By Ivor S. Moore
Today, July 16, 2016, marks the sixty-seventh birth anniversary of Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh Jr. In commemorating the natal day of our leader, teacher and friend, we take cognizant of the risk of berthing into the realm of the “Cult of the Personality”, that anti-revolutionary tendency with its history of ruining great leaders and their followers and thwarting their revolutionary struggles. It represents the tendency of fifth columnists and reactionary bourgeois personalities who pride themselves in vainglorious god-like worship.
HB, as he is affectionately called, would offer the strongest abhorrence and rebuke against anyone making him an idol like a deity in his celestial pedestal far detached from the rigors of human life. His revolutionary grooming has thought him to steer clear off that path. This is evident by his identifying with the masses, his humble lifestyle and his revulsion to be one of those who he drolly categorizes as “center-spread politicians”. His outmost humility is a key theme in his life’s records.
Over the years, many social forces and reactionaries have attempted to dint the impeccable character of this noble nationalist and Pan Africanist. Sympathizers and elements of the True Whig Party oligarchy will not forgive him for providing the sharpest ideological weapon against their tendency and their exploitation of the wealth of the people. Thus, they, like others, would call him all sorts of names ranging from a communist, a warlord and so forth. Every time he is painted as an evil person, surprisingly, he rises up with huge followers of young student radicals, militants and cadres who find his ideas as their guide to action in fighting for liberation.
These accusations are only proven to be wrong and far from reflecting the true character of HB when one takes a retrospection of his life from birth, early childhood, education, and political life up to present. Out of this journey will arise the true meaning of why, amidst grave attacks from several quarters for about four decades, Dr. Fahnbulleh remains the inspiration of many people, young and old, like no other Liberian historical figure living and dead. One will find in his humility, consciousness, patriotism and comradeship sufficient reasons to attest that he is deserving of outmost recognition.
BIRTH AND EARLY LIFE
The person that we know in Dr. Fahnbulleh Jr. today has its roots far back into his birth and family life. To not understand this is to not fully appreciate him and understand why he is who he is. “I was born into a politically conscious family”, he says during his TRC hearing. Indeed, this is the pure truth. His father, H. Boima Fahnbulleh Sr., was a Liberian diplomat, lawyer and one of the greatest intellectual figures of his time. He is reputed for returning to the government unspent monies from foreign duties. Of his father, HB says:
“As a young man, I had great admiration for this man who lived up to his conviction.”
His maternal grandfather, Netie Sie-Brownell was a renowned politician and statesman. He served as Post Master General under Tubman, contested as vice presidential candidate to Edwin Barclay against Tubman, and headed the committee charged with probing into the Rice Demonstration saga.
Dr. Fahnbulleh was born in the year 1949, few years after Tubman came to power. He grew up in a very critical time when the evil of the TWP was at its peak. He recounts the killing of David Coleman and his son, the incarceration of his grandfather, and the treason charges against his father, circumstances of which landed he (HB) and his elderly sister now Ambassador Miatta Fahnbulleh, in jail at tender ages for no reasons under the law.
During his early years, young Fahnbulleh witnessed the African Revolutionary struggle for independence. Notably, he remembers the visiting to Liberia of Patrice Lumumba of Congo and the latter news of his sorrowful killing.
He took to reading after his father who had many books, magazines and newspapers available. He read the classics, works of various revolutionary figures from around the world and especially Africa. At the tender age of 15, he had become “a convinced Nkrumahist,” a tendency he still holds on to today. Beginning his education at the CDB King Morning School, he would later go to Kenya to attend boarding school and didn’t stay long there because of his reaction to racism on campus and consciousness building of others in the African liberation teachings. Thus, Sierra Leone became the rightful place. He became the distributor of the Little Red Book of Chairman Mao and saw Kwame Nkrumah for the first time when he attended a conference in Freetown Sierra.
College and Professional Life
Dr. Fahnbulleh became a leading writer, intellectual and student-political figure at the Foray Bay College in Freetown. As a foreign student at Sierra Leone’s premiere tertiary institution of learning, he contested the student union presidency and lost by two votes. Current President Ernest Bah Koromah of Sierra Leone was a member of his followers on campus who chanted battle cries for their leader whenever he spoke.
