Didwho-Twe concludes his ‘heart to heart’
Conversation with his Father on his 60th
Birthday, July 22nd – Part II
BYLINE: Didwho-Twe Jlopleh Nyanseor
Saturday, November 30, 2007
Editor’s Note: Part I of this conversation ended with Mr. Nyanseor’s advice to both his children and young people in general. He went on to say, since children are the adults of the future, children need to be properly trained in order to take the place of their parents or elders, and to maintain the family unity for the common good of the society in which they live. Part II will address his views on the current political, economic and other relevant issues regarding the Diaspora, Liberia and Africa.
Below is the final conversation in its entirety:
Didwho-Twe: Dad, you have served as President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); as its president, what will you consider your greatest contribution(s), and what exemplary role has ULAA played in Liberia and the United States?
NYANSEOR: When my administration took over the Leadership of ULAA in 1986, the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) had been in power for 6 years and Samuel Doe had been elected President. There were some indigenous elements within ULAA who argued that we should give the Doe government some time to get its act together since the ‘Congo people’ ruled us for over 100 plus years; therefore, it will be unfair to be too critical of his administration. In essence, they were suggesting that we abandon our tradition of engaging the Liberian government to treat the Liberian people fair and to abide by the laws and Constitution of the country. When I refused to follow their logic, I was accused from the left and the right; some even accused me of being a True Whig Party sympathizer, while others said I was pushing the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) agenda. I remain committed to the original intent of the founders of the organization, which is – to serve as the mouthpiece for the voiceless majority of our people. While there were many contributions that I made, I will consider living up to our original intent my greatest contribution.
Didwho-Twe: As an organization whose history has been stained by its former leaders, specifically, Charles Taylor and his supporters of former ULAA members, would you agree that ULAA’s role to Liberians at home and abroad has somewhat diminished today?
NYANSEOR: Why I may agree that some former ULAA leaders have done substantial damage to the good name of our beloved organization, I will say ULAA remains relevant to Liberians at home and in the Diaspora. First, let me quote from a position statement delivered by Bai M. Gbala, who was President at the time when ULAA’s delegation met with the late President of Liberia, William Richard Tolbert, Jr. at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia. The date was March 11, 1980. The section of the speech I wish to quote reads: “…The winds of change which engulfed Africa some decades ago have now turned the spotlight on Liberia. The time for a peaceful transition may be rapidly running out. This need not be, for ours is a small country of closely-knit people. Even our tribal units are not as rigidly defined as in other African countries nor are our political beliefs conditioned by ethnic origin. However, the extent to which reason, not emotion; confidence, not mistrust; love, not hatred; unity, not division; and peace, not violence prevail in the search for solution to our problems, will depend to a large degree on the willingness of our leaders to listen and respond to the voices of the Liberian people – the young, old, and underrepresented – crying out in the wilderness, pleading for meaningful and constructive change, for the betterment of ALL”.
“D”, several days after this position statement was delivered, we found out that President Tolbert had proposed to the Liberian Legislature to amend Section 11 of Article 1 of the Constitution. The House of Representatives passed the Act entitled, “An Act to Amend Section 11th of Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia to Remove Property Qualification Requirement for voting”.
These were some of the activities ULAA was organized to advocate for, but ‘hell broke loose’ when the PRC overthrew the civilian government; the true colors of those that used to refer to others as bourgeoisie, traded places; they began to accumulate wealth by stealing the Liberian people’s money.
Didwho-Twe: How could they justify it?
NYANSEOR: Some of them said they were tired of being in the opposition. With their book knowledge, they failed to profit from what goes wrong when the violent overthrow of a government takes place. They refused to accept the fact that history provides a level of confirmation that excessive use of power, corruption and immorality has been prominent causes of the downfall of previous leading world economic powers, and that Liberia is no exception. Yet, during and after the 2005 Elections in Liberia, they formed rogue alliances in place of true patriotism; which I told a colleague recently is the cause of the mutation in these individuals’ self-seeking interests regarding their country. These individuals who at one time professed revolutionary intellectuals, delivered flowery speeches, but when they were placed into position positions of power, began to emulate those they criticized; grabbed pieces of the Elephant meat – – engaged in corrupt practices – – do so with impunity, which served to the detriment of the environment, education, general health, infrastructural development, and the rehabilitation of former child soldiers, etc. Since 1980, this has been the trend that is being followed by some members of subsequent interim governments.
