Liberianlistener Fri, 22 Jan 2021 22:52:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Open Letter: LibSGBV Seeks protection For The Vulnerable and Liberian Women Fri, 22 Jan 2021 22:52:24 +0000  

Dear Minister Tarr,

Liberian Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Awareness Movement, (LibSGBV), reaffirms its  commitment to human dignity and the eradication of all acts of violence against Liberian citizens. Towards this objective, Liberian Sexual and Gender Based Movement has continued to work with victims,  stakeholders and other groups towards the elimination of sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia.  

Further, LibSGBV continues to work and support safe houses in the country. Safe houses are more than  just a place to shelter from violence. Safehouses provide an array of educational, supportive and  therapeutic services for victims of violence and abuse. However, many of the safe houses in Liberia are  failing victims of abuse in various ways: inadequate educational environment, fostering dependency by  encouraging residents to seek support elsewhere (often with those who repeat the cycle of violence), and  withholding needed services. 

We therefore call on the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection and all other governmental  units tasked with the responsibility of ensuring safety and security for women, children, and vulnerable  groups to commit to this basic responsibility of protecting our women, children and other targeted groups  from harm.  

The Safe Home Policy needs to be reviewed in terms of: 

  • Program monitoring, supervision and evaluation 
  • skills training for empowerment and independence 
  • formal approval for establishing Safe Homes should be based on proven ability to  support residents and not as a means of receiving support from government or other agencies relevant CSO’s should be encouraged to monitor homes to ensure compliance 

This serves as a document of concern to the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection. Our  membership continues to work to ensure the elimination of sgbv in Liberia. 


Telvina Cole   

Chief Executive Officer,



Main Photo: Williametta E. Saydee-Tarr, Liberia Gender Minister

]]> 0
Community-Interest Not Self-Interest Fri, 22 Jan 2021 02:40:23 +0000

By Togba-Nah Tipoteh, PhD

Since earning my doctorate degree in economics at the age of 27, and I am now 79 years of age, I have written in the public space on numerous local and global issues and problems, as well as provided solutions to societal problems, based on historical experience. A year ago, the Liberian Economy Group (LEG), chaired by me and composed of some highly qualified Liberian professionals, presented Its Report on the Liberian Economy, free of charge, to all government and non-government leaders, the general public, and foreign partners. These professionals are Mr. David Vinton, MBA; Mrs. Estelle Liberty, MSc; Dr. Geepu Nah Tiepoh, Ph.D. and Mr. Amin Modad, MBA.

In the face of credible information to the effect that the surge of the coronavirus pandemic has reached nearly 80 million cases and nearly 2 million deaths, I have become placed in a Wake-up state. This state of mind is also informed by the growing income inequalities within countries and between countries, wherein in 1820, the income and wealth ratio between the top 20% of the world’s population and the bottom 20% was 3: 1; now, the ratio is almost 90:1 (WB/IMF). Such massive poverty is occurring while 22,000 children die daily in the world from poverty (UNICEF), when it takes USD60 billion, 25% of the income and wealth of the 100 richest billionaires In the world, to end extreme poverty (OXFAM). However, all is not lost as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has eliminated extreme poverty in this year, having reduced the PRC poverty rate from 88% to less than 1% in 40 years (Asian Development Bank).

The foregoing state of mind leads me to write this Commentary: Community-Interest Not-Self-Interest, in the expectation that it will be a positive contribution to raising awareness in ways that motivate people to take actions in their collective interest. Throughout history, the principal concern of human beings continues to be survival. Generally, human beings prefer to save lives than to commit suicide. In the observation of human beings, two types of decision-making have emerged: decision-making for self-Interest and decision-making for community-interest.

In his observation of human beings, the Scottish Economist Adam Smith, the Founder of Modern Economics, concluded in his pathbreaking book, The Wealth of Nations (1776), that human beings are driven mainly by self-interest and therefore the best system for economic growth and development is laissez-passez/laissez-faire/free enterprise, all meaning the same thing. Examining the facts of history, one finds out that access to enter the marketplace and control the ballot box was free only for the rich. During the era of Smith, when the workers tried to get access to enter the marketplace and control the ballot box, the Powers That Be used violence to prevent them from entry. Free enterprise became synonymous with capitalism and Smith’s Ideology of self-interest became the ideological justification for capitalism.

Prior to the time of Smith, the pursuit of self-interest led to the slave trade. The greed of rulers In Africa led them to sell some human beings to greedy slave owners from the United States of America (USA) who needed the slaves to work on the cotton plantations in the USA. Hundreds of thousands of slaves got killed during the slave trade from the violent treatment that they received from the slave owners. On account of the movement to free the slaves, informed by the 1791 revolt against slavery in Saint Dominique, now called Haiti, and the advance in technology that led to mechanization in the cotton industry, there was much less need for slaves. Therefore, slave owners formed an organization called the American Colonization Society (ACS) that repatriated some freed slaves to Africa by 1822. Many of these freed slaves landed in the area now called Liberia after the former slaves declared the area to be a Republic in 1847. Constitutional rights were not given to the indigenous people of Liberia until after the Second World War.

