What Hodge Failed to Mention about Tipoteh’s Activities in Liberia


By J. Kpanneh Doe



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 29, 2014

                  


 

In Theodore Hodge’s article, “The Great Liberian Drama: The Leading Lady and her Supporting Cast” that was published in The Perspective’s August 22, 2014 edition was short on specifics. Hodge wrote about President Ellen Sirleaf, Amos Sawyer, Henry Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr., Mary Broh, and Togba Nah Tipoteh. A good writer that he is – did not do himself justice. Perhaps, he was too anxious to paint everybody with the same brush, which is dangerous for a fine and experienced writer like him to engage in. Since Hodge seems not to be aware of the activities of Korwreh Duwree Togba-Nah Tipoteh is involved in with Liberians on the ground; perhaps, I could be of help to him – I know him too well.  That’s all I intend to do in this article. This is not a rejoinder, rather a presentation of FACTS that can be readily obtained by anyone who wants to present a balanced view of the person he/she is writing about.

First, the analogy of ‘supporting cast’ doesn’t fit Tipoteh. Tipoteh’s advocacy and work with the Liberian people since the 1960s is an open book. Having made this point clear, let’s look at the reference he made of Tipoteh’s lack of activities in Liberia. The critique started of sarcastically:

“Then there is Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh. No, he's not an active member of the official circle, but he plays a key part, anyway. It's like a great actor in a movie. He doesn't have to deliver great lines or play a great role, all he has to do is make an appearance in a scene. It was the late great Dr. Martin Luther King who said, "In the end, we will remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." And so it is with Dr. Tipoteh. The silence from him is deafening.”

Find below a partial list of Tipoteh’s engagement with the President, government policies, the general public and the Liberia people:
(1) “Talking with the President: Poverty Reduction: The Case of One Poor Liberian” – The Agenda, October 3, 2008.
(2) “Talking with the President: In Praise of Teachers” – The Agenda, October 10, 2008.
(3) “Talking with the President: Leaders and Crisis” – The Agenda, October 17, 2008.
(4) “Talking with the President: The Obama Victory” – The Agenda, November 2008.
(5) “Talking with the President: The Kakata Retreat” – The Agenda, November 1, 2008.
(6) “Talking with the President: The DRC Crisis” – The Agenda, November 13, 2008.
(7) “Talking with the President: The Food Problem” – The Agenda, November 27, 2008.
(8) “Talking with the President: The Case of a Lost Child” – The Agenda, December 4, 2008.
(9) “Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh’s Message to the People of Liberia” – The Agenda, December 23, 2008.
(10) “Togba-Nah Tipoteh: Misunderstood and Misinterpreted” – The Liberian Dialogue, April 25, 2010.
(11) “Presidential Aspirant 2011: Tipoteh’s New Year’s Message” – by Tipoteh, 2011.
(12) “Tipoteh: I’m Back and Prepared” – The New Republic, June 26, 2013.
(13) “Sirleaf Sends Out Peace Message – But Tipoteh Differs” – August 20, 2013.
(14) “Liberia: So, So ‘Lies’” – The New Republic, February 7, 2014. 
(15) “State of the People: Liberia Government Must Take Action for ‘Growth with Development’” – The Perspective, March 18, 2014.
(16) “Tipoteh on Correcting GOL Budget Short Fall” – May 2, 2014.
(17) “Tipoteh Presents Action to Make Economy Strong” – The Analyst, May 30, 2014.
(18) “What the UMC’s Big Tent Looks Like in Liberia” – United Methodist Insight, June 4, 2014.
(19) “Tipoteh Cites More Reasons for High US Rate… Names American Citizens in Gov’t as One Factor” – The Inquirer, July 3, 2014. 
(20) “Tipoteh Says President Sirleaf Breaks Laws - - Calls for Due Process of Law” – The Analyst, July 11, 2014.
(21) “Ellen Takes Side In Nimba Protest” – The New Republic, July 13, 2014.
(22) “On Gov’t Decision On Violent Protest in Nimba: Tipoteh Disagrees with Ellen… Says She Breaks the Law” – The Inquirer, July 14, 2014.
(23) “High US Rate Causing Price Hike” – The Inquirer, July 14, 2014.
(24) “Tipoteh Calls for New National Elections Commission” – The Analyst, July 22, 2014.

