By Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson
In our Liberia, when a man or woman dies, it is usual to make speeches, to emphasize their virtues, but rarely can we say of a person, with greater justice, with greater accuracy what we say of our late brother and friend, Harry Greaves: That he was a shining example of a Liberian patriot dedicated to the unfinished struggle for economic development and political freedom, for rice and rights in our Liberia.
I first got to know Harry back in 2005 when we worked together on President Sirleaf’s initial campaign for the presidency. Before then, I had only known of Harry as a brilliant Liberian who had been sent to England where he qualified as a Certified Public Accountant. During the campaign, Harry brought his prodigious energies and strategic thinking to the table culminating in our raising a large part of the funding necessary for the successful prosecution of the campaign and the eventual victory of Mrs. Sirleaf at the presidential polls. The friendship which we forged during the campaign continued to grow and blossom, nourished by our common vision of a Liberia that should stand shoulder to shoulder with the best. Needless to say, the constant blows to the ideal of bringing to birth that Liberia pained us both grievously, so grievously.
Following the elections, Harry went on to become Managing Director of the LPRC where he introduced innovative policies of governance. He was unceremoniously relieved of this post after a few years of meritorious service.
Harry was no saint. How many of us are? But he was not a certificated illiterate, career sycophant or political parasite. He certainly was not a member of that ludicrous and somewhat puerile gang of high society urchins who have become professional praise singers of earned and unearned accolades.
Harry was a certified public accountant, a man of no mean intellect, and a passionate patriot who dared to raise his voice against the moral sclerosis, gross inadequacies, and downright shenanigans which characterize so much of our public life.
Yes, Harry was a critic. But he was always judicious, always did his homework, always remained open minded. He was never equivocal, never less than sharply, superbly judgmental.
And if you were to ask Harry, as people asked another Harry, Harry Truman of the US, why he was so critical, why he gave the Government so much hell, you would get the same answer given by Harry Truman: “I never give the Government hell. I only tell the truth and the Government THINKS it’s hell.”
Did Harry have anything against the person of the people in Government? Not at all. He always spoke so fondly of his longstanding relationship with the highest officials in the land. But did Harry have issues with some Government policies and praxis? Yes, he did. And let us admit it: Who doesn’t? In a democracy, even the most incurable and unabashed praise singers in Government itself have issues.
Alas! Harry’s voice has been hushed in death. And we are aggrieved: aggrieved at having lost a good friend, an intellectual power house, a fearless patriot. We are aggrieved when we think that Harry was only 66 years old. We are aggrieved when we consider how much we need people of Harry’s stature and commitment during this period in our history when our country is racked by all the ills of underdevelopment — no rice and threatened, very threatened rights. Indeed, we are saddened at missing the additional fruits that we would have received from Harry’s intelligence and his even richer experience.
But Harry has left us a heritage, a fine heritage, and we his relatives and friends are duty bound to promote this heritage.
And what is this heritage? It is to be found in Harry’s progressive thinking, his tenacity, his capacity for hard work. It is to be found in his fearless ability to raise his voice against the many ills which pervade our society. Harry thus joins the ranks of Edward Wilmot Blyden, Didwho Tweh, Albert Porte, G. Baccus Mathews—and many others– who have gone ahead marked with the gratitude of the people in whose behalf they fought so courageously.
If Harry were concerned with national issues, he never forgot his local government, Kokoyah Statutory District in Bong County, where he was deeply involved in efforts to solve the burning problems confronting people in that rural area of our Liberia.
What were the circumstances of Harry’s death? Who killed Harry? The pathologists with their tainted record of medical practice are saying that Harry was killed by drowning. The report from our JFK Hospital is saying something else, almost the contrary. Is there a deliberate attempt to conflate and obfuscate what should be a clear-cut case?
The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which has been assisting in securing peace and security in our country has long gone. Whilst still in our midst, however, we experienced a string of unexplained deaths and mayhem. As Christ warned the women of Jerusalem on the road to Calvary, “If they do this while the wood is green, what will be done when the wood is dry?” (Luke 23:31). That is why in the departure of UNMIL, we may need to establish a MAMIL — Movement Against Murder In Liberia. And this Movement will not only concern itself with the deaths, the armed robberies, the rapes, that are becoming commonplace in our Liberia. This Movement must also address the fact that the Liberian masses are today the victims of an undeclared war, a sort of silent genocide — for what other meaning can we attach to the high infant mortality rate, the high death rate, the pre-mature old age, etc.? If Liberian society is not changed fundamentally, the number of children dying will more than double in the coming years.
I am about to conclude. And the question remains hanging: Who killed Harry? As a Catholic, I believe that the circumstances of Harry’s death will, in time, be fully revealed. Our people in Sinoe say that, “when the tide goes out, we will see who is swimming naked”. Buddha reminds us that there are “three things which cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon and the TRUTH.” We shall know the truth.
As we remember Harry, let us pledge to ensure that one, two three, many more Harry Greaves will arise, to “lecture”, to continue the struggle for good governance in our beloved native land.
Therefore, Precious (Presh, as Harry called you), Harry’s children, relatives and friends, let us face the future with optimism confident that today or tomorrow we shall have the victory.
And for Harry, friend and compatriot, our prayer is the familiar: Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine on him. Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum — the peace of God remain with you always.
Ambassador (Prof.) Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson, an aggrieved Liberian.