It is recorded in history that Liberia has the world record for the holding of faked elections (Guinness Book of Records), established during the election of 1927 in Liberia. Subsequently, Liberia was taken to the League of Nations by some indigenous persons on the grounds that the President of Liberia was heading a business in which Indigenous people from Liberia were sold as slaves to work In Fernando PO. The historical record on the Liberian economy in the 1950s shows that the Liberian economy exhibited the second-highest economic growth per capita rate in the world but less than one percent of the people accounted for over 60 percent of Liberia’s income and wealth, leading to a syndrome that is referred to as economic growth without economic development or growth without development for short (Robert Clower, et al, 1966).

Despite the fact that the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) raised alarm publicly about the high likelihood that the Income and wealth inequality in Liberia, with the attendant poverty generation, would lead to the use of poverty as the pretext for violence by greedier persons, the Powers That Be paid no heed to this alarm and the Civil War hit Liberia in which at least 250,000 people (ten percent of the population at the time) died and billions of dollars’ worth of Infrastructure got damaged and the economy remains unrecovered to the prewar state. After the Smith time, another example of greed emerged with the ownership of Belgian Congo, an area in Africa equal to the size of western Europe, by King Leopold of Belgium. Under this ownership, at least 10 million Belgian Congolese died from slave treatment.

Alternatively, in terms of the Economist Smith, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels of Germany, in The Communist Manifesto (1848), concluded that “The history of all hitherto society is the history of class struggle”. They went on to say that this class struggle will end up with the ending of capitalism and the emergence of a classless society, a socialist society. Vladimir Lenin of Russia, in his writings. concluded that the world of capitalism was experiencing the centralization and internationalization of capital, exhibiting collaboration with the writings of Marx and Engels, resulting in the formation of an Ideology called Marxism-Leninism. The main example of socialism prior to the Second World War was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). (n the war between Germany and the USSR, involving Great Britain and France, and subsequently the USA. known as World War Two, 80 million people died, not forgetting the infrastructural damage that led to the launching of the European recovery plan that came to be known as the Marshall Plan.

Rising awareness about inequalities evolved in the Soviet Union, especially when looking at the USSR relationship with Poland, as the Workers Movement led by Mr. Lech Walesa engaged in activities that ended up in the Fall of the Berlin Wall and the “breaking up” of the USSR, the main part of which is now Russia. The People’s Republic of China (PRC), that has now become the second-largest economy in the world, is another example of socialism. Then there is the socialist example of Cuba with life expectancy moving from 33.2 in 1900 to 78.9 in 2010, being the world leader of the percentage of medical doctors to population, 150 in 100,00 for the start of the twenty-first century, through progress in the elimination of HIV/AIDS and for direct health support to other countries during the ebola outbreak (Wikipedia/ABC News, November 29, 2016)

Another alternative, this time with respect to Marx, is the work of the French Economist, Thomas Piketty, as seen in his book Capital and Ideology (Harvard University Press, 2020). In his book, the Economist Piketty concludes that the main struggle throughout history is not class struggle, the struggle between capital and labor, but “the struggle between ideologies and the quest for justice” (pl 035). According to Piketty, the struggle between ideologies can be observed historically in the evidence on income and wealth inequalities that he refers to as Inequality regimes. Piketty indicates that his goal is: “To enable citizens to reclaim possession of economic and historical knowledge”(pl 041). Unlike Smith and Marx, Piketty provides no societal system to attend to the problem of income inequalities that he presents. While Piketty claims to be promotive of the citizens’ reclaiming of economic and historical knowledge, he terms the current state of capitalism “hyper-capitalism” and calls the current state of socialism “disastrous”. which in effect are his conclusions.

The Movement for Justice in Africa, popularly known as MOJA, turned forty-seventh last week, yet the only reminder was a tiny post with a picture of the well-known Taiwon Gongloe, its current chairman – the picture attracted more readers, even me. But forty years is a truly long time, however, the concatenation of outrageous fortunes that has landed the Movement for Justice in Africa and its coterie of once celebrated progressives a sad afterthought in Liberian politics.
Dr. Tipoteh, Moja leader, 1980s shot

-In the time between Smith and Piketty, several well-known economists have appeared, writing on variations on capitalism. There was the Economist John Maynard Keynes of Great Britain who called for considerable government intervention in the economy to promote recovery and growth, through his best-known book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). In the landmark book, The Great Transformation, by Economist Karl Polanyi of Hungary, he argued that it is community interest over individual interest that remains the way forward for societal transformation. Then there was the Economist Milton Friedman of the USA who insisted that Freedom of Choice is the way to get the economy to recover and grow rather than government intervention, regulation, or control. With the persistence of the income and wealth inequalities within countries and between countries, one wonders as to the Truth in the foregoing conclusion. Furthermore, let us recall the International Financial Crisis of 2008, where the former Chairperson of the Federal Reserve of the USA, Alan Greenspan, supported deregulation, as seen in the operation of the sub-prime market within the decision-making of the Stock Market. Such operation led to the 2008 Crisis, now called the Great Recession, becoming the worst International Financial Crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Economist Friedman’s call for Freedom of Choice runs into problems when people say that they want the right to choose but they have no power to choose. The commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations Charter of Human Rights as held in Paris, France. concluded that Constitutions, in general, have excellent human rights provisions but they are not Implemented around the world. In effect, the Paris Conclusion indicates that the Powers That Be who benefit from the power generating system in countries are not about to Implement human rights provisions that would lead to poverty-alleviation, as such runs counter to their self-interest.