Having missed the proof provided above, Hodge continued:

“Sadly, there are those who still believe he has fought the good fight. After all, he was a teacher and teachers have a way of embedding onto the minds of impressionable youth certain ideas or images it is difficult or impossible to erase. He shall, therefore, always remain a good memory to his faithful students, but to the rest of us he shall remain less glorified. In fact, he will remain vilified. To rage all that hell and then turn silent and complacent in subsequent administrations is an abomination.”

The question is, where was he when the Editor of theperstive.org wrote the introduction to Tipoteh State of the People’s message titled: “Liberian Government Must Take Action for ‘Growth with Development’” (thepespective.org March 18, 2014 edition). The introduction reads:

“Editor's Note:

On February 3rd, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, founding leader of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and Presidential Candidate in Liberia’s 2011 Elections, delivered his annual ‘State of the People’ message to Liberians at an event organized by the Fiamah Future Intellectual Discourse Center. Delivered a week after President Sirleaf’s  2014 Annual Message to the nation, Dr. Tipoteh’s speech clearly outlined the serious economic problems (particularly the deepening mass poverty) plaguing the people of Liberia.

Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh ,a development economist by training, professor Tipoteh explains that contrary to what the President declared in her annual message, Liberia “is not stronger, safer, securer and steadier than in the past”. Liberians, he notes, are still trapped in a “growth without development” syndrome or nightmare, mainly because of a chronic lack of commitment on the part of the present and previous Liberian governments to take action for “growth with development”. Below is the full text of Dr. Tipoteh’s speech, which demonstrates his classic style of elegant simplicity of language.” 
Dat it there - oh! As Liberians are fond of saying in case like this!

I need not bother you any further with Hodge’s quarrel with the man he knows nothing about. Now, let me share with you how involved Tipoteh is with the ordinary people. The story is about “The Case of a Lost Child;” published in the December 4, 2008 edition of The Agenda:

Talking With the President: The Case of a Lost Child

“Madam President, once again Happy National Agricultural Fair (NAF) Day. My Commentary for NAF Day was made last Friday and so it will not be repeated here. However, as we celebrate NAF Day it would do us all some good to reflect on the plight of our children. In this Commentary, attention is drawn to the plight of a lost child, who was selling in the streets of Monrovia for her family to get money to buy food and send her to school. 

“Two days ago, on my way home at about 6 O’clock in the evening, I observed that a crowd had gathered at the intersection of Broad and Johnson Streets, closer to the Johnson Street side, between Broad and Carey Streets. I parked my jeep and asked what was going on. I was told that a little girl had come to the city center to sell some home-baked biscuits in a covered white plastic bucket, but could not find her way back home.

“Then, I heard someone say that the girl lived in Duala, near the Duala market on Bushrod Island. There was a lot of talking and even some shouting with some people in the crowd quarreling with the child while others were making suggestions about how she could get home, wherever that was. When the little girl emerged out of the confusion, stopped crying and seemed clear about Duala as being the area of her residence, I intervened and promised to drive her to Duala to conduct a search for her home.

 

“Most people in the crowd approved of my intervention and allowed me to take the little girl into my jeep to begin the search for her home. In the jeep, I began a conversation with the little girl and she told me at the outset that her name was Nyonohn Wleh. Nearing the Gabriel Tucker Bridge, she said that her parents lived in Duala and she could identify her home when we reached Duala. Approaching Logan Town, little Nyonohn Wleh changed her story, saying that she was going to Duala to see her Uncle. By that time, she had told me her age, mentioning that she was 11-years-old. 
“When we arrived in Duala, Nyonohn Wleh, holding on to her nearly empty biscuit bucket, could not identify any place in Duala as being her home or that of her Uncle. Then, I said that I would take her to the St. Paul Bridge Police Station so that the police could assist in the search for her home. When the little girl heard what I had said about going to the police, she then started appealing to not take her to the Police Station. Suddenly, she said that one of her Aunts lived near the St. Paul Bridge.

“Thereupon, I drove towards St. Paul Bridge and asked her to identify her Aunt’s place. About 300 yards from the Bridge, Nyonohn Wleh yelled “that’s the place to the left with the bright lights”. So, I drove to that place and parked off the highway. When I asked her for the name of her Aunt, she replied “Aunty Felicia”. Looking for someone who knew Aunty Felicia, I had to wade through a lake of boys, in their low teens, playing pool on make-shift pool tables under a lighted tree.

