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A Gentle Giant has fallen asleep: A tribute to Dr. Amos Sawyer

By Seltue Karweaye

It saddened my heart to hear of the death of Dr. Amos Sawyer on February 16, 2022.  Let me give this tribute to the Liberian academic, activist, and politician whose good humor, inspiring message, and conscientious work for pro-democracy made him a revered leader during the struggle to end one party in Liberia.  

For over four decades, Sawyer — known affectionately as “Moose” — was one of the primary voices in the struggle for social justice and democracy in Liberia. Dr. Sawyer was no saint and as a human, he had his own shortcomings, As President of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) (1990-1994), Dr. Sawyer was tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice, and violence during Charles Taylor-led Octopus invasion.

After 14 years civil war ended in the middle ‘2000s, and the long advocate for democratic rule Ellen Johnson Sirleaf President of the country, Sawyer was named chair of the Governance Commission.   He used his position as chairman of the Governance Commission. to reckon with our bad governance pasts,  but also to hold the new democratic government accountable through good governance. He was also the former Chairman of the Panel of Eminent Persons, African Peer Review Mechanism (African Union) from 2010 to 2014.

Dr. Sawyer’s loss is immeasurable. He was larger than life, and for so many in the progressive movement and Liberia. His life has been a blessing and his contributions to struggles for political freedom and economic development, & against injustice, locally and regionally, are matched only by the depth of his thinking about the making of liberatory futures for human societies.  Dr. Sawyer’s pro-democracy work led to prominent honors from around the world. The Gusi Peace Prize, one of Asia s most prestigious awards was awarded to him in recognition of his achievements as head of the Interim Government in Liberia, with the African Peer Review Mechanism, and as head of the Governance Reform and Governance Commissions of Liberia. In 2018, he received Indiana University’s highest academic award (Honorary Degree).

Presenting the award to Dr. Sawyer, Indiana University’s President.  Dr. Michael A. McRobbie said that the Honorary Degree is the highest academic recognition Indiana University can bestow and therefore individuals who receive the degrees from the University must have made significant contributions to society, serving as models for current and future generations and have demonstrated in their life and in their work, the highest standards of excellence in their fields of endeavor whether in scholarship or creative activity; professional development and achievement; or public service to the world, the nation, the state, or the community.

Dr. Sawyer’s death marked another chapter of bereavement in our nation’s farewell to a generation of outstanding Liberians. Dr, Sawyer had helped bequeath political and socioeconomic inclusion in Liberia. He was one of the country’s best-known figures at home and abroad. A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity, and invincibility against the forces of a one-party system in Liberia.  An Elder statement is gone! Rest in Peace,  Moose.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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