Responding to the global initiative of the 1 5-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden, during the
Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Forum (actually founded in January 1 971), the Organizer of the World Economic Forum indicated that in our one world faced with the numerous global problems, especially climate change, the focus on economic growth should now be on stakeholdership rather than shareholdership. Stakeholdership involves the participation of the Community, meaning farmers, labor, women, youth and civil society entities, while shareholdership refers to the participation of self-interest entities.

There were encouraging signs when the two biggest producers of carbon emission, the USA and the PRC were among over 100 countries to sign the Climate Change Accord in Paris, France only to have the USA, under President Trump, pull out of the Accord. The election of Mr. Joseph Biden provides evidence that the USA will return to the Accord on Climate Change as well to the Accord on Nuclear Energy from which the Trump administration withdrew the participation of the USA.

History has taught us through the Ebola virus epidemic and the corona pandemic that action speaks louder than words and the observation of action provides the Truth to solve problems. When the community residents receive knowledge in ways that motivate them to take non-violent actions in the community- interest, they take such actions and that is how the Ebola problem ended and it is highly likely that the corona problem will end in the same way. The PRC which is considered to be the country in which the coronavirus first appeared has now provided anti-Corona assistance to nearly 100 countries, developed and developing, and is recovering to the point where extreme poverty in the PRC has been eliminated this year.

There are challenges in each part of the capitalist/socialist divide. Whether or not the challenges occur through the work of the Trilateral Commission, led by the Group of Six (USA, Canada, Germany, France, Great Britain and Japan) or that of the Politburo in the Communist Parties of Russia and the PRC, or the racism in the USA, scientific evaluation demands focusing on the most important element for eliminating poverty-generation and promoting poverty-alleviation. In this direction, it Is Instructive to note that the People’s Republic of China has eliminated extreme poverty in the PRC this year, thereby making an enormous contribution to poverty alleviation, violence prevention and global peace.

It is through the observation of actions in history that my background as Founding Leader of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), Chairperson of the Servants of Africa Fighting Epidemics (SAFE) and the work on my doctoral dissertation, Negative Taxation and Work Effort, Implications for Poverty Alleviation , plus my experience as Founder and Board Chairperson of Susukuu, the 49-year-old poverty alleviation NGO, have enabled me to come up with the conclusion: Community Interest Not Self-Interest Is the way forward for the better that brings justice, the only ingredient for sustainable peace, with the attendant improvements in mass living conditions to eliminate income and wealth inequalities. Community-Interest is implemented through Democracy, the institutionalization of the sustainable participation of at least the majority of the people in decision-making that affects them, Hopefully, my use of knowledge is done in a way that motivates people, especially the poor, to take non-violent collective actions to change the poverty-generating system into the poverty alleviation system.

Acknowledgement: Expression of appreciations go to Dr. Brahima Kaba, Dr. Geepu Nah Tiepoh and Mr. Kpanneh Doe for their pre-publication comments on this Commentary.

Monrovia, Liberia. December 10, 2020.
Main Photo: Dr Togbah Na Tipoteh, Pan African intellectual and leader
]]> 0


The Editor,

Liberia is a COUNTRY THAT glorifies pariahs and elevates them into the halls of power and we expect the country to develop. Electing former Attorney at Law Jonathan Fornati Koffa who is an ex-convict and a disgraced lawyer who can not even pass Google background check the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives in Liberia is a testament that the House is a forum of a bunch of corrupt parasites.

Where are the Collaborating Political Parties and the opposition when you need them for such disgrace to befall the country when they are the majority in both Houses? Liberia it seems is going to be in a BIG MESS for a very long time!

When the lower house elects an ex-convict who has been disbarred from practicing law in the United States by the North Carolina State Bar for stealing half a million (over $400,000.00) and issued his clients bogus checks, he goes on the run and when authorities went after him he comes out of hiding turned himself in, after police declared him a WANTED man, and this is who is now one of the most powerful men in our country today.

During his hearing, he lied to his lawyer by saying the money he stole was used to build roads for the suffering people in Liberia during the war. The ex-convict’s lawyer coughed up the LIE to escape justice, his creativity with the truth in this matter was described as a “crime of passion” and therefore pleaded with the Judge for leniency and was subsequently given the leniency of two years plus sentence. State charges are still pending, his conviction and sentence were on federal charges.

What sort of Deputy Speaker we are going to have here? It is easy to see, because when Mr. Koffa interacts with foreign dignitaries before they EVEN meet with him they will log into google to do a general background check on him, and his name will pop up as an ex-convict and disgraced lawyer who has been disbarred for 22 years because of his crimes and his criminal record, which is all over the internet. For the good of Liberia, the newly elected DEPUTY SPEAKER should immediately.

