Honorable Wilmot Kunney accused me of talking and writing ‘Tabata’ but most of the people who responded to my articles which are critical of the New ULAA administration agreed with the argument and points I advanced. Honorable Kunney continues: “…disjointed TABATA from a very tired wannabe pan Africanist seeking to use the ULAA Eminent Council to pursue a failed agenda. It is now abundantly clear that the election of certain individuals to the Union highest offices was [were] an accident of greater magnitude with inscrutable graffiti’s on the Union.”
He added another graffiti analysis response:
“Yea wonder shall never end and some eminent persons are really shameless. After walking away from resolving the union crisis- a legitimate function of the Eminent Council, they were seeing enjoying, dancing, and telling ever since stories in Columbus after other members of the Council worked tirelessly and resolved the conflict ensuring a peaceful election and transferred of power… what a monkey work baboon draw kind of eminence?”
Mr. Defender-in-Chief of the New ULAA of President Kamara’s administration and the failed President Weah’s CDC government; I need to take your ‘Tabata’ back to school to learn the introductory History of the Struggle of the African People. Before I proceed, let explain to those who cannot speak nor understand the Kru (Klao) Language and the meanings of your name – ‘Kunney’ and ‘Tabata’.
The name ‘Kunney’ or Kun-nii in the Kru (Klao) Language is a question. The interpretation is: ‘have you grown’ or ‘matured’? Let me make it plain and simple; ‘have you not learn anything all these years?”
On the other hand, ‘Tabata’ in the Kru (Klao) means Foolishness. Between Kunney and I, who is talking and writing foolishness? Now, you be the judge!
At this point the adage, “Never trouble, trouble, until trouble troubles you” is appropriate in reference to my response to Kunney’s Tabata and badmouthing of me.
Back In the Days
Several decades ago, The Student’s Companion written by Wilfred D, Best was one of the most cherished English language textbook supplements that students in Africa and Liberia used in the 1960s. The book was resourceful with extensive vocabulary and proverbs. One such proverb says: “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. This wise saying conjures the complexities of the Liberian experience, which we are now living; therefore, I will let Mr. Kunney have his wishes to believe he is riding horses fast as he dare lecture me about what will save our country– from violence, corruption and senseless killings of innocent Liberians. Yet, he does not have a FRACTION of the EXPERIENCE which I have. Therefore, he needs to take my classes in African and the correct Liberian History, including the Geopolitical History of the African People’s struggle up to the present.
I have been an active PARTICIPANT- not a FAKE PROGRESSIVE, who cannot articulate the VEXED ISSUES of 70s and 80s with clarity. Not too long ago, I heard Mr. Defender-in-Chief of President Weah’s failed CDC government argued on the popularly watched ‘Focus on Liberia’ (FOB) Show. He was shameful! Without evidence to substantiate, the Defender-in-Chief said, President Weah’s policy on Education is the best since President J. J. Roberts. This man CANNOT claim to have my old-age, soon to be 75 years’ “Wisdom”, either! He’s one of those who continue to give the Progressives of the 70s and 80s such a bad name.
What has changed on the home front Mr. Defender-in-Chief?
What has changed since your 42nd State of the Union Address (September 24, 2016), in Buffalo, New York?
In the speech, you stated:
“Consistent with our basic principles of advocating for good governance, peace, social justice and democracy, the Union on many occasions has spoken on issues that affects [affect] governance, peace, and democracy in Liberia. Our advocacy on corruption has been very loud and clear. The Union has also spoken of the slow pace of national reconciliation, the building of a sustainable peace, the deteriorating security conditions in Liberia which manifested in high crime rates and mob violence, as well as the unpreparedness of law enforcement agencies to combat and solve major crimes.
“… The voice of the Union has been strong on the “messy education system” in Liberia which has resulted in mass failures for both WAEC and university entrance exams. We note with sadness the many unbearable learning environment in which students are required to learn, such dilapidated school structures, lack of chairs, black boards, restrooms for the student to comfortably eased themselves, and many others harsh conditions”.
Honorable Kunney, my question to you is, have these conditions improved or gotten worse? From all indications, they have gone from worse to ridiculous. Poverty in Liberia remains on the increase with Liberians doing everything to survive, including selling their personal belongings just to find food. The cost of living is very high in Liberia and an average Liberian family finds it difficult to fend for a daily meal. Many parents are unemployed and therefore cannot afford to send their children to school and have turned to selling anything to buy food to feed their hungry children.
Honorable Kunney, what happen to the ULAA that was a very powerful political force the Liberian Government had to reckon with? We were such a powerful lobbying group; our leaders paraded the United States State Department’s corridors on a regular basis; advocating and lobbying for crippling economic sanctions against successive Liberian Governments who committed human rights abuses including press freedom, social injustice, economic mismanagement and other chronic societal ills.
