Tuesday 24th October 2017,

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The Unskilled Liberian Bigshots of the Grand Old TWP

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Siahyonkron Nyanseor, Lawrenceville, GA  This story is about four good friends namedJoseph Jenkins, Edward James, Stephen Allen, and James Springs, who on the fateful day of April 12, 1980, world turned inside out; meaning the unexpected happened to they, their families, friends and associates. The NOCOs (Non Commissioned Officers) that used to serve them as their personal chauffeurs (drivers); guide their homes while they and their families slept, called themselves, the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), had the nerve to overthrow their GRAND OLD True Whig Party (TWP) government.

Former Pres. William R. Tolbert Jr.

Former Pres. William R. Tolbert Jr.

Their immediate reaction was, “These NOCOs are not that smart to do this thing; the idea must have come from those ‘troublemakers’ that called themselves MOJA and PAL, who were going around town, on college campuses, and at high schools talking about CHANGE – “The time of the people has come” and “In the cause of the people, the struggle continues”; they were the ones that put the ‘bad, bad’ idea into the heads of our humble NOCOs.”

Although, this story is a fiction; however, if you find similar names, persons, places and events, it should be treated as purely coincidental, and must be considered as such.

Prior to the People’s Redemption Council revolution, Joseph Jenkins, Edward James, Stephen Allen, and James Springs were all honorable gentlemen in the Liberian society. They were wheeler and dealers! Joseph Jenkins taught History and International Studies as an adjunct professor at the University of Liberia (LU).

Actually, he was Liberia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom; he had gone home for reassignment; Edward James was the Minister of Defense; Stephen Allen was Senior Senator for Montserrado County’s District 1, and James Springs was Speaker of the House of Representatives from Lexington, Sinoe County.  He had been Speaker of the House for what Liberians referred to as “19 Woo, Woo;” that is, they can’t remember the number of years he has been Speaker.

These honorable gentlemen never expected to be in the position of not being in charge of running the country; they were caught with their pants down, so to speak! They were NOT prepared, and never thought these NOCOs would ever do ‘such evil thing’ like this to them.

Cabinet ministers lined-up for firing squad in Liberia during the 1980 takeover.

Cabinet ministers lined-up for firing squad in Liberia during the 1980 takeover.

As a result, many of them found their way to the United States of America with the hope that their stay in the US would be brief because Uncle Sam will intervene on their behalf, like they did in the land palava that took place between the indigenous population and the Settlers in the Battle of Fort Hill (the Gatoomba War) of 1822 and the 1915 war.

Due to the belief held by these honorable gentlemen that the change which took place back home was temporary; they weren’t frugal in their spending habits and living standard. They were living as if they were back home. After two years in exile, things got tough on them; and they had to seek employment. But the problem was, all their adult life, they only worked for the government of Liberia; they had no other profession or skill; they had automobiles in Liberia but could not drive; they depended on their personal chauffeurs to take them everywhere, including to visit their girlfriends overnight; that’s how dependent these honorable men were on others!

Since Joseph Jenkins had taught History and International Studies as adjunct professor part-time at the University of Liberia, and served for many years as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom; he felt that qualified him to teach as a college professor in the US. Edward James felt the same way, too.

He earned his Master’s degree some twenty years ago from John Jay University in the city of New York in the area of Public Safety and Defense; and he was the Minister of Defense at the time the government was overthrown by the PRC. On the other hand, Stephen Allen and James Springs were prepared to do any job because their daughters’ husbands were treating them as if they were houseboys, and did not recognize that they are Senator and Representative from back home.

$100.00 Liberian dollars with image of Willam R. Tolbert Jr.

$100.00 Liberian dollars with image of Willam R. Tolbert Jr.

Both Stephen Allen and James Springs got jobs working as Elevator Operators in a not-so-busy office complex building in the US. The first day on the job, the young white supervisor met with them to tell them their job requirements. Everything went well until the young supervisor said, “When we are less busy, one of you should go in the yard to pick up papers (trash) on the ground and put them in the trash cans.” Right then, Speaker James Springs asked Senior Senator Stephen Allen, “Who is this little White boy talking to, doesn’t he know we are Representative and Senator?”

Due to their Liberian accent, all the young man heard was, “We are Representative and Senator!” To which he responded, “Not on this job! Both of you are employed here as mere Lift Operators, and if you do not follow my instructions, you will be fired.”

Upon hearing what the young man said, Senator Allen was, “Do we look like crazy people picking up papers from off the ground?” Representative James Springs followed Senator Allen’s remark with, “We quit, you can have your damn job, uniforms and caps; baah (friend), let’s leave from this damned place before people see us here; we are too big for this job,” and they two of them left to go home in a rush.

These were the same honorable gentlemen in Monrovia that used to ‘bluff for nothing’ (showed off without substance) – yet, they did not know anything; they were not willing to take the time to keep up with new developments in their surroundings or in the world; they were forever stuck in the past; what they knew is what they learned some twenty five years ago.

These honorable gentlemen are like some of our ‘good for-nothing’ educated Masters’ and Ph.Ds.’ holders; many of them died and those that are living have not written a single pamphlet or book as their contribution to the society that educated them.

