He was a teacher par excellence. When he returned with his doctorate in Political Science from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill, United States of America, to teach at his first higher learning alma mater, the University of Liberia, Dr. Amos Sawyer’s classes were always filled to capacity.
Not only was he an excellent teacher; he inspired his students to face the challenges of Liberia, of Africa and the world.
He passed on to his students his analytical thinking and his profound and wise approach to problems. He was also a patriot. His whole life was devoted to Liberia, to Africa, to development and to peace.
And he was an excellent teacher — so that his classes at the University of Liberia were always among the most crowded. Why? Because he taught with unswerving commitment, intellect and passion. And so he was loved by all his students.
That is why when in August 1984, immediately following his return from an official visit to Germany, the Liberian Head of State, military dictator Samuel K. Doe, for no apparent reason, ordered Dr. Sawyer’s arrest and imprisonment.
The UL students, with the backing and blessings of the beloved, highly principled and stalwart president, Dr. Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, immediately went on strike, sitting all day and every day at the front entrance to the university, facing the Executive Mansion and the Capitol Building.
On the fourth day of the UL students’ action, Samuel Doe acted, brutally and mercilessly. He sent on to the UL campus a contingent of highly doped and heavily armed soldiers, led by one of Doe’s most notorious officials, the powerful Defense Minister Gray D. Allison.
As Allison crossed the UL front gate, licking his lips like a hungry lion, he and his soldiers immediately started beating the students, teachers, staff and everyone else in sight with army belts, gun barrels and whips. Following this murderous melee, several students, teachers and visitors to the campus had to be rushed to nearby hospitals. Allison’s soldiers even pursued many in the hospitals and attacked them there.
Luckily for her, the UL president, Dr. Brown Sherman, did not come to the campus on that day, for it was understood that the blood thirsty soldiers had come to the campus looking for her with extraordinary orders.
Dr. Sawyer was later released from prison.
No one could understand why Doe had attacked Dr. Sawyer. Many reckoned that the Head of State had suspected that the well-loved and respected UL professor might have been persuaded by his many admirers and followers to seek the presidency of Liberia; so Doe decided, so the reckoning went, to take a preemptive strike, as a means of putting the “fear of God” in the well-loved professor.
Doe was later forced to realize that what is for you is for you, and that if the good Lord has something in store for you, there is no force on earth that can stop it.
Because of Samuel Doe’s bad governance of the country, Charles Taylor, who was in prison in the USA at the time for allegedly stealing from the Liberian government, was suddenly released from prison with the mysterious intervention of Ramsay Clarke, a powerful and well connected US attorney! Taylor returned to West Africa, crossed the Ivorian border, re-entered Liberia and started the civil war that led to the eventual removal and execution of Samuel K. Doe.
The West African leaders, led by Gambian President Dr. Sir Dawda Jawara, convened a meeting of Liberians, many of them in exile because of the civil war. It was at that meeting, held in the Gambian capital Banjul in early September, 2006, that his fellow Liberians elected Dr. Amos Sawyer Interim President of the Republic of Liberia.