Urey’s Misadventure into Liberian Politics: Does the New Liberia Need the Masonic Craft?

 

By Theodore Hodge



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 27, 2015

                  



 
 
 
 

Politicians around the world do have a recurring tendency to spew the most puzzling (and sometimes idiotic) things out of their mouths. Donald Trump, a contestant in the Republican race for the US presidency has topped the charts recently for saying the most outrageous and offensive things imaginable. His asinine and fatuous statements have caused rancor of global proportions. But in this piece, my aim is to focus on the Liberian variety of politicians, specifically a gentleman (the term is used loosely) named Benoni Urey.

Mr. Urey, an aspiring candidate for Liberia’s next presidential elections (2017), is generally described as the richest Liberian alive, a dubious claim albeit. He is also described as an astute businessman and philanthropist. But does that make him a good politician? On that score, I beg to differ. And here’s why: I, personally, question the logic of Mr. Urey’s alleged comment that Liberia needs the Masonic craft for national leadership at this crucial crossroads of the nation’s history.

The Masons are known as a worldwide organization; it has been so for ages past. I do not intend to question the usefulness or the importance of the fraternal order since I do not have requisite standing to do so. It has been said that Masonic qualities include: God-fearing, caring, giving, loving, patriotism to country, etc… Again, for the record, I cannot confirm or reject such claims. What I do question is Mr. Urey’s bold and perhaps reckless strategy of tying his candidacy to such a proposition. While you are reading this, I’m scratching my head.

The aspiring candidate purportedly said: “We must build a new Liberia because there is a need to improve the Masonic craft and our country.” Notice the ‘country’ is apparently subordinate to the ‘craft”. It seems that Mr. Urey’s call is for the re-building of the Masonic craft, and if in the process they manage to refurbish a new country, then so be it. The reason I question this man’s political strategy is that he has already lost track of what he’s running for before the race actually begins. Any pundit or political strategist could have told the candidate to stay away from such a “hot potato” issue; you have more to lose than gain on such a proposition… and I shall demonstrate why in the next few lines. Seemingly, although Mr. Urey is touted as an astute businessman and philanthropist, he has not invested in wise political counsel.

Mr. Urey, I shall take the initiative to give you some free and unsolicited advice: In politics, especially on a stage of this magnitude, one is better off selling himself as a ‘man of the people’ as opposed to an elitist. In a society such as ours, where diversity reigns whether culturally, economically or socially, a candidate wants to stress what he has in common with his constituents, not what makes him stand apart as an elitist or socialite. In other words, emphasize inclusiveness as opposed to exclusiveness; your call for a Masonic re-birth runs contrary to that.

Mr. Urey purportedly said during his speech to his fellow masons: “The new government that is to succeed this government in 2018 must be led by a mason. Brethren, I want to let you know the new Liberia that we are striving to build for our people must be led by one of our kind.”

One of our kind? Did a candidate running for the presidency of a country actually make such a proposition? That the majority should sit spinelessly and support a member of the oligarchy in lieu of a democracy? What, one must wonder, is the benefit to the masses, especially given the history of our country?

Let’s delve a bit into our history. According to Mr. Urey, the secret society of masons have had grand masters who eventually became presidents of Liberia. One of those honored by the distinction was President Charles Dunbar Burgess King. King leaves one heck of a legacy as a Masonic grand master and president. It was during his administration that we got Firestone Plantation Company, the everlasting bloodsucker. It was during his administration also that Liberia had to face a League of Nations inquiry for the ‘Forced Labor Scandal’, ending into the resignation of his administration.

But King, the grand master president, leaves a more glaring legacy for posterity: He won the dubious distinction of being listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most fraudulent election reported in history. The most fraudulent election reported in the history of the world? Yes. According to the record, Liberia had 15,000 registered voters and the other candidate, J. Thomas Faulkner, won 9,000 votes. But that didn’t stop our Masonic grand-master-president from winning by a landslide; he won by a count of 240,000 votes! The repetition is necessary for emphasis. There were 15,000 registered voters but the president won by a count of 240,000 votes!

It should be emphasized that Liberia at the time only extended basic suffrage to property-owning males of the Americo-Liberian ilk. Women had no vote; neither did the vast majority of the indigenous masses. Yes, the people of the interior paid taxes to the government and were forced to perform public works ordered by the government, and in some cases, forcibly conscripted to work for companies such as Firestone domestically, or sent to the island of Fernando Po… this led to the aforementioned ‘forced labor scandal’.

This is only a brief glimpse into our window of history. What is this proud record of leadership of which the candidate speaks so boastfully? What did the masons do for Liberia? The article on Mr. Urey’s speech also refers to the grand and majestic Masonic hall as “On the Hill”. Exactly what is the benefit to the masses of choosing an elite, a pious elite for that matter, from up the hill when the majority is consigned to living down the hill? Does our candidate understand the unfortunate euphemism employed here? Apparently, not.

