In Memoriam: 40 Years Since April 22, 1980

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“Long Live Liberia, Happy Land, our home of glorious liberty by God’s command”

A Statement of Hope, Harmony, Progress – One Liberia, One People!

The April 22nd Memorial Group (A22MG), envisions an all-embracing Liberia where we can respectfully and genuinely work together hand in hand, in harmony. We envision a Liberia where the last 40 years have served as a lesson to us all in how difficult it is to rebuild: homes, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, farms, businesses, but above all, trust in each other, synergistic alliances and friendships that lead to progress and prosperity. After 40 years, the A22MG is still imbued with undying optimism, anticipation and expectation of an emergent Liberia. “With all our hearts united in union strong; by God’s command, let mighty always be her power”. By God’s grace, let us ALL Arise and Shine!

On this day 40 years ago, April 22nd 1980, thirteen officials of the Liberian Government were killed on South Beach in Monrovia, Liberia, as a result of a military coup d’etat that toppled the government of President William R. Tolbert, Jr., on April 12th 1980. The horrific and savage image of those 13 men tied to stakes was indelibly etched in the minds of not only Liberians but globally, marking a tremendous down turn in the blood stained history and demised economy of our beloved nation as we once knew her. We remember these men today, their patriotism, distinctive minds and contribution to country.

Killed at the Executive Mansion on April 12th, 1980

  • His Excellency President Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr.
  • Captain Gabriel Moore
  • General Charles E. Railey, Jr.
  • Lieutenant “Railroad” Vesseley

(There were others who also lost their lives in addition to those listed above.)

The 13 Slain on South Beach, April 22nd, 1980 include:

  • The Honorable Dr. Cyril A. Bright
  • The Honorable Joseph J. F. Chesson, Sr.
  • The Honorable C. Cecil Dennis, Jr.
  • The Honorable Richard A. Henries, Sr.
  • The Honorable Charles D. B. King
  • The Honorable D. Franklin Neal, Sr.
  • The Honorable P. Clarence Parker, III
  • The Honorable James T. Phillips, Jr.
  • The Honorable James A. A. Pierre
  • The Honorable John W. F. Sherman
  • The Honorable Frank J. Stewart, Sr.
  • The Honorable Frank E. Tolbert, Sr.
  • The Honorable E. Reginald Townsend

Additional Honorees include:

  • Commander Spurgeon Capehart
  • General Emmett Walter Cooper
  • Commander Varney E. Dempster
  • The Honorable H. Carey Thomas
  • The Honorable A. Benedict Tolbert

Historic Facts

Liberia is a young nation and many of us simply do not know what the contribution of these notable men was to our country. Here are a few of the accomplishments of the William R.Tolbert, Jr. Administration, comprised of these men, we would like to share with you; contributions to Liberia from July of 1971 to April of 1980:

  • Instituted free public elementary and high school education and subsidized up to fifty percent tuition, books and board for all College and University students throughout the country.
  • Began construction of a new campus for the University of Liberia moving it from Monrovia to Fendell so as to allow a greater number of students from all strata of society to enter university.
  • Enacted legislation, policies, and strategies, to execute the war on illiteracy, poverty, and disease undermining Liberia’s nascent democracy.
  • Invested over one million dollars in 1972 in a wholly government-owned mechanized Agricultural Company (AGRIMECO), to spearhead land clearance and development of vast areas to cope with the proliferation of agricultural co-operatives.
  • Established three public corporations (LPMC, LPPC and LCCC) to maximize the production of oil palm, coconuts, cocoa, and coffee.
  • Established essential national and continental development finance Institutions such as the National Housing Bank, the Agricultural Bank and Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), in order to stimulate capital flow into the Agricultural, Housing and priority development sectors.
  • Co-facilitated formation of the African Development Bank (ADB) for continental financial growth and management.
  • Expanded health facilities to include free medical care to prenatal mothers and infants up to two years.
  • Constructed thousands of low cost housing units in Gardnersville(Stephen Tolbert Estates), Barnersville Estate, Matadi and New Matadi Estates, Cabral Estates in Sinkor, and the New Georgia Estate.
  • Established the Ministry of Action for Development for implementation of Government’s policies related to self-reliance, decentralization and self-sufficiency in agriculture.
  • Lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
  • Enacted the Revenue and Finance Law of 1977 to abolish the regressive ‘austerity’ tax and to make the income tax structure more progressive.
  • Strengthened regional integration, interdependence, and cooperation with improvement of ties with MRU and ECOWAS countries.
  • Constructed infrastructure consisting of highways, secondary and farm-to-market roads, bridges, urban and rural markets, clinics and hospitals, schools, the Hotel Africa complex, RIA terminal, and the Gabriel Johnson Tucker Bridge.
  • Increased revenue and receipts from $77.5 million in 1972 to $185.5 million in 1978, an average annual growth rate of over 15 percent.

