By Jerry Gbardy
I herewith make this solemn declaration: I am a CDCian, but I do not subscribe to the Trumpian Model of politicking, in which the goal is to heap flattery praises on a person as long as they agree with you but insult them or assassinate their character once they disagree with you later and/or sever ties with you.
Dr. Lester Tenny and Keff Hassan got it all twisted. Their display on Spoon Talk when Ambassador Lewis Brown was guest on September 13, 2022 leaves much to be desired. I watched the recorded edition of the program piecemeal and at the end of it, I felt completely dismayed and disappointed. I expected both men, who are partisans of mine, to ask the Ambassador many substantive questions that would have committed him to reveal Mr. Cummings’ in-depth economic plan and on other national political issues but they missed that glorious opportunity.
Instead and disappointingly so, both men engaged in very personal extensive trivialities that exposed our party’s frailties and vulnerabilities.
Dr. Tenny indicated that Ambassador Brown was a “dead weight” whose endorsement of Mr. Cummings would ruin the endorsee’s chances of being president after President Weah’s second term. Dr. Tenny further added that the Ambassador was a Taylor operative who was at that time moving around with pistol on his side, especially when the Ambassador went to take him and other University of Liberia students to JFK Hospital for treatment.
Why should a “dead weight’s” endorsement of an opposition political leader concern Dr. Tenny, anyway? I would have thought that Dr. Tenny would have been jumping for joy because a dead weight, a Mr. Nobody had endorsed our political opponent.
What baffles me the most is the lie told by the Doctor that Lewis Brown was wearing a pistol around his waist, a lie which could not be corroborated by Mr. Mo Ali, another opposition panellist who was also a student during the era referenced by Dr. Tenny. That response by Mo Ali effectively sapped the energy out of the Doctor. This thus reinforces the fact that you are entitled to your opinion but not entitled to the fact, Dr Tenny.
Ambassador Brown did not bear arm. He didn’t train as an NPFL fighter. You need to search your memory thoroughly, Dr. Tenny. During our days at the U of L, Lewis Brown was a student leader who teamed up with other students, such as, AC Teah Farcathy, Mobutu Vlah Nyenpan, Kabineh Ja’neh, Theophilus Bettie, Kai G. Wleh, Sando Wayne, Rue Gbeyor, etc in establishing the Students Integration Movement, a campus-based political party. Along with other students, Brown went to jail during the Doe administration for championing the cause of students.
Lewis Brown or LB, as we commonly refer to him, has an uncanny sense of humor which can turn a potentially explosive, anger-laden situation into an atmosphere of calm, thus making it hard to get mad at him. You do not know the man but I do. He is always jovial, keeps no grudge and above all, friendly. That is why I have no shred of reservation in describing him metaphorically as possessing a one inch thick and several miles wide personality. He will never hurt a fly, let alone another human being.
The person who you think you saw with a side arm, I guess, was Lewis Brown ONLY in your dream, Dr Tenny. Brown never bore arm during his association with Mr. Taylor. Had it been so, the UN would have compiled a dossier of wrongdoing and included him on the UN sanctions list like many of Taylor’s associates, some of whom are still on it today. Were Ambassador Brown a subject of UN investigation for being a Taylor associate, he would not have served as Liberia’s Ambassador to the UN.
For his part, Keff Hassan accused the Ambassador of robbing him of his childhood simply because of the latter’s association with Mr. Charles Taylor during Taylor’s reign as head of the NPFL and President of Liberia respectively. He further added that the bush war launched by the NPFL drove him and his family to Sierra Leone, categorically stating that Ambassador Brown is a former NPFL fighter (rebel) and so, he is not qualified to endorse any politician or even hold a position in government. Keff concluded that the Ambassador belonged to the erstwhile NPFL, which morphed into the National Patriotic Party (NPP) that comprised a “bunch of killers.”
The characterization of the Ambassador in the manner that Keff and Dr. Tenny did is non sequitur. That truly proves that they do not know the man. Fact: Brown was forced behind the NPFL rebel lines and resided in Buchanan where, during a demonstration launched by the Bassa people, he presented a position statement on their behalf. Fact: Taylor seeing a smart young man drew Brown closer to him. But that doesn’t make him a rebel or a killer. Let’s put it this way, Keff. My father was a soldier and I grew up in his household. That doesn’t make me a soldier.
Open your eyes, Keff. Those who planned and brought the war in Liberia that drove you and me to Sierra Leone and “robbed you of your childhood” are still around in abundance, too. Some of them are political bed fellows of our government and our party. Lewis Brown is definitely not one of them.
The overarching question in all of this is, since when did a person’s association with Mr. Taylor or serving in his government become the basis for disqualification for participating in future governments of Liberia?
Is this the new standard operating procedure of suitability and eligibility for being hired in our CDC-led government? I do not think so. If this were so, many people who are in the present Liberian government should not be working by now because we are in a coalition – a political marriage that has brought the CDC and the NPP (an offspring of NPFL) together. Therefore, by name-calling members of the NPP as bunch of killers, Keff has knowingly or unknowingly alienated a large segment of the Coalition’s voting bloc who may feel insulted, castigated and may refuse to vote on Election Day. Think hard before you speak next time, Keff.
Truth be told, Lewis Brown is one of Liberia’s finest politicians and diplomats, and you know it, Tenny and Keff. He is competent, smart and experienced. When he served as Liberia’s Ambassador to the UN in our CDC-led government, he was not a dead weight or a rebel. , It is only after he endorsed Cummings that you have embarked upon a smear campaign, character assassination and name-calling. Dr. Tenny did similar or worse thing to former Minister of State Nathaniel McGill on Spoon Talk several weeks ago. This kind of Trumpian Model of politicking is cowardly, deadly and MUST STOP!
What is also worth mentioning is that our party is in the habit of punishing it’s best and brightest by keeping them on the proverbial bench perpetually and rewarding the opposition. Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, Lewis Brown, Arthur Zakama, Joseph Jackson, Isaac Vah Tukpah and the list goes on, are a case in point. They were pushed out by the party and so they have to find other avenues in life.
We are now in the critical and crucial stage of our party’s history. Dr. Tenny and Keff, rather than name-calling and insulting those who leave because of our party’s indifference towards them, the best you can do — as influential as you are or claim to be — is to prevail on the Party leadership to devise strategies which would absorb the Party’s best and brightest to prevent future resignations and carpet-crossing. Name calling and character assassination will not help. LET’S TAKE CARE of OUR OWN or else somebody else will do.
Jerry Gbardy is the author of the book: Painful Journey: a Story of Escape and Survival. He is also Chairman of the Congress for Democratic Change-Canada. He lives in Vancouver, Canada and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 236 512 9145https://thenewdawnliberia.com/lewis-brown-draws-the-line/