“My worst fears began to show when no one showed up who knew Aunty Felicia. As a crowd began to gather around my jeep, greeting me with the sound MOJA, MOJA, I took advantage of the friendly disposition and asked some of the greeters to go deeper into the nearby community and ask for Aunty Felicia. I asked Nyonohn Wleh to described Aunty Felicia. She said that her Aunty was dark and fat and she sold farina. Two women were brought to the jeep, but each of them carried a name other than the Felicia name. But the greeters persisted in their probe, which went beyond 7PM and the persistence paid off as a fair and medium sized lady came by the jeep, saying that her name was Felicia. 

“I put the inside light of the jeep on and asked her if she knew the little girl in the car. Before I could finish my questioning, she yelled “Nyonohn, what are you doing out this late?” Relief in “my disposition began to glow on my face, as this was the first sign of evidence regarding the family of Nyonohn Wleh. I told Aunty Felicia how I came across the little girl. Then Aunty Felicia told me that Nyonohn Wleh lived in Virginia, near the Deaf and Dumb School, with her Grandmother. Aunty Felicia volunteered to take the little girl home if we could arrange taxi fare, to and fro, for her.

“As I wanted to see the end of this sad but regular or daily story in our country, I told Aunty Felicia that I would drive her and the little girl to the Grandmother’s place, despite the fact that I had been on this case for more than two hours. Sure enough, when we reached the rear of the Deaf and Dumb School, we met the Octogenarian Grandmother exhibiting at once disbelief and relief upon seeing her Grandchild. In fact, the Grandmother could not take it all, as she began to sit on the bare ground in the yard, near the jeep, and began to cry with her hands on her head. The Grandmother had sent out a search party for Nyonohn Wleh, but returned empty-handed. A family member there whispered to me saying, that Nyohn Wleh’s Aunt in the United States of America sends money on a monthly basis for the upkeep of the family, but the little girl is sent out daily to sell biscuits, right after school. When asked about the little girl’s parents, I was told that the parents are alcoholics. 

“Madam President, I thought to bring Nyonohn Wleh’s plight to your attention because it is representative of the plight of our children in our country. We should, can and must do better. Starting this week, I will show the family how the money from the USA can be used so that Nyonohn Wleh stays in school and sells no more.”

This is a fraction of Tipoteh’s involvement with the Liberian people; those who do not know him have all sorts of fairy tales about him; “He’s too tight-fisted (mean); too honest. Whenever he travels abroad on government’s account, he usually brings receipts and returns the money he did not use. He lives a simple life; his automobile might be 20 years old, and his wife must see something in him that the Liberian people are missing.  
According to the longtime social and political activist and publisher, Mr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh of The Liberian Dialogue:

“Togba-Nah Tipoteh is a rare breed of a human being who you don’t see quite often in Liberia. He’s principled, disciplined, smart, humbled, uncorrupted and consistent in his politics, the way he live his life, and the seriousness he has shown since he arrived in Liberia in the early 70s, to contribute to the development of his homeland.

“Those traits are admirable in a country where politicians and the person at the lowest end of the totem pole always want to get over at the expense of the citizens and the nation, and are also admirable traits for anyone who aspires to work in public service. And if Liberia can get many more Tipotehs to lead, inspire, and show Liberians how to carry themselves gracefully in their politics and their daily lives the way he has done for decades, we all could be better humans, and Liberia, perhaps could be the developed and prosperous nation we all want it to be…

“However, for a population that needs a complete overhaul in their standard of living, and a country that needs serious transformation and infrastructure development, one would think Togba-Nah Tipoteh is the overwhelming ideal choice to lead a nation that needs serious attention.

“As it is now, and because he is often misunderstood and misinterpreted, Togba-Nah Tipoteh will never get a chance to be the president he always wanted to be.
“What a shame!” 

(The Liberian Dialogue’s April 25, 2010 edition: “Togba-Nah Tipoteh: Misunderstood & Misinterpreted”)

About the Author: J. Kpanneh Doe can be reached at: kpannehdoe@live.com


B. K. Washington
Togba-Nah Tipoteh had a great opportunity to become President of Liberia in the 2011 election, but he completely failed to seize the day. It may be recalled that in the run up to that election Ellen Sirleaf, sensing that the Constitution's Ten-Year Residency Requirement would bar her from standing as a candidate, decided unsuccessfully to ram through a Referendum intended to adjust that provision in her favor.

When that desperate move failed to garner the majority vote needed to reduce the Residency Requirement from 10 to 5 years, Ellen Sirleaf and all other candidates affected were now, for all intents and purposes, automatically out of the running.

