Countdown to June 7: Whither (To What Place, Result or Condition), Liberia, After June 7, 2019?

(From left) President George M. Weah; the famous Liberian pamphleteer Albert Porte (deceased); and Gabriel Bacchus Matthews (deceased), considered by many to be the father of multiparty democracy in Liberia

With Attorney Keith Neville Asumuyaya Best


A new trail was blazed as STELLAR transitioned (changed over) from “SIMPLE LOGIC AND THE LAW,” to STELLAR: (the shortened form, acronym) for: STANDARD ENGLISH, LOGIC, LAW AND RELIGION.

Thanks to a delightful, re-formatting feat by the Daily Observer’s newspaper staff and a 10th grade B.W. Harris computer whiz-kid named Stephen, this attractive and inclusive, new moniker (personal name), STELLAR, that the five areas this column focuses on, made its debut, (first came out) on February 19, 2019.

Guided by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, principles that the Daily Observer, from its founding, has been enamored of, (lived and breathed) will continue to inform and strengthened our analyses and predictions as they have over the years, thanks to a formal restatement of this paper’s long-established passion for — and commitment to — Truth and Justice.

Need we call attention to our corporate-allegiance to Standard English — the pursuit of which embodies our professional devotion that, again, second to Him whom we serve most) — who inspires our utmost (best) in enriching (deepening) our readership’s grasp and meaningful enjoyment of the Language we share? We leave that to you, our readers! THANK YOU!

“Sufficient to the day, is the evil thereof,” scripture has been teaching since time immemorial (beyond when anything can be remembered). This Truth, however, falls often on deaf ears — especially when those ears hear nothing besides what their owners tell themselves: “the answer to everything under the sun is ours.”

Echoes from April 14, 1979 Riots


The enduring socio-political maxim cited above, draws our attention to the need to take a piercing look today, at all angles of June 7, 2019’s national drama-in-the-making — particularly, against the backdrop of something similar to April 14, 1979’s quiet, but, rising storm we found ourselves caught up in some forty years ago.

Failing to attach significance (meaning) to underrated bits and pieces that formed a part of that gradual buildup — that time around — denied Liberians of that era a complete grasp of some of the things that either took place — or didn’t. Had some steps that were intended been frustrated (discouraged)? Had things that could have been done differently been rudely ruled out (removed, gotten rid of) in the larger scheme of things?


What if some activity had happened by design — meaning, they were intended? And what if other developments had been no more than unplanned or unexpected shifts? And what about counter-moves that could have been provoked by things not anticipated, (not expected, not likely to have been planned for)?

In a word, just what ingredients had been introduced into that cauldron (a large kettle, boiling vessel) that might have helped make certain that April 14, 1979 turned out as scalding (injurious to the skin, hot) as it did?


Since most of us would not wish to see the past repeat itself. Let us then — for reasons we will explain later — begin with the nation’s noted social scientist and political commentator, Albert Porte who, from reading the signs off the streets of Monrovia from the “get-go,” would find himself amply equipped to arrive at a succinct (concise, to the point) report in a booklet that hit the streets of Monrovia, shortly after the shocking April 14, 1979 event died down. Mr. Porte’s booklet recounted, (narrated, described) everything related to the event that had just taken place. The historian’s account would spread like “wild fire,” to use a favorite metaphor (emblem, symbol) of Mr. Porte’s.


What Albert Porte succeeded in capturing in print was an important piece of history, styled no less than: The Day Monrovia Stood Still: April 14, 1979. Teacher Porte clearly understood his responsibility and, true to form, he went on to carry it out, as he invariably (habitually, always) had. His challenge, under those inauspicious (gloomy, unhappy) circumstances, was unequivocal (clear, plain), putting future generations on notice that they would do well to “Step away from a ‘comedy of errors,’ a series of unfortunate steps, preached and advocated by all sorts of misguided players — that would lead the nation down the road of self-destruction, should such self-serving advice be followed.” This he went out of his way to chronicle (highlight, register) for the future generations.


It is important to point out at this stage, that long before the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL)-planned demonstration — or protest against ‘the government-of-the-day’ — Albert Porte, already established as a longtime advocate for freedom of speech, press freedom and the people’s right to assemble peaceably to petition their leaders, had thrown himself into the contention (conflict,       disagreement) already underway.

In the company of two friends who had been out but had not been a part of the demonstration, that day in April, I spotted Mr. Porte on the front steps of the old justice Ministry at Center and Ashmun Streets. I stepped out of the jeep we had been getting around in and climbed the stairs to hail the Old Man.

The writer had just been talking to another young man, explaining that: because he had stumbled on his way up, while climbing, he had not been “falling down” as the young man thought; rather, he had been “falling up,” he corrected the surprised, young man!

Albert Porte — the teacher, as usual, had taken advantage of a small opportunity to pass something on to the young man he had run into. Porte’s mind was clearly wrapped up in the larger matters at hand and wanted the young man to focus on far more important things:

Things like people, ideas beliefs, responsibility trust, love, understanding, humanity, etc.; all of these — at that very point in time, were under attach — from a falling as well as from a failing system, no thanks to many trusted public servants — falling and failing to take care of business. Teacher Porte was thinking of public service — that the nation’s public servants had been employed for and entrusted to carry out, but had failed!


That was when it struck me and I recalled that Albert Porte had been on top of the situation right from the start. As we left the area — with Uncle Albert continuing his climb up those stairs, I remembered that Porte had written President William R. Tolbert as early as November of 1978 (the previous year), warning that it was neither economically feasible (not practical on the money side) nor politically expedient (the people who hired him would not be happy), if the price of rice were increased!


Indeed, it started with rice. Rice is the Liberian staple. Let the Guinean have his cous-cous, the Nigerian, his yam, the Kenyan, his maize and the Ivorian, his attiéké. The Liberian man must have his rice. No one ever plays with it.

The government had announced an increase in the price of a 100-pound bag of imported rice from $US22.00 to $US30.00, as incentive to local production. The president and his Agriculture minister were both major local producers.

The Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) announced that it planned to peaceably protest the increase. A veritable (real, out and out) count-down began towards the day PAL said its protest would be staged. People would begin marking the days as the remaining period wound down.

Thousands of already hard-pressed citizens turned out to register their disapproval of the price-increase. Having advised the protesters to abandon their march, the government ordered the police to shoot on the crowds; the protest would turn into a riot, leaving over 40 dead, hundreds injured and millions of dollars worth of property-damage!

One unexpected twist: the army — successive governments’ loyal tool of perennial (perpetual, lasting) tribal repression, mutinied that day, defying the government and refusing to fire on unarmed citizens — most of whom were clearly of native background.


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