Upon graduation he was persuaded by his mother, Mary Brownell, to attend school in the United States of America where he attended the [Howard] University and later the George Washington University. His degrees are in history, political science and political philosophy.
Upon graduation, Dr, Fahnbulleh Jr. immediately returned to his homeland in 1978 and joined the Movement for Justice in Africa and served as a lecturer at the University of Liberia. His arrival to Liberia and joining of MOJA was a quantum leap in the revolutionary struggle of the seventies. With his vast reading of revolutionary history and his interaction with great revolutionaries during his studies, he became the leading ideologue, orator and revolutionary figure. The cadre training program of young militants is to his credits. Many of his students are leading reputable people in the body politics of Liberia today.
On the ceremony of the anniversary of MOJA in 1979, Dr. Fahnbulleh Jr. served as the guest speaker, delivering a historic address: The African People Are the Own Liberators. This great speech was indeed an overwhelming attestation to his Pan Africanist confirmation and commitment to the African Liberation struggle.
It was at the same occasion that Baccus Matthews, inspired by the brilliant analyses of Dr. Patrick Seyon of the University of Liberia on the Tolbert’s increment of the price of rice-the country’s staple, for the selfish interest of TWP elements, announced that the Progressive Alliance of Liberia would stage the historic Rice Demonstration Protest. With MOJA’s involvement, Dr. Fahnbulleh became a leading actor in the struggle which is regarded as the first and greatest stampede of the masses of Liberians on the stage of history.
With the overthrow of the TWP leadership on April 12, 1980 by the People’s Redemption Council headed by Master Sergeant Samuel Kayon Doe, HB and other Progressive brothers thought it tactical and strategic, given the nature of things, to work with the new regime. Thus, he served as Minister of Education and subsequently Minister of Foreign Affairs, before resigning to leave for abroad.
Being abroad to HB did not mean being absent from the struggle for social justice in Liberia. Many times, he wrote critical articles under pen names and attended numerous interviews.
During the civil war, he attempted engaging the struggle to prevent Charles Taylor from causing mayhem. However, odds were not in his favor and he had to retreat as many of his militants died in prison in Sierra Leon on orders of Mr. Taylor.
In the 1997 elections, Dr. Fahnbulleh contested the presidency as a protest to Charles Taylor whom he thought is a “con man” and “common criminal” with parochial interest. After the elections, he returned to England and began writing critical against the Taylor’s regime on the Liberian Perspective, an online with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. His predictions of Taylor’s backward nature and self destruction came to pass with outmost exactitude as the biblical prophecy of Jewish prophets about the coming of the Messiah.
With the war ended and the country’s striving to take the path of recovery under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Dr. Fahnbulleh accepted to serve as National Security Advisor to the President, a position he currently holds. Under his advisorship, Liberia has experience over ten years of peace and democratic governance like has never been experienced for decades.
As a prolific writer, he wrote the Prejudice of Diplomacy-a masterpiece of his understand of politics in Liberia and the international stage, Behind God’s Back-an unmatched political-historical novel on happenings in Liberia, Voices of Protest-compilation of speeches and articles of he and other Liberian revolutionaries, and Across the Landscape: Selecting Writings of Henry Boima Fahnbulleh Jr.
WHY WE CELEBRATE HB’S BIRTHDAY
HB is reputed as Liberia’s foremost intellectual, political philosopher and revolutionary leader and teacher by ideological militants, cadres and friends with no reasonable contestation, whatsoever, from critics and foes. HB, as he is affectionately called, maintains an exceptional role on the stage of history which has earned him the honor and accolade of a towering figure whose birthday is worthy of celebration like others do their leaders across the world.
When we take to commemorating the birthday of our leader and teacher, we are memorializing a life selflessly dedicated to consciousness building and the emancipation of his Liberian and African compatriots from being victims of social injustices and backwardness to victors of social justice and progress. We clad in union to recount his struggles and teachings and conduct inventory on where we stand in advancing the masses revolution within our historical calling; we pledge before history to continue to uphold the banner of revolution stained with the blood of our compatriots until we can host the flag of justice and liberty and dance the David’s dance while singing victory songs and chanting battle cries announcing that Liberia is alas finally and forever living up to its true status as the icon of African independence and freedom.