Due to ULAA aggressive advocacy, successive Liberian Governments were always on the defensive struggling to defend their records against those allegations.
Here is what the Independent Eye News believed lead ULAA’s failure to live up its original intent and covenant it had with the Liberian people at home and in the Diaspora. In its article titled: How The Mighty ULAA Died! It reads:
Unfortunately, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the mighty ULAA began losing her bearings with serious power struggle with cracks and confusion brewing within her leadership.
The split became visible to the public after the Gaye Duwah [Dweh] Sleh administration assumed office in September of 2011. Sleh was met head-on by Dr. Mariah Seaton who laid claims to ULAA’s presidency.
Her ULAA faction dubbed, “internet-ULAA,” made it very difficult for the Sleh administration to remain focus although it was chapter-less, in contrast to the Sleh leadership which had all 18 member chapters to its advantage.
This situation made it impossible for her claim to merit any legitimacy to the presidency. Although Mr. Sleh and Madame Seaton originated from the Illinois Chapter, the internal fight continued unabated.
Mediation efforts by some former Presidents of ULAA who organized themselves into an Eminent Persons’ Council (EPC), to end the impasse failed miserably.
Interestingly, the fight continued until the Seaton led “internet ULAA” vanished from the political scene and died a natural death. However, the Gaye Sleh administration managed to sustain ULAA up to the end of his two presidential terms (Sept. 2011-Sept.-2015). Independent Eye News by Tarnyon Nyenon, Sr.
My pursuit for seeking truth and justice led me into socio-cultural, economic and political activism. I have not regretted, since!
In support of the criticism I leveled against Prime Minister Nathaniel’s money promised the New ULAA’s administration; find below two credible Liberians that agreed with my position:
Tiawan Gongloe writes:
I read your position on the promise made by Minister McGill on behalf of the Government of Liberia to ULAA. Thank you. There is an urgent need to change the nature of governance in Liberia today. Stealing public money and shielding it with public relation spending, such as the one made to ULAA by McGill, is the nature of governance in Liberia. Given the level of ignorance in Liberia, thieves in government tend to present themselves as humanitarians, especially when election time is approaching.
“Our people are so gullible that when thieves in our government pocket our money and build huge private homes for themselves here, some people make comments like, “Yes, the stole money, but at least they are spending it in Liberia.” When these thieves make donations to Liberian groups like the one recently made by the honorable minister to ULAA, some people tend to say, “Well, at least they are giving the money to Liberians.” Yet there is a great need to improve our healthcare, education, agriculture and infrastructure. The only way to change this situation is to vote for someone who can lead the process of changing the nature of governance here. Let me inform you, dear brother that I have stepped forward and I need your support.
“Government is a place to serve and not to steal!!!!!!
A better Liberia is possible!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tiawan – April 12, 2022”
Dr. Bartum Kulah too writes:
“I think Liberians need to beware of Stanton Witherspoon and his influence peddling.
“I understand the President of ULAA is his relative; and it was Stanton’s idea to bring MacGill [McGill] to the convention, in order to broker a deal to soften criticism in the diaspora.
“Everyone is being co-opted by the government in power. Here we go again!”
These Leaders Failed to Live Up to their Pledge
There are those in Liberia and the Diaspora who see no fault in the present leadership; instead, they shower praises on them, tell them what they want to hear, and care nothing about the poor citizens who cannot afford a cup of rice. In fact, they are ‘dishonest hypocrites!’ You see, good friends are those who tell you the truth because they do not want to see you hurt now and in the long run.
All through my social advocacy, my record will show that I continue to contribute to the Liberian Discourse, either in speeches and articles written by me and others who are in the struggle for ‘Rice and Rights’ on behalf of the Liberian masses. More importantly, I have been both student and leader of the period in our nation’s history referred to as the ‘Turbulent Era’. If my mother was alive today, she would be proud of me because the school money she earned from selling in Weasua (diamond mining areas) to pay my school fees is not in vein.
Mr. Defender-in-Chief Kunney, history does not contain only what you see today; it contains the past, the present and the future. One will be narrow-minded to think only of today and forget the past. The past is not something one forgets so easily. The past is part of our experiences! Past history serves as a vehicle for correcting past mistakes and improving on past successes.
Here’s How it All Got Started!
‘ULAA Needs to Get Her Groove back: A Critique’ (January 15, 2000): Brief Summary of Letters Exchanged between Mr. Augustus E. Majors and I (Mr. Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.) – Upon request you can be obtained from Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s 2000 Archive.
Majors’ Understanding of ULAA
Let me assure you, and those who intend to cause trouble that the new ULAA embraces all peace loving and true democratic Liberians. Our efforts are designed to protect our membership and their rights to elect new leaders. Our efforts are intended to ensure an atmosphere of matured dialogue, comradery (sic), unity, equality, and fairness.
