Book Review & Commentary On ULAA Vs ULAA: Triumphs, Chaos, and the Death of Courage, and Ideas By Eminent Dr. Jesse M. Cooper, Sr.

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Preamble:

“ULAA vs. ULAA – The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas: Triumphs, Chaos, and the Death of Courage, and Ideas, Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh’s (Ph.D.) book published by (Kiiton Press, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 2023). Dr. Sungbeh considers himself a critic of ULAA; the oldest Liberian organization in Diaspora. He is the publisher ofThe Liberian Dialogue’, an Internet Web-magazine that was established in 2002.

 

Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh, Ph.D.
Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh, Ph.D.

According Sungbeh, The Liberian Dialogueis: “Credible, Compelling, Consistent, and Provocative.”  In September 20, 2021, Sungbeh wrote an article titled: ‘Liberia Can Do Better!’ He began the article with, “As a staunch critic of ULAA…” I find his style of writing confrontational, and to use his own word – ‘Provocative’.

 

Introduction of ULAA vs. ULAA

“It doesn’t matter where home is, Liberians have always maintained a sense of pride and togetherness in their adopted countries through their organizations the overwhelming belief is that the success of these organizations will sprout a public good that will trickle down to help members and their families in the village and the country they left behind.

 

“In Monrovia, the nation’s capital where Liberians of diverse personalities moved to make a living, these individuals bonded together mutually through kinships and their tribal organizations and maintained humility, a sense of family and community, social engagement, hard work, and a respectable leadership structure that morphed into elections, and the collection of dues to run their organizations.”

 

I got lost! The Introduction did not tell the reader about ULAA vs. ULAA, a Diaspora organization the book about. To use his own word, his narration ‘morphed’ to the nation’s capital Monrovia.

The paragraph that precedes the second paragraph threw me off. “Running their organization[s] means a lot to these one-time rural, mostly poor, unemployed, and uneducated people with nothing – not a cent to their knees – but grit and devotion to each other enabling them to pool their resources together to run their various tribal organizations, and to provide for themselves and their families.”

There are several significant problems with the book. There is no disagreement regarding the fact that Diaspora organizations have had problems, and some are still having problems. However, the chapters listed below displayed a lack of objective analysis in the root causes of the problems that have bedeviled these organizations, including ULAA; the organization this book is about. First, Sungbeh did not contact or interview past and present ULAA officials to make the content of the book more relevant. When I contacted Eminent Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr., the official historian of ULAA to write this book report and commentary, he told me Sungbeh did not contact him; yet, he used several of Nyanseor’s primary works.

Since the book is about ULAA, the chapters listed below should be about ULAA vs. ULAA: Triumphs, Chaos, and the Death of Courage, and Ideas. Yet, there are chapters in the book that are not relevant to the book. The chapters listed below will prove my point.

Chapter 1–ULAA: The Umbrella Organization

Except for a few changes Sungbeh made, he practically copied the History of ULAA written by Nyanseor – without the author’s permission.

 

Chapter 2–Where Are The (Liberian) Political Activists?

I found it difficult to follow where Dr. Sungbeh was heading. The following examples are confusing: “Liberian activist of the past, in their patriotism and restlessness, demanded that things change for the better, a demand that most freedom-loving people who aspire for change in their country would make to their governments to improve the lives of their lives, provide security, and change their current way of doing things.

“Where are this era’s activists?

“Liberia is struggling, and the Liberian people are struggling. When people are suffering the way the Liberian people are suffering, they need activists and civil society to be the buffer between an unjust government and their people.

“This brings me to ULAA and other groups, except that ULAA, as the leading group among the groups, has lost its way of being the influential force and substantive organization that folks once cling to as a legitimate change agent.” (Pages 11 & 12) ULAA Vs ULAA

Having jump from one subject to another, he scored a point on page 26. It reads: “The familiar criticism of ULAA as being reticent on burning political issues except for the occasional press releases or no press release at all, and the organization leadership’s penchant for using ULAA as a steppingstone to seek employment in the Liberian government, however, have not won ULAA any popularity contest among Liberians.”

Chapter 3Does ULAA Have a Future as A Viable Organization? Dr. Sungbeh asked the question: “Does ULAA Have a Future as A Viable Organization?” In fact, he introduced an organization into the discussion that has nothing to do with ULAA. He says, “The Latin American Association was founded in 1972, two years before ULAA is doing better for its people. The Latin American Association represents George’s Latino community and Latino issues.” (Page 38)

I did not find the connection between the Latin American Association and ULAA!

Chapter 4ULAA vs. ULAA

This chapter should have been the crux of the book, but Dr. Sungbeh presented what others have written about the problems the organization has had regarding elections without providing his own analysis and evaluation. It is safe to say, he had nothing to offer to the problems, which is the topic of the book: ULAA vs. ULAA. I am very disappointed!

 

Chapter 5ULAA’s McGill Problem

There should not have been this chapter in the book. The McGill Problem is not ULAA’s. It could have been dealt with somewhere in the book. ULAA had its share of criticism regarding the McGill issue.

 

Chapter 6 ULAA’s Council of Eminent Persons

ULAA’s Council of Eminent Persons’ history was copied by Dr. Sungbeh without obtaining a verbal or written permission from the organization or any of its leaders. Instead, he made some comments here and there on the document. This is plagiarism!