 We will remember them!!

Hope, Harmony, Progress – One Liberia, One People!

30 COMMENTS

  1. From The Vault

    “My fellow countrymen, I Master Sargent Samuel Kanton Doe and the People Redemption Council have overthrown the Tolbert government because of rampant corruption, mis-use of public offices, and the continuous failure of the Tolbert government to effectively handle the affairs of the Liberian People. A six-to-six curfew is hereby imposed throughout the country and all boundaries are ordered closed until further order… In the cause of the people, the struggle Continues…”
    Courtesy by: SURG FM of the University of Sydney African Studies Department.

    A sad day in the History book of Liberia. I m wondering if a “third grade student”, as Doe was known to be, could have written such an announcement. Behind the scene, might have stood some big giant. I hope we Liberians learn a lesson from this.

    • Mamadu Bah, you are a very stupid fool to believe that former President Doe was a third grade student when as Master-Sergeant, he redeemed his people -yea the majority indigenous native population from the shackles of the cruel tyranny of the semi-apartheid minority rule of the settlers and their rotten and extremely wicked TWP!

      Next, you must immediately rescind that trash about “sad day” from your blockhead that the timely, legitimate, legal, and constitutional, removal from power of the tyrannical, undemocratic, and semi-apartheid, Congor-settlers- TWP by the HISTORIC 17 led by the then Master-Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe who later summoned the courage and the discipline by enrolling at the IBB Graduate School of International Relations, and graduated with distinctions beyond expectations!

      • You so-called True Nationalist, you have no brain in your skull to be telling someone he is stupid because he is saying the truth. Who you think those drugs addicts liberated, besides introducing killing and mayhem in the country? Doe was at a 3rd grade level when he forced his way to the presidency. Bah is saying the truth.

        Where are they today? Where there progressive counterparts who partnered with military? That’s why we continue to be backward. I know you will say Weah is educated for the office he holding now. You fool! You rendered the country a failed society and you still justifying the killing machine that was erected on April 12, 1980.

        • Jackson Neal, you are more stupid than Bah. Where are those who carried out the wave of revolutions throughout the political jungle of Africa – from CAR, to Ethiopia, to Chad,Nigeria, etc.etc. You guys are so ignorant, and stupid, that you believe what has happened in your country from 1980 to the 1990ś is confined to Liberia!

          Was it right for the Settlers singing the slogan the love of liberty brought us here, while imposing all forms of forced labor akin to slavery, on the indigenous people – the majority?

          Was it constitutional or humane for the settlers TWP to make a law which stipulated that ONLY PROPERTY OWNERS WERE ENTITLED TO VOTE KNOWING THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE POPULATION WAS FAR FROM BEING PROPERTY OWNERS?

          The nadir of settlers´ rule came in 1931 when an international commission found senior government officials guilty of involvement in organized slavery.

          Was a right for the settlers and their TWP to obstruct Sawyerś campaign in 1979 and finally canceled the November 13 1979 elections altogether? Was it a good development that the settlers and their TWP FIRED ON PROTESTERS?

          • You are so crazy and brainless to say hat because the killing innocent people in the name of a revolution happened in other countries so it should happen in Liberia as well. You are so illiterate in your little mind to summon such a faulty analogy. You need to be re-educated in critical thinking and it place of reasoning.

          • Bacchus and Boley wrote the first speech for Doe. That disjointed and logically jejune speech–its authors–one is dead and the other is still alive.

