By Moses Uneh Yahmia
We are student militants. We do not ascribe to the cult of the personality. We do not idol worship an individual. Like revolutionary icons before us, we are convinced that “That men have a relative value in history and that noble causes cannot be defeated when men fall and that the uncontainable march of history does not stop nor will it stop because the commanders fall.” (Fidel 1967). We do not get indoctrinated or manipulated by individuals who pursue objectives or aims that do not encapsulate the aspiration and hope of suffering humanity. We write because we study. We act out of conviction. We celebrate subjective historical actors because they espouse noble causes that promote social justice and human dignity. It is on this basis that Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. forms part of the genre of men and women whom we dignify, celebrate and honor!
So we pen these words recommitting to our leader and teacher, that we respect him not because of his education or proficiency in speech and writing. He detests the accumulation of wealth or material affluence. Therefore our respect for this noble character cannot be foundation on the fantasy that he owns houses, luxurious cars, and live the life of a millionaire. We respect him because of his long years of existence filled with struggle and historical significance. We are fond of him because of his refusal to compromise his values and principles on the altar of egoistical calculations. We hold him in high esteem for his involvement with noble causes that aim for the transformation of society and the advancement of man from a butchered life to a more exalted one. Like Fidel said of Che in 1967, our camaraderie and affection for this struggle icon have surpassed all possible description.
The class enemies say he failed. But we do not expect them to say he has succeeded in his struggle for social justice and human dignity. They are part of the contending class. For more than two decades, members of this reactionary class have used the media, schools and pulpits to bury this man in obscurity but he remains illuminated. Others, out of ignorance join such childish propaganda. For them, maybe it is because our tendency has not gotten the power to drive the agenda for social transformation, failing to understand the subjective factors that led to the diminishing of the progressive forces’ support base among the mass of people. But we say to them, not all heroes win. Some heroes have lost battles. But they are heroes because they not only sacrificed and never quit upholding the principles and values they espouse but they keep being inspired by genuinely revolutionary and patriotic ideas and sentiments. They may have not directly benefited from the fruits of their struggle. But all that they championed serve as guides to action for posterity.
HB, as he is affectionately called by his militants and students is not perfect neither infallible. But for us who know and appreciate his role in history, we are convinced that he has some principles and very strong convictions. He has always detested and struggled against injustice, social condescension, and the subjection of the mass of people to a life of affliction, despair and dearth. HB has always believed in the dignity and honor of his country, Africa and the black race and cannot be bought. He sees his country not as a plantation where one would get hurried wealth but instead as a land where there is a possibility for all and sundry to succeed because of the development of their talents and skills and not because they belong to a particular social sect.
In 1978, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. as a young man returned home from school in the United States of America not as an assimilated American but as an African with deep love for his African heritage. He could have chosen to join the True Whig Party’s Oligarchy that had for more than a century despicably regard our people, their culture and destiny. He could have chosen to have joined a false aristocracy that excluded our people from the politics and economics of the space they all occupied, thus making them victims of Black Apartheid. As a patriot with the blood of a nationalist running through his veins, he elected to not only teach at the University of Liberia but also join forces with those we call “The Progressives” to struggle for the dignity and honor of a desolated people.
This trend of agitation against the contempt of our people by the tyranny mobilized and sharpened the awareness of the people about the social discards generated by the actions and inactions of the farce. Elements of the oligarchy felt the point of stasis and equilibrium of such time in the history of our country did not have a limitation. Little did they know that everything is and is not at the same time due to the inevitable mutability of nature. The people’s intolerance (generated based on the accumulation of quantitative changes) for such a political arrangement that regarded them not as equal partners but rather as playthings was demonstrated on April 14, 1979 when the progressive forces led the masses action against the government’s decision to increase the price of rice, the country’s staple.
The oligarchy responded to such class action with armed violence, killing over 200 and injuring hundreds. HB and other compatriots were thrown into jail for weeks and later released based on popular demand. On April 12, 1980, the soldiers who were sent to kill the sons and daughters of the people overthrew those who instructed them to carry out such massacre, thus ending 133years of minority Americo-Liberian rule. In the formulation of the military government under the banner of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), members of the progressive forces who agitated against the indignation of the TWP’s government were called to serve. The military men had serious limitations. But the radical young men chose to work with them and train them to the dictates of civic responsibilities until they could pave the way for a democratic election and return to the barracks. They never had the thought that the aspiration of the people would have been abandoned after those illiterate soldiers had gotten drunk with power.
Dr. Fahnbulleh served as Minister of Education in the PRC from 1980 – 1981. He also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 – 1983. He left the PRC in 1983 because the leader of the military junta, Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, restored diplomatic ties with the State of Israel in contravention of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)’s decision to severe diplomatic ties with the Jewish dominant state as a showcase of solidarity for the people of Egypt and Palestine. HB went into exile to escape the brutal wrath of the junta. As the leader of the PRC degenerated into an agent of massive plundering, contemptible human rights abuses and distributor of poverty disease and ignorance on the mass of people, HB stayed in exile and wrote extensively against the barbarity of Samuel Doe during the latter stage of the PRC and throughout the tenure of the first sham democratic government of the second republic (1985- 1989).
