Memorial to Late Gen. Thomas G. Quiwonkpa Under Construction in Ganta

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Monument to Quiwonkpa: “Today, he is gone, but nothing is left of him as a memorial for someone to lay wreath or pay homage on Decoration Day or even the Armed Forces Day,” said Ebenezer Williams.

It appears to be one of the most unlikely places but, the Sanana Funeral Home in Ganta, along the road leading to Sanniquellie, Nimba County, has sealed on its wall the memorial of the late General Thomas G. Quiwonkpa. Quiwonkpa was killed in an aborted coup staged by him in 1985, and there is no trace of his grave as reports at the time noted that he was butchered with his heart extracted and testes placed in wine and drunk by his killers.

General Quiwonkpa, like some others including then Head-of-State Samuel Doe of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), who seized power in 1980 following the assassination of President William R. Tolbert on April 12, do not have graves and therefore their surviving families and relatives are not able to memorialize them on Decoration Day on the second Wednesday in March of every year.

The proprietor of the Sanana funeral home, Ebenezer Williams, told the Daily Observer that the late Quiwonkpa was one of Liberia’s heroes, but nothing has been enshrined in any part of Liberia as a memorial. The memorial, still under construction, is expected to be covered in marble.

The late Gen. Thomas G. Quiwonkpa

“I saw him at the Du-Side Hospital when I was small at the time. He used to visit the hospital for an eye treatment, and was always sharing with us every time we visited him,” he said.

“Today, he is gone, but nothing is left of him as a memorial for someone to lay wreath or pay homage on Decoration Day or even the Armed Forces Day,” he said.

“This marble design in his honor will certainly make his memory not to be lost and will create an avenue for people for come to pay their respect,” he added.

The late General Thomas G. Quiwonkpa was born July 24, 1955 and was a member of the People’s Redemption Council, a governing military junta that overthrew President William Richard Tolbert on April 12, 1980, by assassination.

The late General Quiwonkpa defected from the PRC in 1983 after he was removed as Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia and given the position of Secretary-General.

He later went into exile and returned in 1985 as head of a dissident group called the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, which staged an aborted coup and was killed.

Marble plaque for the late General Thomas Quiwonkpa

Since the brutal death of the late Quewonkpa, there has been no memorialization of him, neither in his county nor the country.  Similar fate befell President Samuel Doe, who was also captured on September 9, 1990 and killed by the rebel group, Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) of Prince Johnson who is now a Senator of Nimba County. Sen. Johnson’s testimonies during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) hearings indicated that Doe’s body was buried, then exhumed following request for an assessment. By tradition, since he could not be buried twice, the late President’s body was cremated and the ashes scattered in the river in Caldwell, where the INPFL had its base.

Williams, proprietor of the Sanana Funeral Home, is not a native of Nimba; however, he believes the slain General Quiwonkpa was a good and honest man in the Armed Forces of Liberia who needs to be remembered.

“We want people to constantly pay homage to this place and lay a wreath, either on his birthday, Decoration Day, or even the Armed Forces Day,” he concluded.

The people of Grand Gedeh County are also contemplating on erecting a monument in memory of slain President Samuel Doe to memorialize him.  Scores of PRC members including Vice Head-of-State Thomas Wey-sehn and Deputy Vice Head-of-State, J. Nicholas Podier, also seem to have no identifiable graves to decorate.

8 COMMENTS

  1. only in Liberia do bloody murderers get to be praised and glorified. this man was a murderer of innocent citizens without a fair and impartial trial. and now the dumb Liberians erect a monument to a bloody killer

    • I am in agreement with you on the wrongfulness of elevating individuals who had carried out all kinds of gross human rights violations and abuses. This plaque, however, is a private endeavor of an individual who is exercising his constititutional free speech rights. Reasonable people can respectfully agree to disagree on this.

      However, there is a larger monument in Paynesville that memorializes a very violent dictatorship that perpetrated gratuitous violence against Liberia as a whole for the better part of a decade. Now, compare that to the Quiwonkpa debacle and all that transpired overall in those few days and was quickly over like a candle in the wind.The Doe dictatorship is memorialized furthermore on a Liberian banknote and there is no groundswell of protestations against having it. Unlike the Quiwonkpa plaque, both the stadium and the banknote were done with state resources. Perhaps the outrage (in logical proportion) should start there before we descend with righteous anger on an amateurish (pun intended) plaque installed by on private property by a private individual with personal resources.

  2. Part I of III

    This one generates mixed feelings. On the one hand, I understand why he tried to overthrow Samuel Doe on November 12, 1985. The elections held on October 15, 1985 did not yield credible results.

    As a matter of disclosure, I state, for the record, that the Chair of the Special Elections Commission (SECOM), Emmett Harmon, was a close maternal relative of mine. Yet, I will not defend those results and I remember a very flawed electoral process which leaned heavily towards preserving the interests of Samuel Doe long prior to election day. But that is one side. Let’s take a look at the other.