    • “The Liberian President and Chairman of the OAU – William Richard Tolbert Jr. has been asasinated. The coup took place about one! Meanwhile, the Liberian Government is calling on all foreign government to be calm. And no foreign intervention is needed.”

      Who made that broadcast announcement?

      (a) Togba Nah Tipoteh

      (b) Gabriel Bacus Matthews

      (c) Patrick Kugmeh

      (d)Tommy Raynes

      (e) Gabriel Nimley

      (f) G.Henry Andrews

      What was the music played throughout that announcement was made?

      (a) Ce-le-bra-tion!

      ((b) Who owns the land?

  2. It was the work of the American CIA backed by the misguided power haunters of the now moribund so-called progressives movement who were simply schooled in mere political theories and vapid ideologies. Where are they today? They destroyed the country and made it a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

    Gabriel Matthews was dismissed for using state funds to pay salaries of his office staff at the Liberian Charge d‘Affairs in New York. Then Finance Minister, Stephen Tolbert dismissed him for embezzlement and denuded him of his scholarship at the City College of New York. He became enraged for vengeance and personal vendetta against the Tolberts. He (Matthews) along with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who was then married to an alcoholic addict—James Sirleaf, Oscar Jayee Quiah, D. Karn Carlor met quickly to form the progressive alliance to lead a transformation in Liberia. With Tolbert being opposed to American interests on the continent, the Americans found an easy allies in Bacchus and his team of so-called reformers.

    Bacchus was quickly dispatched to Monrovia with a $25,000.00 monthly salary from the CIA to help spawn tension and render the Tolbert government unpopular for an eventual showdown—a military coup. He had no remorse. He did! His goal was one thing: to pay back for the severing of his scholarship at the City College and subsequent dismissal from the New York office. And he succeeded— because Liberians were not too smart to understand that Bacchus’ effort was a mere pursuance of personal vendetta.

    All of the founding members of the PAL had full knowledge of the coup days before the coup took place. The foreign assassins made way in the president convoy from the Centennial Pavilion to the Executive Mansion at 12: 09 AM on April 12, 1980.

    After the dirty work of killing the president was completed, the bunch of inebriated foot-soldiers who were left to announce the coup, became afraid of repercussions and wanted to allow their progressives brothers to announce Coup and take over the leadership since they felt callow for such a task. Bacchus and his men turned down the offer by the dawning of the day.

    On the eve of the coup, interestingly, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was in bed with Charles Breeze—it was the first time she ever slept outside of her mother’s house. She was awake and consciously attuned with events on Capitol Hill. By the morning hours, she reported herself to Junta and subtly served as a budget director, advising and directing behind the scenes all financial policies of Doe until the latter appointed her to LBDI as its first post-coup President and later to the World Bank—with offices in Kenya. Rumors spawned among PRC members that Doe was in intimate relationship with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf because the latter was at the mansion at any time of the night.

    Officials of the Tolbert’s government were rounded up on advice of the Progressives. Each member of the progressive name some of their worse nemesis in the Tolbert’s government to be placed on the list to be executed. An initial plan of executing speaker Heneries, and Frank Tolbert became overruled. The PRC juntas were drunk with alcohols and drugs and barely knew what they were doing for the next 6 months following the coup. The government was run by the so-called progressives. For the junta, fear and anxiety loomed largely; they met in their meetings and smoke marijuana like having lunch. They killed people they barely knew ever existed because of their level of illiteracy.

    What we need now is a war crime Court to punish our past murderers in order to enter the comity of civilized nations and to break once and for all the circles of impunity. May the those Liberians executed by the progressive brothers and scores of Liberians killed in the civil war Rest In Peace. LIBERIA MUST RECKON WITH ITS PAST!

    • Jackson Neal, cut that crap up about “the Progressives executing anyone”! Nothing of such can ever be associated with them in terms of truth, facts and reality! As for your lies about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Baccus Matthews, I will not even comment on such lies!

      For Baccus was no Charge d´Affairs, but indeed Consul General in New York. And the gallant struggle to dislodge the TWP had long begun on the university campuses, the high schools, the streets, and within and amongst the Mine Workers Unions throughout the country!

