William V. S. Tubman: The Father of Modern Liberia

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Thursday, Nov. 29 is the Natal Day of Liberia’s 18th President William Vacanarat Shadrack Tubman (1944-71) and will be celebrated as a national holiday. President Tubman led the country for 27 years and led a legacy that the current generation of Liberians may not be aware of. I have heard many Liberians questioning the relevance of the country celebrating President Tubman’s birthday and last year, there were reports from Nimba County that many people could not recognize or identify with. In fact, because President Tubman spent 27 years in office, many other Liberians have also wondered his contribution to the infrastructural development of the country and many have also compared Liberia’s poor infrastructure, relative to that of neighboring countries. While this piece is not a treatise to defend what President Tubman should have done but did not do, it is worth pointing out that whatever the case; his contributions to Liberia have much to be recognized since it was the basis for the country to recognize them and to make a law for his natal day to be celebrated, as it is today.

Before assuming the mantle of leadership in 1944, Liberia was seriously underdeveloped, lacking basic infrastructure of roads, railways, and sanitation system. President Tubman noted that Liberia did not receive the “benefits of colonization,” which meant the investment by a wealthy major power to develop the infrastructure of the country. Therefore the onus fell on Liberian leaders to build the country. He, therefore, established an economic policy, known as ‘Open Door’ to attract foreign investment to the country. Before Tubman came to power in 1944, according to former secretary of the treasury (now Ministry of Finance) there had been only four concessions granted to outside investors.

They included Sir James Johnstone, who led a British firm that planted the first rubber plantation in the country in 1904. The next was in 1926 when Harvey S. Firestone started another much larger rubber plantation. In 1935 a Polish group also started a cocoa plantation and in 1938 a mineral exploration concession was granted to a Dutch joint-venture group and at the time Tubman came to power none of the concessionaires had succeeded except the Firestone plantations. Tubman encouraged additional investors, including UniRoyal and B. F. Goodrich, from the United States and companies from Germany, Holland, and Italy to have very substantial plantations and the production of Liberian farms increased from 4 percent in 1956 to almost 25 percent.

From 1944-70, it is reported that the value of foreign investments, mainly from the United States, increased by 200% and from 1950 to 1960 Liberia had the second-highest economic growth of 11.5% in the world. By the time of his death in 1971, Liberia had the largest mercantile fleet in the world, the world’s largest rubber industry, and Liberia was the third-largest exporter of iron ore in the world that had attracted more than US$1 billion in foreign investment.

With a steady economic growth, he created the Ministry of Public Works & Utilities and by 1950, four years after his five-year plan was initiated, all principal streets in the capital city of Monrovia were paved. Tubman gained revenues for the government to construct the Centennial Pavilion, two Executive Mansions, the Capitol Building, the Temple of Justice, the Ministries of Lands, Mines and Energy, Public Works, Finance, Information, Post & Telecommunications and the Monrovia City Hall, in addition to Administrative Buildings in all county seats and an educational method was launched in 1948. During Tubman’s administration, several thousand kilometers of roads were built, including a railway line to connect the iron mines to the coast for transport of this commodity for export. During this period, he transformed the Port of Monrovia into a free port to encourage trade.

His administration also paved the streets of Monrovia, established hospitals and a literacy program. He introduced the National Literacy Program, which adopted the “each one teach one” Laubach Method, a system which had been successfully carried out in the Philippines. In keeping with this method every person who learned to read immediately taught another individual what he had mastered. By early 1960, Liberia began to enjoy its first era of prosperity, thanks in part to Tubman’s policies and implementation of development. Regarded as a pro-Western, stabilizing influence in West Africa at a period when other countries were achieving independence, often amid violence, during the 1960s Tubman was courted by many Western politicians.

In the past, the bulk of the production depended on the rubber but with the modernization of the infrastructure of the state at the hands of Tubman, Liberia started to use its other national resources. Several Liberian, German and Swedish companies became involved in the exploitation of iron mines, making Liberia the first source of iron in Africa and the fourth worldwide. Tubman wanted to diversify the economy rather than basing it on rubber and iron resources which made 90% of exports, so he encouraged the development of coffee plantations, palm oil, sugar cane and especially rice cultivation in 1966.

