TO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER MOJA: An Eye Opener for Liberians – Gongloe Says At 46th Anniversary Program
The Acting Chairman of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), one of Liberia’s illustrious and legal luminaries Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe said the courage that some Liberians have today to speak truth to power came from the great work done by the Movement for Justice in Africa in the 1970s which led to the creation of consciousness among the masses of the people of Liberia.
Cllr Gongloe in his welcome remarks at the celebration of the 46th anniversary of MOJA, said MOJA’s contribution to Liberian history served as eye opener for the Liberian people to the level of injustice that existed under the True Whig Party government and because of the work that MOJA did, Liberians will make it difficult for any government that engages in any of the tendencies of the True Whig Party that MOJA stood against. “Liberians will stand up against dictatorship and autocracy, corruption, arrogance, violation of human rights and other forms of abuse of power.
Last Saturday, March 23, 2019, the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) celebrated its 46th Anniversary at the Auditorium of the G. W. Gibson High School on the Capitol Bye Pass. He paid homage to their fallen militants and said forty six years ago, a group composed, largely of young people, led by Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh founded the Movement for Justice in Africa. At that time there was intense struggle taking place on the African Continent for the Liberation of the African people from colonial and repressive regimes. In South Africa, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), South West Africa (Namibia) Mozambique, Angola in the Southern part of Africa; in West Africa, Guinea Bissau; and in North Africa, the Spanish Sahara.
He said in these areas of Africa, the masses of the people were fighting for freedom from colonial and autocratic governments. “Here in Liberia, the oldest independent Republic in Africa, the masses of the people were yearning for freedom from the undemocratic rule of the True Whig Party.”
Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe elucidated that it was against this grim political situation of lack of self-determination and democracy on the African Continent that the Movement for Justice in Africa was established as a pan-African movement for aiding the African people in their struggle for political, social and economic justice.
He classified key approach used by MOJA as aiding the masses of the people of Africa in their struggle for justice was to inform them about what kept them oppressed and poor. MOJA concluded that without identifying a problem there can be no solution. This approach was based on basic common sense.
MOJA, used what was happening in various parts of Africa to create the awareness among the masses of the people in Liberia and other parts of Africa about the nature and forms of oppression and by that process made the oppressed people in Liberia to know that they were facing the same problems that were being faced by the oppressed people in South Africa, Mozambique and other places in Africa where white minority rule existed. Through the work of
According to Cllr. Gongloe, based on MOJA’s awareness in Liberia, the masses of the people became aware that they too were being oppressed and that oppression is oppression whether the oppressor is white or black. By explaining to the masses of the people that in South Africa, the white people lived in the cities that had electricity, paved roads, and pipe-born water, while the black people lived in the townships on the outskirts of the cities without electricity, paved roads and pipe-born water, the masses of the people in West Point, New Kru Town, Logan Town in Monrovia, Hoffman Station and Kru Town near Harper City, and other parts of Liberia were able to understand that there was black apartheid in Liberia.
Therefore, by educating the masses of the people about the similarity among the oppressors in Africa and the similarity among the oppressed people everywhere in Africa, he said. The masses of the people in Liberia began to develop a sense of solidarity with the struggling people all over Africa, as they now felt that they were in the same boat together. The people of Liberia through MOJA began to express solidarity with the struggling people of in Southern Africa, Central Africa and Northern Africa. The masses of the people through MOJA identified with the authentic liberation movements in Africa. Therefore, MOJA identified and established links with African National Congress in South Africa, FRELIMO in Mozambique, SWAPO in Namibia, ZANU PF in Zimbabwe, MPLA in Angola and the Spanish Polisario Front in Spanish Sahara.
MOJA’s tool for social change for the better was the creation of consciousness among the people as a way of empowering them to act in their collective interest. This is still the tool that MOJA has for effecting social change. When people are not aware of their problems, they cannot make informed judgment about how to change their conditions for the better. MOJA as the oldest social consciousness movement in Liberia will continue to educate people about their problem and work along with them to find the way forward. MOJA’s approach to creating consciousness is to work with workers’ unions, youth and student organizations, as well as rural and urban poor communities for positive change.
“Before MOJA established in Liberia, the masses of the Liberian people accepted their conditions and felt like nothing could be done to change the conditions that they lived under. The people had completely surrendered to the undemocratic rule of the True Whig Party after decades of oppressive rule. As an indication that the people had given up on changing their situation they used expressions like, “your leave the people thing”, “Government is next to God”, “You cannot challenge Government”. The Movement for Justice in Africa began the process of changing that situation on March 23, 1973, 46 years ago.”
Cllr. Gongloe said that the struggle for change was joined by the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) founded by the Late Gabriel Baccus Matthews in 1975.Together, MOJA and PAL carried on mass consciousness and mobilization about their rights as citizens. With the support of students, the youth, workers and the urban and rural poor, the True Whig Party’s grip on political power was weakened. This was shown by how the government panicked and killed over two hundred armless people on April 14, 1979, in reaction to a peaceful protest led by PAL. The weakness of the True Whig Party was also demonstrated by the fact the government it controlled was so easily overthrown by 17 enlisted men led by a master sergeant, a non-commissioned officer, of the Armed Forces of Liberia, without the least resistance within the army.
“Today, people who are not informed about Liberian history, or those who are informed but choose to engage mischief and misinformation, often say that the progressives, MOJA and PAL are responsible for the backwardness of Liberia. They are wrong. MOJA was not responsible for the coup d’état. The True Whig Party was responsible. The coup took place because the True Whig Party Government was so weak that it did not command the loyalty and support of the men and women of the Armed Forces of Liberia. The coup took place because the True Whig Party was so divided by greed for power that its leaders failed to even act in their collective interest, in order to save their government,” the legal luminary, Cllr. Gongloe asserted.
Cllr. Gongloe also indicated that the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) was not in support of the 1980 coup d’ tat in Liberia and one indication that MOJA was not behind the coup is that at its March 1980 Congress, it resolved to form a political party to contest the presidential election that the government had promised to hold in 1983. Another indication is that MOJA had a mass-based support and was sure of winning any election in Liberia at that time. For example because MOJA was poised to win the election for the position of the City Mayor of Monrovia, with Dr. Amos Sawyer from MOJA and Chuchu Horton from the True Whig Party, the election was postponed indefinitely. With such a bright political future at the time, MOJA could not have supported a coup d’état. Those who like to blame MOJA for the coup d’état and the problems that followed are misrepresenting Liberian history.