Winston Tubman: ‘I Could Have Become President, Had I Continued School in Liberia’

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Cllr. Winston Tubman (middle) flanked by Charles A. Minor (left) and the celebrant, KYB, at whose 80th birthday many fond reflections were made.

The struggle for political relevance and, to say the most, ascendancy to the highest office of the land has never escaped the mind of Cllr. Winston Tubman, who recently said his chances of becoming President could have been more certain had he remained in the country and completed not only high school but probably his undergraduate degree.

Cllr. Tubman made the remarks in Crozierville last Sunday at a program marking the 80th birthday celebration of Dr. Kenneth Y. Best, who was his classmate in 1950 at the Booker Washington Institute.

“Unfortunately, I have to say it today, because I would not have said it at any other point in time. I probably missed out on my attempts of becoming President of Liberia because my parents sent me to England for education,” he said.

He said, had he gone further to school with his classmates in Liberia, he could have had the opportunity to know his home country better and build much more close relationships with his fellow countrymen and women, who he could have served today.

Reflecting on his days at the Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Tubman said Kenneth Y. Best, who is today a great success story in the private sector, mainly the media landscape, helped him succeed in his quest for the class presidency and also motivated him in so many different dimensions.

“But that is the way life is. We start together but we move in different directions. We don’t know where those directions lead us but the friendship remains,” he said.

He said the good that every group of citizens can do is to work with one another so as to be a blessing to the country that each claims to love. “Many of the things I heard about Kenneth today I didn’t know before, but I know that I made the right decision when I asked him way back then, more than 50 years ago, to run my campaign at BWI,” he said, appreciating his companionship with Best.

He added: “Had I stayed close to Kenneth Best, I would have become something more than I became much sooner.” Tubman pacified his heart by noting that it is still never too late for him, apart from the presidency, to regret any of the reasons why he failed along the way in his political career.

He said he wished that Liberia was far better than what it is now in terms of development, but there is still hope that the country can rise above its current state of poor infrastructure, systems, and operations. “We can still use the opportunities afforded us to make some things positive and make positive contributions to our country,” he said.

The self-retired politician continued: “We have worked. Kenneth has worked. You heard all the good things he has done but I am sure no one will disagree that our country could be far further ahead than it is today.”

“On this occasion of his birthday, I am proud, I am honored and happy that standing here on behalf of my brother Robert Tubman, who is in Sweden and couldn’t be here. We extend to our friend Kenneth congratulations for all his achievements, especially for reaching this milestone in his life,” he said.

Winston Tubman was the standard bearer for the opposition political party National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) in the 2005 general and Presidential Elections but, as it went, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (of the Unity Party) snatched the Presidency away from him and a host of other contenders, including football icon George Manneh Weah who currently heads the government as President.

Another attempt by Tubman for the office of President came in 2011 when George Weah (now President) allowed Tubman to run as standard bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change. But, as it was in the case of 2005, the then incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf snatched the post at the polls.

There was a runoff between Tubman and Sirleaf but, after numerous outcries and claims of fraud by the opposition block, Tubman backed off from the runoff, which saw Madam Sirleaf sail through the run-off election to win her second term.

Another speaker who touched on the meaningfulness of Mr. Best’s existence among his kinsmen was Rivergee County Senator, Conmany Wesseh.

In his remarks, Sen. Wesseh said he and Best, as well as some other strong heads, championed the cause of social justice in the country when President William V.S. Tubman quashed student politics in 1964. “Best has always told stories and those stories he tells always change things around. He is a Best to appreciate and a Best to celebrate,” he said.

Wesseh noted that he, Kenneth Best, Charles Minor, who later served as Ambassador of Liberia to the United States, and a host of other fellows at one time got deeply involved in molding the minds of several young people for the promotion of democratic governance in the country.

He noted that Mr. Best and his family, mainly his elder sister Muriel Best, have always been firm in their struggle for justice and helping others desperately in need to succeed. Wesseh said he was responsible for the first arrest meted against Mr. Best, his wife Mae Gene Best and staff of the Daily Observer newspaper during the 1980s.

The arrest came when three letters from three students were published in the Daily Observer in June of 1981, calling on the People’s Redemption Council of President Samuel Kanyon Doe to release their leader, Commany Wesseh. Doe then ordered the arrest and detention of Mr. Best, his wife and his staff for publishing the letters from the students.

