Can there ever be a balanced approach to Liberian history? There are some who will like us to believe that everything was good until 1980. Folks on the right blame all the problems in Liberia on the progressives class and that to me is totally wrong because the coup that took place was led by the People Redemption council and the Liberian army.
You can’t blame the progressives for the failure of the so-called revolution led by Samuel Doe because they did not actually take overpower based on their own progressive agenda. It has been said that Doe and his fellow junta members of the People Redemption Council, or PRC were only used as tools by Uncle Sam for its own political and economic interests. Maybe, as a result, of the Cold War and sensing that change was bound to happen, Uncle Sam deemed it necessary, as it wanted a change it could control or manage. As such, it undercut the progressives’ efforts by putting in power those it could control. So it is illogical to blame the progressives for what went wrong with the so-called revolution or the PRC.
All the progressives did was to raise the consciousness of the people from the grassroots about the abuse of power by a minority group of people that made up only 5% of the population, who violated the majority for so long. That system was unsustainable and the change could have either be violent or peaceful, and that depended on the attitude of those in power, 133 years rule by the True Whig party too long. If common sense could not convince the power that be that there was a need for change, something had to be done. So stop blaming the progressives for what went wrong with the so called revolution and blamed the very issues which caused the revolution. But the undercurrents of Samuel Doe Coming to power were complex, but as soon as he seized power the conservatives once again hijacked his government and overtook the key positions in his administration that would eventually witness his downfall.
It is the TWP conservatives that were advising Doe. Somewhere between 1982-83, all the Progressive leaders [Tipoteh, Fahnbulleh, and Matthews] had been ousted after urging Samuel Doe to return the country to civilian rule IN THE INTERESTS OF OUR DEAR COUNTRY, they were asking him for his plans for the country and pressing him to live by the promises he made on the morning of April 12, but Samuel Doe had no plan as he resulted to the same ways of the very government he had overthrown, and it wasn’t surprising given that he had surrounded himself with members of the TWP. Sgt. Doe was angered by the progressives asking him to return the country to civilian rule—the conservatives who understood the art of sycophancy, greed, wheeling, and dealing and the back door to “Liberian politics” had by now complete control of the PRC leader and had also poisoned his mind not to return the country to civilian rule or rather that he Doe needed to be THE civilian PRESIDENT, and not anyone else. By this time, it was cleared that the progressive class was in the driving seat as the people were behind them, this the TWP old guards sensed and didn’t want that to happen—the old order hatred and envy of the Progressive class are known, they blamed the progressives for giving the people consciousness and also blamed the progressives for their human rights advocacies against the TWP oligarchy, but Doe wasn’t up to understanding these contradictions. He would ultimately ban of the United Peoples Party or UPP, led by Gabriel Mathews and the Liberian Peoples Party or LPP Led By Amos sawyer, the two strongest and popular parties leading up to the 1985 general and presidential elections, this trend would see the emergence of LAP and the NDPL both parties: under which the right-wing conservatives from the old order or TWP congregated yet again.
After ill-advising Doe, the rightwing dumped him and left him on his own, as the Charles Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf war was approaching Monrovia— Big players and advisors in Doe’s government were: Winston and Robert Tubman, Emmanuel Shaw, Alvin Jone, John Rancy, Emmett Harmon, Earnest Eastman, and many many more. Meanwhile, while these TRUE Whig Party conservatives were wining and dining with Doe, the Progressives class and its militants were in the trenches fighting for the same changes they had ALWAYS demanded from the days of EW Blyden to when PRESIDENT King cheated another Progressive Thomas Faulkner, as he made his way into the Guinness book of records. Tubman’s tyranny of 27 years of bloodied rule and of the iron fist with which he also persecuted the progressive class are well documented.
Under Samuel Doe, the progressive class didn’t give up the fight for social justice and good governance, student leaders like Alaric Togbah, Dougbeh Nyan, Ezekiel Pajibo and many others were going to jail in packs, while continuing the tradition of Tipoteh, Matthews, and Fahnbulleh as Sammy Doe was dining with the CONSERVATIVES right-wing elements on the blood and sweat of the LIBERIAN people, whom he said he came to free from bondage on the morning of April 12, Samuel Doe was a fake muppet and puppet of a leader!
Secondly, it must be noted that Samuel Doe was the creation of the grand old TRUE Whig Party. It was the TWP that employed and recruited Doe and put him and his fellow noncommissioned officers in uniform. Like the BRUTAL Liberian Frontier Forces that harassed the “hinterland”, raped and pillaged uncontrollably, while killing innocent villagers, the Armed Forces of Liberia or the AFL, picked up where the LFF stopped—these were institutions under the direct control of the TWP HEGEMONY and oligarchy. Because Doe was not ideologically aligned, he was trained to shoot, and was barely literate, at the time of the coup. The administration of the day, it is interesting to note gave arms to uneducated soldiers not educated to the politics of the republic or the Constitution, and this made them dangerous to their own peoples. If a half-educated man is dangerous, think what an uneducated man will do when you put him in uniform and give him a gun!
Also, If those who overthrew their masters were “unsophisticated,” as some of the conservatives on the right are saying, why in the first did these “sophisticated Leaders,” see fit to put arms in the hands of unsophisticated men? The ruling party of the day would rather give arms to uneducated men (Doe was a fourth-grader) at the time of his coup, than recruit university graduates or high school graduates who were in surplus and would have gladly volunteered to join the military and serve their country, but no that wasn’t good, because they probably would have known too much. And therefore, in its sophistication (the leadership) would house its soldiers in mud and zinc shacks a stone throw away from the State House or Executive Mansion, where they strolled on that fateful night of April 12 to overthrow its employers and masters, and the progressive class had nothing to do with Samuel Doe’s coup, which was later embraced by the remnants of the oligarchy nevermind Samuel Doe executed their leaders.
Finally, it is interesting to note, that the Liberian people are beginning to understand that the propaganda unleashed against those who struggled for change and were persecuted by Doe, his predecessors, and successors, are those who still mean well the country, because they have a long history of fighting with the people, from Edward James Roye to President Coleman, D. Twe, and Togbah Tipoteh, for Liberia to be redeemed it is time all Liberians put their hands together to rescue Liberia.