To open up the country further and enhance accessibility, airfields were built in Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties. Tubman is regarded as the “father of modern Liberia,” because his presidency was marked by attracting sufficient foreign investment to modernize the economy and infrastructure. During his tenure, Liberia experienced a period of prosperity. He also led a policy of national unification in order to reduce the social and political differences in the country.

There were several other significant contributions of Tubman as president of Liberia. Hundreds of Liberians were granted government-sponsored scholarships to seek advanced studies abroad, in addition to which all foreign mission schools were subsidized by the government.

The beneficiary students were drawn from those who duxed their classes in their various high schools in their final examinations. Tubman Administration sent such students to universities in Europe and the United States, while others benefitted from schools in Liberia. The result was the first cadre of doctors, engineers, economies, geologists, among others that Liberia was blessed with subsequently during his administration.

Another was the afore-mentioned ‘Open Door Policy’, which encouraged the establishment, after Liberia’s counties were increased from five to nine, of ‘Executive Council Meetings’ he held in the various counties to bring the people together. The results of the meetings eventually put stop to inter-tribal wars that had been waged by native tribes. The Administration also ensured that the nine counties, including Montserrado, Sinoe, Grand Bassa, Maryland, Bong, Nimba, Lofa and Grand Gedeh had two senators each to represent them in the legislature.

Also, significant contribution was the suffrage given to women, following which they became fully involved in the task of nation-building. Notable among women who gained prominence during this period were Elizabeth Collins, the nation’s first female senator, Ellen Mills Scarborough, the first female representative, Etta Wright, who acted on several occasions as Secretary of Defense, and Angie Brooks, who rose to the prestigious position of President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1969.

A dignified statesman, Tubman was highly respected in Africa, in great part because of the significant role he played in the decolonization of the continent. Indeed, Guinea’s first president Ahmed Sekou Touré once referred to him as the “Dean of Independent African States,” and the continent’s new leaders often sought his advice. So while there was still much that Liberia needed to accomplish, Tubman’s Administration and successive governments have maintained the annual observance of the man whose years as a leader of Liberia has deserved recognition to remind us of the need to do all we can to unite and develop Liberia for future generations.

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25 COMMENTS

  1. During the economic boom years of President William V.S. Tubman, from 1960 to 1970, Liberia’s population did not exceed 1.5 million. His “Open Door Policy” created lots of low paying manual labor jobs for Liberians around the country. However, this policy was an attractive investment policy with weak governmental regulations that allowed many multinational companies to enter Liberia and exploit Liberia’s abundant natural resources leaving with little added values in return.

    Bong Mines, LAMCO, Liberia Iron Ore Company (Bomi Hills), Firestone, to name a few, operated Liberia like a typical sweat shop or a slave plantation. What infrastructural development did these companies provide for Liberia during Tubman Administration apart from the luxurious lifestyles their highly paid expatriates enjoyed?

    For example, in Bomi Hills, where I worked for the Department of Agriculture and Forestry under the late Anthony Sayeh Sr. Administration, paved roads only stopped at the gates of the manning compound. The rest of the road leading to Monrovia was dusty and unpaved. This was the same all over the mining companies and rubber plantations during the Tubman Administration.

    President Tubman’s development was mostly focused on the Capital, Monrovia and his home town of Harper City, Maryland County. Upon leaving Harper City to Monrovia, the roads were so bad, that it took two days from Harper to Monrovia in the 60s.

    The economy was booming but President Tubman’s lavish lifestyle and excessive waste on his patronage system to maintain power kept Liberia infrastructure development backwards. During Tubman 27 years in power, he had all the opportunity to develop Liberia: to build modern hospitals, to build paved road network throughout Liberia, to build manufacturing plants, to build more hydro dams, to increase pipe borne water, to increase food production, to provide free education to all Liberians, to increase Liberia’s literacy rate to one of the highest in Africa due to Liberia’s small population and one of the highest income growth rate at that time.

    However, Tubman’s resentment to opposition and his patronage behavior to please his ruling True Whig Party members and to maintain his grip on power for 27 years is a testament to the deplorable infrastructural condition his successor President William Tolbert inherited.