Membership into the Union was extended (under the Restructuring Plan) beyond community organizations. This was done to embrace other legitimate and non-political Liberian organizations across this nation. The doors of ULAA are still open and there is a very big sign of WELCOME! I must inform you that certain things have definitely changed –
1. The days of alcoholic beverages at conferences are gone,
2. The days of “BUS-LOAD-VOTERS-POLITICS” are gone,
3. The days of threats, intimidations, and ethnic insensitivity are over.
This is a new dawn, where all players shall play by the same rules. This is the day of equality of all member-organizations. This is the day of constitutional and representative democracy.
Finally, in reference to your passages in your last two paragraphs, about the Board proving you wrong, by producing records to prove our case, again, you have misjudged the caliber of people in the Board. Have you forgotten that in this system of jurisprudence (U.S.A.), the accused is innocent until proven guilty? You see, you are the accuser. The burden of proof rests with you. You are the one who has to prove that our actions violated the Constitution of ULAA. It is you, who have to prove that you are right.
Liberians today, are better educated, more exposed than the ones you boldly manipulated many, many years ago. We have a new wave of “thinking Liberians.” I am not surprised by reactions to the new rules; however, I did not expect one from someone like you, who is a founding member and former president of ULAA, as well a past victim of distorted facts and half-truths.
Mr. Majors does not understand nor appreciate the dynamics of history. If he did, he wouldn’t have made sweeping statements about those who made it possible for him to occupy his current position. It was through our farsightedness that he is where he finds himself, today.
The Chairman reminds me of a child who claims “as a matter of fact” that his mother did not give birth to him but rather he was born into this world all by himself. The conclusion one derived from this kind of reasoning can be equated to the TWP/NPP authoritarian practices. Moreover, individuals who engage in compromising the democratic tradition, which calls for amending rules and laws, approved by, with and for the people belong in the distance past. No wonder, Mr. Majors and his associates are considered “compassionate loyalists” of Mr. Taylor.
The question that one needs to ask is – what has become of the noble beliefs that ULAA once espoused? Beliefs like:
To CREATE a framework for the intelligent examination and discussion of issues relating to the welfare of our people as well as for the presentation of responsible collective views and opinions.
I personally feel they have become empty words because the Korto/Majors Administration has failed to adhere to them – which have made ULAA to fail the Liberian people miserably. During their tenure, they have refused to take positions on several national issues — the September 18 – 19, 1998 Camp Johnson Road Massacre is one such example. The Camp Johnson Road Massacre is an incident that government soldiers killed hundreds of the Krahn ethnic group. Perhaps, there is some merit in the widely held belief that the leadership was awaiting approval from Monrovia before any public statement could be issued.
Consequently, the no-action policy of the Korto/Majors leadership represents a “sad period in the history of the organization.” This no-action policy of Korto/Majors supports the general feelings regarding the way most Liberians in the U.S. view ULAA. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to reach the conclusion that ULAA’s Annual General Conference and General Elections were postponed several times as a strategy designed to frustrate those elements in ULAA who are prepared to resuscitate the sleeping giant. Moreover, many of us suspect that this strategy is an attempt for the Korto/Majors leadership to seek favors from Mr. Taylor. But in spite of their tactics, posterity will record their deeds as the worse in the history of ULAA.
And since the leadership of ULAA insists on putting its opportunistic and narrow objectives first, before the Liberian people’s interests, this may resort to ULAA not getting her Groove back. Groove in this respect, is simply doing the right thing. And if most Liberians continue to see the leadership of ULAA as sold out to the government of President Charles McArthur Taylor, the organization will remain ineffective. In short, let me remind Honorable Majors & company that it is small people who talk about other people; average people talk about things, while great people talk about ideas. Similarly, ULAA should talk about doing the RIGHT THING.
Additional information addressing the same issue can be obtained from The Liberian Dialogue: “A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and Its Chapters – Part I”
We (Liberians) are in the position we find ourselves today, because most of our people were too afraid to ‘rock-the-boat’ and did not have the guts to look the squarely in the face of those committing corruptions to say, ‘Enough is enough’, but rather engage in hide and seek, deception and hypocrisy. Many religious leaders too, are guilty of this kind of hypocritical behavior. Instead of condemning wrong doings as Jesus did, they let the opportunities for change slip by. They rather feed their congregations with false hope, including how good it is to forgive and forget. Perhaps, it is fear and other factors that make them to remain silent on many of these vexed and nagging issues.
The past in Liberia doesn’t seem to be going away. Instead, it continues to haunt us. Can we forget the past as suggested by some people? The answer is NO! It cannot be forgotten; it can be forgiven with the right things put in place. In fact, this is one of the reasons we are being constantly reminded of it through history and the Holy Scriptures. Even then, those who made mistakes in the past will have to admit (repent) and accept the responsibilities to have those mistakes corrected so that they will be forgiven – like the way God forgives our SINS.