      In the case of Ellen as the incumbent minister of Finance when the coup crackers struck, she remained a serious opposition to the coup crackers to the end. So you better keep your lies or ignorance away from this expanse!

      Yes, indeed, politicians the world over, usually conceal their personal ambition or personal interests behind the rhetoric of public service,and ideological conviction!

      But THE PROGRESSIVES (eg. the Moja and Pal Movements) were undoubtedly the catalyst of change and true democracy in Liberia!

      They awakened the political consciousness of the Liberian people! Without their PROGRESSIVE vigor and valor, the Army (THE HISTORIC 17) would have never had the guts to put their lives on the line to redeem the nation from the 2 percent settlers for the national attainment of muti-party democracy in Liberia!

      What happened in Liberia during the 70ś and climaxed on April 12, 1980 was simply part of the WINDS OF CHANGE AND DEMOCRACY which was unstoppable throughout Africa and other parts of the globe!

      Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, to be later realized in Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mali, Somalia, etc.etc. and then back to Liberia were no accidents of history; but rather a natural phenomenon of political history and political realities within the comity and community of nations! Have you forgotten the Arab Spring dethroning the Arab League of Dictators?

      • No wonder you are calling yourself a True Nationalist because you are such a coward hiding behind a fake name. Please state your real name on this platform.

        • Mehn “Jackson Neal”, the very fact that you will give such an extremely stupid and false account about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the Minister of Finance of the Tolbert government when the coup took place, tells you are not only a silly fool but you are also a very silly liar!

  3. WE ARE SORRY!

    To the families of those listed above, from the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of the present generation, we would like to say sorry for the pains you bore to see your loved ones brutally leave you in this gruesome manner.
    Though 8 years old by then, I saw the tears of some of those family members I grew up with. Most of them adopted an inward attitude to people they once considered friends and loved ones. And ever since, Liberia has never been the same.

    Also to our people who were marginalized, vilipended and mistreated in the homes, on the farms and in public administration, bearing the whoreson of some Liberian elites, let me also tell you, on behalf of the present generation, that we are sorry for the humiliation suffered and inhumane attitude of those elites.

    May Liberians learn to once more live together in peace and harmony, where a person will not be judged on his tribal affiliation, religion, region of birth or origin but on the contents of his character and esteem of being a creature of the Almighty God.

    Please, let’s learn to forgive, all Liberians, to forge a new destiny for every child of Liberia and the world at large. Let’s heal Liberia and make it a better place for all.

    Peace unto all souls reading this piece of apology this day!

  4. Mr. or Ms. True Nationalist, your mention of slavery by the settlers against natives has brought me a host of memories.

    That is, inter alia, I can still remember how Liberiaś economic advances prior to 1980 served only to highlight the growing disparity between the ostentatious lifestyle of the rich elite and the overwhelming majority of impoverished 99 percent of the population – the indigenous who were and are the majority.

    For example, in 1979 the same year that Tolbert spent an amount equivalent to half of the national budget while acting as host of an OAU heads of state conference – demonstrations took to the streets in protest against a 50 percent increase in the price of rice, the staple food of each and every single Liberian.

    And mind you the chief beneficiaries of that policy of Tolbert were the settlers and especially Tolbertś brother Daniel Tolbert and Tolbert himself who owned the countryś largest rice-importing rice firms and rice plantations.

    On Tolbertś orders armed police and troops opened fire on the demonstrators killing hundreds. Before, during, and after that, Liberia remained an oligarchy where 1 percent of the population owned everything and saw the majority the natives as an inferior subhuman population only good to be exploited.

    So, Kenneth Best and your nephew Rodney Sieh, WHY you do not make such reflections? You do not simply because Kenneth you are a settler descendant while your nephew Rodneyś mother is your sister. You are very wicked hypocrites!

  5. RIP to all those who lost their lives. It’s a shame that 40 years later and we have not made any ‘progress’ at all as a society. All indicators point to a devolved society – which means the so-called revolution was in vain. These men were tried by a kangaroo court and executed on charges of “rampant corruption, mis-use of public offices, and the continuous failure to effectively handle the affairs of the Liberian People,” yet a vast majority of the public officials that have come after them continue such deeds with impunity. It’s disheartening that after all these years and all of the bloodshed of the coup and subsequent civil war, we have nothing to show; no shared values, no lessons learned. All we say these days is “Liberia will rise again,” as if that is something that’ll magically happen without any effort on our parts. It’s high time, after 40 years in this wilderness, we come together as a society and do some serious soul searching.