By 1989, the excesses of Doe (corruption, human right abuses, tribal cleansing, etc.) created in the people the consciousness of the necessity for change. Could such change come through a democratic and non-violent mean? With Doe, such was impossible. So, just as HB supported General Thomas Quiwonkpa, the disposed second in command of the PRC to oust the brutal dictator in 1985, men were being organized to confront the tyranny that had distorted every mean for a democratic approach to the socioeconomic and socio-political degeneration. For HB and his compatriots, their quest to rid the country of bandits and murderers was a just cause through a war of national liberation. This war of national liberation would have been accompanied by a new consciousness to bring about the total social transformation of the homeland. That is why they were not only training men to become firers of guns but also men with political consciousness. It is only soldiers with political consciousness that would have liberated the people, build the new national consciousness of dignity and honor and transform the republic for all and by all.
This was the stage of the struggle of HB and his compatriots when Charles G. Taylor gatecrashed the historical stage and evaded Liberia though Butuo, Nimba County on December 24, 1989. Courtesy of not only some diaspora Liberians such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf but also some African countries such as Libya, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast that made it possible for the emergence of a venal rascal Taylor as the leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). For Taylor, his was never a war of national liberation that would have introduced a new consciousness for social transformation. As he and his fighters were beret of political consciousness, Taylor’s struggle was aimed at revenging Doe’s decision to execute 13 officials of the Tolbert’s government on April 22, 1980, Taylor’s appetite for the accumulation of wealth and lavishing in the glamour that comes with political power. No wonder why the NPFL’s onslaught on the republic was characterized by massive genocide, rape, torture, looting, etc.
In 1991, an Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) was formed to pave the way for a democratic election and bring an end to the macabre war. This interim government was headed by Dr. Amos Sawyer. HB was Special Presidential Envoy of the IGNU for nine months. He had to resign due to his son (Fidel Fahnbulleh) declining health condition. The war, with over four warring factions (NPFL, INPFL, ULIMO –J, LPC, ULIMO K, and AFL) and a West Africa Peace keeping force, raged on until 1996 when election was organized under the interim leadership of Ruth Sando Perry. HB along with twelve other candidates inclusive of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Charles G. Taylor contested the 1997 Presidential Election. According to the result, Taylor won the election overwhelmingly. Knowing fully well this man was an imposter and a con artist, Dr. Fahnbulleh refused to legitimize with his presence the banditry of Charles Taylor. As he predicted during the campaign, Taylor led the republic with colossal looting, human rights abuses, etc. These and other factors led to his ousting in August, 2003 by Liberia United for Reconstruction and Democracy and Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL). The chap is now serving a 50year jail tenure in Great Britain for war crimes he committed in Sierra Leone during the country’s genocidal civil war.
After those long years of brutal and macabre war, Dr. Fahnbulleh returned to Liberia in 2005 to campaign for Patriot Tipoteh on the ticket of the Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD, coalition of UPP and LPP) in the post-war General and Presidential Elections. The first round of the Presidential election saw Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) and George Manneh Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) advancing to a run-off. Obviously HB supported Madam Sirleaf in such battle and the latter was elected as the first democratically elected female President of Liberia. After being in exile for almost a decade due to the despotism of Taylor, thus depriving him the opportunity to put his talents and skills at the service of his people, HB elected to initially work as Advisor on International Affairs and later as National Security Advisor in the first and second terms of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led government.
Like Fidel eulogized El Che on November 18, 1967, HB’s simplicity, his character, his naturalness, his comradely attitude, his personality, his originality and other characteristics and unique virtues, led him to serve his country for 12years with diligence, discipline, patriotism, trustworthiness, etc. He entered public service in 2006 with no personal or private property. He left with no trace of private property accumulation. As National Security advisor, he operated within the confine of USD70k annual budget. He would normally return a left-over of USD30k every fiscal year. HB used a private jeep for over nine years while serving his people. He is convined that public service is where one goes to serve the people with humility and selflessness instead of amassing wealth at the expense of the national treasury. With all the reported cases of corruption in the Ellen-led government, the name of HB is of no mention. He is analogous to a virgin lady who maintains her virginity despite being confronted by hostile social forces from the slum community in which she resides.
With a platform foundation on his struggle credential, history of service and a progressive agenda for social transformation, Dr. Fahnbulleh contested the 2017 Presidential Election on the ticket of the Liberia’s People Party (LPP). According to the National Elections Commission (NEC), the people settled for George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) after a runoff election held between he and Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the then ruling Unity Party (UP). We were and are convinced that such arrangement is a political farce that would further plunge the republic in the abyss. For this, fanatics of the Weah led government abhor the name Fahnbulleh. They call him politically irrelevant. They say he has not built a house but lives in his father’s house.
To paraphrase he words of Fidel of glorious memory, the enemies believe that they have defeated HB’s ideas, that they have defeated his progressive militant nationalist and Pan African concepts, that they have defeated his viewpoints on the social revolutionary struggle. They believe he has been buried in obscurity. And that he has made no impact in the struggle for social justice and human dignity. The ingratitude shown to this noble son has never caused him to demonstrate contempt for a people who have never been gracious to those who loved them, fought for them and defended their dignity and honor even to death.
Even in his twilight, he admonishes his militants and students never to lose faith in the people. To do so is to lose faith in the nation they want to transform. The people must have gambled wrongly yesterday but as they learn from their experience with reality, they would pay receptive ears to the cries of revolutionary patriots whose forte is the social transformation of the society. We pay homage to Comrade HB as he observes 69th year of earthly existence! Long Live the Leader and Teacher! Long Live his philosophy! Long Live his legacy!
STRUGGLE OR PERISH!!!!
Moses Uneh Yahmia is a student of the University of Liberia. He studies Political Science and Economics major and minor respectively. Yahmia is a staunch member of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). He can be reached via [email protected].