ULAA’s 50th Anniversary Celebration: A Paradigm Shift Requires to Continue the Goals and Objectives by Eminent Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.

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April 21, 2024 this year was the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas’ (ULAA) 50th Anniversary. It was during the week of Liberia’s Independence Day celebration. Liberians and friends of Liberia from all over the country gathered at Drexel University’s Hopkinson Hall, 34th and Chestnut Streets, Philadelphia, to celebrate the occasion.

It was at this occasion, the organization was founded. However, despite the many problems we encountered at the time as student-immigrants with financial hardship, which included such personal interests as greed, self-aggrandizement, and tribal, place of original as opposed to national unity; we were able to agree to form a community organization with the name that has stood the test of time, these 50-years.

These meetings produced the Liberian Students Association (LSA) in the United States and Canada. From this endeavor, the leadership of LSA appointed a Task Force to study and develop the principal and objectives for association. On April 21, 1974, the Task Force submitted its final report and recommendations at a conference, held at Drexel University’s Hopkinson Hall. It was at this conference, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas and Canada (ULAA) was born.

The organizations present were: the Liberian Students Association of New York – consisting of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut; the Liberian Students Association of Pennsylvania – including Delaware, and the Liberian Students Association of Metropolitan Washington, D. C., which included Maryland and Virginia.



  1. To establish a system of meaningful communication among all Liberians;
  2. To stimulate and encourage exemplary scholarship among Liberians at home and abroad;
  3. To create a framework for the consideration of problems related to the welfare of Liberian people at home and the articulation of responsible collective viewpoints among Liberians abroad, and
  4. To Provide and/or coordinate various services to Liberians and their local organizations abroad.

The central institutions consist of three principal organs:

ANNUAL GENERAL CONFERENCE – The Conference reviews the basic policies and direction of the organization. The Conference encompasses all Liberians and their local chapters.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS – The Board consists of presidents of local chapters and two elected representatives. The Board exercises regular legislative and policy-making powers.

EXECUTIVE BODY – The Executive is composed of the administrative officers of the Union. The Executive falls under the leadership of the president.


* All formal local chapters

* All other Liberian organizations

* Others (as may be determined by the Union)

* Friends of Liberia (honorary status)


Together, We Struggle For A Better Liberia

ULAA Official Logo



The logo of the Union consists of the following symbols:

The RISING SUN – represents the dawn of a new day; it also indicates a new beginning for new ideas and progress

The THREE HUTS – depict our African Heritage/Culture. They also represent the coming together of the Settlers, Indigenous and later, the Emigrants with the focus on Community and Unity

The PALM TREES – represent Diversity and Wealth

The TWO CUTLASSES – signified Bravery and Strength in defense of our Country and Beliefs



Starting from April 14, 1980, ULAA was faced with a new reality. The People’s Redemption Council (PRC) led by Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe overthrew the True Whig Party government. With this change came new set of realities and problems. For the first time in the history of the organization, there was a serious disagreement among its leaders and members regarding how to approach or deal with the PRC government. The disagreement was based on ethnicity. Majority of those who advocated for the “Laisez-faire Approach” (give them a chance) were of indigenous background. This group interpreted the change that took place in Liberia to mean that the “Country People” had finally come to power; therefore, they should be given a chance since they were new at it. This approach did ruin the credibility of the organization to certain extent. Rightly so, critics of ULAA accused the organization of being tribalistic in its approach in addressing national issues (at the time).

The progressive element on the other hand (consisted both of mixed backgrounds, indigenous as well as Settlers), viewed injustice as injustice, no matter who committed it; an approach that served as the catalyst of ULAA’s principle and objectives; therefore, the progressive element felt that the same rules should be applied in addressing the present contradictions of the PRC regime. They could not understand why the PRC should be an exception. To make matter worse, former officials of ULAA who had taken up assignments as advisors, minister and junior ministers in the government began to engage in similar practices that they spoke and demonstrated against when they were in the United States.

Based on the Laisez-faire Approach adopted by the members and leadership of ULAA in the U.S., coupled with the behavior of its former members in Liberia; led to the formation of various “self-help” organizations. These organizations include county, alumni, and humanitarian, civil and social organizations. For the first time in the history of organization, ULAA was faced with serious challenge and had to compete with these organizations for membership as well as leadership. But given the limited agenda and the pool from which these organizations recruited prevented them from having a broad appeal. In other words, these self-help organizations’ lack of broad appeal enabled ULAA to survive throughout the Doe Era.