    Celebrating Tubman’s rigged constitutional 27 years of oligarchy rule shows how a small undeveloped country like Liberia has too much time to waste instead of setting aside only one day as Presidents’ Day to celebrate all noteworthy presidents than having individual Day set aside as a President Holiday. What a small undeveloped country called Liberia with too many unproductive holidays and so much time to waste.

    • Alpha C; Thanks! I certainly agree with you.
      Indeed, Liberia had a “Booming Economy” throughout the W.V.S.Tubman Administration; yet, very little to show for that Economic Boom. The masses of Liberia’s People were left in absolute poverty; while the elite Americo/Congo Liberians cruise around in Monrovia in gas guzzling American Cars. Roads Building Equipments assigned to The Public Work Department, were instead diverted to the estates of Liberian Government Officials; to clear the forests, for their private Rubber Plantations… Under Tubman, Liberia was grossly exploited by those so called foreign investors. For example, Bomi Hills was a total gave away. Visit those mining areas today; total environmental and ecological DISASTERS.

  2. As a native born Marylander, I see no reason why Tubman’s birthday is celebrated! I mean it. Yet I am a fair-minded person who believes in the philosophy of self-respect and total respect for others. I do not want to be understood as a belligerent person, but of course a person of principle.
    When I say that I am a native born Marylander, I am not talking silly about Natives vs Americo-Liberians. I could and I will probably discuss it another time. However, my concentration focus is centered on something else. The celebration of a single person’s birthday in my view is wrong.

    In America, there is a day of celebration for all Presidents! There’s not a single day of celebration for all of America’s dead presidents. Example, there’s not a single day of celebration for Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, John Kennedy, or Gerald Ford. In Liberia, there should not be a single day of celebration for Tubman. Rather, there should be a holiday in Liberia that all of us will be proud of…..Presidents’ Day!

    In my heart of hearts, I sincerely, positively, graciously and strongly believe that Pres. Tolbert was a very good president. When Tolbert talked about “Total Involvement, Higher Heights and the concept of Mats to Mattresses” he showed that he had vision. Of course, the concept of vision is a component of a good leader. A good leader is defined as one who is vision-oriented, one who is participative, one who is consultative and one who is communicative. Tolbert’s policy which has been briefly described above called for all Liberians to get involved in the development process of our country. Whether you classified yourself as a Native Liberian, Congau or an Americo-Liberian, Tolbert called for everyone’s involement. Frankly, Tolbert was ahead of our time.

    Samuel Doe became president of Liberia. Before that, Doe was a military man who converted to civilian leadership. Guess what? I did not vote for the guy, neither was I living in Liberia during those turbulent years. I was living in Chicago, but if I lived in Liberia during Doe’s election run, I can bet I would not vote for the man. Notwithstanding, Doe has a legacy (Doe Stadium) and a good number of supporters.

    Now, is there a William Tolbert birthday? Or, is there a Samuel K. Doe birthday? Why not?
    To cut through this business, let there be a day of celebration for presudents!
    Presidents’ Day! Period!

    • Mr. Hney,

      Tubman paved the Maryland Avenue in Harper with concrete. This effort was headed by the late Gabriel Tucker, a young civil engineer from Monrovia who later became his son-in-law, because the hundreds of barrels of coal tar he sent to Harper City to have the streets in that city paved were abandoned near the warehouses where they were shipped because the officials of Maryland County failed to carry out that project!
      Tubman built the modern J. J. Dossen Hospital in Harper City to cater to the health needs, as a referral hospital, for all of South Eastern Liberia. He went on to build the modern Cape Palmas High School in Harper City. Tubman started the Zwedru Multilateral School system in the newly formed county of Grand Gideh in South Eastern Liberia. He gave Government subsidy to the Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas for the four-year degree granting Our Lady of Fatima Teacher Training College to prepare its students as teachers in South Eastern Liberian Schools.

      Tubman started the LIBSUCO Sugar Company in Maryland County to create good-paying jobs to the people in South Eastern Liberia. In addition to this company, he started the DECORIS Palm Company near Pleebo in Maryland County for palm oil production. Palm oil can be used to make soap and other well meaning products. He also encouraged entrepreneurs to start the cold storage system for the fishing industries in South Eastern Liberia.
      Tubman built the highway that connected Monrovia to Harper City. He formed Kru Coast Territory within Maryland County, and Sasstown Territory within Sinoe County. These newly formed Territories ran their own political jurisdictions for the first time in South Eastern Liberia. He electrified Harper City and Pleebo City for the first time in the history of those cities.