By J. Kgbynou Peah

Main Photo: J. Fonati Koffa, Smart News Liberia


]]> 0
The Ugandan elections can’t be declared free and fair – yet the AU and SA stay silent Wed, 20 Jan 2021 03:00:55 +0000 Mmusi Maimane

History will judge this South African government and the African Union for their silence in this moment. To continually side with oppressive leaders does not serve the needs of the continent and creates far more adverse prospects for the region.

The recent elections in Uganda, where Bobi Wine (38) ran against Yoweri Museveni (76), were a stark reminder of our democratic regression and that the one-time liberators can quickly turn to dictators who undermine freedom and the right to free and fair elections.

What we have witnessed in recent times in many African states is that democratic rights are not guaranteed, and that Africa still has a long way to go in the democratic project. One could even argue that Africa is regressing in the journey towards democracy. We have seen atrocities taking place in Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia at the hands of heads of state who seek to stay in power at any cost.

A number of years ago. I was introduced to Bobi Wine. We agreed to work together in creating a network of opposition leaders on the continent – many of whom are effectively modern-day freedom fighters against the tyranny of dictators and military regimes in Africa.

These are men and women committed to ensuring that the continent upholds human rights, ensures democracies thrive in their nation and that elections are free and fair – with media that works to support transparency and democracy. We are also committed to building a new generation of leaders who would not need to be held captive by the brotherhood of comrades that has become the African Union (AU). The AU is effectively an old boys’ club of presidents who no longer protect human rights but turn a blind eye to atrocities. We have been working together since then to seek out the best ways to uphold democracy.

Since I met him, I have known Bobi to be a man of passion, vision and integrity. I have been following these elections closely since he announced that he was running for president. What I have observed has been two years of brutality and repression at the hands of the Museveni regime. There is no way that these elections can be declared free and fair.

It is clear that the government of Uganda has done everything in its power to frustrate the legitimate aspirations of its people. What has bothered me the most has been the silence of the AU. It has the duty and the authority to speak up and yet it has remained criminally silent. This, despite the United Nations issuing a statement of concern outlining that there were significant human rights abuses in Uganda.

In addition, several observer missions outlined that they were not able to get the right levels of accreditation for their observer missions, and many of those groups withdrew from the process. As all of this was going on, the internet was shut down and social media platforms were blocked in an attempt to stop the flow of information and hide what was happening. The AU was still nowhere to be found. The great tragedy is that such an attitude of silence and non-intervention is the DNA of the AU.

History will judge this South African government and the AU for their silence in this moment. To continually side with oppressive leaders does not serve the needs of the continent and creates far more adverse prospects for the region.

When I was in Parliament, I asked Jacob Zuma a question about human rights violations in Zambia and Sudan. His response was predictably classic: South Africa ought to respect sovereignty and allow those nations to determine their own course of action. Not only did it insist on ignoring atrocities, but the Zuma government aided and abetted dictators, such as helping Omar al-Bashir – who was wanted by the ICC for war crimes – to escape accountability, in violation of South Africa’s own laws.

To this day, the South African government turns a blind eye to the conduct of Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa – a dictator who is jailing journalists like Hopewell Chin’ono and consistently attacking the opposition. The mayor of the capital city, Harare, the spokesperson for the MDC Alliance and student activists are all in jail.

Our government seems to have only one foreign policy position, which is solidarity with liberation movements and quiet diplomacy, even in the face of atrocities. This position must be challenged. Sovereignty is not recognised for its own sake and for the service of the interests of dictators. If and when regimes act against their own people, they cannot and should not be allowed to hide behind the veil of sovereignty. There are times when it is important to save those who live next door to you from abuse.

Mmusi Maimane 'inconsistent and conflict averse', DA report finds
Mmusi Maimane, the author, photo: SowetoLive

History will judge this South African government and the AU for their silence in this moment. To continually side with oppressive leaders does not serve the needs of the continent and creates far more adverse prospects for the region.

My concern is that these human rights violations are only going to get worse as more young people express dissatisfaction with the status quo. At first, countries begin with unfair elections, and soon we will end up with civil war. The youth will not stop, and radical options will inevitably be pursued. This is how we got to the humanitarian crisis in Cameroon.

What we need in response to the Ugandan elections is a continental level response similar to that during the 2016 Gambia elections. I happened to be in Senegal and, in my conversation with the president of Gambia, it was evident how quickly democracy can falter. He had won an election and the incumbent was refusing to concede or to vacate. The leadership of Ecowas and that of Olusegun Obasanjo affirmed what I believe the role ought to be of these bodies, that when democracy delivers an outcome, people must vacate office and a peaceful transition of power must take place. A military exercise was initiated from the region and the incumbent, Yahya Jammeh, was removed after being in government for 20 years. This was decisive action and accountability. I am grateful for such actions and endorse them.