The Founders were farsighted enough to make their dream a living reality! Today, if I am not mistaken, ULAA is the only Liberian organization in the diaspora that has lasted this long. How do I know? I was present when all of these activities were going one; not as passive observer, rather as an active participant. Now, it is close to 60 years when the greater Liberian community in the Americas decided to unite with the goal and objectives to celebrate our history and African culture. Therefore, I am very proud to have played active role as a member and community leader.

For this reason, this article is written to pass on the history to the generation that has inherited ULAA. On like us, they are more privileged today due to the advancement of the world. This generation is blessed and exposed to all categories of education and communication instruments at their disposals which were not available to us. Unlike us, they are able to acquire accurate knowledge of history and valuable information due to the advancement of scientific knowledge.

Due to what I have learned throughout these many years, I am happy to provide my honest perspective regarding the role the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) has played and continued to play through its Community Associations in the United States and Canada.

More important, I am reminded of the profound statement that reads: “In the 21st Century to be ignorant is no excuse”, because there are many avenues such as: the Internet, Google and other mediums through which to gain accurate information about what is going in the world. Therefore, I find no reason why some individuals or group of people choose to remain IGROANCE.



It is the obligation of the New Generation to Resuscitate and Rescue ULAA

The Liberian Students Association (LCA) which later became ULAA was formed without any blueprint for example to followed; we organized the association ‘from scratch’.

The main purpose for which ULAA was established is to provide concrete historical factors that led to the demise of the so-called “Our once sweet Liberia”. However, most of the criticisms leveled against the leaders and members of the association were narrowly defined as doing “nothing but talking politics”.


This article is purposely written to set the record straight and as well as to educate our critics who do not know anything about the functions and achievements of ULAA’s past and present. In doing so, I will provide the reasons ULAA came into existence. Listed below are some of the reasons:

  1. The undemocratic conditions in our country during this period brought about the formation of the Liberian Students Association (LSA) in the United States and Canada,
  2. Finding amicable solutions to the problems at home led us in diaspora to organize the Liberian Students Association (LSA) in the United States and Canada, and
  3. Finally, to conduct an ongoing evaluation of the successes and failures (pitfalls and shortcomings) of the association.

I hope by providing these information, those who have very little knowledge about ULAA; will have the correct information in order not to engage in negative criticisms of the organization.

However, I have noticed that most Liberians have the tendency to confuse social and political activism with talking or playing politics. Some of them even referred to those of us who for many years have been advocating for the human and constitutional rights of our people as politicians, when in fact, we occupy no elected or appointed political offices in Liberia.

Previous officials in the Tubman, Tolbert, Doe and Taylor administrations blamed us for “washing our dirty clothes in the public”, which is, protesting against the inhumane practices and policies of the government. On numerous occasions, some of these officials and supporters threatened to put us in jail when we return to Liberia. In addition, we are blamed for the demise of the so-called “good-old-days” or “the Sweet Liberia”.

Some time ago, a renowned Liberian journalist by the name, Bill Frank Enoanyi which by today’s standard is referred to as Kartow Journalism; wrote an ‘Open Letter’ to Columnist Colbert King of The Washington Post blaming Liberians in the US for their opposition to the Taylor’s Government. Find below excerpts of the letter:

“Some Liberians who would ordinarily not qualify for temporary or permanent residence are exploiting the human rights concerns of America to the great detriment of their country’s image.

“…The point of this letters [sic] is that the Liberians doing this to their own country are like people sitting in a tree and thoroughly defecating on the ground on which they must eventually descend. They will have to step on the sh…”

During the Tubman Administration, what some historians referred to as pseudo attempt were made to unite those the “Love of Liberty” brought to the Grain Coast (present day Liberia) and the rest of the people who are referred to as aborigines that the “Love of Liberty” met on the Grain Coast.


The politics during the period mentioned was at best good public relations – window dressing; which Howard W. French described in his book titled: A Continent for the Taking. According to him:

“As they settled the land, the Americo-Liberians fondly strove to reproduce the only model they knew, the plantation society of the American South. Affecting top hats and morning coats, the freedmen ruled Africa’s first republic in a clannish and conservative manner, established their own curiously paternalistic brand of apartheid, systematically excluding so-called aborigines from positions of privilege and power.”