Didwho-Twe: Can you give me the names of individuals who were leaders or are still leaders of organizations you belong to that you do not only respect but admire; and why?
NYANSEOR: Without hesitation, the first name that comes to mind is, Togba-Nah Tipoteh. Do you remember him? He’s the man to whom you refer to as Uncle Tipoteh. Some people thought we were blood brothers because at one time we had similar surname – Roberts; he was Rudolph Nah Roberts, and I was Sam Anthony Roberts, III. He was the first to replace his European names with his rightful names; I did mine August 10, 1977. I admire Togba-Nah Tipoteh for his genuine patriotism, commitment, humility, consistency, and above all, his honesty like his father Samuel Togba Roberts (Korwreh Duwree Togba, names given him at birth). Do you know that some of our “progressive comrades” accused him of being tight-handed because of his refusal to be corrupt – not stealing the people’s money? DG as he is affectionately called continues to live a simple and principled life style in Monrovia.
During the 2005 Liberian Presidential Election, a group called the Movement for Political Reform (MOP) Selection Committee assigned to screen the shortlist of Presidential aspirants had this to say about Dr. Tipoteh:
“Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh has always stood on the side of the ordinary people. Over the years, he has been fearless in advocating for justice, good governance and the rule of law. He has been very much involved with his community and people. He has the credential and character, and is admired for his courage to remain in Liberia throughout the civil war. He organized a very successful disarmament program in the 1990’s to help rid the country of guns and to provide a better choice for former combatants. Dr. Tipoteh has high international profile. We are however concerned that Dr. Tipoteh dominated [the] leadership for a long period of time in the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and the Liberia People’s Party. Our Movement is concerned about any further dictatorship in Liberia”. According to them, he was not qualified to become President of Liberia because he dominated the leadership of these organizations for a long period of time. I need not comment! Perhaps, this is what democracy is made of!
The second person that I admire is my friend, Tarty Teh. I do not only admire him, I respect and cherish our relationship. My admiration and respect for Tarty has to do with the honesty and passion with which he gets his point across, whether one wants to listen or not. Tarty is a storyteller first, and a prolific writer second. His adversaries and friends alike admire his style of writing. Even those who for some reasons or another despise him because of his consistency, have the utmost respect for him.
Another person that I admire is my friend Leslie Norman Abayomi Cole, Sr. He has remained engaged with issues concerning Liberia since he arrived on these shores in the early 1970’s. Norman has remained engage since we founded ULAA. He continues to speak and write the truth about how things are, here and in Liberia; and most of all, he has maintained his independence. He’s not one to compromise his belief for the sake of friendship like some of our previous associates did. “D”, would you mine if I share with you an email Mr. Cole sent me not too long ago; it captured some of the issues I am discussing with you.
Didwho-Twe: I don’t mine; this is your occasion. In fact, I am learning a lot having this conversation with you.
NYANSEOR: The email dated July 29, 2006 from my friend reads:
“Thank you for the memories. I’m still laughing at all of us. Those were the Afro days.
“As we used to say, those were the days when men were men!
“As you may recall, after defeating Charlie [Charles M. Taylor] for the Presidency, he was my first appointment, retaining him as the Director of Public Affairs. He served as our spokesperson and he loved it.
“Can you imagine if he had done just a fraction of what all of us complained about when he got in the chair? What a disappointment both of my friends have been. Let’s pray EJS to [Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf] redeem them.
“Talking about the President, I was in Philly today for the funeral of one of my BWI fellows, Herbert Goodlin. Three thoughts ran through my mind as I drove through the city.
“First, I happened to have been on Drexel campus where two historic things happened. First, it was at that campus that our election was held.
“The second is that it was on that same campus that I was standing on a corner with Tupee, when Charlie came by and asked, “who is that big butt girl you talking with Cole”? He then put his hand around her and said, “little girl, come let’s talk ya”. The rest is history.
“The third thing that happened is that as I passed the International House, I remembered Ellen and as I was walking out of an ULAA meeting together and crossed the road to where our cars were parked, (mine was the small red and black convertible). It may have been the first time that she [Ellen] saw the car and she made some comment about it. Let me hasten to add that though we left the meeting early, we were going our separate ways. Though it happened 20 to 25 years ago, I could still remember where our respective cars were parked. If Madam President ventured to that same building today, more likely than not, the street will be closed to traffic and there would have been a crowd. Such is life. Happy to see someone from the cause who is carrying the flag for all of us and making us feel proud in the process. I will share with the younger fellows so they too can have a big laugh at our expense. (It was pictures of the officers of ULAA, which I came across in my archive that I sent Norman)
“If you visit my site below, you will see the photograph that I used for my last campaign in 1995 and how different it is from the one taken 20 years earlier. Yes, I still look like the picture on my web site. A little grayer and bigger stomach.”
