This article does not necessarily reflect
the views of TLC Africa]
Need to Be Truthful
An examination of Tiawan Gongloe's criticism
of candidate Brumskine -
By: Theophilus Totee Bettie
is beginning to worry me that once again,
Liberians would miss an opportunity to seize
this moment and do that which is right for
our country. Instead of ensuring that this
political season be dominated by a national
conversation that compels a public policy
debate over the future of our nation, some
of us are determined to steer this dialogue
into the direction of verbal attacks against
a particular candidate sole based upon our
personal dislike for said individual. Meanwhile,
Liberia enjoys the paradox of "scarcity
in the midst of abundance" while our
people live under some of the harshest conditions
imaginable in this modern era.
particular concern to me has been the recent
conduct of my friend and brother Tiawan
Saye Gongloe. Mr. Gongloe's actions disappoint
me because I had always regarded him as
a measured person whose contribution to
our national dialogue could only yield uplifting
results. To see him rapidly degenerate into
an "internet politician" whose
chat room participation is riddled with
unsubstantiated innuendos is very disheartening.
a recent posting on the ULIBSAA forum, Mr.
Gongloe wrote: "What Brumskine, Roland
Massaquoi, and others who played key role
in the killing and destructive machine of
" Tiawan, quite frankly
such outlandish accusation is unnecessary
and doesn't help your cause. Brumskine a
murderer? Not even the notorious Charles
Taylor would agree with you on this one.
Such unsubstantiated and ridiculous accusation
solely has the effect of diminishing your
stature as a thoughtful person. I fully
support your right to cross examine any
candidate desirous of occupying the highest
office in our country. I would however caution
that we should not allow our personal animosities
to get the best of us. We owe it to our
fellow compatriots to at least be truthful
in all of our exchanges. Our people have
been deceived enough and deserve nothing
Gongloe's July 7th 2005 article published
by "The Perspective" provides
yet another example of what happens when
we allow our emotions to cloud our judgment.
Not only did he launch an all-out venomous
attack against Cllr. Brumskine, he also
had the audacity to proclaim: "
did Brumskine a favor by pressuring him
to resign from his position in the Senate,
because had he not done so Brumskine probably
would have been placed on the UN Sanction
list". Sheer nonsense! Whatever happened
to the Tiawan Saye Gongloe who is also a
student of the law? Does he not recall that
there are consequences to maligning people's
reputation? The last time I checked, the
U.N. Sanction list was reserved for those
who, through their collaboration with the
hooligan Charles Taylor, had committed economic
and/or "war crimes" against the
Liberian people. If Mr. Gongloe is aware
of any past or present actions of Cllr.
Brumskine that should qualify him (Brumskine)
to be placed on the UN Sanction list, then
I encourage him to make public his evidence.
In the absence of such tangible evidence,
he does his reputation a favor by remaining
Gongloe has on several occasions mocked
Cllr. Brumskine's claim of having fled Charles
Taylor's reign of terror by way of Roberts
International Airport (RIA). Well, let us
see who is guilty of exercising selective
memory. After having been manhandled by
a number of Charles Taylor's tugs, how did
his mentor (Dr. Amos Sawyer) flee Liberia
for these United States? Did he walk? No!
Did he swim? No! He "fled" via
the same RIA under the control of Mr. Taylor
security forces as did candidate Brumskine.
As a matter of fact, even the learned Tiawan
Gongloe, "fled" Liberia via RIA
following his brief incarceration. Does
Tiawan expect the rest of us to believe
that it was possible for the likes of Dr.
Sawyer and himself (i.e. individuals who
Gongloe claims Mr. Taylor viewed as threats
against his government) to flea Liberia
by way of RIA but it was impossible in the
case of Cllr. Brumskine? I'll let you be
It may interest our reading audience to
know that Mr. Gongloe once participated
in government at the highest level. As a
matter of fact, he was a trusted advisor
to interim head of state Dr. Amos Sawyer.
The purpose of this article is not to put
said administration under the microscope.
At the appropriate time, the deeds of that
government would be examined and I am sure
there would be plenty to write about. However,
it should be noted that one of the issues
that continue to tarnish Dr. Sawyer's legacy
is the accusation that he converted public
funds to his personal use by securing a
private mansion in Germantown, Maryland
(USA). What is especially disturbing about
said allegation is that such flamboyant
purchase is alleged to have been executed
not only by a man who prides himself as
being a liberator of the masses, but also
at a time of abject poverty in Liberia.