Perhaps a brief caution is necessary here before the campaign intensifies: Liberia started out on the wrong foot, creating a divisive, instead of an inclusive society. Anyone interested in genuine change, as the candidate claims, needs to be cognizant of preaching unity and integration, not disenfranchisement and marginalization of the masses as the past shows.  Throwing this counsel out the window could prove detrimental… leading to futile effort. It’s free advice; take it or leave it. But for a man calling for leadership from among ‘people of our kind’, Perhaps I’m only wasting my time. Checkmate.

The Author: Theodore Hodge can be reached at: imthodge@gmail.com

Related Articles:
Old Wine In New Bottles: $1.2 Million Dollars For Taylor & Urey
Taylor Proclaims Progress in Poverty
Excuse Me, Commissioner – It’s The "People’s Money"!

Phillip Saa Tali, Jr
To buttress your argument, the Masonic leaders after King was Barclay who undermined democracy and hand picked President Tubman for the sole purpose of coming back to office after the presidency of Tubman; Tubman also a Mason brother, undermined the democracy of Liberia and ruled for 27 unbroken years, created a security structure that harassed, killed, criminalized his fellow Liberians, corrupted the country and died without the country benefitting but his family; Tolbert, another Masonic brother that created his own downfall, nepotism, corruption and a mason that did not understand the global politics of the 70s thus led him to his death; and today, majority of the young guys are in the Masonic craft and nothing but corruption and immorality.
Urey is not a politician nor a statesman but is drunk with the cash he benefitted from during the regime of Taylor. Urey sole intention is to live the same flamboyant life he Charles Taylor and other Masonic leaders living
Phillip Saa Tali, Jr at 11:09AM, 2015/07/27.
Jeff
Well written ! I hope it will be read by many.
Jeff at 09:54AM, 2015/07/28.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
What was Urey thinking, my people? Masonic Craft - THE OIL for the machines of injustice and corruption to have AN ELITIST DECISIVE AUTHORITARIAN AND PRIMITIVELY DEVILISH DICTATORSHIP AUTHORITY, INFLUENCE, AND POWER, OVER GOVERNMENT POLICIES AGAIN? WELL, YOU HAVE ALREADY SHOT YOURSELF POLITICALLY DEAD IN THE CHEST!
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 03:54PM, 2015/07/28.
Siahyonkron Nyanseor
Brother Hodge thanks for such a brilliant article. The real Urey is out of the bag. In his own words, he said, “The New Liberia we envisage will and must be one with a Masonic Head”. This statement reminds me of the story I will include in Part II of my article titled: “Brown Paper on Economic Governance: The Final Stage of the Liberian People’s Struggle”. Part I is published in the July 22nd edition of ThePerspective.org.

The Encounter Between Cllr. Morton and Cllr. Garvlen
Not so long ago, a lawyer (attorney) friend of mine shared his personal story with me. According to him, one evening at the law office he worked as Lead Counselor in Monrovia, the owner of the law office – who I call Cllr. Morton. Cllr. Morton told my friend who I refer to as Cllr. Garvlen. He said, “Young man, you are a brilliant country boy; let me ask you one question; “Do you want to succeed at what you do in this country?” The question caught Cllr. Garvlen by surprise. He responded with “what are you getting at?” To which Cllr. Morton responded: “By the way what church do you attend? I hope it is none of those Holy Ghost or Gee-ah-baymu churches that have people roaming around here making noise in the street!” Cllr. Garvlen answered, “I attend the First Baptist Church.” “That’s great”, says Cllr. Morton. He then proceeded, “Out of the three requirements you must have to succeed in this country, you have met the first one; because you belong to a proper Christian Church.” To which Cllr. Garvlen asked, “What are the other two?” Cllr. Morton replied, “You must belong to a masonic lodge like the Mason, Odd Fellows, International Order of Good Templar (IOGT) or United Brotherhood of Friendship (UBF), and must be married to one of our daughters or sons. That’s the ONLY WAY you will make it in this country of OURS.” Cllr. Garvlen had his ‘mouth wide opened’ in disbelief.

Cllr. Morton said these things with confidence. He continued, “I tell you; you can be the smartest person on planet earth with all the degrees from Harvard, Yale, London School of Economics, they don’t count. If you don’t meet these three requirements, you should forget it! However, there are few exceptions; we might let some of you slide by if you marry - especially to one of our daughters, and belong to one of the masonic lodges. In order for it NOT to appear that we are practicing segregation, we will place you educated country boys/girls in positions that are reserved for you people – positions like: directors, assistant directors, director general, assistant ministers, and deputies, etc.; big title with no money to back it up, and will be waiting for you to make one little mistake in order to disgrace you. And if can’t fine one, we make it up.”

Since Cllr. Garvlen did not meet all of the ruling elites’ requirements; when Cllr. Morton retired, he turned his law officer over to Attorney Brown Howard, Cllr. Garvlen’s assistant to become his new boss. Cllr. Garvlen resigned and went on to establish his own law office. After two months, most of the clients at the previous law office that Attorney Howard inherited followed Cllr. Garvlen, and his law firm became a success.

