The Reasons for this Requirement are crucial and critical because:
a) ULAA was founded, organized and incorporated by Liberians for Liberiaand Liberians at home, in the Americas and elsewhere, and chartered by the sovereign State of the United States of America not only as a socio-cultural fellowship forum/organization, but also, mainly, as a political advocacy/action institution, designed and dedicated to seek, secure, protect and preserve the political well-being of Liberians through defined, peaceful activities for democratic, socio-economic and political transformation of Liberia;
b) That such individuals seeking election of and appointment to ULAA leadership positions must be only Liberian citizens, given the scope, level and political nature of their required duties and responsibilities, particularly, during these critical, rapidly-changing, 21st century, socio-economic and political conditions now prevailing in Liberia and the World; and
c) Now, some 14 years later in 2020 those discussions/arguments have become passionate, divisive and demands/proposals tearing the nation apart and on the brink of political, economic collapse, as shown during the 2017 elections.
Our position is in support of and draws upon ULAA’s historical, socio-political evolution, including World political development with profound impact on our country, Liberia.
Response to our Position
The responses to our position were many, as expected – supportive/encouraging as they were vicious, false, and irrelevant to our argument and disappointing. Disappointing and unfortunate, because traditional Liberian political culture and some members of its intellectual members, apparently, tend to dishonor nor observe the doctrine of rational debate – relevance, truth, logic & civility – by not restricting critical analysis to the issues raised or “at hand”, but resort to convenient approaches of personality attacks – character assassinations, falsehoods and ethnic/tribal profiling robed in the discredited “guilt-by-association”, also, linked to convenient ethnic/tribal considerations.
Elsewhere, we observed that we welcome, indeed, encourage comments, including criticisms/critiques of our ideas/opinions and public policy behavior because such intellectual, logical analysis contributes refinement of thought to the development, formulation and exposition of ideas in terms of logic, coherence and clarity. But, “we are disappointed and painfully troubled by the digression . . . of some of the responses”. We submit that BaiGbala is not on trial here; it is the issue of Liberian citizenship, non-citizenship and dual citizenship for ULAA leadership that is the defendant in the dock.“Therefore, the compelling obligation is on the prosecution and defense to present a convincing case against or for the defendant so that the judge or jury may decide the outcome, rather than engage in irrelevant, illogical, false, divisive and destructive personal attacks against each other”.
And lastly, on the issue of the allegation that “BaiGbala is a naturalized, United States citizen”, Mr. Garnett Gbarmokollie and associates failed to provide support for their allegation. Therefore, we challenge Mr. Gbarmokollie and company to present the supporting evidence. In that, the USA being a country of records, it can be shown whether or not BaiGbala is such a citizen. The Liberian “they say” approach will not play here without validated evidence.
ULAA Historical Perspective
In our Remarks at the October 2006 ULAA National Conference we stated that the founding and establishment of the ULAA was in response to several and compelling, critical needs.
First and foremost, at the time and period, was the need for socio-cultural fellowship forum for many young and older Liberians – men and women – who found themselves in a distant, foreign land in search of education.Second,this forum was or is to provide access for academic/intellectual fellowship with other Liberians through debates, presentations and exchanges of ideas, views and experiences gained from their various, respective communities, schools, colleges and universities, in the USA. The need was felt, also, for a program of financialaid to assist needy, qualified Liberian students in order to succeedin school. All of these, basically then, were social needs.
Liberians – students as well as non-students – then in the USA, though individually-committed to educational goals, but were loosely held together and in need of political ideological clarity. It is important to note that they were, mostly, the descendants of indigenous, Liberian citizens who were excluded, historically and systematically, from political participation, denied access to basic constitutional rights – health, education, civil liberties, protection of the law, and viciously suppressed and oppressed.
This group of Liberians included, also, the descendants of some of the “unconnectedCongo- and Americo-Liberians” – poor, un-educated, un-represented, voiceless and disadvantaged. These citizens were subjected, also, to socio-economic class discrimination and exclusion, with all the political ills and tyranny that were meted out by the Congo- and Americo-Liberian ruling groups. Both elements of the disadvantaged and oppressed Liberians “fled” our country for the same reason – to seek and acquire quality education, training and experience in preparation to challenge the status quo and to build a democratic nation for a better life than that of their parents.
Increase of Liberians, USA
As time went by during the 1970’s, more and more Liberians – students and non-students – arrived in the United States; more and more Liberians studied, including the academic requirement of comparative, analysisof world political systems and graduated from some of the prestigious colleges and universities of the United States; they also observed and experienced the efficient/effective management of advanced and progressive, democratic political systems of the developed West. These Liberians observed, experienced and noted, further, that their home Nation, the Republic of Liberia, was or is a founding, member-state of the World Body, the United Nations, a high-profile position on the world stage with leading, progressive western nations that advocate the principles of democratic governance.
Significantly, these Liberians noted that the United Nations Charter to which Liberia is a willing signatory, prescribes, among other provisions, that member-states adhere to the principles and values of democratic practice, including non-discrimination against race, tribe, gender, age, religion, national origin, etc. But our nation, in flagrant violation of this provision of the UN Charter, continues to discriminate against non-Negroid descendants from acquisition of Liberian citizenship solely on the basis of race.
Liberia’s Political Tragedy
Simultaneously, during this period of the early ‘70s, “adding insult to injury”, if you will, the winds of political change that engulfed the political world turned its spotlight on Liberia. The 27-year reign of Dr. William V. S. Tubman as President of our country ended by his death at a London Clinic in the United Kingdom in 1971. His 19-year Vice President, Dr. William R. Tolbert, Jr., ascended to the presidential throne as President of Liberia.
An ordained minister of the Gospel, Vice President, Dr. Tolbert was viewed as the proper agent for political reform and changeby political observers/analysts and the newly-organized and budding, pro-democracy groups in Liberia. But noting the Unitary Structure of the Liberian Government defined by rigidly-enforced constitutional prescriptions, Liberian political observers/analysts reasoned that there would be no real, meaningful change or reform by the conservative, True Whig Party policies which characterized Liberia’s turbulent, historic past since independence in 1847 and the Tubman Era.
Pro-Democracy Groups organized in Liberia
This reasonable/expectation that there will be “no real, meaningful change” came to pass, unfortunately, although Dr. Tolbert, now President of Liberia, went through series of persuasive, propaganda motions by preaching political slogans of “higher heights, from mats to mattresses”, etc., to signify reformed, policy plans and action for social, economic and political developments.
Notwithstanding these political propaganda obstacles, Pro-Democracy Groups active on the ground in Liberia – Susu-Ku, Movement for Justice In Africa (MOJA), the Liberian Student Union (LINSU) of the University of Liberia, The Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), the legendary Public School Teacher, Mr. Albert Porte, a socio-political activist and pamphleteer, others and ULAA advocacy activities USA, took the proverbial “bull by the horns”. Together, they undertook and continued concerted political action for change which was rapidly gaining ground. These actors were, in fact, the children of the older generation, a different breed of politicalanimals as compared to their parents who, apparently and painfully, accepted their fate by their failure to challenge their despotic rulers.
Please stay tuned for Part two, the conclusions of our analysis in this newspaper.