The United People’s Party (UPP) has declared that the fight for multi-party democracy it initiated in the ‘70s was to “make us strong not weak. It was to lift up our people not tear them down. It was to move our country forward not backwards. It was to bring out the best in us not the worst. So let us come together and show the world what we are truly made of. Let us come together and save our country.”
Speaking at the party’s 5th National Conference in New Kru Town, Monrovia last Friday, the party’s National Chairman, T. Q. Harris, recounted the fateful day in 1975 when its founder Gabriel Baccus Matthews, right after graduation from the Long Island University, set for himself a national task of finding lasting solutions to Liberia’s chronic sociopolitical and economic problems.
Mr. Harris said Mr. Matthews felt an obligation and asked himself the question: “What is the essence of my life if I cannot bring happiness to my people?” and said in search of this answer, the first came when Matthews went to the Liberian Community Association meeting that was taking place at the home of Mr. Hilary Gibson in the Bedford Stuyvesant Section of Brooklyn, New York, where the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) was organized in 1975.
Harris said the second answer to the question (with “my” changed to “our”), “What is the essence of our lives if we cannot bring happiness to our people?” came years later with the formation of the Progressive People’s Party – the first major grassroots opposition political party that challenged the 102-year rule of the True Whig Party.
“We see no reason why a child should go to bed hungry in this country; we see no reason why a child should be denied an education; we see no reason why a father who is willing to work cannot find a job to provide for his family,” Harris said, adding that “For us, we see no reason why our cities, towns and villages have no electricity, safe drinking water and clinics. We see no reason why this country is producing rubber in abundance but cannot produce rice, cassava, yams, and plantains in large quantities.”
“We just cannot understand how tons of natural rubber is produced here in Liberia, yet we are incapable of producing tires, slippers, insulators, or something as simple as a condom. This bizarre production-consumption pattern of producing what we do not eat and eat what we do not produce has to change! And change it will under the UPP government.”
He appealed to opposition parties to create a new order for a new day in Liberia, “one in which all citizens will have a vested interest in preserving rather than uprooting and destroying… a new order in which prosperity for all will be the cornerstone of national development and progress. And this new order must be built on political stability.”
He told delegates that for many in the UPP, “the essence of our lives is to bring happiness to the Liberian people, to give them peace and stability, and to end the misery.”