Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas Sinks to a New Low: A Friendly Rebuttal by Theodore Hodge

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Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas ,ULAA ,Sinks to a New Low:

A Friendly Rebuttal by Theodore Hodge

Trenton, New Jersey

September 30, 2023

 

 

NOTE: This is a rebuttal to Dr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh’s article: “ULAA Sinks to a New Low” which was published on his website, TheLiberianDialogue. Org on September 25, 2023. My rebuttal was sent to him to be published on his website. Find below his response at the end of my rebuttal!

Congratulations, Dr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh! : The Liberian Dialogue
Dr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

In the interest of fairness, I am constrained to state from the on-set that Dr. Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh has been a good friend and colleague of mine; we have enjoyed a comradeship spanning many decades. I have the highest regards for him, but this is an attempt to differ with him on his opinions and analyses as expressed in the article herein under review. His representation of the recent events unfolding at ULAA lacks balance and objectivity. In my view.

Firstly, the title, “ULAA Sinks toa New Low” attempts to paint a very gloomy and pessimistic picture; the narrative goes downhill from there in a glaringly biased and in objective way. He makes no attempt to verify or substantiate what he heard from a person he describes as a “convention goer” before he hurriedly and carelessly describes ULAA as a “troubled organization… that falls flat to reach its potential as a credible organization…”

Dr. Sungbeh further describes ULAA as a 50-year-old organization that has become a “painful nightmare… {engaging} in painful public relations campaigns that have failed to produce useful results…” This is a very pathetic indictment of an organization and its leaders by any measurable means. But the keen reader must have wondered by now, upon what evidence do these grievous charges rest? Clearly, the learned Dr. Sungbeh, a well-known nemesis and antagonist of the ULAA leadership cannot rest his case without providing evidence to support his grim analyses. What does he pull out of the hat to appease his readers and seal the casket of ULAA? He produces the following narrative:

“If what I was told by a convention goer is true that part of the commotion stemmed from a non-due-paying member, a non-Liberian who hardly attends a meeting in her chapter, who wanted to settle a grudge match, went to the convention with the explosive allegation that the list of possible voters that the leadership from her state presented to vote were fake names not eligible to vote, is a sad narrative.”

A sad narrative? Sad, but mostly baffling and thought-provoking. Why would one consider using the word “IF” to present what is considered a serious narrative of an allegation? Some definitions of the word “IF” are: “incase that; granting or supposing that; on condition that…” what this means is that even the writer knows that the information from the so-called “convention goer” is conditional. It may be true; it may not be true. It logically follows that additional information or collaboration is required before one presents such a narrative for serious consideration. Let us dissect the narrative further, because the “facts” are seemingly bizarre upon further examination.

It is reported that the woman in the story is a non-due paying member of her chapter; she is also a non-Liberian… she went to settle a grudge match with an opponent, and she had explosive allegations that others were fake… In the interest of journalistic integrity and reportorial credibility, did you identify this woman to be a real person? What state did she come from and what was her local chapter? And if she was a non-due-paying member, who gave her so much power on the floor of the assembly? By the way, since she is a non-Liberian citizen, is she married to a Liberian? If not, what was the basis of her affiliation with the local chapter for whom she spoke? Certainly, she didn’t drop out of the deep blue skies to rage hell on ULAA’s GA floor?

Did you ever try to verify the story with ULAA officials to authenticate your story? At least the Chairman of the Board of Elections could have identified or authenticated the woman’s identity for starters. Were you interested in the facts, or did the fantastical narrative of a mysterious woman seem too appealing to resist because you have condemned and dismissed the organization as serving no useful purpose? Is it not clear here that you were not an unbiased reporter of a credible story since you were too hasty to pass judgment against the ULAA leadership, as you have done in the past? Who do you think is the sucker here?

Mr. Theodore Tepane Hodge

Finally, after Dr. Sungbeh accuses the ULAA leadership of inefficiency, gross corruption, and incompetence, he grabs the opportunity to offer stately advice, mixed with one last attempt to issue a condemnation of the status-quo He writes: “There is an urgent need for ULAA to be revamped and reorganized with a new and credible body, a new face… a new ULAA that genuinely cares about Liberians in the Diaspora and the Liberian people.

In the mean and arrogant spirit in which Dr. Sungbeh has penned this missive, this solemn letter to the masses, he ends on a dictatorial note: “Anything short of this suggestion is a waste of time, energy and resources.” Perhaps this could be interpreted as “my way or the highway… no further discussion allowed.”

But here, I must most humbly differ with my learned friend here. I may agree that ULAA is not in the best hands as far as leadership goes, I sincerely believe that the folks who run the organization and the many brethren who form its ranks and files, must be given necessary credit for their efforts at public service. They may not always get it right, but they deserve commendation for their sacrifice. Their absence, or non-participation, will create a terrible void, leaving us worse off than we are now.

There is a great quotation that goes, “A people deserve the government they get.” If we as Liberians sit idly by and do not participate in the affairs of ULAA, we must be content with the ULAA we get. What is the alternative to change the outcome? It is our participation and our commitment that will produce the kind of organ we think we deserve to represent our affairs.

It is easy to sit behind a Pundit’s Desk and write. “ULAA must be revamped and reorganized…” The relevant question is, by whom? Is it reasonable to expect the same leaders you speak of so condescendingly to heed your call for immediate reform? Is ULAA’s new “face” to emerge from among the same old faces now treated with contempt?

Again, I must finally reiterate that the solution to revamping and reorganizing our body politic is through new infusion of concerned citizens and individuals, such as you and myself. ULAA’s constitution requires participation in its electoral processes by due-paying members to local chapters that fall under the due-paying membership of the ULAA umbrella. If we desire to be change agents, we must adhere to the fundamental ground rules: Firstly, organize or join a local organization that is a due-paying member of ULAA, and remain in good standing with that local chapter.

My intent here, as already stated from the onset was not to be dismissive of Dr. Sungbeh’s points of view, but to offer an alternative viewpoint. Yes, change can come about by influencing leaders through arm-chair punditry, through academic or scholarly argumentation, or other intellectual persuasions… but the surest way is through active participation in the electoral process. It is usually said about the lottery, “You can’t [win if you don’t play.” The same may be said about democracy, whose major tenet is “One man, one vote.” If you don’t have a vote, punditry may simply be an exercise in futility. Join ULAA and make the change you desire; it becomes your humble duty and challenge.

Dr. Sungbeh’s Response:

FRI AT 10:04 AM

My good friend Tepane, I received your rebuttal. Thanks. The policy of The Liberian Dialogue, a personal blog that I founded and supported with my own funds since 2002, has always been fair and balanced. Where we deviate at are rebuttals to a piece written by me from another person, you included. If you think that I did not do an issue/article justice, deal with the issue from a different perspective but not a tit-for-tat, piece-by-piece rebuttal that seems to shred my perspective on the issue as state. I respect your views and I disagree with your views regarding my piece. Since I really don’t have the appetite to go back and forth with you, I will suggest that you take your article elsewhere. No hard feelings.

Sungbeh

About the Authority

Theodore T. Hodge holds two graduate degrees in Education and Public Administration. He has written countless articles on the history, politics and government of Liberia. He has been a tireless advocate of good governance and free speech. Born in Liberia, he emigrated to the United States in early 1980. Now lives in Trenton, New Jersey. He can be contacted at: [email protected].

 

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