The National Independence Day Orator, Mr. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., was born on May 6, 1971, onto the union of Mr. Samuel D. Tweah and Mrs. Mary Datiloh Williams, respectively of Matuken and Doloken, Maryland County. Young D. Tweah, as he is affectionately known, had a Christian upbringing under the guidance of his prayerful mother, who worked at the John F. Kennedy Memorial hospital for 23 years before her retirement. His father worked as a mechanic at the Jos Hansen Garage, formerly located in the Waterside area.
Samuel D. Tweah, Jr. is a proud product of public education. As a resident of the Bong Mines Bridge community in the early 80s, he attended the William V. S. Tubman Elementary School located in Point Four, Bushrod Island, before departing for Bomi Hills (now Bomi County) where he had brief stints at private education at the St. Paul Episcopal Elementary School and the more famous St. Dominics Catholic School.
D. Tweah completed middle school at the G. W. Gibson Jr. High School (now a high school) before enrolling at the William V. S. Tubman High School, where he graduated as valedictorian in 1993. In 1995 the National Orator was among the first group of students to gain admission at the University of Liberia, five years after the onset of the Liberian civil conflict. At the UL, he read economics and mathematics, graduating magna cum laude in 2001. In 2009, he obtained a Master’s degree in economics from George Washington University, in Washington D. C., United States.
Prior to and during graduate school, Mr. Tweah began his formal work experience in Minnesota, United States, variously working for U.S. Bank, Citi-Financial Auto, a subsidiary of Citi-Group; B. F. Saul Company in Bethesda, Maryland, and MBA Management in Chantilly, Virginia. The national orator returned from the United States in 2011 and was hired as the lead economic consultant at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs to cost the Agenda for Transformation (AFT), which was a five-year development plan of the Government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The costing team developed the methodology and conducted wide-ranging consultations, finally putting the cost of 1,200 interventions in the AFT Results Framework at $US3.2 billion. Beyond duties of costing the AfT, Mr. Tweah also provided program and policy advice and support at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, spanning the years 2011-2013.
In 2013, he was hired as the Lead Economist of the National Millennium Compact Development Project, the Liberia country team assembled to manage Liberia’s access to the United States Compact grant administered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). In 2013, Liberia became eligible to receive the MCC grant but as a requirement the country had to develop an economic constraints analysis proffering evidence of the binding constraints to private investment in Liberia.
Under the lead authorship of Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., the MCC Liberia Country Team delivered a 212 page Liberia’s Constraints Analysis, which identified the poor quality of roads and the lack of reliable and affordable electricity as the binding constraints to private investment. The Country Team worked to deliver for Liberia US$257 million, the lion share of which partly financed the rehabilitation of the Mount Coffee Hydro Electric Dam.
While serving both as Consultant at the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and the lead economist on the Compact Team, Mr. Tweah had the opportunity to also consult with many NGOs and other organizations on economic matters ranging from the economics of natural resource management to agriculture development. He was hired by UNESCO and the Government of Liberia as the consultant to cost Liberia’s Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) five-year implementation work plan.
In 2016, he was appointed as Senior Advisor to the Executive Director of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for the constituency comprising, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan. At the Board of the AfDB, Senior Advisor Tweah became known for his impassioned advocacy for Africa’s development. He was, and remains as Governor of the African Development Bank, a loud voice for recapitalizing the AfDB to enable the Bank do more for Africa.
In January 2018, Mr. Tweah was appointed Minister of Finance and Development Planning by His Excellency President George Manneh Weah. Social and Political Life As a young man and while a student at the University of Liberia, Mr. Tweah was always drawn to politics and social advocacy. He was elected President of the first post-war Freshman class at the UL in 1995 and thereafter joined the Student Democratic Alliance (STUDA), where he became Assistant Secretary-General, Secretary General and Chairman.
In 1999, he became Standard Bearer of STUDA and contested the leadership of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU). Also while at the UL, Mr. Tweah led the establishment of the first post-war student-based anti-AIDS advocacy, the Student Anti-AIDS program (SAAP), which mobilized students and young people against the deadly HIV virus in the late nineties. Mr. Tweah made his first foray into National politics as a Member of the Unity Party in the 1997 presidential elections, serving as member of the UP youth wing.
As the 2005 election approached and while residing in Minnesota, USA, Mr. Tweah joined LIBWIN, an organization supporting the presidential bid of Cllr. Winston A. Tubman and chaired by Mr. Nathanial F. McGill. On the evening of July 18, 2004, the National Orator was inspired by a memorable event: UNICEF Ambassador George Manneh Weah’s receipt of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 12th annual Espy Awards, aired on the cable network CNN.
During the award ceremony, the American actor Denzel Washington’s moving description of the patriotism, humanitarianism and nationalism of Ambassador George Manneh Weah stirred Mr. Tweah into perceiving Ambassador Weah through a new political lens. He saw Ambassador Weah as a perfect candidate for the 2005 presidential elections, believing that any postwar Liberian president had to come from outside the very decrepit political culture that had collapsed Liberia and had to embody the character and exude the patriotism, national sacrifice and nationalism exemplified in Ambassador George Manneh Weah.
A few phone calls and political meetings later, the Liberia National Congress (LNC) was born in Minnesota to project George Manneh Weah on the political stage. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., was selected as its chairman and James F. Kollie, Jr., its Secretary-General. While the leaders of LNC had been organizing in Minnesota, they soon discovered that another group of Liberians in Monrovia were on the same path to projecting Ambassador George Manneh Weah, and remarkably doing so under the same nomenclature of Liberia National Congress.
After a few discussions and visit by Ambassador Weah to Minnesota, the two groups combined forces. The name LNC was changed to the Congress for Democratic Change. Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., was elected the first Chairman of what now became known as CDC-USA. In 2005, the National Orator became the keynote speaker at the first Convention of the Congress for Democratic Change held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. He served as Senior Political Officer to candidate George Weah in the 2005 presidential elections. He has also served as Chairman of the CDC Grievance and Ethics Committee.
The National Orator is a Christian and a member of the S. Trowen Nagbe United Methodist Church. As a Christian, Mr. Tweah has a very strong tolerance for religious diversity, believing that God is the ultimate Judge of mankind.
Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., is wedded to Mrs. Delecia B. Tweah and the union is blessed with four wonderful girls: Sadel Datiloh Tweah, Samel Tweah, Sadela Tweah and Samela Tweah.
Mr. Tweah’s siblings include Dr. Patricia Wesley, Associate Professor of English, Creative Writing and African Literature at Penn State University; Mrs. Oretha Pannoh, resident of Staten Island New York, and Attorney at Law Norris L. Tweah, Vice President for University Relations at the University of Liberia and a former Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism.
The National Orator is an avid player of chess who led the organization of the Liberian Chess Federation in 2016, becoming its first President. He loves football, and his best footballers ever are Maradona, George Manneh Weah and Zinedine Zidane. In tennis, he is a huge fan of Roger Federer, very worried that Roger’s tennis record may soon be overtaken by his rival Rafael Nadal.