Mourners, celebrating the home-going of Edward T. Dennis, Sr. were told yesterday that he was the man who defied President Samuel Kanyon Doe by hiding University of Liberia students the regime wanted to eliminate.
Paying tribute to the memory of Mr. Dennis at the Trinity United Methodist Church in New Kru Town, Bushrod Island yesterday, former minister of Public Works Atty. Kofi Woods with sadness recounted the heroic decision by Mr. Dennis to conceal many wanted students in his home in New Kru Town.
Woods described New Kru Town as a town of liberation.
“We were described as untouchables and no one wanted to have anything to do with us,” Atty. Woods recalled, his voice breaking, as family members paid rapt attention.
Woods, who was at the time president of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), said the Doe regime wanted them dead because they demanded the right to assemble as a group to carry out their activities on campus in line with the Constitution of Liberia.
“In the process, many of our colleagues were arrested and murdered by the Doe regime,” Atty. Woods said, among them “Wuo Gabe Tappia, Benedict Garlawulo, Tonia Richardson, D. Momolu Lavallah and the list goes on.”
Among those who survived President Doe’s dragnet along with Woods included James Verdier, Jr. (head of LACC), Richard Panton (Sec Gen. MOVEE), J. Augustus Verdier, Dr. Dugbe Nyan (2016 National Orator), Jefferson Karmoh (Rep. Sinoe County), and many others.
“Mr. Dennis hid us in his home in New Kru Town for one and a half months and never complained about our presence there,” Woods said, adding, “such a man we identified as a General to us and this is a piece of history that should not be forgotten.”
Woods said they were members of the progressives who agitated for change without insisting on rewards. “The freedom to own over 32 media houses in the country today is part of the fundamental elements of multi-party democracy that did not come on a silver platter to Liberians but by the sweat and blood of people like Edward Dennis and those who were murdered by the Doe regime,” Woods said. “The level of people’s participation in elections should compel the government to respond to the needs of the people.”
He said slum communities deserve improved education, infrastructure and sanitation, and promised that after consultations with the bereaved family and the Trinity United Methodist Church, any project agreed on would be built to the memory of Edward Dennis.
He refuted the assertion that Liberian progressives, who suffered greatly for encouraging the establishment of multi-party politics, failed the country. “Today there are people who want to distort history to gain advantage to exploit the opportunity to demonize others, and these must be corrected,” he said.
In his funeral discourse on the theme, ‘So What Time Is This to You?’ Rev. Emmanuel S. Saywon, after reading Ecclesiastics 3: 1-8, which said there is a time for everything on earth, urged the family to be grateful to God for their father to have lived to a ripe old age of 84.
He told them there is life after the grave because “life is a transition to a better place for those who lived their lives for others like Edward Dennis.”
He reminded the family that the 84 years that Edward Dennis lived should be celebrated, “because it was more than the three score and ten that is allotted for every human being.”