A Family Man, Peacemaker and Unifier

The Late Charles Gyude Bryant_web.jpg

“Hello. Sister Mara.  How you all doing? I just called to see how you all are doing and to hear your voice.”

“Hello. Bor Igoli. I am just sitting here thinking about you and call to find out how you doing.  I hear there is a terrible winter storm. Is it in your area? Michigan State won the Rose Bowl. How is Opu celebrating?”

He used to call family members, friends and acquaintances the same way.

He called regularly to find out how they were doing and to stay in touch with them; to let them know he cared.

Vintage Gyude Bryant, always caring and willing to make sacrifices for those he loved and those he came in contact with. Always concerned about family and friends.

Always caring and concerned about people, whoever they are, and always caring and concerned about his country.

Devoutly devoted to his Church and his God.  In his final years, it appears, the Spirit moved him to grow closer to God. He came to the realization that God was his only refuge and hope; the only one he could rely on. 

He was the youngest in the family but he was the glue that held the family together. A young man, wise beyond his age.

Now that he has gone, we pray for the family to be united, to love and embrace one another, to hold together for him, for his sake and for his memory.

Let us honor his memory by our genuine and unalloyed acts of forgiveness and reconciliation and our commitment to one another to hold together.

Gyude was the center that never allowed things to fall apart. He was a conciliator, and he was a unifier.

Always making sure that people are reconciled, connected and unified to discharge their family and national duties.

There is no son or daughter, no aunt or uncle, no brother or sister, no cousin, niece or nephew, no friend or even foe that Gyude does not connect with. He always worked for the common ground, for the center of reconciliation, for the common good.

This is the quintessential Gyude Bryant.

A lover of his family; a lover of his Country and a  humble servant to his God.

It is, indeed, significant, remarkable and historical that a man who unified his country when it was in utter despair, disarray and disunity should be buried on Unification Day. How poetic!!! How true and immutable is justice!!!

Gyude was the true personification and symbol of Unification. The son of a Grebo father and a settler mother, he represented the unified Liberia. “A true Liberian”, he would say to himself at intense moments.

Unless we have collective amnesia and, I know, we do not; We will remember those waning years of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st century when Liberia was torn apart; its entrails scattered into the four winds; its security and confidence in itself tattered and in disarray..

We will remember the fear in the eyes of the little child;

the anguish in the face of the mother; the dread in the heart of the man on the farm, at home and in the street..

We will remember the chaos and mayhem that had engulfed the Nation for years; the blood, innocent and guilty, streaming out of over a quarter of a million souls.

We will remember the ruined homes and roads; the dislocated communications and the oppressive fear that engulfed the Nation; the sense of insecurity everywhere; the insidious fear for our lives, if we will even be alive the next day given the killings and destruction outside our doors, outside our homes and in the streets; the dreaded fear that we were in the abyss and we could not climb our way out; that deadening fear of utter hopelessness, despair and futility.

We do remember. We do. We do.

We will also remember that, that was the time a group of inexperienced young men, a group that a British newspaper described as “a motley crew of inexperienced men with empty briefcases”, led by His Excellency Charles Gyude Bryant, took over to nurse the nation back to health; back to a sense of purpose; back to reconciliation and unity in purpose; back to hope and a sense of security; back to the land of freedom and sweet liberty.

Gyude did not select and appoint his own ministers and government; they were disparate groups, heretofore warring amongst themselves;

But he held them together and welded them into the group that gave us peace, freedom and hope.

In 2004, Gyude was determined to remove the fear that was still hanging in the country and to bring hope to the people and encourage them to travel freely in the country.

To this end he led his cabinet on a nation-wide tour when it was almost impossible to travel due to fear and bad road conditions .  The purpose of that trip was to remove fear, bring hope to the people, and encourage them to travel freely.  Amidst the challenges of vehicles getting stuck in the mud and falling trees across the roads, that mission was accomplished. He not only said but he acted to dispel fear and the sense of insecurity; and hope and security were restored.

The Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement was diligently, scrupulously and successfully carried out and there was a peaceful transition to a legitimately elected government in Liberia. His is an enormous achievement that should never be forgotten nor taken for granted.

This was a historic success for Liberia.