Our pandemic in Africa has been poor leadership across the continent. The silence and inaction of the AU is an indictment on its capacity to connect with the youth. This is not just about one election, it’s about the integrity of the AU moving forward. Culled from the Daily Maverick


Mmusi Aloysias Maimane is a South African politician, the former Leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance political party from 10 May 2015 to 23 October 2019, and the former Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly of South Africa from 29 May 2014 to 24 October 2019


Main Photo: President Cyril Ramaphosa /

]]> 0
AU & EAC quiet as Kyagulanyi Ssentamu is harrassed and kept under house arrest by Musevini Tue, 19 Jan 2021 03:38:39 +0000 Kampala (AFP)—Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine remains under “house arrest”, his party said, after a disputed election returned President Yoweri Museveni to office for a sixth term. The former ragga singer turned lawmaker came second in the presidential election, and has said the process was marred by widespread fraud and violence. He has not left his home since he went out to vote in the election on Thursday, and on Friday said he was under “siege” as soldiers and police surrounded his home, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

“Our leader … is effectively under house arrest,” National Unity Platform spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi told a press conference, adding no one was being allowed access. “His home is not a detention facility. We are very concerned about the state in which he is in, and his wife.”

A Twitter update under Wine’s account, written by an administrator as Uganda remains under an internet blackout for a fifth day, said the couple had “run out of food supplies.” The party said prominent MP, Francis Zaake, who had been arrested during an attempted visit to Wine’s house on Friday, had been admitted to hospital “badly beaten and brutalized” by security forces.

Ugandan officials have said the soldiers and police were there for Wine’s own security.

– ‘Minority clique’ –

Wine and his NUP have yet to outline their next steps after dismissing the election as a “complete sham”.

“Once again, a minority clique is forcing themselves on the majority of Uganda. That is something that we are going to resist. It is something that we are going to say no to using every avenue provided for within the law,” said Ssenyonyi. Museveni, 76, has ruled Uganda without pause since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

Once hailed for his commitment to good governance, the former rebel leader has crushed any opposition and tweaked the constitution to allow himself to run again and again. His re-election with 58.6 percent of the vote, to Wine’s 34.8 percent, came after the most violent election campaign in recent years, with the harassment of the opposition, media and deaths of scores of Wine’s supporters.

Wine said there had been ballot-box stuffing, intimidation, and that his party’s agents had been beaten and chased away during the election on Thursday. However, Museveni has said it was the cleanest election in the country’s history.

US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus praised Ugandans on Saturday for voting “despite an environment of intimidation and fear”. She added that the US was “deeply troubled by the many credible reports of security force violence during the pre-election period and election irregularities during the polls”. Meanwhile, the African Union and the East African Community or EAC, have both said nothing about the pre and post-election violence, reports of ballot stuffing, and intimidation against the political opposition in Uganda

Main Photo: Bobby Wine and his NRU in a march

]]> 0
Mr. Koffa Election as Deputy Speaker Is Highly Regretable And Unfortunate! Tue, 19 Jan 2021 03:11:13 +0000 EDTORIAL—-

Many Liberians are concerned that last Tuesday’s election of Mr. Fonati Koffa who was was criminally indicted, charged, jailed, and barred from practicing law in the United States will do more harm than good to the image of the Liberian Legislature, and the country. Mr. Koffa was elected the Deputy Speaker of the Liberian Assembly–in the lower chambers of the House of Representatives by defeating his rival Clearence Massaquoi. Concerns are being raised that Mr. Koffa is a heartbeat away from the  from the presidency!

The Liberian Listener notes, that the House Speaker is third in line to the presidency, therfore Liberian Assemblyman in the lower house of the chambers should have given the election of Mr. Koffa serious thoughts before putting him on the ballot for consideration, his party the Congress for Democratic Change, should have considered this proposition also, by putting Liberia’s interests first.

Mr. Koffa has a bad rapsheet, a bad resume from his criminal conviction, and the house has set a bad precedence, and this is bad news for Liberia. The Liberian Listener is of the opinion, that Mr. Koffa will now meet with foreign diplomats and other bilateral and multilateral partners  who already know his past, as a man who swindled his clients, and that he has trust issues. The election of Mr. Koffa to this all powerful position is a disservice to the republic and is highly regretable!

Main Photo: Mr. Fonati Koffa, Deputy Speaker elect

]]> 0
Echoes of Time: Promoting Liberian Literary Heritage Mon, 18 Jan 2021 01:58:59 +0000 Echoes of Time: Promoting Liberian Literary Heritage

By Eduardo de Bosco

To talk of literature in Africa, one cannot but mention the west coast and a number of countries on the east, south, as well as other regions of the continent. Names such as Chinua Achebe, Camara Laye, Ayei Kwei Armah, Nadine Gordimer, Buchi Emecheta, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Nuruddin Farah, the West African Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and a litany of names are bound to hit the eardrums at the mention of African literature. What is not so known on the west coast of Africa, a coast which has hosted reputable writers is the fact that one small country, although given peripheral attention in the world of literature and arts, can boast of being the ‘frontier man of literature’ on the continent. And that is Liberia, where the first African novel in English was written.