    As one with maternal ties to Americo-Liberians dating back one hundred ninety-five (195) years, I am curious about where Quiwonkpa stood regarding the mistreatment of persons arrested after the 1980 coup. Did he attempt to prevent their dehumanization? Was he opposed to the execution of those 13 former GOL officials?

    Then, there is the November 12, 1985 issue. Many historians don’t discuss the fact that Quiwonkpa’s troops had already commenced abusing human rights during those few hours he retained control of Monrovia area, except for the Executive Mansion.

    There was a film produced which showed one of his troops speaking in the presence of some arrested Government officials. G. Alvin Jones was one of those arrested and sat on the ground. David Vinton, in his capacity as LBDI President (based on GOL’s controlling 13 % interest), was also arrested.

    They grabbed him (Vinton) by his arms pulled backwards and ran with him.

    CONTINUES WITH PART II OF III

    • PART II OF III

      But that’s not all. There were other GOL officials arrested and incarcerated at the Barclay Training Center(BTC). Some were stripped naked.

      I recall seeing a video footage of the late Stephen Crayton Sr. (Director of NSSWC) being shoved while totally naked except for a few strips of paper in his genital area. He was crying.
      The late Fred J. Blay was clothe and treated respectfully. As he walked, he apparently recognized someone and nodded.

      But there were another large group of GOL officials in a crowded cell. They were all naked. The videographer apparently took a delight in zooming in and out at Jenkins Scotts’ buttocks.
      When taken together, I am reminded of that saying — “Baby ain’t born yet and the eyes that big? “

      If Quiwonkpa was already presiding over human rights abuses prior to consolidating power, one wonders what would have happened if he had successfully overthrown Samuel Doe?

      Some of his diehard supporters may try to absolve him of responsibility by claiming that lower level troops perpetrated such abuses but then, we open the door for Samuel Doe’s supporters to claim the same about human rights abuses by his subordinates. So, we just need to be fair here.

      CONTINUES WITH PART III OF III

    • PART III OF III

      Even though I frown on the abuse of human rights under Quiwonkpa’s command, I still think that his place in history deserves some level of recognition. I think, as a matter of fairness, we should name some military facilities after him, D. K. Wonsehleay, H. B. Fahnbulleh Sr., and Samuel Doe.

      It would be controversial but I’ve espoused this view for over 20 years and posted same on the now-defunct Africaonline Liberian chat room.

      I also think as a matter of fairness, that we should acknowledge the significance of January 7 as well as April 12/14 without shutting down everything for a national holiday.

      Rename January 7, formerly “Pioneers Day”, as “Heritage Day” and use the week leading up to its commemoration for hosting a national fair. Hold a costume party on January 7 depicting various kinds of Liberian fashion (western and African), as well as military attire used in the past. Hold programs and award cash prizes to kids who can answer questions on Liberian languages and history.

      Rename April 12, formerly “Redemption Day”, as “Civil Rights Day”, and use the week leading up to its commemoration, for annual discussion of civil rights issues at a NATIONAL CONFERENCE. Discuss efforts taken toward equality by reviewing statistics, not just about human rights but also illiteracy, business ownership, etc. per ethnic group.

      Form a working group to review proposals and return with recommendations for the president a month later. Whoever is the president could announce steps taken to implement those proposal during the May 14 (Unification Day) program.

      If we can think like this in a neutral and political-balanced way, we might get somewhere.

      One last thing. Quiwonkpa died on Friday, November 15, 1985, not November 17, 1985. Whoever made that plaque needs to re-do it.

      END

      • you must have your head buried in the sand. “mixed feelings” are you retarded. He was a murderer and torturer of innocent Liberians. You stated it yourself. He deserves no monument. stop worshipping murderers

  3. Unlike Rwanda which established a Remembrance Day to commemorate Civil War dead, Liberia ignores hers, perhaps, on the excuse that the March 11 Decoration Day set by the 1886 Legislature to memorialize departed ancestors and so on suffices. If that assumption hits bull’s eye, no, March 11 can’t be used as a one-size-fits-all..

    That’s why this gesture by Mr. Williams should stimulate an affirming conversation. We need a visible reminder of our gullibility, satanic impulses, and destructiveness. Let the press and government slow down their surge in adversarial relationship and start that discussion. It is one endeavor Liberians at home and abroad will contribute to financially. By the way, money better spent than go-fund-my-protest.

    • YOU HAVE A LOT OF MEMORIES WORKING AS THE HEAD OF THE NSA, Remember Sleyon who you killed in Kakata . The NSA killed him . Baghdad you should get your arse off the internet you murderer. you are lucky my dad a is dead

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