      He built, for the first time, Pleebo High School. He also built the P. G. Wollor High School in Grandcess City, Grand Kru County. Tubman highly promoted the piasava business business along the Kru Coast in South Eastern Liberia. He was a great benefactor of Cavalla Firestone, the largest private employer of the people of South Eastern Liberia.
      Mr. Hney, this is a brief history of your region in Liberia and some of the things that Tubman did in the development of that region.

  3. I agree that Tolbert was a better president, and brought virtually the same development in 9 years as Tubman did in 27. But let’s put Tolbert aside since everyone agrees that he was a very great leader.
    Let’s now compare what Tubman did in his time compared to all the leaders after Tolbert. None of them – Doe, Taylor or Ellen built anything significant that we can point to. Tubman built the Mansion, Capitol bldg, Temple of Justice, Centennial Pavilion, Executive Pavilion, Free Port, RobertsField, all the MCSS schools, LU Campus, Information Min,, Finance, Public Works, Post Office, Telecom etc etc.. What did Taylor do – 1 police Station? Is there one thing Doe built except a football field? How about Ellen .. she repaved roads?

    Now, it gets even worse – when we consider the options we now have – George Weah, and Boakai. So except for Tolbert, given a choice between Tubman and all these modern time jokers, I will easily take Tubman.

  4. Mr. Sayku Kromah,
    Some of the things you have written about Tubman’s accomplishments are wrong. For instance, you inform your readers by stating that the Freeport as well as Roberts International Airport were constructed by Mr. Tubman. You stated it in your second paragraph. That is not true at all sir.
    You also listed the construction of the Centennial Pavilion, right? Well Kromah, let me ask you this: What are the economic, political and social benefits of the Centennial Pavilion? How does it help you, me or our fellow compatriots?
    Recently in Nigeria, a governor of a state in that country constructed a statue of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. That construction project in Nigeria is a complete waste of money. Like those two statues gazing at one another, the Centennial Pavilion should not be considered a worthwhile accomplishment.

    The real truth of the matter is that Roberts International Airport as well as the Freeport were constructed by the taxpayers’ money of the United States of America. If you re-check your facts, you’ll be convinced that Tubman does not deserve to be given a credit as it relates to the construction of the Freeport as well as the International Airport.

    Kromah, one does not have do a million things in order to be considered a good leader. Tubman may have done a million things. But given the length of years he served the republic, the issue is that he could have done a lot more. Tolbert’s leadership style liberalized the government of Liberia.

    I do not want to be construed as being anti-Tubman! I am not. There are “some” things he did that you don’t know. And yes, he did quite a few good things. But, he should have done more. Road construction was not a priority in the man’s vision. Only one small dusty road that originated from Maryland county went all the way to Cape Mount county. The road passed through Monrovia and continued its journey to Cape Mount.Bam!

    My earlier position has been and still is the issue of Tubman’s birthday. In Liberia, there should be a day of observation/celebration for all presidents. All of Liberia’s past presidents have done their share. The past presidents must be given their flowers whether you disliked them or not.
    Presidents’ Day Holiday!

  5. It is mind boggling to read in the news, that there are some young men expressing
    their questioning of the late President, His Excellency William V.S. Tubman’s achievements
    during his 27 years as President of Liberia. Those young men might not agree with
    all other things that had done in the past. But, there is only one thing they will never
    disagree with. And that is, who opened the country for you to come to Monrovia for
    education through college or to be educated man or woman today? It was Tubman!
    Yes, Tubman opened the country at his own risk when he was being warned that
    so will bring the country or native people upon who eventually will take over from us.
    And, here we are today! President, His Excellency Dr. Samuel Kanyon Doe of the Krahn
    Tribe of Southeastern Liberia now a former President of Liberia, His Excellency Joseph
    Nyema Boakai Vice President of Liberia, Hon. J. Emmanuel Nuquay, Speaker of the
    Hon. House of Representatives of Liberia, Hon. Armah Julu Jallah, President Pro Tempore
    of the Hon. Senate, etc … who can debate that? Therefore, all credit must go to the
    late President H.E. William V.S. Tubman!