The 1891 novel, Guanya Pau: A Story of an African Princess, by Liberian writer and missionary Joseph Jeffrey Walters, sets the record as Africa’s first novel[1] against the claim that Ghana’s Joseph Ephraim Casely Hayford’s 1911 novel, Ethiopia Unbound, was the first.[2] Liberia has recorded not only the first novel but many other works since then. On her grand work ‘On Liberian Literature: The Name of the Sound, and the Sound of the Name, Dr. Acqui sought to unearth the long-buried literary and cultural heritage of Liberia. She posited that “Liberian literature has a valuable canon, a cultural asset to be preserved, organized, and recorded by literary history, both in Liberia and the world. It contains a chronological record of Liberia’s pastoral, folk literature, with its folk songs, proverbs, folk tales, known since the 1800s. There are writers, genres, and species, from poetry to drama, important to be taught for the ongoing development of Liberia’s literary history.”[3]

Paramount in the just quoted work of Dr. Acqui is the emphasis placed at the end, which is “the importance to be taught for the ongoing development of Liberia’s literary history.” In this same vein, Nvasekie Konneh presented the pressing interrogatives, “Where are we and why our contribution to African literature is not acknowledged or even celebrated by ourselves, much less by others outside of our borders?” In answer, Konneh opined that “we don’t have a cultural policy that promotes literature and other works of arts as in other countries in our continent. In any other society, these early writings would be reprinted and taught to new generations, which may draw inspiration from them, as it is noted that ‘the past must inform the present.’”[4]

There is a common saying that “if you want to hide something from a Liberian, put it in a book.”  Although this statement is a generalization, it is fair to say that as a nation, we have a poor reading culture, coupled with other factors are said to be the reason why Liberian literature or literary heritage is yet to gain the attention it deserves. There is a dire need for the government to update our educational curriculum to serve the need of promoting Liberian literature as well as initiating state based cultural projects across Liberia and the diaspora. In as much as the works of Bai T. Moore and Wilton Sankawulo have their lofty place in our educational system, the need to introduce contemporary writers such as Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Prof. K. Moses Nagbe, Vamba Sherif, Saah Millimono, Emma Shaw, Hawa Golokai, Nvasekie Konneh, Prof. Momo Dudu, Wayétu Moore, Lekpele M. Nyamalon who have painted the Liberian culture and arts with their works stands as an urgency that should not be ignored. Their works have disclosed to the world hidden Liberian stories, traditional practices, folklores, songs, dirges that are not known to the younger generation of Liberian students. A Typical example is the praise poem written by Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley. The poem which is a title poem for her book, “Praise Songs for My Children,” is listed below:

Let me sing to you, my daughters, you who have,

never known where we come from.

You who will never know your mother’s tongue,

you who have become the metaphor of lost

warriors, who were captured by war.

Let me be your songwriter, the song you sing,

the dirge you do not know how to sing.

The poem above is what we refer in traditional Africa as a “praise song.” It is a specific African poetic form, used to communicate everything from praise for heroes or family members, to dirges for the deceased. It is not only a song of grief or regret but a reminder to the daughters and sons of Africa in the diaspora. This piece is a clarion call that cannot be overlooked. In her explication of  the poem, she says, “the entire poem is traditional; the way a grandmother would sing to her grandchildren”.[5] It is an indubitable fact that Liberia lags behind in the area of finding her identity through her literature and arts. There is an urgent call to push herself to attain what the great African philosopher calls, “the exigencies of the cultural transition that is taking place in contemporary Africa.”[6] Our own Liberian emphasis in this transition should be building a reading culture, promoting our arts and literature through governmental as well as individual initiatives, painting our works in the unique Liberian way, using the Liberian tone, language, and her entire reality as well as promoting and funding works of writers.

To conclude, I will like to draw our attention to the sad reality of our arts and cultural landscape.  We live in a culture with lack of recognition and appreciation for intellectuals, a culture in which  most parents are not role models to their children, and life is lived in a highly hedonistic style amidst the societal and political problems. In this light I think there is a need to decolonize our minds from such structures and reconstruct a culture in which people will be hungry to read, to write, to work and promote the Liberian heritage as well as expose Liberia to the world through her arts.






[5] Bill O’driscoll, “Homing Instinct: African-Born Poet Keeps Returning To The Theme Of Home”, published on june 1, 2020,

[6] Kwasi Wiredu Symposium at the 18th world congress of philosophy at brighton,UK in August,1988 and published in Quest: An International African Journal of Philosophy, Vol. IV, NO. 2,1990(Lusaka,Zambia)

]]> 0
Kyagulanyi Ssentamu [Bobby Wine], Rejects Election Results Fri, 15 Jan 2021 23:36:03 +0000

Ugandan opposition leader Bobi Wine on Friday claimed victory in presidential elections, rejecting as a “joke” early results that gave incumbent President Yoweri Museveni a wide lead. The electoral commission said on Friday that with 6.8 million ballots counted, or 37 percent of registered voters, Museveni had won 4.05 million, or 62.2 percent, while main opposition candidate Wine had 1.99 million votes (30.6 percent), the electoral commission said just after 9 pm (1800 GMT).