According to one historian: “The people and only the people alone are the motive (force) in the making of history.” The Liberian people, be it at home or abroad, were not exempt from this historical process. “For almost several decades, a small ruling class comprised of Liberians from various ethnic groups, repressed, suppressed, and exploited their fellow country men and women. Those who dared to oppose the ruling class were imprisoned, harassed, and killed. Similarly, the ruling class closed all of the doors leading to the chambers of peaceful constitutional change.”

Such infringements on peaceful and constitutional change in most developing countries and the African Diaspora, particular in the United States gave birth to the Black Consciousness revolution in the 1960s. During this period, African Americans looked for answers to their continuing oppression and exclusion from America society. Encouraged by several favorable Supreme Court decisions on education and segregation in the 1950s, prompted African Americans to demand for their civil and human rights. Due to the slow pace of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, many African American notables, such as Malcolm X a.k.a. El-Haji Malik El-Shabazz Omowale (1925 – 1965) became impatient. Spawned by a sense of urgency, and a new militancy, many young African Americans took to the streets across the U. S. Places like Watts, Harlem and Detroit became areas of popular rebellions. This new militancy became known as “Black Power.” The Black Power Movement rejected the old term “Negro,” which was equated with being passive and subservient and instead called themselves Blacks and Afro-Americans.

The Black Power Movement influenced other movements in the Black World, specifically, South Africa. Steve Bantu Biko (1946 – 1977), a Black South African militant, used this ideology to “conscientize” his people about apartheid. Biko and members of the Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) focused their activities on reviving self-dignity and confidence among Black South Africans, who had been victimized by the racist apartheid policies.

Total Involvement Era

The wind of change that was sweeping the rest of the globe slowly made it into Liberia immediately after the death of President William V.S. Tubman in 1971. This period became known as the “Total Involvement Era” – 1971-1980. Some commentators argued that Tolbert’s liberal policies as opposed to his predecessor was due to the fact that he wanted to distance himself from the policies of the Tubman Administration under which he served as Vice President for 19 years. Others argued that Tolbert had no other choice but to deviate from the old conservative True Whig Party policies because the actors on the scene were different compared to their parents. Moreover, the historical period in which Tolbert found himself demanded a different approach. For example, these new actors were the “baby boomers.” They were not prepared to accept the same treatment that their parents and grandparents tolerated. Secondly, they were better exposed, had studied abroad, were idealistic, and had higher goals in life. Thus, they were not going to accept things as usual and that did not include their full participation. These were the realities that Tolbert was faced with.

According to Paulo Freire (1921-1997), a Brazilian philosopher and educator who is known for his model of “critical consciousness” and his work in critical pedagogy said: “…Education should be developed with rather than for the students, especially those who come from oppressed, marginalized populations.”

In the process of developing a critical awareness of one’s social reality through reflection and action will be realized.  Action is fundamental because it is the process of achieving the reality. Paulo Freire says that “we all acquire social myths which have a dominant tendency, and so learning is a critical process which depends upon uncovering real problems and actual needs”. In his life time, he worked to eradicate illiteracy among people from previously colonized countries and continents.

Despite these laudable strides, it is however regrettable to note that certain members and officers of ULAA, who led the organization through its struggle against injustice in Liberia, betrayed the organization and joined the misfit regime in perpetrating those same maladies they previously condemned unequivocally. This naked display of opportunism, greed, parochialism and self-aggrandizement, cast bad light on the organization. Our critics were able to argued, and correctly so, that ULAA is often used by some of its leaders as political bait aimed at enhancing their personal economic and political interests.

Due to this way practice that I referred to as “one rotten banana spoiled the whole bunch,” led our critics to condemn us. This practice has and is being use as talking points which is similar to what tyrants use to hold on to power. This approach is the weapon they use to publish their propaganda materials in the media of the oppressors and their foreign agents and sponsors.

A concrete example is the struggle blacks South Africans fought to liberate themselves; to which Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela made the profound statement: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die. … Freedom can never be taken for granted. Each generation must safeguard it and extend it. Your parents and elders sacrificed much so that you should have freedom without suffering what they did. Use this precious right to ensure that the darkness of the past never returns.

Paradigm Shift

The term paradigm shift refers to a major change in the worldview, concepts, and practices of how something works or is accomplished. A paradigm shift can happen within a wide variety of contexts from scientific research to industry.

Paradigm shifts in industry often happen when new technology is introduced that radically alters the production process or manufacturing of a good or service. These shifts are key drivers in many of the processes that a society undergoes, such as the American Industrial Revolution or the information revolution since the 2000s.


