By Lekpele M. Nyamalon
Liberia woke up to the passing of an illustrious lawyer, politician, statesman, former President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate and Senator of Grand Bassa County, Counselor-at-law, Charles Walker Brumskine.
A nostalgic sadness choked the air at full mast, the country over.
I never met the man, Charles Brumskine, at least not in person. My first and perhaps closest encounter with him was when he served as keynote speaker at an event during my undergraduate studies at the United Methodist University. I heard the voice of a man-at the time deemed a favorite for the Presidency prior to the 2005 Presidential Elections. He told a familiar but interesting story of his personal life, of a time his mother had to sew him a uniform with her hands, because the family couldn’t afford to buy a new one at the time- He, Brumskine, was conveying a message to young unassuming students that success was not taken off the rack, but a process of gradualism and incremental growth.
While in High School, Charles Brumskine was a figure of Admiration, then President Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate, we idolized the man, his decor, sense of style and real class and his somewhat unique voice. It was reported that he had fallen off with President Charles Taylor and had an ultimate choice-to resign both as Senator of Grand Bassa County and President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate. Through his exit, the senate was believed to be left with holding nothing but a rubber stamp.
In 2005, I was drawn to the campaign message of a man who had used a strong, almost prophetic, phrase, ‘Remaking a Nation.’ That message, pointed to a country, deeply soiled in its own chaos, disarray and had put itself on autopilot for self-destruction. The product thereof culminated into the 14-year civil conflict. National building demanded starting over, like the words of scripture in Nehemiah. Nehemiah had to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Brumskine was never successful in his run for the Presidency in 2005, 2011 and 2017. He tried.
The life and politics of Charles Brumskine point to several attributes to highlight for our national discourse:
- The triumphant return of Brumskine in 2003 in the tail year of President Charles Taylor, who had lost popularity, showed that No President, no matter how popular can withstand the anger of a frustrated people;
- As a politician, lawyer and founder of the Liberty Party, Brumskine had always sought the law as an official recourse during electoral disputes;
- That an opinion, birthed in conviction, no matter how unpopular, was worth holding and honorable so too.
Charles Walker Brumskine never lived to ‘Remake a Nation’ but his ideals remain alive, hopefully for posterity to tackle and move ahead. Without the urge to romanticize the dead, I saw a man, from afar, with unreserved courage, conviction, candor and charm, perhaps unapologetic.
In silence, I’d like to reflect on these lines from the American Poet, Walt Whitman written after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln:
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
In the words of the songwriter, I’d say: ‘May His peace be with you, till we meet again.
Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Liberian Poet & Writer and can reached at [email protected]