  6. Though do not get surprised, I get disappointed when I hear folks attributing the gallant confrontations between the elite and the masses in the 70ś to the CIA. You people are wrong folks.

    Yes, Tolbertś establishment of diplomatic relations with Communist Russia and Communist China did not go down well with the US whose sphere of influence Liberia is geopolitically situated on the grand chess board of international politics.

    But wait a minute. So, according to such thinking, the numerous popular organizations which emerged in Liberia after Tolbertś inauguration in 1972 involving community projects in the rural areas, self-help groups which took up the problems of Liberiaś workers and peasants were “BACKED BY THE CIA”?

    Or the Liberian students who also began to adopt a more assertive and critical posture, and radical groups which were formed in the students union on the campuses of the two universities were “backed by the CIA”?

    Or was the case with the progressive dispositions of high school students whether it was at CTMA on Carey Street, Tubman High on 12th Street, or BWI in Kakata?

    Or better still, were those mine workers who were beaten and killed in Mano River, Bong Mines, Yekepa, Bomi HIlls, etc. etc. simply because they would organize strikes in accordance with their labor rights, “backed by the CIA”?

    Still further, were the in-fightings of the TWP which resulted to the execution of the son of the Partyś Chairman James Anderson Jr. upon the no compromise position of President Tolbert, a “backing of the CIA”?

  7. Mr. J. Neal do not pay any attention to what Mr. True Nationalists is saying. Every country has a sad history. This is our sad history. I was born 1982- no where around during the 1980 Coup. I m not trying to make fun of Doe’s educatiional status. I learned that Doe was just a third grade student. I might be wrong or right. I stand corrected. My arguement is that, a third greader cannot write such an eloquent announcement on that morning of April 12, 1980. Who then is the writer? If we do not know who drafted the announcement, we (Liberians ) are bound to repeat such a mistake. We will always be a Puppet, steer by a Puppeteer from behind the SCENE. Let him call me STUPID! My only advise to him and all Liberians is, if we do not know our own worth, we will always be crossing the OCEAN for the one who will not jump for us. We will be left with nothing but CAOS at our door steps.
    Thanks
    Mamadu Bah (N/P)

    • Mamadu Bah, do not listen to that fool and coward hiding behind fake name “Jackson Neal”. Doe was a senior student at the Marcus Garvey High School – one of the many night schools as Peopleś College on Broad Street, S.D. Lartey etc. A courages guy, he completed his high school that same year while he was Chairman of the Junta, and Head of State of Africaś oldest Republic – the Republic of Liberia.

  8. In the Congo Cartel effort to re-write their Liberian history they forgot to mention that the most important 1971 to April of 1980 was a law to reduce the marriage age – which provided legal cover for William Richard & Co. to rape children as young as 6.

    No CIA was involved – “people” (to use the word people loosely) who were “killed” as the result April 22, 1980 we plain and simple rogues, murderers, rapists and no amount white washing will change – GET OVER IT!!!!!

  9. Gentlemen, when an interesting national issues of these kind are been discussed, resolve yourselves and consider passing a delicate information that others who would like to follow. Please leave out sentiments and profanity. Our children want to read too. Thanks.