  • A paradigm shift is a major change in how people think and get things done that upends and replaces a prior paradigm.
  • A paradigm shift can result after the accumulation of anomalies or evidence that challenges the status quo, or due to some revolutionary innovation or discovery.
  • There is often resistance to a new paradigm coming from incumbents.
  • The concept was first formalized by physicist and philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn.

Although the notion of paradigms has been around for quite some time, the concept of paradigm shifts was explored by American physicist and philosopher Thomas Samuel Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn characterized a paradigm shift as a revolution that challenges and ultimately takes the place of a prevailing scientific framework. These challenges arise when the dominant paradigm, under which normally accepted science operates, is found to be incompatible or insufficient with new data or findings, facilitating the adoption of a revised or completely new theory or paradigm.1

Paradigms are important because they define how we perceive reality and how we behave within it. Everyone is subject to the limitations and distortions produced by their socially conditioned nature. For instance, before Einstein physicists took Newtonian physics for granted. That paradigm was then challenged by the rise of quantum mechanics.

For example, the internet created a paradigm shift in the way financial services and stock markets operate. Orders for securities can now be placed online directly by the client and are sometimes executed in seconds.

Before the internet, a client would have to call their broker, who would write out an order ticket for the broker’s record, then call the firm’s floor broker to execute the trade. Stock quotes are now widely available through multiple sources thanks to modern technology, whereas people needed ticker machines installed in their offices 100 years ago. All of the old-time equipment such as order tickets, fax machines, and ticker machines are now obsolete, thanks to the paradigm shift brought on by modern technology.

Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, identified paradigm shifts in scientific research programs. These occur after science-as-usual (what Kuhn called “normal science”) continues to accumulate anomalies that can no longer be explained by the current set of theories and methods. As these anomalies grow that challenge the prevailing paradigm, new theories and methods are developed that challenge the status quo, ultimately leading to a crisis. While incumbents will often rise to discount these challengers, eventually a new paradigm may sweep over and replace the old guard.

What Are the Stages Leading to a Paradigm Shift?

According to Kuhn, Science proceeds in the following stages:

  1. Pre-paradigmatic science
  2. Normal science
  3. Accumulation of anomalies
  4. Crisis
  5. Establishment of a new paradigm

Kuhn’s Stages to Paradigm Shift

Image result for paradigm shift by thomas kuhn

(What Is a Paradigm Shift? Definition, Example, and Meaning (investopedia.com)

With the development of new technologies, the generation after us, the Baby Boomers to improve ULAA’s goals and objectives by establishing Paradigm Shift – not doing things the same old ways; simply put, a change of habit in business like “Supply Chain” (new business model), diversify, communicates via the Internet (world wide web), text message, conduce meeting via teleconference and Zoom. The world has changed and continues to change. More importantly, Lives are being transformed through innovations.


  1. The organization’s Constitution must be followed and adhered to
  2. Elected and appointed officers must be qualified, efficient and should not be basis of popularity, relationship or friendship
  3. Elected and appointed officers must be transparent organization’s funds and resources
  4. Members must respect each other, and especially their elected and appointed leaders
  5. The administration in power must have good communication skills, process in place to keep the members informed; it could be via weekly or by-weekly electronic newsletter
  6. There should be an official website of the organization
  7. The Board of Director must be very active
  8. Members must pay their monthly dues
  9. The organization must establish working relationship with similar interest groups, be it private or government
  10. There should be an annual award program to honor members as well as non-members
  11. There organization should establish a free and fail election process
  12. The administration should have both in-persons and Zoom Meetings, and
  13. The administration is allowed per the constitution to call Emergency Meeting of the organization on matters of importance


This July (2024), will be the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas’ 50th Anniversary. The week of our country’s Independence Day celebration, Liberians and friends of Liberia from all over the country gathered at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to celebrate the occasion.

On this weekend, we were inspired by Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela’s profound statement regarding Black South Africans’ liberation; it reads: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”… “Freedom can never be taken for granted. Each generation must safeguard it and extend it. Your parents and elders sacrificed much so that you should have freedom without suffering what they did. Use this precious right to ensure that the darkness of the past never returns”, he concluded.

The only thing that is constant in life is CHANGE! “The people and only the people alone are the motive force in the making of history.” This has been ULAA’s unequivocal obligation to educate our members and what the Liberian people should expect from the government and their leaders. The Liberian Constitution makes it clear that by no means should their rights be limited. ULAA of yesteryear held the government responsible for not violating any of these rights.