  6. Well, fellow Liberians, we are here again to celebrate the birthday of a man who presided over the best economy era that Liberia had, or may ever boast of: 6 iron ore companies, and world’s largest rubber production plant, at that time. The GDP of an average Liberian was 3201.02. Liberia economy was one of the best, if not the best in the world. Countries like Germany, Japan India and even China could not measure with Liberia in quality of GDP. Those countries just emerging from WWII, were barely struggling to catch up during the cold war era. The massive Marshall’s plan initiated by the US, and giving to the German, helps the German to invest in industries, machinery, science and other technical fields. Japan invested in electronics, automotive ….Toshiba, Sony, JVC, Mazda, Datsun etc. The Chinese, industrial revolution….. Self reliance, etc..

    The Tubman regime was looking the other way…sequestrating budgets for the improvement of high schools, colleges and universities. Case in point: at the end of the Tubman’s era, Liberia had only two or there universities. L U, Cottinngton and the technical college in Harper, Maryland. It is a known facts that educating the indigenous people , were not a priority to the True Whiger.

    This is a man Liberians have set aside a particular day to honour his birth day. Glamourising his “achievement”, for keeping the country so backward in a better economic period. If we can amend any holiday in Liberia, let it be Tubman’s birthday. Tolbert better served Liberia than Tubman. Even the backwood 3rd grade educated Master Sargent, was progressive in development than the civilian tyrant (Tubman), who never could accept any descent in his cabinet.

    Liberia would have been a “purl” in the world if Tubman had performed diligently…. Tolbert did better, for the short time he was in office. Let us give praise where it deserves.

  7. Tarlue,
    I am happy to let you know that some of your sources are dead wrong. In fact, Tubman was more conservative than Tolbert.

    What did Tubman do in Grand Gedeh county during the 27 years he served as president?
    If possible, name four signature accomplishments of the work that Tubman did in your county. I am not asking for five or more, just four.

    Tarlue, the issue here is the celebration of a birthday. Do you think Mr. Doe deserve a birthday? Why not?
    In order for us to set things in motion, every past President of Liberia must be honored. The best way to do that is to honor all of them by setting a day aside for all deceased presidents. Like Tubman, Doe deserves to be honored.

  8. Bah,
    What do you mean by purl?

    I tried looking up the word “purl” in my pocket dictionary. It wasn’t there.

    Do you mean pearl?

  9. funny, all of those who said crucify Tolbert, now are coming to praise him. know your history folks, Tubman era was one of stability and progress, however, slow. It was indeed stable and progressive. I am willing and ready to debate anyone of you anywhere and anytime in comparing the Tubman era to the Doe, Taylor and Ellen simpletons.

  10. Thank you Mr. Heny, for your correction.
    I had in mind that I typed “Pearl”, not known I typed “Purl”. I usually do this blogging on a mobile phone between class time.

  11. I love this kind of discourse. At least there are still people who were alive during the administrations of our past presidents to compare their contributions. All of them contributed something. During the Tubman years, most Liberians were afraid to criticize the undertakings of his government so anything he did was not questioned. If you dare did it, it meant your dead body. I tell you this: When Tubman died in 1971, ELWA was announcing it in all dialects to inform the citizens about what had happened. When my uncle heard it he shut his radio and went to one his friends who also had his own radio. My uncle asked him “have you heard what I heard”? His friend said what? My uncle replied; well I do not want to tell you anything. Turn on your radio to hear it yourself before they say I said it. Because if my uncle had broken the news and nothing had happened to the president, he would had been in big trouble. This how Liberians were living in fear because of Tubman’s security net work.
    I agree that there should be PRESIDENTS’ DAY to celebrate all the presidents.

  12. Siasia,
    Presidents’ Day is the way to go!

    Irrespective of whether a president performed greatly or poorly, we the people should have no choice but to honor our past presidents. Liberia has had quite a number of presidents. Why should Tubman’s birthday be a national holiday and not the rest of our deceased presidents?

    Like America, some of our presidents were not born in Liberia. A Bajan/Barbadian became president of Liberia. President E.J. Roye was accused of being a thief. But guess what? Although Roye was born in America, his forebears were Nigerians. He was president. He needs to be honored. Look it up. I am not interested in delving into our former Presidents’ accomplishments or their character traits. Let bygones be. What is important as far as I am concerned, is a general holiday for all of our former presidents.