Siahyonkron Nyanseor at 06:41PM, 2015/07/28.
Kpanneh Doe
So, this Liberian politician wants to return us to the 'dark corners' of our ugly history? I don't believe that statements of this type are slips of tongue,gaffes, or a mangling(or wrestling match) with the English language, but rather represents a core value of some politicians who simply want to appeal to the basal instincts of certain sections of the Liberian populace with the hope that they can score political points and win votes. Instead of elevating the discourse and national conversation on the burning issues of unity, reconciliation, justice, equity, and fairness, this gentleman has harkened back to the past by calling for the rejuvenation of an institution-- "The Masonic Craft"--that we thought had become a relic of our historical past. Running for the Liberian presidency-- the nation's highest public office should be treated with a level of seriousness, thoughtfulness, and an articulation of a coherent vision by those who want to take us into a better. Making well-conceived and deliberately calculated statements of this type by a presidential candidate, designed to sow seeds of disunity, should be a disqualifier, in my honest opinion. Theo, thanks for calling this gentleman out! I wish many Liberians can take courage in calling out this gentleman for what he truly represents: Someone lacking the character for public office, let alone seeking the Liberian presidency. But again, I am afraid, running for public office has become a joke and the masses have developed political immunity- not to care anymore. But we should not allow the clowns and buffoons who have now acquired illegitimate wealth to dominate our national conversation.
Kpanneh Doe at 03:36PM, 2015/07/29.
Charles E. King
Brother NYANSEOR:
Long time. How have you been.Sent you an email the other day, but you never replied. You threw me away, any so? OK, well, which had long, which short. (laugh).
1). By the way, do you think the two people you spoke about (although not their real names) do you think that they are still alive? If so, it would be wonderful if we could hear them speak about this conversation themselves. It would be interesting to hear from them first hand, as they may also have other stories to tell, if they are still alive. I also noted, that this Cllr. Garvlen was still successful in the end according to this account of yours. It would be indeed interesting for us to learn from this person how he managed to become so successful despite the fact that he did not have the necessary qualification that was expected. I had expected a bad outcome from how you started the account, but you say he went on to start a very successful business. That is good news for those of us who view this as a very god success story and an example as to what is possible. Kind Regards Charles E. King – Transformational & Self-Empowerment Coach.
Charles E. King at 09:00PM, 2015/08/03.
Charles E. King
Brother NYANSEOR: (corrected)

Long time. How have you been doing? Sent you an email the other day, but you never replied. You threw me away, any so? OK, well, which hand long, which hand short. (laugh).
1). By the way, do you think the two people you spoke about (although not their real names) do you think that they are still alive? If so, it would be wonderful if we could hear them speak about this conversation themselves. It would be interesting to hear from them first hand, as they may also have other stories to tell, if they are still alive. I also noted, that this Cllr. Garvlen was still successful in the end according to this account of yours. It would be indeed interesting for us to learn from this person how he managed to become so successful despite the fact that he did not have the necessary qualification that was expected. I had expected a bad outcome from how you started the account, but you say he went on to start a very successful business. That is good news for those of us who view this as a very god success story and an example as to what is possible. Kind Regards Charles E. King – Transformational & Self-Empowerment Coach.
Charles E. King at 09:02PM, 2015/08/03.
William King
@Phillip Saa Tali Jr.
In your list of Presidents that were Masons, may I ask why you neglected to add Samuel K. Doe? was it just an oversight?
William King at 09:06AM, 2015/08/05.
Patrick Samolu

Mr. Theodore Hodge

The essay heightens awareness of many of the social ills that were wrought on the Liberian society as the result of the misapplication of some of the good Christian principles for which the Masonic lodge was founded.

However, one of the most serious setbacks about our way of life is the thick fog of ignorance and illiteracy that veils the largest portion of the population that comprises the youths. So, it is sad to say that the effectiveness of this vital message is not being fully felt.

What many of the Liberian youths of today aspire to is different from the time when we the members of Generation X were growing up. The criterion that we set and what we looked at as moral values are not what the present generation values today. For example, when you put an uneducated and inexperienced football player against an educated and experienced political candidate the footballer is most preferred.

For almost three decades the society has bred an army of youths who only revered con artists and people of celebrity status.

Our policy makers have remained lopsided for decades in implementing programs to promote literacy and improve our educational standards. This misdeed has now come to haunt us.

Unless we have a well read and well informed populace many of the efforts from some of our best and learned intellectuals like Theo will become futile. Liberians must braze themselves for more dramatic political upheavals as they cannot tell a good leader from a bad one.

As notorious as the regime of Taylor was, some Liberians are now hailing him as being one of the best leaders that the country has ever had! This explains how gullible and unpredictable the people have become.

So, let us not be surprised when Liberians elect Mr. Urey Benoni tomorrow as the next President!
Patrick Samolu at 02:55PM, 2015/08/12.
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