To forget the past in the spirit of peace and reconciliation without the wrong doers first admitting their wrongs is to ignore the dynamics of history. This approach has never worked in the past, and I don’t think it is going to work for Liberians today, because history as recorder of past and present events has to address the past, without which the future cannot be planned or predicted.
There comes a time in one’s life when he/she has to make decisions that involve family members, friends and to a larger extent – the government; and when faced with issues of great magnitude that involve friendship and justice, you have to make the right choice between friendship and truth, and . . . if you were me, you would select truth over friendship. This was the situation in which I found myself dealing with some of my friends and associates in the struggle for justice and democracy in the 80s and 90s. Why, because they felt the struggle had ended, therefore, they had to move from advocacy to so-called “Constructive Engagement” and “Social Service” a euphemism they had difficulty explaining. As the result, these policies were dead on arrival.
How could at such a time in our history, the leadership of ULAA with good conscience see poverty on the increase in the country make such a move? The poverty level in the country was increasing at a rapid rate; causing ordinary Liberians to get involve in doing everything to survive, including selling their personal belongings just to find food. The cost of living was very high. The average Liberian family found it difficult to fend for a daily meal. Many parents were unemployed and therefore could not afford to send their children to school and had to turn to selling anything that was worth selling to provide food for their families.
Few of us who were accused of not willing to change, chose to continue to say or write the truth about the wrong direction ULAA was heading to embrace “corrupt practices” in Liberia. The suggestion to engage the Liberian government constructively to us would have been to join the chorus of opportunists in defense of the government, especially, a corrupt one at that. We that were considered Troublemakers honestly felt it was not the way to go. It was our patriotic obligation to expose these new ‘born again’ supporters who were benefitting from the corrupt money at the expense of the struggling Liberian people.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” thus said the Lord! (Matthew 18:20) God did not say where a multitude of people gathered in my name. Therefore, those who are rejoicing that the peaceful protest at the UN did not succeed are not true believers in what the Lord our God is capable of doing.
Conclusion: Covenant Betrayed
In our beloved country, Liberia, critics are for the most part derided as enemies. This is the main reason why Liberians rarely discuss issues amicably. Most often, those who disagree with us tend to resort to name calling–spewing here and there unrelated issues that have nothing to do with the topic under discussion. This is the way they participate in national discourse—at home and in the Diaspora. They make excuses for the wrongs of friends and relatives who happen to be in power; blamed those of us who have the guts to raise concerns about vexed issues of national interest.
In other words, Liberians put selfish interests over collective wellbeing, and the common good of our people. Their support for politicians is for the most part based on favors and what they can get from them—not on principles. This is why most elected officials in Liberia grossly violate public trust. To get the support of a Liberian, simply give him some handouts—a job that he isn’t qualified for, ill-gotten ‘brown envelopes’ in the corner or at night. He does not care where these handouts come from! As long as they keep coming to him, his family, friends and relatives, there is no empathy for the rest of the people in Liberia.
An average Liberian who enjoys favors from a government is not only indifferent to the plight of ordinary Liberians, but he/she is also dead scared to engage the government—in the so-called constructive way. In their selfishness, they rather serve as cheerleaders so not to fall out of favor with government officials. Therefore, they rather let these government officials go on misusing the people’s wealth and resources with impunity; and they will go to any length to make ridiculous excuses for their corrupt benefactors.
As a youth growing up Monrovia, I was awakened by the injustices I saw and experienced in the country. I made a promise to the Almighty God that up to my last breath, I will seek justice for those who are denied it, especially, the Liberian people by their leaders. Therefore, no one will ever persuade me from doing that which is RIGHT.
Therefore, I call on all patriotic Liberians to unite in order for us to protest against the Liberian Presidency that is the epicenter of abusing public resources to benefit only their families and associates like President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did during her 12 years rule as President.
Brother Kunney, I hope you have learned a thing or two from my classes.
“Our eyes are opened; the time of the people has come!”
About The Author: Eminent Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr. is a retired Mental Health/Developmental Disability (MH/DD) Clinical Team Leader and QMRP (Qualified Mental Retardation Professional) employed by the Georgia Department of Human Resources – Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta. He has over 30 years’ experience working as Clinical Instructor, Behavior Specialist and Administrator. Eminent Nyanseor is former Secretary, Vice & Chair of ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. He is the historian of ULAA; a founding member and the organization’s 11th President (1986-1988). Eminent Nyanseor is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Also, he is a poet, Griot, journalist, and a cultural and political activist. He is an ordained Minister of the Gospel; He is Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF); publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology. He can be reached at: [email protected].
NOTE: Should you need the TRUTH about ULAA, I can be reached at the contact provided above.