    Tubman was very conservative. In fact, there weren’t too many women in positions of influence in his government. Despite that, he did a few good things, just a few in my judgement. All in all, we have to move on.

  13. “William V.S. Tubman: The Father Of Modern Liberia.” ??? The writer, Omari Jackson should have read the book; Titled: “Growth Without Development”, by researchers from North Western University. That book outlines Liberia’s conditions; after the Country had been in existence as an Independent Nation for more than 110 years. As a report card on Liberia, the grades were poor-very poor. Indeed, Liberia did grow, up to the W.V.S. Tubman era. However, there was very little development. In some cases none at all. Indeed, Liberia was infact colonized. Liberia’s colonizers simply declared independent for themselves(only) and treated Liberia’s Indigenous Peoples as foreigners in their(own) homeland. Tubman does not deserve the credit for many of Liberia’s developments. Let’s take EDUCATION as an example. The credits should go to Foreign Missionaries; most from the U.S.A. and the Peace Corps, also from the U.S. Before the Peace Corps came in, Public Education in Liberia’s rural areas had many short falls. Learning was by cramping; students didn’t quite understand. Most importantly, the Peace Corps put a halt to school flogging. The Peace Corps Made learning fun, by performing little experiments for students to see how and why certain things happen. Most of developments in Liberia during the good old 60s, were carried out by USAID; not the Liberian Government or Tubman.

  14. F. Hney,
    Your failed attempt to challenge my assertions were quite useless. First of all, I did not comment on the celebration of Tubman birthday. secondly, I did fully agree with youd about the great achievements of Tolbert and that they were measurably more than Tubman in a short period (8yrs and 10mths). My friend, I was only saying, despite his shortcomings he still produced more than all the presidents after him EXCEPT FOR TOLBERT. Now argue that fact instead of rambling about how long he stayed. Again, tell me what did the other presidents after Tubman(except Tolbert) accomplish for Liberia up till today (almost 40 years), and compare it to Tubman (27 years). That’s my argument. Let’s be balanced in our judgment here.
    Also, you seem to go over the limb by giving credit to the U.S. for constructing RIA, and the Freeport, and that we should thanks the US for being so nice. No they were done as an exchange. Not a gift. In fact they should have done more. And Tubman negotiated the exchange. Yes it was done under his direction. So it is his accomplishment. Just like Doe deserve credit for the football field, and Ellen deserves credit for patching the roads, and it all came through foreign aid. Here is the fact: America built Omega Station, signed a defense pact with the GOL, and gained other investment opportunities in exchange for the projects. Some of you need to read deep about government policies and the history of GOL foreign engagements, and stop talking off the surface. “Growth without Development”, true. But, in economics. it first takes capacity building first to allow real growth. That aspect can often take years to accomplish. Stability is also a central factor in this equation. And Tubman provided both. Tubman was the first president to educate hundreds of indigenous Liberians abroad and bring them back into top leadership posts. One can also argue rightly that Tubman laid the economic and stable economic conditions which allowed Tolbert, his VP, to succeed.

    The author is right. With his accomplishments, he did modernize Liberia. Yes, he could have done much more with what he had. But he still did better than all the rest after him combined (except for Tolbert).

  15. As a pupil of Kroo Primary School on Kroo Town road near Kroo Bay in Western Freetown, Sierra Leone, I was among several starstruck kids lining the street whose hands President Tubman had warmly shaken en route to worship at St Thomas Kroo Church, during one of his visits. For few weeks after that fortunate encounter, I stopped friends from getting near my right hand because the president touched it; he was our hero then, as now. Moreover, for me, if Tubman didn’t even build a public lavatory; his bold attempts at bridging the hostile apartheid – like Country – Congua divide, which had caused the flight and migration from Liberia of many southeasterners to English speaking African countries as far as Cape Town in South Africa, would’ve been a great legacy.

    Having recognized that milestone, especially, in the midst of our current potentially dangerous factionalism, I agree with the suggestion of setting aside one day as Presidents’ Day, like the Americans do. Not due to time wasted, but rather for the sake of consequent lost revenue which Mr. Conneh implied in “unproductivity holidays”.