At that point, Tipoteh and a few others, who were the only ones legally qualified to stand in the 2011, should have stood their ground and raised hell when Ellen Sirleaf illegally overruled the result of the Referendum and flagrantly ignored the Constitution's original provision. By doing nothing about Sirleaf's breach of the law, Tipoteh virtually allowed her to become President by fiat, when he might have been elected President.
B. K. Washington at 12:19PM, 2014/08/29.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Kpanneh, unless you wanted Mr. Hodge to go deeper into Tipoteh being turned into A MERE CRONY OR IN FACT AN UNDERCOVER SYCOPHANT OF ELLEN in realistic terms, there is ABSOLUTELY nothing relevant in terms of Tipoteh´s activities which Mr. Hodge failed to mention.

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 04:25PM, 2014/08/29.
SRK
Sound analysis. Tipoteh character and integrity speak for him.
SRK at 06:19PM, 2014/08/29.
Paul Nyesoah

Mr. Doe, you are fighting a losing battle. Mr. Hodge clearly made some observations about Dr. Tipoteh. You are saying that he wrote without bothering to check the facts.... You supplied the "facts" but they are empty facts. How do we conclude that Dr. Tipoteh is playing an important role by what you told us? What you wrote about Dr. Tipoteh's involvement in national politics does not impress me. I think you're trying too hard to make him into something he is not. Maybe it is time to let the old man exit the scene. He has been a great actor, but at a certain time, even the great ones must exit... it is time for the old man to go.
Paul Nyesoah at 08:37PM, 2014/08/29.
Jerome Gayman
Mr. Doe, thanks for the heart warming account of the "Old soldier". You are right, Tipoteh, has fought a good fight. We can not revise history by denying him his place in Liberia History. Just as Ellen has failed, aged and incapacitated, Dr. Tipoteh has expired as a leader in the new dawn. His place in Liberia History is secured. The rigor of the Presidency is too daunting, as evident by the colossal failure of Ellen and co. Tipoteh will be a wise Statesman and Council.
Jerome Gayman at 10:05AM, 2014/08/30.
Kpanneh Doe
Mr. Gayman & SRK, thanks for acknowledging Tipoteh's contributions to the struggle for democratic change and people's empowerment in Liberia. Not failing to mention his enviable character and integrity that has remained unblemished throughout the last five decades. Others would quickly want to write him off for personal or political reasons, as it is typical with proponents of revisionist history. I remain hopeful that forward-looking historians will treat him objectively when examining his role and contributions. Mr. Gayman,your latter point about the rigors of the presidency has some merits,but I beg to disagree that age is necessarily a factor that should deprive decent, well-meaning, and able Liberians from serving our country. We all know the leadership deficit we now suffer in our country, and this has had nothing to do with the age factor, as we have had both young(Doe, Taylor,etc.) and old (Tubman & Tolbert)Liberians who have served in that capacity. The problem, as I see it, has been the abuse of the institution of the presidency and the squandering of the goodwill and privilege the Liberian people have give to those who have led us into our current mess. I hope you and others can expand the discussion on the'new generation' of leaders and what exactly they might bring to the table that would be different from what we have experienced. Again, thanks for your thoughts.
Kpanneh Doe at 11:06AM, 2014/08/30.
Kpanneh Doe
Mr. B. K. Washington, your passionate spirit comes through in these debates, and I have enjoyed reading your postings, though I don't generally share all your views, but they do provide good food for thought and an opportunity to expand our thinking and find room for understanding in the areas of disagreement. You state in your comments that after the Liberian Supreme Court ruled that the 'Residency clause' be set aside, Tipoteh and others--that is, other politicians should have"stood their ground and raised hell when Ellen Sirleaf overruled the result of the Referendum and flagrantly ignored the constitution's original provision". I am rather confused here: Please help me understand 'how' Ellen overruled the decision of the nation's highest court? More so, are you suggesting that the politicians should have not honored the court's decision and resort to "raising hell" by upending the decision through non-peaceful, non-constitutional means? Wouldn't this go counter to the peaceful course we should all be pursuing to bring about more durable democratic change to our body polity. Dr. Tipoteh and others that I know have abhorred pursuing a non-peaceful path to power. The possible scenario you paint that this would have ushered him(Tipoteh) to the presidency is wide open to debate, which I would love to engage you further, which time and space does not allow. But let's explore this further in other discussions that may emerge.
Kpanneh Doe at 11:36AM, 2014/08/30.

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