 

Chapter 7 Leaders of ULAA Over the Years: ULAA Presidents & County of Origin

The author of ULAA Presidents & County of Origin; Chairpersons of the Board is ULAA’s Historian Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor. Dr. Sungbeh wrote: “Culled from the 45th Annual General Assembly program of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA)”. He should have obtained verbal or written permission from the organization or any of its leaders. He felt by changing the topic to:  “Leaders of ULAA Over the Years: ULAA Presidents & County of Origin” will suffice. It is still plagiarism!

 

Chapter 8 Liberian Associations in the Americas

“Unfortunately, some Liberians are willing to destroy something so good like bonding around the idea of community association that was founded to help their people, and to identify with each other and their birthplace, but rather are looking the other way to take care of their own selfish interests… Even though these local organizations see themselves as the alternative to ULAA because of ULAA’s compromised political stances with current and past Liberian governments, their supposedly non-political philanthropic work in their villages is admirable, unlike ULAA, they care for their people at home and will do for them.” (Page 76)

 

What the heck is he saying? I find it hard to understand what he is conveying here. He should have provided some examples about these Liberians and their organizations.

 

Chapter 9 The Dominant and Visionless Liberian Presidents

I do not see the significance of this chapter being a part of this book.

Chapter 10 Get Rid of The Flawed National Elections Commission

I do not see the significance of this chapter being a part of this book.

 

Chapter 11 Can ULAA Advocate to Fix Liberia’s Broken Education System?

The answer to this question, yes. There are sufficient materials available where ULAA, other Diaspora organizations, including individuals and professionals have written extensively to improve the Liberian educational system. The materials are available!

 

Chapter 12 The Death of Political Courage, Vision, and Ideas

‘The internet talk show hosts and their pals, the ‘political analyses and their views, and others couldn’t wait to share those views with just about anyone who will listen since it doesn’t cost a dime to lend an ear to the talking heads who want us to believe they are making sense.” (Pages 140-141)

 

What I got from the passage above and most of the chapters led me to the conclusion that Dr. Sungbeh wrote articles instead of a book. The internet talk show hosts and their pals he accused exhibit political courage to express their views openly. Therefore, I can say with certainty that these individuals’ political courage is alive, not dead.

 

Chapter 13 ULAA’s Dual Citizenship And Out –of-Country Voting

“The Issue of immigration advocacy that ULAA is proudly touts on its website is not the work of only ULAA but the efforts of Liberian Associations and Liberian advocacy groups around the United States, whose own residents lived in fear of their immigration statuses and want their organizations to assist them.” (Page 147)

 

I do not see the connection here regarding Dual Citizenship And Out –of-Country Voting’. This is a cherry-picking argument.

 

Chapter 14 ULAA Stance on Liberian Government Officials Sanctioned by the U.S. Government, “Fire Sanctioned Officials Now”

I do not see the significance of this chapter being a part of this book.

 

Chapter 15 ULAA, Isn’t it Too Late For Your Press Release?

The question about the Press Release should not have been a chapter. The question could have been dealt with in some of the chapters. To me, creating chapters for the sake of chapter doesn’t make sense. It is my opinion!

 

Chapter 16 Treasury Sanctions Senior Liberian Government Officials for Public Corruption By U.S. Mission Liberia/ 15 August 2022

I do not see the significance of this chapter being a part of this book.

 

Chapter 17 Nathaniel Farlo McGill’s letter to the President: 18 August 2022

I do not see the significance of this chapter being a part of this book.

Chapter 18 – There is no Chapter 18!

Chapter 19 – EPIOGUE

Nothing needs to be said!

REFERENCES

There are References in the book that was not used to write the book or have anything to do with the topic: ULAA vs. ULAA. (You could cite 1 or 2 references that are unrelated to the topic)

 

Overall, the book is rife with disjointed, incoherent social media trolls and does not stick with its stated aim of being a narrative of personal experience. It is difficult to discern whether the book is a narrative, or a political analysis of events as they transpired in 1960 through 1990, to say the least. The topics he used lack coherence and there is an absence of an in-depth analysis of discussion of critical issues. The authors’ casual attempt and treatment of deep historical problems leaves much to be desired.

Finally, Dr. Sungbeh used other authors’ materials, yet he failed to acknowledge the sources. You can purchase the book if you want to patronize the brother; but there are many shortcomings – one of which is, the violation of Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor’s Intellectual Property Rights.

In order for me to write this review, I interviewed Nyanseor whether Dr. Sungbeh got his approval to use any of his materials. Nyanseor’s response was Dr. Sungbeh did not contact him to seek his approval.

If you are interested in purchasing current books written by Liberians, you will do better buying the following books: Liberty Hijacked: The History of How The Loss of Liberty Divides Us by Kai G Wleh and Rich Land Poor Country: The “Paradox of Poverty” in Liberia by Sam Jackson. Both books are well written and make good reading.

Nyanseor is widely published; his articles about ULAA can be obtained through request at: [email protected].

E:\PHOTO - Dr. Jesse M. Cooper, Sr..jpg

Eminent Dr. Jesse M. Cooper, Sr.

Chairperson, UCEP, Inc.

 

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