And we soldiered on…

And so been true to our words and commitment to become active in the political process in our country, the group met at Dtweah’s apartment (Apt # 311) on 69th Ave N in Brooklyn Center, MN. This meeting which began around 6 PM turned out to be a very interesting meeting with consequential impact on the formation of the “generational movement.”

It was at that meeting that we agreed that the name of the movement would be the Liberia National Congress (LNC) and the purpose would be “Taking Liberia Back.” We arrived at this after much intense debate and exchanges. Some of the names that were tabled included: Liberia Youth Congress, Generational Young Congress, etc.

During the discussion about the name, certain group argued that we do not use the word “young” or “youth” because it was too restrictive and could hinder the organization from achieving its goals. I disagreed with them. I posited that in fact that the group should be restrictive. I argued that this was a “generational battle” and opening it up to just anyone especially folks from the older generation would then render us another Liberian political party. And since we were waging a battle against the older generation, allowing them to join the movement would defeat the purpose and dilute our resolve. (I still don’t know whether I was wrong but I felt strongly about that position then)

My position was that no one above the age of 45 should be allowed to join the movement. But then my colleagues reminded me that but JFK do you know that one day you would pass 45 years? Though true but I pushed further that it wasn’t about me and when that day came we would hold those discussions but I truly felt that allowing the old generation to join would defeat the purpose.

My colleagues Dtweah, Alex Kekula, Dixon Seboe and few others argued that we were not waging a “generational war” on every member of the older generation but rather on the political leaders of that generation who failed to provide adequate political leadership. They further argued that what if someone is over 45 years but have never participated in political activities before, do we exclude them from membership simply because they were born that time? Those were tough and reasonable questions to which I didn’t have sophisticated answers and we so we moved on.

However, we agreed to drop the words “youth” and “young” and decided on the name LNC because we agreed that it sounded similar to the African National Congress (ANC) and since we wanted to form the largest grassroot political movement, that name would truly represent our cause.

Beyond the selection of the name on that day, there were other contentious issues because there were lots of ideological and philosophical issues that occupied the discussions of the day.

For example, I had strongly argued (and I did so very forcefully) that we do not form a political party per se. That rather we organize a movement of young people who would influence the outcome of the elections and bring the much needed change that our people so dearly yearned. My thinking was that if we could bring about 100,000 or 200,000 young people together, raise the required financial resources, and had them vote for a particular candidate who represented their interest, that would be consequential in and of itself. That that movement did not need to be a party and that it could return to other things after the elections. In fact, without been a political party, it could be a very influential group that any serious politician would be compelled to listen to because of the power it wielded.

My colleagues, led by Dtweah, argued that it would be dangerous and counterproductive to have someone elected and then turn your back on them. That if we were successful in getting our candidate elected, it would serve the better interest of the movement to remain engage with that person to further guide the change we envision.

I was of the thinking that forming too many political parties was counterproductive to our democracy.

In fact that issue brought into further scrutiny our choice of George Weah especially since he was just one of many young Liberians that could lead the generation. With this presentation, the group decided that other young potential Liberians should be included on our list of people to talk to.

Leaving the meeting and the in the days that followed, we agreed that we will approach George Weah and seek his membership into the movement and we will contact Atty. Kofi Woods. I also remember that the name Brownie Samukai came up as well.

Dtweah would contact Patrick Cheah (now deceased) to help us contact George Weah. Patrick Cheah was the closest person to Amb. Weah that we knew and so thought to use him as a point of contact.

Calvin Dwuye had informed us that Kofi Woods was in US and would be around for about 2 months. In fact Atty. Woods was expected in Minnesota on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 and will be in St. Paul, MN. Varney Kennedy was charged with the responsibility of making contact.

We also agreed that we needed to start spreading the activities of the organization in Minnesota and other states in the US as quickly as possible. It was also advised that we seek to form alliances with other like-minded organizations. Dwuye had indicated that several other organizations on the East Coast of the US were engaged in similar thought process.

We also agreed that Dixon Sebeo be used as our point of contact in Liberia.

We left the meeting, agreeing to meet on Sunday, August 8, 2004 at 6930 54th Ave N (Apt 205), Crystal, MN 55429 (Charles Dweh’s apartment)

These were the committees that were established to begin working to carry out the work of the movement:

Finance Committee

Alex Kekula

Varney Taylor

James Kollie

Venue   Committee   (Ad   Hoc)–Responsible   to   secure   the   North   Hennepin   Technical College   facility   for   a   planned   end-of-month   Mass   Mobilization, and Information.

Recruitment Meeting

Elijah Simpson

John Tarr

 

Membership Committee

Charles Dweh

Sameul Tweah

Publicity Committee

Varney Kennedy

Samuel Tweah

Planning Committee

Alex Kekula

John Tarr

Elijah Simpson

James Kollie

Norris Tweah

Beyond that day, the activities started ramping up and moving very fast. We did the registration of the organization with the Secretary of State of MN; we planned a meeting with Kofi Woods; we contacted Patrick Cheah to establish contact with Amb. Weah; and we started raising money amongst ourselves to help our cause. We were serious about the political revolution…

And this was just the second meeting… a lot did happen as you can begin to see

Author: JAMES F. KOLLIE

I am a Liberian professional with passion for pro poor economic development and grassroot political organizing. I have read public policy, corporate finance and accounting at various levels. I have worked in government, private sector and non-profit sector.

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