Up till this day, Norman remains dedicated to the principles that we established here as students – speaking and writing the truth about how he sees issues, and still maintaining his independence.
Finally, the last but not the least is our own pastor, the right Reverend William B. G.K. Harris, the founder and Senior pastor of the International Christian Fellowship (ICF) church. I respect and admire him for his vision, concern, persistence and his efforts in bringing together all nationalities to work in unity in our community. He is always willing to go out of his way to lend a helping hand to his fellow human being. I wish I had his energy!
Didwho-Twe: But Dad, can you think of one person who inspired or contributed the most to your development?
NYANSEOR: “D”, it is really difficult to do! I cannot think of any one person who has inspired me the most in my entire life because they are too many. But if I may, I’ll start with your maternal grandmother, my mother; she did not only believe in me, she was, as the saying goes – my “everything”. My mother is responsible for the person that I have become today; next are my elementary school teacher and principal. Mrs. Carey known to us, as Teacher Carey was my 1st grade homeroom teacher. She is the mother of Roland Carey. Teacher Carey was compassionate, patience and she attended to the needs of every one of her pupils. She’s the one that I gave credit to for the fine penmanship that I have today. My principal is no other than the disciplinarian Mr. Samuel Edger Sie Badio of the former Government Morning School (GMS), which was located in the vicinity of South Beach opposite the Central Prison (referred to as the Jail Compound). As far as I can remember, Principal Badio always had rattans (switches) in his hand. He reminds me of Principal Joe Clarke in the movie called “Lean On Me”. Principal Badio was fair in dispensing punishment. He didn’t spare his own son, “Puding” (nickname). He made it his obligation for us to become good students as well as behave as responsible citizens. Personally, I am grateful for his discipline. Mr. Pahntee Dortu, my teacher and principal at Zion Academy (Junior High School), was another person; he had confidence in me to the point that I was selected from the 8th Grade to take the Liberian National Exam along with 9th graders (at the time I was the dux of the 8th grade and the late Eloise Phillips was 2nd in our class. Mrs. Laurel Norman, the principal of the defunct Laboratory High School (which became Tubman High) was another person to whom I am indebted; she treated all of her students the same, and that meant a great deal to me. At Temple University, it was my advisor Drs. Inderjit Jaipaul and Alfred Tokollo Moleah. I regarded Dr. Moleah as my mentor because he treated me with respect and was very helpful when I needed help; he gave me financial as well as moral support. As for Dr. Jaipaul, she provided me with sound advice and showed tremendous interest in my academic and intellectual development. There were others too who assisted me to become what I am today; one like my late friend, John Togba Ponnie whose encouragement at an early age put me on track to excel in whatever I did then; then there was the other person I still consider my mentor, Dr. Joseph Saye Guannu. Brother Saye kept reminding and encouraging us of our purpose in America (as Liberian students residing in the Philadelphia and New Jersey areas). And of course your mother, my wife, Janet Damali, to whom I have great respect, love, and appreciation for putting up with me for 32 plus unbroken years, and who has forgiven my many shortcomings; these individuals, along with my mother and father, worked wonders on me; and has been of tremendous help for me to come this far. Finally, it was and still through the Grace and Mercy of the Almighty God that has brought me where I am today; for this, I am thankful.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, what do you think of the current ULAA leadership?
NYANSEOR: Mr. Emmanuel S. Wettee, the current president took over the leadership of ULAA not too long ago. Mr. Wettee’s administration seems to be doing well in some areas; for example, advocating on behalf of Liberians in the U.S. for their temporary status to be regularized. However, I would like the organization to take positions when the Government of Liberia violates the rights of its citizens, like the recent case that involved the university students and the press.
Didwho-Twe: What positive role has other Liberian organizations played in the Diaspora that you can think of – being a community organization, church or social club?
