Ever since Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa made known his intention to contest the Senate’s seat for Bong County, his political critics have attributed to him comments such as ‘’bitter ball seller children cannot attend Cuttington”. But they have woefully failed in undermining the increasing popularity of the veteran educator and administrator, who from all indications, is heading towards success in the October senatorial by-elections in the County.
In fact, even during the 2011 General and Presidential Elections , Prince Kemmue Moye- the humble, visionary and development-minded hugely popular new entrant on the political theater – became the subject of vicious criticisms by anti-Tokpa actors, who his support for Moye as vital in securing him victory.
History has shown that our people do not subscribe to baseless propaganda as evidenced by the decision of Jorquelleh District II to overwhelmingly vote Hon. Prince Kermmue Moye to represent them, thereby snubbing the concocted scheme to besmear Dr. Tokpa and hinder Moye’s effort, through such misrepresentati that his mentor (Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa) had once suggested to a gathering of Cuttington students that “bitter-balls seller children cannot attend Cuttington”. Again these political antics have resurfaced, this time even more ferocious and determined, as a faceless political actor has been recently quoted by some papers, including the Analyst Newspaper that Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa in a letter to the Cuttington University Alumni Association in the Americas (CUAAA) that the existence of the Bong Community College poses a grave challenge to the survivability of the historic Cuttington University. In the words of the paper that they craftily attributed to Dr. Tokpa, “one of the aims of the Bong Community College, being constructed in Gbarnga, is to strangulate Cuttington”. The sickening logic, which they falsely claimed about Dr. Tokpa was that the Bong Community College plans to offer Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Business contrary to the original plan to offer mid-level careers in the technical area.
We need not belabor ourselves by dealing with the veracity of the so-called letter. Because as far as we know it, the content of that letter has been distorted to satisfy the political gimmicks of some of Dr. Tokpa’s known opponents who have their friends in the alumni association. And to this end, one of the contenders with the greatest fear, whose empty promises and dismal performances for years as a senior official of the county, have got the people determined to end several years of the individual’s dominance of the political landscape in the county , has thought to market this absolute falsehood.
Firstly, it is good to appreciate Cuttington in the educational, as well as the socio-economic development of the county. The University, since its relocation to Bong County in 1948 as a result of a generous land grant, has served as the epicenter of tertiary education in rural Liberia, attracting instructors, students, researchers and visitors to the county. Business within the Gbarnga and Suakoko areas has served the needs of the students, while they in turn have always benefitted from increased economic activities relating to students inflow into the area. Local home owners as well have had their share of revenues from the lease of homes to commuting students-something that has spurred infrastructural development in communities surrounding the university. The University continues to contribute to the creation of job opportunities for our people. Moreover, the presence of the University has provided to the county a steady flow of health workers and teachers to various hospitals/clinics and high schools. The overall educational outlook of the county is far better as compared to other counties, primarily due to the presence of Cuttington University in Bong County. A vibrant intellectual class that has emerged in Gbarnga especially is an evident of the fact that Bong County continues to boast of some of the best brains the country can boast of. Many of these have gone through the walls of Cuttington. An even significant fraction of them are or have been direct recipients of the Madam Suakoko Scholarships. Today, all of the top graduates of high schools across Bong County have been provided the opportunity to attend Cuttington University on a unique scholarship program organized by Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa.
Bong County remains a proud host of the oldest private, co-educational, four-year, degree-granting institution in sub-Saharan Africa. This, in itself, makes the county one of the most internationally known parts of Liberia, which therefore, exposes it to the interest of tourists and researchers interested in the unique culture of our people.
It is even more laudable for the people of Bong when a son of the county transforms an institution ravaged by years of war, and restores it to the position of international honor. He has proven excellent innovative leadership skills by his efforts to introduce more courses relevant to addressing the challenges of a fragile post-conflict country. He has responded to national demand for increased opportunity to Master’s education by the establishment of the Cuttington Master’s Program. Our people must see this story of a successful stewardship as a success story for all of them. It is an affirmation of the determination of a people to transform challenges into opportunity when the son of an ordinary grass-cutter embraces the challenges of rebuilding an institution that is linked to the history of his people.
When we see Cuttington University as a vital part of the history of our people of Bong, when we embrace the mutual relationship and shared benefits the university and the people enjoy; when we see that Cuttington stands out as a historic center of learning with a vital mission to stimulating the holistic development of our county and the country at large, then we can see clearly the logical paralysis and fallacy in the argument that individuals have concocted and falsely want to attribute to Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa, that the Bong Community College would strangulate Cuttington. Those who make such unfounded postulations with the intention of creating a misleading impression that Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa opposes the establishment of the Bong County Community College (even to the level of a full degree granting college) have also deliberately chosen to overlook the enormous contributions Dr. Tokpa has made to the establishment of the College on which Board he has served. To date, Dr. Tokpa continues to sponsor several students at the Bong Community College.
CONTRADICTIONS IN THE FEBRUARY 26 ANALYST’S ANTI-TOKPA ARTICLE
An interesting point in the February 26, 2014 Analyst story was a quote attributed to Dr. Tokpa in the reported letter to the CUAA: “I feel that going to the Senate will enable me to advocate for our alma mater and other schools of high education so that they can get support to continue to provide excellence”. This is an unambiguous contradiction to the theme of negativity against Dr. Tokpa which influenced that story, characterized by the bias motive with which the writer had set-off. Somehow, this perspective about Dr. Tokpa’s vision for the education system in the county survived unadulterated from the writer’s machinery of distortion. It opposes the claim that Dr. Henrique F. Tokpa opposes the establishment and the upgrading of the Bong County Community College as a full degree-granting University. In that quote, Dr. Tokpa is declaring robust advocacy to ensuring support for ALL schools of higher learning within Bong County. It is this truth which the writer failed to crush, and thereby gave renewed validity to the maxim “the truth when crushed will rise again”.
Finally, what Dr. Tokpa has done for Cuttington University is a reliable piece of history, and a measure of what he’s able to do for Bong County. This is the biggest fear of his political detractors because he comes to the political arena loaded with accomplishments in academia, the public sector and other private sector engagements. So, as the elections are fast approaching, the opponents are using the last ounce of energy their deflated muscles can produce to create an artificial and unjustifiable clash of survival between the Cuttington University and Bong Community College.
There is no such conflict or survival between the two of them as Dr. Tokpa sees those institutions as opportunities for the educational sector of the county and the development of the human resource potentials of our people. His vision for the county and history of his contributions to every sector of our peoples’ lives is written in fine lines on the pages of the history of our great County. The detractors and their sponsored agents in the media cannot succeed! History is on his side!, writes: Morley Beyan of Gbarnga City, Bong County