    With all its well – documented dark human rights underbelly, blatant cronyism, and unapologetic profligacy, the Tubman era is a cautionary tale of how not to evaluate presidential legacies solely by what’s visible, such as infrastructural development. Indeed, for example, a road network to the southeast, where he was born, would have boosted a region blessed with natural resources and geography. The question is, was Liberia capable of funding, without outside help, road constructions on top of low wetlands that required high ground and bridges? Or what was the incentive for Western financial institutions to put any African country on the path of economic sustainability during mounting imperialistic pivots on the continent, particularly a Liberia whose xenophobia prevents other races from owning real estate?

    So I’m hugging the probability that for lack thereof of financial wherewithal, Tubman instead healed the nation by bringing Liberians (urban and rural) together. And that’s why a united country truly mourned his passing: Happy birthday, Mr. President.

  16. Mr. Sayku,
    I did not say that Tubman did not achieve anything. True, he achieved a few things, but he could have done a lot of good for Liberia. During his day, the True Whig party was the only party around. Tubman appointed senators and all members of the Lower House. In other words, there wasn’t any opposition. Tubman could have done more than any Liberian president from 1847 up to his time. He served the longest number of years. If they very qualified, there weren’t enough doctors in the country.

    The Freeport project was carried out during Barclay’s presidency, not Tubman’s.

    Few native men served in Tubman’s government. Dukule and Boayue were the ones who served. Mr. Kromah, there hardly were women in positions of influence in Tubman’s government.

    Tubman did not offer scholarships to hundreds of native Liberians. Of course, the natives were in the majority of the country’s population.

    Am I rambling so far?
    I made a correction where there was an error as it relates to the Freeport and Roberts International. You seem to be offended. If I came across as being unruly, I apologize. Furthermore, opinions are expressed. You can disagree with my opinion, but we can agree to move on.

    I read about the government of Liberia from time to time. I live in the US and have done so for well over 25 years. I Was born in Maryland county and I can assure you with an absolute degree of certainty that I knew more about Tubman than you.

    The reason we are writing our opinions about Tubman is that his birthday was celebrated recently in Liberia. My argument is that all of Liberia’s presidents have done their share. Indeed, they all (and not just Tubman) deserve a holiday. Not one holiday for one president.

  17. Mr Anders,
    Your response to what I wrote is very cordial. Indeed, I promise I will respond to you in kind. I also believe that an exchange such as the foregoing, is good for our country. There are others who become vituperative when they disagree with someone’s opinion. That’s not the case here.

    Chalk, I have never said that Tubman has no accomplishments. My position has been and continues to be the idea of celebrating Tubman’s birthday and not the birthdays of our fallen presidents. To suggest that all deceased presidents’ birthdays be lumped and celebrated on one specific day is an act of promoting Liberian patriotism. I am sure you will agree.

    Tubman’s achievements……
    This area of Tubman’s achievements is in no uncertain terms very contentious. I am conflicted because my dear honorable compatriots including Mr. Chalk Anders, may think that I am anti-Tubman. I am not.
    Tubman had some achievements. But, Tubman could have achieved more nationally! Some of the achievements you’ve mentioned are local, and not necessarily national. Example. The Maryland avenue construction project was done in Harper city by Vienini. That main road passes through the city and all the way to Upcape, the president’s old residence. There’s Hoffman Station that’s adjacent to Harper city. There was never a thought for the Hoffman Station residents to smell a cement paved road. Right?

    1. What(were) (are) the economic benefits of the Maryland avenue project?

    2. Were similar paved roads constructed in Zwedru, Kolahun, Gbarnga, or in Monrovia?

    3.As you know Mr. Anders, Fatima college was ordered to close down. Why was that perceived to be a splendid idea?

    There are more questions to be asked. Unfortunately, the more I ask questions, the more I get exposed as being a Tubman hater. And God knows mighty well that I am not.

    So I conclude for now. We need a national holiday for all presidents, and not just one for Tubman. Also, Tubman has “some” achievements, but not achievements that a majority of Liberians are proud of. He could have done more because the True Whig Party was the only party of the land. In other words, there weren’t any opposition parties.

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