NYANSEOR: Many Liberian organizations have played important roles and continued to do so in their local communities here and in Liberia. Some of the organizations that come to mind are: county, alumni, church, education, health, media, social, and environment. These organizations have played significant roles both in America and at home, especially, during the Liberian civil wars. Many of these organizations supported projects in Liberia with funds and materials. For example, some of them were involved in rebuilding their former schools, paying teachers’ salaries, sponsoring students and rebuilding hospitals that were damaged during the civil wars. At the same time they are providing here in the Diaspora, social, economic and spiritual assistance to their members. In addition, these organizations go to the aid of their members in time of crisis, by providing moral and monetary support to their members during bereavement, wedding, graduation and other related matters. However, over the years, I’ve observed with some disappointment, practices by some members of these organizations that are not too positive, which to me is ‘picking and choosing’ engaged in by individuals; by this I mean, they assigned high premium to certain members’ affairs as opposed to others. This is a practice that does not sit well with me.
Didwho-Twe: Can you give me specific examples?
NYANSEOR: Let me cite for you a personal example. Since I’ve been in this country, I have been a member of many organizations, which includes social, political, educational, church and community. But lately, I’ve taken a personal sabbatical away from some of these organizations for the simple reason that there seems to be a harmful practice, which I referred to earlier as ‘picking and choosing’ – troublesome behavior. For example when I was sick, hospitalized, only about 5 persons came to visit me; in addition to that, when your brother, my 40-year-old son died in Ghana, it was almost the same five persons that came to sympathize with me. When similar things happen to others in the community, almost the whole community showed up to lend their support. It won’t have bothered me if I were an individual who did not participate in the affairs of the community. Because of the way I have been treated, I find it difficulty to interact with individuals that behaved in such a manner. I have minimized my socialization with the larger community since. One of the excuses some of my associates provide whenever we meet at a gathering is, “My man, I wanted to come see you, but your place is too far”. Isn’t it the same distance I travel to go visit some of these individuals when they have problems? To me this is a poor excuse. I even wrote a poem regarding this practice. The title of the poem is: “Our Most Cherished Tradition”. It consists of 6 voices; let me read the 4th and 5th voices. It reads:
If you hear I am sick, come see me
Where I come from
it is a foreign practice
to send cards and flowers to friends
Who are sick or bereaved.
When we hear you are sick
we go visit you.
And when we hear you are bereaved
we go in person to console you.
This is the Cherished Tradition I’m used to
Which we are supposed to follow.
So don’t come telling me
after my trouble is over
and I am out of the hospital doing just fine
and I buried my loved one
for you to stand before me to say
“I’ve been thinking about you,
“and I’ve been praying for you and your family, too”.
Pretending as if you were concern about me
Where I come from if you’re concern about a person
You will go see that person
To express your love and concern.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, it is quite interesting! Where you angry when you wrote this poem?
NYANSEOR: I was not angry. Sometimes when I have an issue on my mind or I am thinking about something, words come at me from nowhere, and if I do not write them down at that moment, I will not be able to remember them. At times, it is like someone dictating to me – word for word.
Didwho-Twe: Let’s switch topic here. How do you feel about the present state of affairs in Liberia?
NYANSEOR: Currently, there is not much good news coming out of Liberia. Some of the news I am getting is from credible sources – supporters of the present government. I personally feel some members of our generation have really betrayed us. As the most educated generation of Liberians, we could have corrected the mistakes of our predecessors by turning our little country into a paradise that could have been the envy of our neighbors. I believe it was Liberians that the legendary Algerian intellectual and revolutionary Frantz Fanon had in mind when he wrote: “Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.” This is what has happened to us! It is a sad commentary; and it is hard to understand how individuals who were nurtured, schooled and acquired the taste of American democracy – the citadel of world democracy – could easily abandon these important virtues once they acquired power. I often wonder! The internationally acclaimed writer Chinua Achebe once wrote: “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership”. This is also the case with Liberia.
Didwho-Twe: Is there any hope for Africans in the Diaspora and Africans in general to improve their plight and the perception others have of them in the world?
NYANSEOR: Yes; we have come along way, but we still have lots to do about who we are.
Didwho-Twe: Would you care to elaborate?