The next batch of results was due to be released at 9 pm when a nationwide curfew in place since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic kicks in. Bobi Wine, the 38-year-old former musician-turned politician has emerged as the main challenger to 76-year-old Museveni, who has been in power since 1986. “We secured a comfortable victory,” Bobi Wine told reporters in Kampala, the capital. “I am very confident that we defeated the dictator by far,” Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said. “The people of Uganda voted massively for change of leadership from a dictatorship to a democratic government. But Mr. Museveni is trying to paint a picture that he is in the lead. What a joke!” he added.

Election marred by ‘fraud and violence’

Meanwhile, the government dismissed the opposition leader’s allegation and called on him to present evidence of his claims. “This is what we expected before. Even before we went into polling, he said the election will be rigged,” Ofwono Opondo, government spokesman, told Al Jazeera. “These are allegations that we are used to in Ugandan elections. Nothing new,” he added. Kampala was quiet and some businesses remained closed, while soldiers and police patrolled on foot the day after the election.

Not worth my life': Ugandans vote in tense election - Richmond News
Wine, the opposition leader arrives to cast his ballot

The election took place after one of the most violent campaigns in years, with harassment and arrests of the opposition leaders, attacks on the media and dozens of deaths. The run-up to polling day was marred by a sustained crackdown on Museveni’s rivals and government critics and unprecedented attacks on the nation’s media and human rights defenders. In November, at least 54 people were shot dead by security forces loyal to Museveni during protests against one of Wine’s numerous arrests.

The US, EU, UN and global rights and democracy groups have raised concerns about the integrity and transparency of the election. Meanwhile, the African Union (AU), has sent monitors, along with an AU women’s group. On Wednesday, the United States, a key aid donor to Uganda, announced it was cancelling a diplomatic observer mission after several of its staff were denied permission to monitor the election.

On Tuesday, Museveni announced the suspension of social media networks and messaging services like Instagram, Twitter and WhatsApp in response to Facebook closing accounts linked to government officials that the technology giant said were spreading misinformation.

Main Photo: Opposition Leader Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, aka Bobby Wine, Cape Brenton Post
]]> 0
Fonati Koffa who was indicted, jailed and criminally charged in the US, elected Deputy Speaker in Liberia Wed, 13 Jan 2021 04:16:53 +0000 Staff Report

MONROVIA – The House of Representatives have elected J. Fonati Koffa as the next Deputy Speaker. Mr. Koffa who could likely become speaker, is now a heartbeat away from the Liberian Presidency, according to pundits. His election was a massive talking point on Tuesday evening and went viral on social media + the Liberian press. Koffa rise to power while very much unusual is not unlikely in Liberia, but speaks to the kinds of characters and individual parading the corridors of power in post war Liberia, laden with impunity, patronage and corruption reports say.

According to an Associated Press 2006 story, Mr. Koffa “a former Zebulon town manager who embezzled nearly a half-million dollars to help build roads and bridges in his native Liberia was sentenced to nearly 2 years in federal prison. Prosecutors didn’t dispute that Jonathan Koffa spent nearly $465,000 he took from clients to help with public works projects in the [western African country where he was born.

“He truly had a noble cause, but obviously he did it the wrong way,” defense attorney Rick Gammon said at Koffa’s sentencing in New Bern federal court.  Judge Flanagan sentenced Koffa to 29 months in prison and three years of probation and ordered him to compensate his victims. Koffa still faces state charges in the same case.

She denied accusations her son Robert Sirleaf was in any way implicated in the collapse of Liberia's National Oil Company, and said her other son, Charles Sirleaf who was arrested in March, was "illegally charged" over allegations he unlawfully printed local currency worth tens of millions of dollars.
Sirleaf brought Koffa close to the seat of power, ph: aljazeera

Koffa resigned in February 2004 as legal adviser to Liberian presidential candidate Charles Brumskine in order to deal with the charges facing him in the United States. Koffa quietly left the United States and came back home having fallen from grace and his legal profession in tatters. In Liberia, he caught the eye of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who quickly nominated him to quite very important government positions and offices, her motives for bringing Koffa that close to power are unclear—given she is a Nobel Laureate who said only individuals with integrity would serve in her government. Sources say she is singerly responsible for his rise to power, in a country in which, warlords, thieves, and murderers are the highest officeholders, according to Liberia news reports.

Koffa who represents District Two in Grand Kru County was elected to the position on Tuesday with 45 votes. Rep. Clarence Massaquoi who was nominated by the Collaborating Parties Legislative Caucus (CPP) came next with 20 votes, more with this story in the coming days.

Main Photo: Fonati Koffa

]]> 0
Paradigm Shift: Africa needs leaders who can rise to the challenges of our times Mon, 11 Jan 2021 20:07:37 +0000


The tragic events impacting the continent bear witness to a deep-seated leadership crisis. African leaders with the wherewithal to rise to the challenges of our times must step into the arena and enact radical change.

On 6 November, Paul Biya celebrated the 38th anniversary of his first election as president of Cameroon. His supporters were decidedly enthusiastic about the event, while his opponents, both in the media and in the general public, openly expressed their anger at an event which for many people marks the start of the country’s downward spiral.