Old Notebook Lecturers

Based on contacts made on behalf of both Ambassador Stephen Allen and Minister Edward by family members, friends and associates, they were able to obtained teaching assignments as adjunct instructors at community colleges in the states of South Carolina and Mississippi to teach History, International Studies, Public Safety and Defense courses based on their personal and professional experiences in Africa.

In preparation for their respective assignments, both honorable gentlemen resorted to digging out from their trunks old notes from their notebooks, journals, speeches, seminar presentations, training materials, old newspapers articles they have complied over the years to develop course outline (syllabus) from which to teach from.

South Carolina Greenville State Community College

Ambassador Joseph Jenkins got an adjunct instructor position at South Carolina Greenville State Community College (SCGSCC) to teach History and International Studies from the African Perspective. Ambassador Jenkins had no updated resources from which he planned to lecture; he relied solely on his outdated materials he had compiled since he graduated from grad school in 1962.

He taught briefly from the assigned textbook but began to use examples from his old notebooks. The students could not relate to the examples he provided because they were not born during the periods was making reference to; like for example, “President Charlie King and his Vice President Yancy had to resign due to the League Nations’ investigation; his administration was involved in corruptions and domestic slavery.”

Some of the students asked questions like, “What is the League of Nations, does it still exists?” Most of the times, the class was in tumult because he was not connecting with the students. Prior to the students taking his complaint to the Dean, they stole few of his OLD NOTEBOOKS from which he lectured. Finally, they had to let him go for not meeting the school teaching expectation.

Mississippi State Community College

Former Defense Minister Edward James too, got an adjunct instructor position at Mississippi State Community College (MSCC) to teach Public Safety and Defense from an African Perspective. Minister James did similar things like his buddy Ambassador Jenkins.

The former Defense Minister did not read nor conduct any research to bring himself up-to-date on events and issues that have taken place in the disciplines of Public Safety and Defense throughout the years. He too, relied on the outdated information he had complied from the time he was in grad school in 1970.   

In preparation for class, former Defense Minister and Major dressed up in the uniform he wore when he was Defense Minister in Liberia. When asked why he dressed the way he did, his response was, “I like to provide my students with the practical experience; by wearing my uniform to class does that.” His class was like a circus; and he the clown. The class was always full to capacity with students from other classes coming to see his performance (he called lecture).

One of his lecture topics was: “My Experience in the Congo Crisis of 1960.” During these lectures he would demonstrate by dropping down on the floor; pretends to be carrying a rifle (ruler in hand), crawls on the floor to show how he escaped from the enemies, whose commander was Joseph Mobuto, later known as Mobutu Sese Seko.

The students asked him such questions as, “What do you think about Idi Amin, was he a good soldier and leader?”  His answer to the question was, “There are some good and bad habits found in most leaders everywhere. Take for example, some people would say Richard Nixon was a bad leader for which he had to resign; the same holds true for Idi Amin.” The students did not buy his argument. However, compared to Adjunct Professor Ambassador Jenkins, Defense Minister Major Edward James did his leveled best (he tried).

The moral of the story is, whatever you do to others will one day come to hunt you. Therefore, when you are a leader ask God for guidance and let Him direct your path; treat the people you lead as impartially as possible, and the good Lord will see to it you NEVER fail.

According to the late African leader Nelson Mandela:

… Leader’s first task is to create a vision. His second is to create a following to help him implement the vision and to manage the process though effective teams. The people being led know where they are going because the leader has communicated the vision and the followers have brought into the goal he had set as well as the process of getting there. (Conversation With Myself, pp. 144-145)

However, in Liberia, for that matter Africa, good leaders are in short supply because those that are in power take the people for granted. The same is happening today in the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA).

The leaders have turned ULAA into a so-called WELFARE organization. The ADVOCACY organization the founders intended has become their personal property. According to available records, “they use the organization’s money (funds) for their own benefit.” The members for whom their so-called WELFARE program is intended to benefit receive nothing – not even sympathizing with the family and relatives of the little boy that died in Minnesota.

Good leaders should always care and show concern for the people the lead; and not wait until they need their support. Leaders solve problems, and are careful not to create new ones. Leaders respect and uphold laws; and are not in the habit of changing laws and certain articles in the constitution they dislike. When these violations keep happening, it is ONLY a matter of time when the people they least suspect will do them in as they did the GRAND OLD TRUE WHIG PARTY GOVERNMENT of which the four good old friends, Joseph Jenkins, Edward James, Stephen Allen and James Springs were PARTISANS, whose lives were never the same due to the fateful day of April 12, 1980.

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1 Comment

  • The writer couldn’t have said it better: no doubt this is the work of fiction! My only problem with his imaginary story, is that the moral lesson emanating therefrom seems to be directed at a particular ethic group. In my estimation, the experience faced by his fictional characters…Joseph Jenkins, Edward James, Stephen Allen and James Springs is not unique to any particular ethnic group, but underpins some of the problems faced by the African Diaspora. There are countless individuals, from all strata of the ethnic, social and political landscape who are victims of this socio-cultural dilemma. Hence, for the writer to narrow this experience to a particular ethnic group, clearly demonstrates his implicit bias and ignorance of the dynamic of the challenges and tensions which characterized the process of assimilation and acculturation of the African Diaspora in the Western Hemisphere. It is therefore preposterous to suggest that the experiences encountered by these fictional characters were due to the fact that they were “unskilled.” Such allusion coming from the author of this “mockumentary,” is just downright doltish.

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