Wesseh, at that time, was banned from interaction with the press and the student leadership for what the Doe regime termed as “the instigation of chaos against the government in the name of student advocacy.”

Best and six of his male staff were imprisoned for ten days while the females, including Mrs. Best, were incarcerated for four days.

Their release came following pressure that was mounted on President Doe, who was at the time attending the Organization of African Unity (OAU, now African Union, AU) conference in Nairobi, Kenya, where Mr. Best once worked for the All African Council of Churches and was well known and respected.

Wesseh, then leader of the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU), appreciated Mr. Best for his contribution to his life, mainly beginning with the publication that saw Best and his people not only imprisoned but their revered newspaper, the Daily Observer, shut down.

Several other persons expressed their gratitude to the Octogenarian (Best) for his positive contributions to their lives.

Author

  • David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

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David S. Menjor is a Liberian journalist whose work, mainly in the print media has given so much meaning to the world of balanced and credible mass communication. David is married and interestingly he is also knowledgeable in the area of education since he has received some primary teacher training from the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI). David, after leaving Radio Five, a broadcast media outlet, in 2016, he took on the challenge to venture into the print media affairs with the Dailly Observer Newspaper. Since then he has created his own enviable space. He is a student at the University of Liberia.

15 COMMENTS

  1. Happy 80th birthday Mr. Kenneth Best!!!

    May I leave you with this wise saying, “Old age, believe me, is a good and pleasant time. It is true that you are quietly shouldered off the stage, but then you are given such a comfortable front seat as spectator, and if you have really played your part well, you are more content to sit down and watch.”

    Yes indeed, Mr. Best! You have played your part well. I can still smell the aroma of your first newspaper.

    You have endured the hazards and vicissitudes (ups & downs) of Life. It is now time to take your front seat and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

    Again, happy 80th birthday!!!!

    On a side note:

    Mr. Tubman, I’m sure you are fully aware of this old adage, “There are too many chiefs and not enough Indians.” That is exactly what is wrong with Liberia. There are too many politicians and not enough technocrats to rebuild our crumbling infrastructures.

    There are numerous ways for someone to make valuable contributions to his/her country without becoming President of Liberia. Becoming President of Liberia is no different from the so-called “Imperial African Presidency”….where African Presidents behave as though all the power rest with the president.

    Mr. Tubman, I hope you enjoy your fruitful retirement from politics. You had a fabulous life.

  2. We would like to wish you Happy birthday, older brother, and a wonderful 80 years celebration with friends, family, and fans. Mr. Kenneth Best, nothing makes some of us more hopeful about Mama Liberia than the fact that in spite of her horrible past and anxious present, there are few men and women whose lives are worth emulating. It therefore behooves great investment in education towards ending perpetuation of poverty and simultaneously familiarizing our young minds with the still breathing human institutions – like you and others – around them. That civilizations and nations were founded then blossomed on the backs of imagined (myths) human institutions is indicative of their motivational impacts on society.

    For instance, the first first time in Freetown I went to the office of my late paternal uncle, Hon Kai Gelioh Wales, then Assistant Commissioner of Police, and saw various white officers saluting him anytime they entered, it was like God handed me a profession right there. When eventually I mustered courage to share this thought with him, his quiet reply was that books reveal themselves to those who care, and careers are made by being studious and serious about one’s future. Even ten years after retiring, this brilliant man got recalled to be Chairman of the Wales Commission of Enquiry on Immigration Reforms. He always appeared as unassuming and endearing as you: We pray that God continues to favor you with good health, happiness, and, of course, tranquility in Liberia for a stres-free longer life.

  3. Reference regrets of Counselor Tubman, it was apt that he expressed them while they were reminiscing at the birthday party of a school chum, a cautionary tale, if you will, for younger minds interested in politics. After all, it is in high schools and colleges lifelong bonds are made and maintained that materialized into partnerships in business, the professions, and politics. An American author whose name I can’t remember said, “Ivy league universities are about connecting more than learning”. And the former CDC presidential nominee was just nostalgic of being deprived of “connecting” then, and he has rendered invaluable service to his people and country in the legal and diplomatic fields.

