By Elitha Maning
|Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh|
Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, as you, our leader and mentor, turns 75 years of age on Sunday, July 17, 2016, we who fall under the umbrella called Liberians for Tipoteh (LIFT) thank Our Common Maker, God, Allah, Nngala, Glaypor, Nyihnswa, Kamba, for your long fruitful life and wish for you many more productive years . So, we say Happy Birthday to you Dr. Tipoteh. We know that you are bereaved, as your older Brother, Mr. Patrick Geegbe, Chairman of the Eight Nominating Districts of the Borough of Krutown, has passed away, and so we also say never mind yah Dr. Tipoteh.
We commend you for your many services to the people of Liberia, Africa and the World over the past half a century. Having completed schooling with a Doctorate Degree in Economics at the early age of 27, you provided advisory service to the Anti-poverty Program of the Office of Economic Opportunity of the Presidency of the United States of America, through the Economic Opportunities Council, based in San Francisco, California. Then you returned back home to Liberia to begin serving as Founder of Susukuu, the 45 year old Liberian poverty alleviation NGO, while being a Developer of the College of Business and Public Administration and Chairman/Professor of the Department of Economics at the University of Liberia, as well as advising President William Tolbert on budgetary matters. You went on to serve as Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs and Chairman of the African Group of Governors of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). You were also Chairman of the Africa Area of the Association of Third World Economists and lectured in Asia, Latin America, United States of America, Europe and Africa.
In opposition to dictatorial rule, you were forced into exile, but remained in the struggle for democracy as Founding Leader of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA). Still in exile, you served as Senior Advisor to the Program for the Training of South Africans in the Management of the Post-Apartheid Economy, while serving as Senior United Nations Advisor to the Government of Mozambique. Your Senior Advisory Role in the United Nations extended to your role as Senior United Nations Advisor to the Africa Economic Recovery Program. Your Pan African work became so extensive that people have begun calling you "The Mandela of Liberia". What an appropriate name!
Back in Liberia, during and after the Civil War in Liberia, the people also began to call you "The Only Man On The Ground" to show their appreciations for your being with the people and working in the people's interest. Your work remains gender sensitive, as you are the only male on the Board of Advisors of the Liberian Women Initiative (LWI) and a Spokesperson against gender-based violence for the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia (AFELL).
Mainly, you continue to work for justice to enable the people of Liberia, especially the poor vast majority, to realize and exercise their their God-given rights, while working with as many people as possible to transform Liberia from an unjust and mass poverty generating country to a just and poverty alleviating country.
LIFT notices that in your long and just struggle for justice, you do not pick and choose, as in paying attention only to blood relatives, and this is why hundreds of children around Liberia hold you as their Father, with even many of them bearing your name. Former combatants have become members of your family, attending the best schools in Liberia and going abroad for advanced studies.
Not only do you want the Liberian economy to work mainly for Liberians, you want Liberian culture to be at the center of education in Liberia to take the MESS out of education in Liberia and move our education from MESS to BEST. During the Ebola attack, you provided leadership along with the Venerable Dr. Mary Nema Brownell, Shiekh Kafumba Konneh and Mrs. Frances Greaves of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia to form the Servants of Africa Fighting Ebola (SAFE), where the Community Ownership Approach was used to get rid of Ebola.
LIFT observes not only your excellent mental condition but also your excellent physical condition. We are not surprised because you are the Retired Undefeated Tennis Champion of Liberia over 30 unbroken years (1964-1994). Last, but certainly not the least, you remain in excellent spiritual condition as a practicing United Methodist, tolerant of all religions, working side-by-side with your loving Wife, Fatu, who remains active in the development of the University of Liberia in her capacity as Head of the Department of Procurement.
About the Author: Elitha Maning is Chairperson for Liberians for Tipoteh(LIFT) and Founding President-General of the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC). She can be reached at: 011-231-886-549461 or 776-649357.