  10. 13 men were executed by The Doe Led Govt from The deposed Regime Of the slain president William R. Tolbert Jr..President Tolbert Who succeeded President Tubman after serving as VP for 19 yrs And inherited The same Party True wing party A Party That inflicted The worst pains,attrocity,mhen,Every against The indigenous People Of Liberia From 1847 To 1980 in which 100 Plus Liberians loss their lives through extra judiciary Killing ill distributio of natonat worth marginalization of the indingeous deprived Them Of adequate Education for which Liberia’s is in the parking order per Education behind her peers having been The Mother Of Africa. yet Liberia has been plunged with the highest rate Of illiteracy on the continent.With That been said most Liberians sees our dark days in History from 1980 And 13 men on the pole.where are Those 1000 indingeous that were murder from 1847 To 1980 at the hands of those semi Educated so-called Ameeico Liberians? Why is it certain people Continuous To Reminds us of the uligest past in our existence that is highly attributed to those we Glorify today? Why should people forget so soom when the memories are still fresh when the indingeous were reduce to nothing then just House mald in their own Country.w hen opportunities were selective.when names would determines which School you attend one most be sick and needs an urgent medical attention to compare The suffered pain The Indigenous went through from 1847 To 1980.to Those sufferied by The Ameeico Liberians.Liberia History needs to be rewritten rooted from 1847 to Present Not From 1980 with reference to 13 men slain on The pole.History shouldn’t be mix with biasness prejudice And Tribalism.may The soul of all Liberians unlawfully killed RIP.

  11. Sam Jarlwood

    The entire history of Liberia is described as a systematic misrule within its one hundred thirty three years of post independence existence by a group of self seeking and greedy minority ex slaves who suppressed the natives. And let me make it clear that there are thousands of educated natives who are capable to rule Liberia and provide prosperity for Liberians. Frankly, the congoes and Americo-Liberians provided 21 of the 23 presidents of Liberia. I can assure anyone that if the natives, without the intrusion of the Congo elites, are permitted to take the mantle of power with just five of their kind, Liberia will be a paradise! Trust me!

  12. “Jackson Neal”, does it matter who wrote the speech given by a juntaś leader after taken over the mantle of national power? Who writes the speeches of popes, Ayatollahs, emperors, kings, Presidents, Chancellors, Prime Minsters, etc. etc.?

    Is it “Jackson Neal” a dimwitted clown? Damn idiot, dolt, bonehead, simpleton, moron, nincompoop, dunderhead, numskull ignoramus, dunce, ninny, chump, and goose!

    Well, Mamadu Bah, you are now aware that as an 82 born, you must never again take as truth or fact anything historical, or otherwise, from the likes of “Jackson Neal”. They are liars and dullards. Everything “Jackson Neal” said here is a lie. For them, TO LIE is their intellectual defense.

  13. You a a sick man, afflicted with a looming mental illness which is why you cannot state your full name. I am not going to argue with a ghost, a patented coward with no conscience.

    You can multiply those adjectives from the Online edition of Merriam Websters. You simply copied and pasted them to amuse your very self. Spineless soul who can not state his real name. Enough of you! You won’t see me argue with you.

    I take heed to the advice of Belleh M. Korkpor: “Gentlemen, when an interesting national issues of these kind are been discussed, resolve yourselves and consider passing a delicate information that others who would like to follow. Please leave out sentiments and profanity. Our children want to read too. Thanks.”

  14. You slime and shameless LIAR “Jackson Neal”, next time before you decide to ooze out your lies about history or the issues of our times, you should have the fear that True Analyst, an expert of Liberian History, African History, and World History, is ever-present on this site.

    In terms of African History, do you have any essential knowledge on the advent of the tyrants, and or the winds of change which almost bypassed Liberia had it not been for THE HISTORIC 17 AND THE PROGRESSIVES?

  15. The coup with other developments that followed later was bloody. But there is a lesson in it. Like what True Nationalist has been arguing, the settlers attitude towards the natives were not fair. And that happened for more than 100 years, pending the coup. I mean this power ceasure was a weakness. But it has its own strength. It ended the Congos’ hegemony of classism and massive human rights abuses – inequality and marginalization of the country’s vast majority indigenous ethnic groups. This view was evidenced by the nationwide jeering of citizens to celebrate Tolbert and his appointees death.

    I don’t support the coup and further callous bloodshed that happened. I am only trying to give the background of the incident.

  16. What’s the difference between Congos and Americo-Liberians ? Good thing Liberia was never a Francophone or Anglophone Country.
    YOUR ALL NEED TO TEACH EACH OTHER THE MOTTO OF LIBERIA. GIO VS. KRAHN ALSO?
    A BUNCH OF WILLIE LYNCH FOLLOWERS. DIVIDE AND CONQUER!!!

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