  4. Hon. Best, wishing you Happy Birthday! Best wishes and thank you for your services to both Liberia and Africa! Love, Peace and Harmony!

  5. It is an honor and pleasure to wish a happy 80th! From the picture posted along with this story, you hardly look 80! In all your ups and downs, with the contributions you continue to render Liberians wherever life takes you, may God continue to inspire you and keep you in his care.

    Respectfully,
    Ms. Muna A. Wreh, PhD

  6. As I continue to wonder through my little mind as to whether the only way most Liberians who were schooled out of Liberia can contribute to liberia’s development is being a president..

    Then we as Liberians will have a long rope to travel on….developmental wise…

    Let our love for country be our driving force to lead our country into the 21 century through innovations and creativities…

    We all can’t be president at the same time…but can be business people gurus at the same time..

  7. Counselor Tubman, Liberians are not interested in electing experienced diploma like you. You could have become a very good President. Unfortunately, Liberians are very poor people in electing in good leaders. For example, they elected George Weah, a soccer player over an experienced V.President who served Liberia for over twelve years. Now, see the mess that the country is in. In most African countries, the outgoing president will campaign for his vice President to succeed him. Unfortunately, former president Sirleaf abandoned her vice president. Liberia has become a laughing stuff everywhere. It is a shame for the oldest African country in Africa to make such a tragic and disastrous mistake. President Weah has no international and diplomatic connection. You can see that even leaders within the Mano River Union are somewhat reluctant to work along with him He cannot even serve this body as chairman. It is so sad and unfortunate. 16 Billions and 25 million United States Dollars infused into the economy cannot be accounted for. The exchange rate is still high. The price of rice is still high also. Lebanese businessmen are favored more than Liberian businessmen. Lebanese businessmen know how to bride. Our government officials beg these people every day for money. Lebanese boast every time saying that the government is in their pockets. They can fire or dismiss Liberian workers without following the Labour law. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Labour does nothing to defend them. They prefer to take brides more than to defend their own countrymen from bad labour practice by foreigners against Liberians.

  8. Counselor Tubman, Liberians are not interested in electing experienced diploma like you. You could have become a very good President. Unfortunately, Liberians are very poor people in electing in good leaders. For example, they elected George Weah, a soccer player over an experienced V.President who served Liberia for over twelve years. Now, see the mess that the country is in. In most African countries, the outgoing president will campaign for his vice President to succeed him. Unfortunately, former president Sirleaf abandoned her vice president. Liberia has become a laughing stuff everywhere. It is a shame for the oldest African country in Africa to make such a tragic and disastrous mistake. President Weah has no international and diplomatic connection. You can see that even leaders within the Mano River Union are somewhat reluctant to work along with him He cannot even serve this body as chairman. It is so sad and unfortunate. 16 Billions and 25 million United States Dollars infused into the economy cannot be accounted for. The exchange rate is still high. The price of rice is still high also. Lebanese businessmen are favored more than Liberian businessmen. Lebanese businessmen know how to bride. Our government officials beg these people every day for money. Lebanese boast every time saying that the government is in their pockets. They can fire or dismiss Liberian workers without following the Labour law. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Labour does nothing to defend them.

  9. Happy Birth Day to you, Mr. Kenneth Yarkpawolo Best, on the occasion of your 80th natal day celebration. You are a great man, a wonder person with a good heart and an amazing human presence for your people. May God bless you with many more years to come. Amen!

    James Larsah

  10. Elijah Taylor, one moment you guys were causing noise for change, the next being nostalgic about the same old, same old when votes turned out different; admit that the One Party Oligarchy suited your taste buds better than a Multiparty Democracy which makes our poor Country-Congo majority the sovereign.

  11. Counselor Tubman – Your devotion to your beloved Liberia never ceased or wavered , and your work on its behalf never stopped no matter where fate found you. Very few people will ever know the sacrifices you made, the lives you saved , the work you did for your country no matter where you served. Liberia always came first

  12. Wow! Inspite of all the hardships in Liberia, Best, Minor and Tubman look so well groomed and well fed. It’s hard to imagine they and some others are living in “HARDSHIPS-LIBERIA”. Let the good times roll. Some will eat well, and drink fine wines ; while others eat “DRY BONNIE” with “DRY RICE”. Happy Birthday; KYB. Life begins at 80.

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