A Liberian Life: Memoir of an Academic and Former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs

D. Elwood Dunn

An account of the author’s triple careers in academia, and services to two distinct governments of Liberia – William R. Tolbert’s and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s (consultant).

Situated between the crisis years of the True Whig Party (TWP) regime, and the hopeful years of the rst post-civil war government, stands more than three decades of teaching, research and public intellectual engagement. More than an impressionistic account, the author employs a rich repertoire of unpublished documents that include his personal cabinet notes and a wide range of government papers.

His personal research papers acquired from archival research and interviews over the years supplement these. It is this rich background material that enables the telling of a fascinating story of the tensions within the TWP regime on the eve of the bloody 1980 coup, and in the process, paints enlightening portraits of such key players as Tolbert and his nance minister, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, among a host of others.

Included as well are some species of the 1979 “rice riots” and their impact on the politics of change. Discoveries are also unearthed about the author’s role in racially integrating and internationalizing an American Episcopal/Anglican University in rural Tennessee.

Among the questions explained are: Who was President Tolbert? 

What sort of finance minister to Tolbert was Ellen Johnson Sirleaf? 

Who was C. Cecil Dennis? Who was Jackson Fiah Doe? Who was Bacchus Matthews? How did the forces for change interact with those of the status quo in the 1970s? What were some of the forces at play in the reform attempts in the early 2000s? All things considered, what are Liberia’s prospects going forward?

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