Henry Mamulu, a prominent Liberian writer, recently took to task a number of young and middle-aged Liberians for their failure to defend their parents from attacks by various elements in society. In his incisive piece, “Children of a Lesser God,” published in the Wednesday, July 25, 2018 issue of the Daily Observer, Mr. Mamulu wondered why so many of these children of eminent Liberians of yesteryear are sitting supinely and permitting all kinds of people to demean their parents, and not them only but far worse, despise (hate), denigrate (belittle) and even destroy everything that these parents have built to help develop our country.
The very first name that Mamulu mentioned was Shad Tubman, Jr., eldest son of President William V.S. Tubman, the man who ushered Liberia into the modern age. How did Tubman do that? Through his local and foreign scholarship President Tubman, beginning in the mid-1940s shortly after his election to the presidency, started sending scores of Liberians abroad to study in many fields, including the Agriculture, the Arts, Education, Economics, Civil, Mechanical and Structural Engineering, Law, Medicine and related Subjects, Mining and Geology, the Sciences and so much more.
To prove how much a big deal that initiative was, it produced so many firsts in Liberia. Arthur Sherman became our first geologist and mining engineer; his brother Charles D. Sherman, Liberia’s first economist. J. Rudolph Grimes, one of the country’s first Harvard trained lawyers, his sister Mary Antoinette Brown Sherman, the nation’s first graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University. Charles Sherman was the son of a Vai-Mandingo woman. J. Rudolph and Mary Antoinette Grimes were the offspring of a Vai princess who, following the Vai-Gola War in the late 1800s, was discovered along with another young girl, both orphans, abandoned on the streets of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
President and Mrs. Joseph J. Cheeseman discovered the two girls and took them home to Edina, Grand Bassa County and raised them. The young attorney-at-law, Louis Arthur Grimes, who frequently visited Grand Bassa to plead cases, spotted one of the adopted Cheeseman girls, Victoria, fell in love with her, married her and helped her improve her education. They produced three talented children—Henry, an electronics engineer, who helped establish the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation; Rudolph, who helped establish the School of Law at the University of Liberia named after his father; and Mary Antoinette, who became the first African woman to head a university.
Rudolph Grimes, assisted by T. Ernest Eastman, who also studied Diplomacy and International Affairs on a Liberian government scholarship, helped President Tubman lay the ground work for the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU-now African Union-AU). In this great pioneering effort, Tubman was joined by Ghana’s President Kwame Nkrumah and Guinea’s President Sekou Touré. It was Charles D. Sherman who made the financial arrangements for the erection of the Executive Mansion, the Temple of Justice, the Ducor Intercontinental Hotel, West Africa’s first five-star hotel, and the Treasury Department (now Ministry of Finance and Development Planning).
In his piece, “Children of a Lesser God,” Henry Mamulu made great lamentation (crying) about the woeful neglect, during the two terms of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of many of the structures that were built not only by President Tubman, but also by his successor, President William R. Tolbert. Tubman built the Ducor, the Executive Mansion and the E.J. Roye Building. Yes, both the Ducor and the E.J. Roye were destroyed during the war; but in the minds of many, not just young Mamulu, 12 years of the Ellen Administration were enough time to have renovated these two great buildings.
The Executive Mansion was not destroyed. An electrical problem caused a fire there and the Office of the Presidency had to be relocated to the Foreign Ministry. It is said that millions of United States dollars were budgeted each year since 2006 for the Mansion’s renovation, but until now the job has still not been done. When Ellen became President both Hotel Africa and the Unity Conference Center, built during the Tolbert administration, were operational. But the Ellen Sirleaf government did absolutely nothing to renovate these costly and virgin structures that hosted for the first time in Liberia the Summit Conference of the OAU, when President William R. Tolbert was elected OAU Chairman.
By that time, of course, Ellen Sirleaf, in the recollection of many scholarly and ordinary Liberians, was viciously and meticulously plotting Tolbert’s overthrow, in collaboration with others. In his piece, Mamulu made it clear that Ellen Sirleaf, whom he referred to throughout the article as Medusa, had over the many decades frowned upon the administrations of not Tolbert, Doe and Charles G. Taylor only, but even Tubman. Why Tubman, too?
We may never know. But why are the children of Tubman, Tolbert and so many eminent Liberians who did so much to build Liberia permitting their forebears’ names and legacies to be depreciated and lay waste? Many of these children are themselves missing in action on the national landscape. Why? So many of them were sent abroad at very young ages and therefore grew up not knowing their country or their people.
These children are considered the most privileged generation because their parents had money and sent them, at very young ages, to England, other parts of Europe and the USA. When they returned, they knew not their people, their country, its culture nor its history. So how can they be expected to rise up to the challenges of family and nationhood? They are the ones who should be the captains of Liberia’s commerce and industry; but where are they—missing in action. They are not children of “a lesser God.” God, the Almighty and Eternal, made ALL children.