I’m on the side of those who feel the Biya era has been to Cameroon’s detriment. But the Cameroonian President’s political track record wasn’t on my mind on 6 November. Sooner or later, he’ll be replaced and a new era will begin. But will President Biya’s successor, whoever he or she may be, be up to the challenges of our times?

This question applies beyond Cameroon’s borders. The latest news out of Africa is particularly grim, with the continent experiencing everything from an economic crisis to political repression, civil unrest, terrorism, armed conflict, mass killings, etc.

These tragic events bear witness to a deep-seated leadership crisis impacting the entire continent. What’s more, they give us pause to reflect on how we should go about changing our countries and also on what kind of leaders will be able to prioritise Africa’s pressing need for radical change.

Anti-corruption crusaders

Corruption is something I hear other Africans complain about time and time again. It’s pervasive, often accepted and always has disastrous consequences for our economies, the cohesion of our communities and the social contract on which our societies are built. In her book Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous, the Nigerian economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala tells the story of her mother’s 2012 kidnapping.

The abductors took the trouble to confirm that their victim was indeed “the mother of the finance minister” before shoving her into their car, and told her son, tasked with the negotiations, that they would free his mother if Okonjo-Iweala publicly announced her resignation as well as her return to the United States, a country she had recently left after accepting a job in Nigeria. When the kidnappers realised that the finance minister had no intention of yielding to their extortion stunt, they demanded a ransom instead.

READ MORE Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala offers WTO global and local experience

In the end, they released her mother, who told investigators that she had heard the perpetrators say they had targeted her because her daughter had “refused to pay oil importers” during a campaign to clean up the Nigerian oil sector, a segment of the economy plagued by endemic corruption. The rest of the book recounts a long list of direct threats, attempts at intimidation and pressure directed at a minister “guilty” of leading a war against corruption.

The courage of conviction

The book reveals the exorbitant cost of implementing major reforms in Africa. It also serves as a reminder that courage is the essence of leadership – the courage to act, as illustrated by Okonjo-Iweala’s experience, but also the courage of one’s conviction and vision.

When Singapore won its independence, it would have been easy for its leader, the renowned Lee Kuan Yew, to yield to the demands of the Chinese community. It wanted its language, spoken by 80% of the population at the time, to have a special status. Many of our African leaders would have given in to the siren song of tribalism so as to reap its political dividends, but the same can’t be said for the former leader of Singapore.

Aware of the importance of equality in a multiethnic society and the need to unite diverse communities and preserve his country’s chances of success in a changing world, this descendant of Chinese immigrants asserted – despite pressure from his own community – that all of Singapore’s official languages (Tamil, Malay, Chinese and English) would enjoy an equal status, and he gradually supported English as the lingua franca.

It’s hard to say where these kinds of leaders find their courage. It’s equally hard to know whether the virtue of courage can be taught or cultivated. There is an abundance of theories, but it’s clear that the courage to act, against all odds, comes from having strong convictions.

If an individual is not firmly convinced of both the rightness and the absolute necessity of the cause to which he or she is committed, then it’s impossible to show the necessary courage in the face of inevitable adversity.

Change the world

While the source of courage may be up for debate, things are less hazy for convictions, or what some used to call ideology. Thanks to a certain experience of the world, a relationship to ideas and a particular temperament, some of us develop strong convictions, embrace a vision of the world and demonstrate a willingness to defend it.

Those of our leaders who, in the words of Karl Marx, want to “change” the world rather than just “interpret [it] differently” are those whose courage is underpinned by a politically infused vision of Africa’s future and the certainty that Africans deserve and can do better, and that they must assert their right to better leadership.

Ghana’s former president Jerry Rawlings, who passed away in November, was an exceptional leader in many ways. To be sure, he wasn’t perfect, but on top of being a soldier and a true revolutionary, he was a moralist (like any true revolutionary).

READ MORE Ghana debates life of Jerry Rawlings ahead of critical elections

In his view, nothing justified letting evil flourish. It had to be eradicated, even if that meant resorting to violence, which was seen as legitimate so long as it was being carried out in the interest of the greater good. Obviously, this dialectic of good versus evil isn’t well suited for managing our inevitably complex human societies, but it provides the fuel needed to bring down fundamentally corrupt and unjust systems.

Ghana’s late former president left us at a time of history-making change. The liberal international order created in the wake of the Second World War is drawing to an end.

In a sense, things are going back to the way they were in the 19th century, in that we’re seeing a gradual return to the bygone era of great empires and great clashes: a world governed by “might makes right”, unilateralism and realpolitik.

READ MORE Now is the time for Africa to implement AfCFTA, not later

The world that’s slipping away was generally in our favour, whereas the one that’s on the horizon will be hostile to us. As the French poet Paul Valéry once wrote: “We are entering the future backwards.”

However, very often in history, tragic periods pave the way for great destinies. Hopefully, we will witness the rise to power of African leaders who are up to the challenges of our times – times that call for moralists rather than relativists, sophisticated revolutionaries rather than reform-minded technocrats and people with a sense of history rather than people with business acumen. culled from www.theafricanreport/By Yann Gwet A graduate of Sciences Po Paris, he lives and works in Rwanda.

Main Photo Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Twitter

]]> 0