NYANSEOR: Before I elaborate, let me share with you a quote from Dr. George B.N. Ayittey’s article on ‘African Philosophical Tenets’. Dr. Ayittey is a distinguished Ghanaian economist. These are some of the things he wrote about that impressed me a lot:
“Africans have always believed that their universe was composed of three elements: the sky, the earth and the world. The sky and the earth made up the world, which was the place where all people, ethnic and non-ethnic, lived. Each component, however, could not exist independently of the others, but the sky was recognized in many ethnic societies as supreme. The sky was the domain of the spirits of the living and the unborn as well as thunder, lightning, rain, drought and other natural phenomena. The earth was the burial place of dead ancestors and other tribesmen as well as being the dwelling place of the people and their activities: agriculture, hunting, fishing, government, etc. The world was the domain of all people, both ethnic and non-ethnic, and as such embraced inter-ethnic relationships: war, peace, trade, etc.”, and that “Each component was represented as either a force or a god. The names of each god, of course, differed from one ethnic society to another”. Yet, what disturbs me is the ‘intellectual hypocrisy’ that Europeans, Americans and mis-educated African elites consigned to the beliefs and practices of Africans, which includes our religion, secret societies, marriage, etc.; while to a larger extent, Greeks’ methodology form the basis of European thoughts, beliefs and literature, along with their ‘secret societies’ too.
The issue I find with this approach is, why we were not taught in Liberian schools about the Klao (Kru) Myth of Sno-Nyesoa (Heavenly Father God)? I get emotional when I think of the imposition and celebration of other people’s cultural heritage at the expense of our own. We were cheated of our beautiful tradition and culture. For example the Sno-Nyesoa Myth that I speak of says, our Creator God sent his four sons into the world. He wished them to return, but they wanted to stay, and Earth, too, tried to keep them. Sno-Nyesoa then used his powers and took his sons back to heaven. In the morning, when they did not wake up, he said to the Earth: “I have called them home. I leave their bodies with you.” Since that time, our Creator God has used his power to take man away from the world. The way back is also blocked because of Earth’s attempt to keep the divine children.
According to the myth, prior to the quarrel, mankind did not know sickness, suffering and death, and they were uncertain about what to do. The solution they thought of was to send a cat to the medicine man (not WITCH DOCTOR as African herbalists are referred to by outsiders) to obtain a remedy that could cure the sick and awake the dead. The cat successfully obtained the medicine but upon her return she came across a river; put the medicine on a tree stump; she took a bath, and subsequently forgot all about her errand. The humans sent the cat to look for the medicine but she was unable to find it. The cat then went back to the medicine man again. The medicine man was angry with the cat and said that “thereafter, though a tree be cut, if the stump remains, the tree will grow again; but when men die, it will be the end”.
You see how wonderful this story is! What makes the Greek mythology we are taught in schools any better than this story? The Greek mythology, we are ‘practically forced’ to study is not better than ours, but we are so brainwashed to think they are. Until we take pride in our own culture and tradition, we will be like ‘trees without roots’. That’s what I mean when I said we still have lots to do. And if I may add what Howard W. French wrote in his well-researched book: A Continent for the Taking. The book described the Liberian dilemma in this manner:
“As they settled the land, the Americo-Liberians fondly strove to reproduce the only model they knew, the plantation society of the American South. Affecting top hats and morning coats, the freedmen ruled Africa’s first republic in a clannish and conservative manner, established their own curiously paternalistic brand of apartheid, systematically excluding so-called aborigines from positions of privilege and power.” Today, we have individuals in Liberia who are from both sides – African Liberians as well as the remnant of Americo-Liberians that want us to return to the behaviors and practices of the past. They are so brainwashed, they rather be connected to the plantation culture of North America or something coming out of Europe. The Almighty God who created all of us did not make mistake; all of us were created in His own image; says the good old book. Yet, many among us refuse to accept this fundamental truth. Instead, they are running away from their own shadows. Therefore, if we, as a people do not wake up to accept who we are, we will be doomed forever. That’s my take on the whole issue of ‘Country and Congor’ (African-Liberia and Americo-Liberian).
Didwho-Twe: Are there any enmity between Liberians in Diaspora and those that are in Liberia, and if yes, could you cite some examples?
