Confused but gaining momentum…

 

After the meeting at Dtweah’s apartment on August 1, 2004, one of our young comrades, Charles Dweh, decided that he would host the next meeting on Sunday, August 8 at his apartment in Crystal, Minnesota (Apt. 205).

 

Charles is a young man who left Liberia at a very tender age and had never engaged in Liberian politics but got excited about what he heard us discussing about the motherland and so he decided to get actively involved in what we were doing. All during those formative days and weeks, Charles believed in us and thought our cause was just. He is a young man that earned our respect during the process for his passion and energy.

 

And so at that meeting, since we had already agreed on the name during the last meeting, the focus was on adopting a Mission, Vision, Logo and Motto for the movement and also setting up committees. At this point, there was no head of the organization; our colleagues only allowed us (Dtweah and me) to moderate meetings and keep notes and do follow ups. We were honored by that.

 

While we were handling those normal organizational issues, there were still fundamental ideological and philosophical issues that were not yet settled. For example, was the movement organized around the idea of making Amb. Weah president or just supporting anything young person? If we were organized around making Amb. Weah president then what differentiated us from other political parties that had gone into oblivion since their founders disappeared? These were questions that remained still unanswered hitherto, and were fiercely debated at nearly every meeting. Even we were conflicted and didn’t have clear answers.

 

However, we knew that having Amb. Weah would be a valuable thing but organizing solely around him would be a dangerous thing. I remember on 6 August 2004, Andrew Telmeh (yes Andrew Telmeh) wrote, stating that we should “leave ourselves open to talking any potential, deserving and energetic young person and so Kofi Woods should definitely be one of our targets.” The group took Andrew’s comments under serious advisement and started making efforts to get in touch with Kofi Woods.

 

Also during this same period, I made contact with comrade F. Aagon Tingba (yes Aagon Tingba) and Adolphus Dupley. Comrade Tingba had, at that time, recently authored an article on www.limany.org and so I decided to get in touch with him to tell him about what we were thinking relative to politics in the motherland.

 

During this period, it was all about outreach and expanding our email group: trying to recruit whoever was willing to listen to our story. I must tell you, our storyline at that time was very confusing but folks could understand and appreciate that we were passionate about a “grassroot political revolution” in our dear country.

 

And so while the group worked on the paperwork, Dtweah and I were also charged with working the phones to bring many people on board. Most of the folks we were dealing with at the organizing levels were not people with deep rooted political connections in Liberia; many of them had left Liberia at the beginning of the war and so did not have connections with modern political happenings compared to Dtweah and me who had some recent student activism at the UL and Zion respectively.

 

In the days that followed, the group started to gain momentum and more and more people were invited to our meetings. Before the 4th meeting which Varney Kennedy had agreed to host on Sunday, August 15, 2004, the group had established contact with Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods and he agreed to meet with us at his apartment in St. Paul, Minnesota.

 

So on Saturday, August 14, 2004, a three (3) man delegation which included Dtweah, Varney Kennedy and myself drove to St. Paul to meet with the legendary Kofi Woods. Before that day, I had never met Kofi Woods in person. I had only read about him or heard his story and so I was honored to have the opportunity to interact with him especially to discuss issues relating our country for which he had either gone to jail or had to run for his life.

 

We met Kofi that day and gave him a draft brochure about our movement. We explained to him that a group of young people were excited about the impending political opportunity in which there will be general and presidential elections that an “incumbent” will not be participating. We informed him that we saw this an excellent opportunity to effect a mammoth political revolution if only the young people would come together in a reasoned fashion. At that time, we thought that the easiest way (not the only way) to effect political change was to take charge of the presidency since in fact the Liberian state had come close to been an “imperial presidency” and so change could come from the top down more easily. This was our fundamental belief then and we were not shying away from articulating that we wanted to see a young person become president. In fact, again, my radical idea was that we take state power and retire all the old folks by sending to the University to do only teaching (those were my strong views even colleagues from time to time reminded me that I too would get old).

 

During that meeting, we talked to Kofi about our desire to talk to many young persons and high on our list was him and Amb. Weah. We felt that the two of them were leaders in our generation though from very different walks of life. We informed him that we had reached out to Amb. Weah through one of his friends, Patrick Cheah (now deceased) and we hope to have a conversation with him too.

 

As usual, Kofi been as measured, polished and circumspect as he is, did a lot of listening and very limited talking. (Kofi usually let other people do the talking for him because I remember in Florida where he allowed James Verdier (yes James Verdier) to do some talking for him. I will get to that part of the story in short order). However, he informed us that he thought we were on the right path and that he was willing to work with us and provide us his support. The young man never shows emotion in anything he does. He narrated some of his struggles with past regimes and admonished us that our cause was just but it depended on how we conducted it. He also informed us that several other young people were organizing similar efforts and so it would be good to get in touch with them and see if we could join forces. We thought this was a good idea and agreed to begin making efforts to contact our colleagues on the East Coast of the US.   

 

My colleagues and I were then set to provide updates to our colleagues at our next meeting which was actually scheduled for the next day, Sunday, 15 August 2004 at Varney Kennedy’s house.

 

… we are searching the files for important notes. Get ready for lots of twists and turns in this journey. The group was growing exponentially and interests all around the US were being expressed.

 

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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