By Mwalimu-Koh Blonklanjay Jackson Rivercess Man/Author/Advocate/Lecturer
Simply Thinking Thoughts
In my regular thinking thoughts, I reminisced with mixed feelings the recent memorial service held at the Rock International Church in Duarzhon, Margibi County, in honor of Patriot Hon. Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu. In compulsory compliance to my human agency, my mixed feelings were bridled by anger and gratitude at the same time.
Truly, during the memorial even a blind man could feel that Uncle Tom (as he was affectionately called), during his sojourn on this uncompromisingly cruel earth, was a genuine patriot who was well proven and lived in due form owing to the solemnity of the ceremony and the soberness with which the mourners and celebrants delivered tributes.
The chemistry of the ceremony was exactly seamless telling from the caliber of people who graced the occasion. There was a visibly solid representation of the true stalwarts of the core National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), the breakaway National Patriotic Front of Liberia-Central Revolutionary Council, high brasses of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and a huge number of current and former respectable government officials, politicians, and venerable citizens. By “true stalwarts” I mean men who were in the trenches with President Taylor during the 14-year civil war and its civilian aftermath. The very presence of a huge number of NPP members led by Chief Cyril Allen and Hon. John T. Richardson, lent the occasion the appropriate aura and aroma befitting a strong freedom fighter, progressive, patriot, and partisan that was, Uncle Tom. Oh grave, where is thy victory, death where is thy sting?
Mixed Feelings-The Evil
Albeit the chemistry of the memorial service, my mixed feelings were based on concerns over whether all of those who jam packed the Rock Church came to witness the passing of an “evil character of a man” whose good deeds would soon be interred with his bones, or to grace the eulogizing of a good man who had served so well that his home-going would leave behind an indelible mark. Had the mourners come to truly celebrate a revere character? Had they taken the front rows to earnestly bid Tom farewell having considered his manifold contributions to this consistently challenged motherland? Worse still, had they come to confirm their long embodied cravings that Tom would one day die? Had they come with scorn and misdirected grudge that Tom had participated in subversive activities to viciously remove a sitting corrupt Government shattering their covetous living, and therefore deserved to die? Had they jam packed Rock church with vindictive and hypocritical mindsets concealed under their outwardly beautiful attires and internally depraved breasts?
You see, immediately Tom’s death was announced on Facebook, there were several posts lamenting his passing on the one hand, while some on the other hand, selected to berate a passing Liberian soul who, though may have made humanly mistakes, had several laurels to his credit. Yes, Tom may have been found guilty on 11 of the 16 counts for trying to fraudulently acquire US citizenship; yes, Tom may have been scheduled to serve jail term; yes, Tom may have appeared an evil character in the latter part of his life as was being proposed by the Great United States. The question is, “Was Uncle Tom actually an evil person in the true sense of the word or a good man?”
This brings me to a reflection of Mark Anthony’s famous quote when his friend Julius Caesar was dethroned and murdered,” Friends, Romans, countrymen, I come to bury Caesar, and not to praise him. For the Evil that men do, lives after them and the good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar” Similarly, so let it be with Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu. I have not penned this eulogy to praise Uncle Tom, but to bury him; however, since the term “oft” does not mean “always” but rather, “often”, or “sometimes”, I take solace that Tom’s “sometimes good” will not be interred with his bones and the evil they say he had done would never live after him.
Mixed Feelings-The Good
Fellow Liberians, before Uncle Tom’s “good” can be interred with his bones, please indulge with me as I reflect for a moment. Admittedly, as a regular human, Tom may have erred at some point in time in his sojourn, but I can say with confidence that his good deeds speak volumes.
If Tom will ever be appreciated for a “good deed” it would be that he was a foundation member of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) which battled with the one-party state led by the True Whig Party (TWP) of Liberia for decades, and finally today we have a profuse number of political parties; when the military government turned civilian began to derail the new-found democracy,
Tom was audacious enough to serve as leader of the NPFL rebel faction and was among the “Freedom Fighters” who took up arms to struggle and dismiss the proposed draconian system; during the peak of the war as rebel faction Defense Spokesman, Tom sacrificed a great deal of personal family safety and character to set the b nation state of Liberia across “Freedom’s Glowing Flame”; when civility returned under President Charles Taylor, Tom served the NPRAG, the Interim Government, and the Bassa people in the legislature as a true Bassaman.
Prior to those services, Uncle Tom founded the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) among the Liberian expatriate community in the U.S., an organization that advocated against the regime of the Samuel Doe, then President of Liberia. Tom is also known for, at times, speaking out publicly against two former Liberian presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charles Taylor.
But fellow Liberians, in spite of those “good deeds”, one specific accomplishment that would never be interred with Tom’s bones is his place as “Father of Bassa people in the United States of America” You see, Tom was founder of the Bassa Association of America. While others those days shied away from being ethnic and indigenous, Tom rose to the occasion and proposed the establishment of a citadel for Bassa people in the diasporas. Today, the United Bassa Association of America (UNIBOA) has become a beacon of hope for Bassa speaking people in the Diasporas.
I submit, that Tom’s role, as Father of Bassa people and as role model will never be buried with his bones. Tom will forever be remembered as a unifier of the divided, just as he will be memorialized for his chivalry and audacity to act in tumultuous times.
Farewell Uncle Tom. Goodbye. As you go Uncle, go well. You have lived life as a typical human being with typical dunces and foibles yet you have balanced those with your passion for nation building; you have fought a good fight and have therefore finished your course: I salute you the audacious Defense Spokesman; I lock my heels Major General Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, and I know God will be with you till we meet again on His celestial shores.
But hey Uncle Tom before you leave, wait a minute let me ask those who believed in you to join me in Lucy Campbell’s, old favorite Christian hymn “If When You Give the Best of Your Service…” Note the 3rd and 4th stanza.
IF WHEN YOU GIVE THE BEST OF YOUR SERVICE
- If when you give the best of your service,
Telling the world that the Savior has come,
Be not dismayed when men don’t believe you.
He understands; He’ll say, “Well done!”
O when I come to the end of my journey,
Weary of life, and the battle is won,
Bearing the staff and cross of redemption,
He’ll understand and say, “Well done!”
- When you are tried, so weak and discouraged,
Turn to the cross–see the Father’s own Son.
Look up in love and say with Your Savior,
“Not my own will, but Yours be done.”
- If when this life of labor is ended,
And the reward of the race you have run;
Oh! the sweet rest prepared for faithful,
Will be his blest and final “Well done.” [Refrain]
- But if you try and fail in your trying,
Hands sore and scarred from the work you’ve begun;
Take up your cross, run quickly to meet him;
He’ll understand; he’ll say, “Well done.” [Refrain]
- Trials will pass; they soon will be over.
Pain will be gone and the glory begun.
Then we will see the King in His beauty.
Bowing, we’ll hear, “My child, well done!”
GOOD NIGHT TOM…the lights have been turned off!!
About the Author:
The Rivecess man Mwalimu-Koh Blonklanjay Jackson is a scholar and advocate trained at Harvard, St, Joe’s and Yale Universities. He served the Government of Liberia as Consultant and Assistant Teacher Education Minister for four years and returned to private practice as Education Engineer and Development Studies Specialist. Mwalimu-Koh was a friend of Tom’s as they both lived in Philadelphia and were members of UNIBOA. He can be reached at +231886681315, +23177020645 or [email protected]