NYANSEOR: During and after the civil wars, those on the “ground” used to point fingers at us as the people responsible for the problems in Liberia; which is far from the truth. Yet, this was the general belief held by members of the old order as well as their benefactors. This belief is based on the fact that vocal critics of previous Liberian governments came from abroad. Those of us in the Diaspora had the freedom to speak and protest against the Liberian authorities without the fear of intimidation and incarnation. Whereas, our compatriots at home were denied their civil and constitutional rights; and those that defied the government were arrested, jailed or brutalized. Moreover, since the initial fund – $10,000.00 that a group of Liberians raised in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to support the movement (NPFL) that Charles Taylor later led, even those of us who knew nothing about their plan, were considered a part of the group, especially, those of us that were members of ULAA. This conclusion was based on the adage, “birds of the same feathers flock together”. This approach is being used today to criticize all of us. For example, not too long ago, a close friend of mine who visited Liberia had a bad experience when he was home. According to him:
“Many Liberians on the ground are not receptive to those of us that come from abroad. When we visit Liberia or return there to establish business, I tell you, they make it difficult for us to get anything accomplish. We are treated as if we are strangers in our own country. It becomes so frustrating, you want to give up and return to the States. This practice is not limited to Liberians that have not been abroad; even those of our former associates from abroad are part of this practice. I couldn’t believe what I was experiencing”, says my friend.
Didwho-Twe: What suggestions can you offer that will help resolve or improve this relationship?
NYANSEOR: Personally, I feel those individuals on the ground could benefit from reading ULAA’s Research and Development Committee Report, which is: “Leveraging the Potential of the Liberian Diaspora-Proposing a ‘Diaspora Commission’: A policy note”, prepared by Mr. Saar C. N’Tow. For the benefit of those who have not seen the report, let me quote the portion on “Harnessing the Potential of the Liberian Diaspora”:
”The experience of other countries suggests that the growing and changing Liberian Diaspora represents perhaps one of the most important still under-utilized resources for their war-torn homeland’s economic, social, and political future. A recent study of remittances among Liberians in Minneapolis reveals that on average households are remitting over $3500 USD per year to relatives in Liberia, and that over 60% of the households that do remit provide support for 10 or more relatives back in Liberia, with almost one third of all households supporting 20 or more relatives through these remittances. Such pilot studies are indicative of the vital economic role that Liberians in the Diaspora are—and can—play in their homeland’s future. Another indicator from this study of particular interest is the plans by almost 40% of all households to invest and start a business in Liberia. Unlike foreign investment or assistance that will inevitably be largely consumed in overheads and foreign technical assistance these remittance dollars and investments will have a broad impact in their entirety—and at the grassroots level—cultivating economic opportunity at the household level where it is most needed in Liberia.
“The distinctive experience of Liberians in their host societies may also enable them to play a positive role in bringing about much needed change in Liberia’s political culture and civil society. Thus Dr. Stephen C. Lubkemann of Brown University’s Watson Institute and George Washington University’s Elliot School of International Affairs observes: ‘The international distribution of Liberian citizens, and in particular the presence of a significant number of Liberians in North America, offers an opportunity to explore new avenues and possibilities for positively transforming Liberian political, [social and economic] culture in ways that enhance the mass participation of the Liberian citizenry in establishing true democracy. Over the last decade the Liberian community in North America has confronted significant challenges as immigrants that have produced unifying grassroots efforts and important experiments with trans-ethnic community organization. Such experiences have included the struggle for permanent status and against economic and racial discrimination as an ethnic minority. A younger generation of Liberians has gained experience in community organization and tasted the possibility of participatory and democratic governance. As a result a growing interest in bringing that experience back to Liberia itself has emerged within the community’”.
A marriage between the two groups (Liberians from the Diaspora and those at home) could produce lifelong results working together rather than being indignant or envious of each other. It is not in our best interests not to make good use of our country’s human and material resources.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, what are the titles of books you’ve read lately, and which one you considered the best, and why?
NYANSEOR: It is very difficult for me to say this book is better than the other. I could do so if I were comparing books written by different authors on the same subject matter. Anyway, let me share with you the list of the books I’ve read in the past 8 months.
Didwho-Twe: You usually write them down?
NYANSEOR: Yes, I do! That’s a habit of mine. It is like taking a book in the restroom to read.
Didwho-Twe: I find it quite interesting; I do the same too!
