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Commentary

CELEBRATING Dr. TOGBA NAH TIPOTEH: A MAN OF THE PEOPLE ON THE OCCASION OF HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY

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BY AMBASSADOR (PROF) DEW TUAN-WLEH MAYSON

Today is the 80thh birth anniversary of our brother, a true Liberian patriot, Professor Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh.  We his family, comrades, and well-wishers had planned an elaborate two-day celebration.  However, due to the prevalence of that diabolical COVID 19 witchcraft, we have had to postpone the ceremonies to a later date.  And so, Deo volonte, by His grace, InshAllah, we shall soon roll out the big drums and render unto the Professor the encomiums he so much merits. 

Today, we only stop to congratulate Dr. Tipoteh for his achievements and longevity particularly when we consider the intimidations, harassments, and long years of exile to which he was subjected—all in the cause of our people.

Those who read contemporary Liberian history or who are old enough to remember the events in our country beginning in the early 70’s will recall that it was Dr. Tipoteh who popularized and made us proud again to wear our African clothing and sport our indigenous names and culture. Remember the rubber sandals nicknamed the “Tipoteh”?

It was Dr. Tipoteh who along with the late venerable Albert Porte and some others, led the way in “speaking truth to authority”, thus laying the foundation for the continuing struggle for rice and rights, for economic development, and political freedom.

In 1971, upon my return to Liberia following my studies in the United States, I plunged myself into the budding struggle being led by Dr. Tipoteh for greater freedom in our Liberia. Joining forces with Dr. Tipoteh was a great experience. .  We held long discussions with each other and with his associates and mine.  We had a strategic objective:  to work for a more just and equitable Liberia.  And we covenanted among ourselves that we would not be used by the ruling class to perpetuate its privileges.  Gradually, we began to attract a large following, first among the students, the workers, and among the broad masses of our people.

Dr. Tipoteh was and continues to be, a paragon of virtue.  Modest and brutally honest, he is never tired of speaking and working in defense of the mass of our people thereby earning the deep love and respect of all of us.

He is not a wealthy man, but he has never pursued wealth.  Whatever money he has made from honest work, he has used it to assist the poor and suffering in our country.

Hear this, my people:  When Dr. Tipoteh was Minister of Planning in the first Doe cabinet, he, along with other Ministers, went for a LAMCO Board Meeting in Europe.  LAMCO defrayed all the expenses of the Ministers.  And so when Tipoteh returned, he, alone among the Ministers, gave back to Government all the per diem he had received for the trip! Such brutal honesty!

Oh yes, the post of President has eluded Tipoteh.  But most of the heroes and sheroes we now honor in our history did not hold the office of President.  Mama Suacocoa, Juah Nimley, P. G. Wolo, Albert Porte, Dr. Morias, Wilmot Blyden, Didho Tweh, Bill Witherspoon, Du Fahnbulleh, Bacchus Mathews—did they occupy the Mansion?  No, no, no.  Yet we honor them as opposed to, say, C.D.B. King who dishonored the Presidency by being an accomplice in the shameful business of slave trading.

Oh, please let me remember that I said at the beginning that we are saving the major accolades and big Waka for later this year when we hold the formal 80th birthday ceremonies for Dr. Tipoteh. And so I am going to shut up.  In doing so, however, permit me to get a little personal.  In my long years of association with Dr. Tipoteh, I have come to know, respect, and admire this man—his progressive thinking, his moral values, his good character, his tenacity, his capacity for hard work.  By Dr. Tipoteh’s side, I have lived through some difficult yet magnificent days—with Susukuu in Putu, with the various protests for Albert Porte and against gambling, with the Sawyer for Mayor campaign, on the barricades with our people during the April 14th rebellion—to name only a few episodes when the Dr., as usual,  exhibited his rare qualities of leadership and courage. 

Yes, my people, Dr.  Tipoteh has run the race, he has kept the faith.

Happy birthday, Bo, DG, Dr.  All God’s blessings for you and Sis. Fatu, your darling wife. I can bet that no matter the circumstance, you, Dr. Tipoteh, can always be counted upon in defense of the poor, the oppressed and the downtrodden in our country, in our Africa, in our world.

Dominus vobiscum.

God be with you.

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