We should remember the bad, dangerous and precarious conditions at the time the National Transitional Government of Liberia assumed office. Presidents  John Kuffor of Ghana,  Thabu Mbeki of the  of South Africa,  George Bush of USA,  Robinson of the Republic of Ireland, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, AU, ECOWAS, EU and, especially, Presidents Olusugun Obasanjo and General Abdul Salami Abubakar of Nigeria and  many others were acutely aware of the enormity of the task and the dangers on the road given historical experiences in Africa and in other places.

But the Transitional Government, under the able leadership of His Excellency Charles Gyude Bryant rose to the task and the occasion.

Under his leadership they held us together, reconciled us and conducted the most democratic, transparent, credible and successful elections that brought into existence a democratically elected government – a government that is still holding the center together and moving us on.

This is a fact. The person that held Liberia together so that we did not stay but did climb out of the abyss was Gyude Bryant and we should give him the credit due to him. All Liberians, at home and abroad and all outside of Liberia should give him the credit due to him. It was under the leadership of His Excellency Charles Gyude Bryant that Liberia was transformed and transitioned from war and destruction and insecurity to peace, constructive development and security that we are still enjoying today as we bid farewell to him, Let us never forget that. Let us never forget this historic success.

As a former adviser to Presidents Reagan and Bush, 1 and an admirer of Gyude said: “For what he did for Liberia, Mr. Bryant deserves the Nobel Peace Prize”.

As I indicated in another context, when the history of this period is written, what would be remembered most was that the transition was smooth and peaceful and that Gyude was the head and prime mover of it all and brought it to fruition. Thank you Gyude. Thank you for this historic accomplishment for Liberia, your dear country

History tells us that transferring government in a heretofore fractious and fratricidal situation is not an easy task. All we have to do is look at what has been happening in many parts of Africa and even in other parts of the world to be thankful that our transition, in the honest and able hands of Gyude Bryant, was smooth and peaceful.

Even in one of the successful transitions where General Obasanjo transferred power to President Shagari in Nigeria, several decades ago, the acrimony of the election and the transfer still lingers and President Obasanjo's own people have not quite forgiven him for not making it possible for Chief Obafemi Awolowo to achieve the presidency.

Whether it is Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Chad, the DR Congo and even recently in our neighbor, the Ivory Coast, transferring political power is not a smooth and easy affair.

Look at even our own earlier attempts at transition before Gyude did it successfully for us. Look at the earliest attempts in Yamasoukuro; look at the Cotonou agreement or the Akosombo agreement or the Abuja agreement in the 1990s. We could not make a successful transition but rather descended into utter chaos, mayhem and destruction and into the abyss.

To reiterate what I said earlier: It was under Gyude’s leadership, and only under his leadership, that Liberia was transformed and transitioned from war, chaos and insecurity to peace stability and security. We should never forget that.

The success of the transition was not only for Liberia but also for the MANO River, ECOWAS, the Sub-Region, for Africa and for the peace of the world.

And so, the fact that Gyude Bryant and his administration did it for us so smoothly, so peacefully and so successfully should be credited to him and like Phinehas in the Good Book – Psalm 106:30-31– it should be counted to him as a good deed for the Nation.

This is how he, Gyude, summed it up in a book he was trying to write titled The Cost of Peace or The Path to Peace: “By the end of the transition, peace reigned throughout Liberia and the elected government was seated. This is my legacy”.

Gyude now belongs to the Ages.

As the Roman poet, Ovid, declared in his Metamorphosis: Tempus redux rerum – Time rectifies all things.

Let us mourn his loss.

But let us celebrate his accomplishments in giving us the freedom and liberty and security we now enjoy, and what he taught us about family and country and reconciliation; about caring for one another; about unification and about service to our fellow human beings and especially our obligations to the next generation and the generations to come; and our binding duties and worshipful obligations  to our Creator.

God rest your soul, Gyude and give you His peace.

May God's perpetual Light shine on you.

And finally, let us express our unalloyed and sincerest thanks and deepest appreciation to all who helped, in the smallest and biggest ways, to make Gyude’s life productive, enduring, successful and meaningful during his earthly journey. Thank you and thank you.


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