Therefore, the New ULAA has the responsibility to insure that the Covenant it has with the Liberian people continues. The viability of our organization is at stake! If it is to maintain its leadership role in the Diaspora, it will have to shake off any excess baggage to remain the dynamic organization, which is rooted in advocating on behalf the people, not leaders, parties or self interests. ULAA must place national interests first and individual interests last. ULAA has no choice but to continue the vision lay down by the Founding fathers and mothers when they met in Philadelphia in 1974 to organize what has become one of Liberia’s oldest civic and democratic organizations in the diaspora; with the exception of the Liberian Studies Association which celebrated its 55th Anniversary on April 20, 2024.

The way forward is the ONLY way!

On this 50th Anniversary of the birth our august Union of Liberians Association in the Americas, I first pay special tribute to Almighty GOD who has sustained us in fulfilling the dream of our living and departed members that had gone ahead of us to glory to be with our Ancestors; yet, their contributions are still bearing fruits.


I belief the young generation that are replacing us are more equip are in better position to serve as the catalyst to adopt a Paradigm Shift that will transform ULAA to continue the dream the Founders perceived for the organization. In this light, may the Almighty Creator bless the founders and members who have gone ahead of us to join our ancestors in Glory!

I close with:

Ode to the Union

ULAA, posterity will forever

Remember you

For it was you who saw

The early writing on the wall

When everyone else

Was singing praises

Of how sweet Liberia is

When in fact

It was a place

Where Monkey work

And Bamboo draw.

ULAA, history will remember

Your many deeds

For you did not only

Talked the talk

But rather

Walked the walk

With so many of your

Foot soldiers and visionaries

Some of who are still

Committed to your principle.

ULAA, history will reward

Those who betrayed you

For it was they

Who misrepresented

The original intent

That was to liberate

The Liberian people

Once and for all

Instead, they missed

The coming of a new day

A day intended to make us one

Regardless of which county

We originate from.

All Hail ULAA! All Hail ULAA!

It is due to the covenant

You enter into

With our people at home

Made us to respond

And when your Dukpa sounded

We came from far as


Rhode Island


New York

New Jersey





Washington, D.C.

North Carolina





We arrived by buses, cars

Trains and planes

To March on the streets of New York

And Washington, D.C.,

To echo the warnings of Blyden

D. Twe and Porte

For the Land of Liberty

To live to its true meaning


All Hail ULAA! All Hail!

May your Union live forever

And may posterity remember thee

For it was due to your

Dreams and vision

That brought us thus far

In hoping that one day

Every citizen of our

Beloved native land LIBERIA

Will live in peace and harmony

And rejoice in knowing

The true meaning of

“In Union Strong, Success is Sure”

All Hail ULAA! All Hail!

May posterity remembers

Your gallant deeds, FOREVER.

(©By Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.)

National Leaders


St. Mary Episcopal Church, USA — The newly inducted officials of the Union of Liberian Association in the Americas (ULAA) have vowed to prioritize reconciliation within the organization. The new leadership, led by Mohammad Keita as the National President-elect, emphasized the need to heal the divisions that had emerged during the previous administration.

In their statements following months of heated elections within ULAA, the newly inducted officers acknowledged the organization’s past division. They emphasized that their primary goal now is to reconcile the Liberian community in the Americas for the greater good of the organization.

The induction ceremony marks a new beginning for ULAA, as the organization strives to position itself as the umbrella group for the Liberian community in the diaspora.

Mohammad Keita, the newly inducted President of ULAA and an entrepreneur, expressed his commitment to encouraging more Liberians to invest in their home country. “No place is like home; Liberia’s development is crucial to us here,” he stated. Keita outlined his leadership’s intention to advise Liberian entrepreneurs to focus more on investing in Liberia rather than abroad.

Mohammad Keita: National President-elect

Emmanuelle Nagbe: Vice President, National

Borbi Bropleh: National Secretary-General

Williams Jallah: National Financial Secretary

Cynthia Kargbo: National Treasurer

Alpha Tongor: Vice President for the Northern Region

Layee Toure: Vice President for the Southern Region

Morris Momo: Vice President for the Eastern Region

Thank you!

C:\Users\Admin\Pictures\Elder Siah @ AD Forum.jpg

About The Author: Mr. Siahyonkron Nyanseor 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. Mr. 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). Also, Mr. Nyanseor is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. He is also a poet, Griot, journalist, and a cultural and political activist. He can be reached at: [email protected] 


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