The following private e-mail from Tiawan
Gongloe to Dr. Amos Sawyer provides ample
proof of Gongloe's continuing disdain for
Samuel Togba Slewion, the Liberian journalist
who broke the news. This e-mail which was
intended for Dr. Sawyer was inadvertently
submitted to members of the ULIBSAA forum.
Mr. Gongloe claims to have since apologized
to Dr. Sawyer for this mishap. The e-mail
(unedited) dated Sept. 29, 2004 is as follows:
this peace. Someone is properly taking on
Mr. Togba Slewion. The case of your house
in Maryland could not have been better stated.
It is so good that it is not one of us.
Well, perhaps I should explain this. Kai
was at the formation of LPP and stayed on
until we moved to the Old Road. But when
the party started encountering problem he
joined NDPL, being a Sapo. He, therefore,
has some lagacy to defend. But the public
does not know him to be one of us. This
gives his attack on Slewion on your behalf
a lot of credibility. Truth crushed to the
earth will always rise again. I really felt
relieved reading this. Don't overlook the
impact of Kai's piece on your reputation
and our image as agents of change, given
the level of ignorance amongst our people.
I know Dr. Amos Sawyer and find him to be
an honorable man. I have my doubts that
someone as reputable would have done as
accused. Others may disagree! Notwithstanding,
my decision to make public the aforementioned
e-mail is twofold. First and foremost, I
wish to highlight the following question.
What exactly did Mr. Gongloe mean when he
he joined NDPL being
the public does not know him
to be one of us". Is this our esteemed
human rights lawyer flirting with tribalism?
Is he suggesting that being a "Sapo"
automatically makes one a member of the
NDPL? Isn't this the same nonsensical "guilt
by tribe" that was responsible for
the gruesome murder of hundred of thousands
of our fellow Liberians during our civil
war? Honorable Gongloe, not only do you
need to apologize to the "Sapo"
people; you also have some explaining to
My second reason for making public this
e-mail is to expose that Tiawan Gongloe
is not beyond operating clandestinely in
a partisan fashion with politic motives.
Such unmasking of Gongloe has become even
more imperative since his newly manufactured
title "Renowned Human Rights Lawyer"
may mislead some into thinking that he is
an impartial advocate without hidden agenda.
The tiresome tactic of masquerading as objective
commentators while demonizing potential
rivals must be exposed and shamed. We should
at least have the intestinal fortitude to
let our audience know what our preferences
are instead of serving as perpetual critics.
If we are to be judges of other people's
presidential candidate(s), don't you think
we enhance the debate by expressing who
our preference for the highest office in
our country is? I think so because at lease
this would enable the public to evaluate
our taste (and motives perhaps).
author supports the candidacy of Cllr. Charles
Walker Brumskine. I do so because (in my
opinion) he is the most suitable, within
the field of available candidates, to manage
the affairs of my country. Others may have
alternative preferences; such is democracy.
Quite frankly, I also firmly believe that
any of the available four or five leading
contenders are likely to do better than
this current kleptomaniac Bryant administration.
Do I have my differences with candidate
Brumskine on some issues? Absolutely! Do
I think candidate Brumskine is infallible
and without fault? Unequivocally No! But
then again, thank God we are electing a
President and not a Pope. While some of
us remain comfortably cocooning in these
United States, Cllr. Brumskine has traded
a life of luxury here in the U.S. for the
harsh conditions of Liberia. I wonder how
many of us "critics" can say the
same? His quest to serve his people has
taken him to some of the most inaccessible
parts of Liberia only imaginable to most
of us. His generosity has made it possible
for scores of Liberians to further their
education via a Brumskine academic scholarship.
His "Friends of Brumskine" organization
has spearheaded the construction of community
wells, provided medical supplies, food,
clothing and other tangibles that have had
a direct impact on the wellbeing of the
suffering Liberian masses. Are these the
characteristics of the "demon"
that Mr. Gongloe would have us believe candidate
Brumskine is? I think not.
our differences, we owe it to our country
to at least conduct the upcoming political
campaign with utmost sincerity. The Liberian
people deserve electricity, pipe borne water,
decent schools, employment, healthcare,
and the list goes on. In other words, there
are more than enough pertinent issues to
quiz our aspiring leaders on. Ours is a
country that's been labeled a "Failed
State". The fierce urgency of now requires
that our dialogues be development oriented
and focus on macro issues. Those who through
their trivialities would attempt to divert
our focus from such undertakings should
be served notice that the party is over.
Theophilus Totee Bettie is a Yale Alumnus
and a Fulbright Scholar. He holds a M.A.
in International and Development Economics
and a M.BA. In Finance. He was also the
founding co-chairman and first Standard
Bearer of the Student Integration Movement
(SIM), a University of Liberia based political
party. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org