served as the first indigenous Principal of Rick’s Institute. During his tenure at Risk Institute, he helped in molding the minds of many Liberians including President Charles Taylor.
He got married to the former Othelia W. Washington and served as chairman and chief executive officer of the Elizabeth Native Interior Mission, an institution involved in the training of natives in academic, agriculture, industrial, social and religious pursuits. He is founder of the People’s Christian Polytechnic Institute of the E.N.I. Mission in Sinoe County, Liberia.

Bishop Augustus B. Marwieh is also founder and president of the Association of the Independent Churches of Africa (AICA), a conglomeration of 170 indigenous churches in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea. He also founded and served as president of the Ministry of Hope, a non-profitable organization which had an active and progressive ministry in the role of teaching and instructing people in personal development, education, the arts of music, drama, healthcare, agriculture, industry and religion. Bishop through the Ministry of Hope had a weekly one hour televised program which was then widely viewed by many Liberians. Throughout its existence, the ministry spanned the entire spectrum of the condition and the full range of man’s concerns. Not only did that ministry save souls for Christ, it also helped the flock to lead richer, more productive and wholesome lives.

No one who knows Bishop Marwieh can fail to be impressed by the intense passion always burning within his soul to help young people make a break. He is truly a pragmatic down-to-earth problem-solver who reminds people of Jesus and godfather to thousands of youngsters for whom life has become little more than a struggle wit hopelessness and uncertainty.
Since he fled the civil war in 1990, he has been in significant physical contact with Liberians back home and even in the refugee camp.

He currently runs a pilot project, the Agency for Holistic Evangelism And Development (AHEAD) on the Liberian refugee camp in Ghana in a bit to address the plights of his people.

AHEAD operates various programs to empower refugees in economic development, empowerment and self-sustainability, education and healthcare as well as Christian evangelism and (ATI), the West Africa College of Sustainable Development and the Child Feeding Carter on the Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana.

Dr. George Tow Washington: - This name is also a household name in both past and contemporary Liberian politics. Like many others, he possesses an enviable credential that could merit him the presidency of the Republic of Liberia.
Dr. Washington was born in Barclayville, Grand Kru County and studied extensively outside of his native country. He is a product of Kibi Business College in Ghana, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1952. He is also an alumnus of the Century University in Berverly Hills, U.S.A., where he obtained a Masters degree and PhD in 1982 and 1983 respectively.

Dr. George Toe Washington is a man of qualitative virtues and has served the Government and people of Liberia with distinction. He has held a number of high profile positions in government. Between the periods 1965 - 1970, Dr. Washington who is also a product of the United States Army Command and General Staff College, diligently served the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) as Chief of Staff.

Besides, he has risen through the ranks and file of the Liberian Foreign Service since his graduation from the Foreign Service Institute of Liberia in 1960. Gen. Washington eventually became Liberia’s ambassador to both The People’s Republic of China and the United States of America.

He is a "grass root" administrator and had earlier served as Governor of Kru Coast Territory now Grand Kru County. In that capacity, he had the opportunity to work with indigenous Liberians and ensured the building of a 50-bedroom hospital and the construction of farm to market roads, etc.

During the heat of the Liberian civil war, Dr. Washington along with few prominent Liberians were said to have been in the vanguard for America’s intervention which culminated into the deployment of a West African peacekeeping force, EMOOG, in Liberia.

The retired army general is also a member of the Liberian Support Group, a non-political organization that currently provides health and other social service programs to Liberians at home.

Ambassador Washington, from all indications, is a father, reconciler, an humanitarian and has help to educate many Liberians, including orphans he personally brought up as his own.

He contested as standard bearer of the People’s Democratic Party of Liberia (PDPL) in the special general and presidential elections that brought President Charles Taylor to power in 1997.