NYANSEOR: Like father like son! The books I have read in the past 8 months are: The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House by Bob Woodward; Barack Obama: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama; Love Must Be Tough & Straight Talk by Dr. James C. Dobson; This Life by Sidney Poitier; Worse than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush by John W. Dean; Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Race by Joel A. Freeman & Don B. Griffin; Confronting the Controversies: A Christian Looks at the Tough Issues by Adam Hamilton; Sir Walter Ralegh (spelled today as Raleigh) by Robert Lacey; A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut; The Double-Edge Sword: How Character Makes and Ruins Presidents, from Washington to Clinton by Robert Shogan; When Presidents Lie: History of Official Deception and its Consequences by Eric Alterman The Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley; When God Says Go: The Amazing Journey of a Slave’s Daughter by Lorry Lutz; Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World by David Brion Davis; Stupid White Men by Michael Moore; A Short History of Myth by Karen Armstrong; Africa and Children by J. Ninsel Warner; Doing What’s Right: How to Fight for What You Believe – And Make a Difference by Tavis Smiley; Bill Clinton: An American Journey by Nigel Hamilton; African Traditional Religion: A Definition by E. Bolaji Idowu, NSSM-200, “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for the U.S. Security and Overseas Interests,” December 10, 1974, a classified report authored under the personal direction of then-National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. The document was declassified in 1990, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization To Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions by John Perkins. Presently, I am reading American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century by Kevin Phillips.
I tell you what; I am impressed with the Nuggets of the African Novel, written by K. Moses Nagbe, a friend and brother of mine. The book is the first of its kind to have been written by a Liberian author. In the book, Nagbe highlights the contributions of several internationally acclaimed African writers like Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwesi, Camara Laye, Elechi Amadi Ngugi wa Thiong’O, Semebene Ousmane, Peter Abraham, Alan Paton among others. Also, Nagbe catalogued the contributions made to Liberian literature by previous and some current writers such as, Joseph Walters, Charles Cooper, Bai T. Moore, Wilton S. Sankawolo, Ruth Lymas Reeves, Evelyn D. Kandakai, C. William Allen and himself. This is a valuable piece of research, especially the notes on Liberian literary heritage. The brother did a wonderful job, and he must be commended for it.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, what have you done in your three score years on earth for which you are proud of the most?
NYANSEOR: I will say, being the first in my immediate family to obtain a college degree; secondly, discovering what I refer to as “my Africanality”; simply put, accepting who I am, an African or a black person, and acknowledging this reality, and by celebrating my unique African heritage and tradition. In addition, by reclaiming my African identity – the names I was born to be called – Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor (Siahyonkron, I named myself) as opposed to Sam Anthony Roberts, III, the identity of a different culture, and to be able to speak two of my indigenous languages effortlessly – Klao (Kru) and Bassa (Bassaw or Bassau). And finally, to have contributed to the Liberian dialogue without using guns, rather with the written words; and by joining with my colleagues, George H. Nubo and Abraham M. Williams in starting The Perspective newsmagazine in June of 1996, which has become the pioneer Liberian online webmagazine. These things that I have mentioned I am proud of the most; and if I may add another, it will be by not bringing shame upon my family name, especially making my mother embarrass as the result of my behavior.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, what having you done that you would like to do before you depart this world?
NYANSEOR: Not being at home to bury my parents (my father died in 1981 and my mother in 1989), which I could not do. I would like to do something in my mother’s honor, and to someday complete my autobiography, which I have written a bits and pieces of.
Didwho-Twe: What advice do you have to leave with our audience?
NYANSEOR: I have been blessed by my ancestors who preceded me, and many others throughout the history of humanity, who made sacrifices and exemplified tremendous courage and strengths in the face of adversity. I can think of many women and men that the Almighty God brought into my life who, at various times, inspired and strengthened me. I draw strength and inspiration from reflecting on my past, seeing how far I have come, what I’ve overcome and from looking at my future and seeing where I want to go. Most important, I draw strength from my faith in God Almighty. My audience could do the same, to have a wonderful life journey, too.
Didwho-Twe: Dad, I thank you for agreeing to have this conversation with me; I’ve learned a lot from our conversation, I will treasure this experience for many years. Again, thanks!
NYANSEOR: Thank you “D” for coming up with the idea of having this conversation with me. It was quite an enjoyable and rewarding experience for me as well. Moreover, there are not too many people who have the opportunity to be interviewed by their son. For this, I am delighted and grateful. Again, I thank you from the ‘bottom of my heart’.
About the Interviewer: Didwho-Twe Jlopleh Nyanseor is the elder brother of Sankan Worhwinn Nyanseor. Mr. Nyanseor is co-owner of Secret Enlightenment Gift Company, a customized candle producing company in Tucker, Georgia. Many of Secret Enlightenment candles are personalized to the customers’ preference in order to ensure maximum pleasure. Didwho-Twe has a BBA degree in Finance from Georgia Southern University and a MBA degree in Business Administration from the American Intercontinental University (AIU). He can be reached at: email@example.com