Celebrating with Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh on His 80th Birthday
MANY ARE FOND of tendering honeyed tributes and eulogies posthumously in honor of a family member, a friend and statesmen. Otherwise, the media—both print and electronic—would be flooded today with Pro-Tipoteh commentaries. And as the Kenyan lawyer and Pan-Africanist Patrick Lumumba would put it, “the tragedy of Africa is that Africa is in the business of canonizing thieves and demonizing their saints”. Otherwise, the nation would pause today in reverence of a rare gem of human on these shores who distinguished himself in all aspects of human tendencies and behaviors.
FOR THE ANALYST, we are today devoting our pages in honor of Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh as he celebrates his 80th birthday July 17. This is worth it, for this is the Liberian who dedicated a hundred percent of his youthful and adult life to Liberia’s political health, the social well-being of the people and national peace and harmony.
WHAT ELSE CAN any citizen give his country and people than to burn out his entire life fighting for peace and love, equality, probity, and morality, particularly while being continuously rewarded with gratitude. Not only did Dr. Tipoteh form alliances with national and international peoples and organizations to bring about multiparty Liberia, he has also been crusading for social transformation, good governance and equity for the people of Liberia. And the fight of Dr. Tipoteh for a better Liberia has not been seasonal; it has come a long way through various political epochs, circumstances and situations.
WHILE IT IS TRUE that Liberia has had a long of list of socioeconomic and political campaigners, it is not true that most of them survived the struggles with their heads above of waters of consistency, integrity and probity. Some fell long ago, and others have fallen, to the trappings of power and affluence. Some proved themselves unworthy of trust and others have proven to be seasonal in their campaigns, ensnarled by contradictions—at one point, they are the vanquished and at another time they become the vanquishers.
- TIPOTEH HAS LIVED above the fray. Fate of his upbringing placed him amongst the elite of those days, but that elitist status did not and has never at any point in time robbed him his nature of humility, meekness and pro-poorness. Dr. Tipoteh is an acclaimed academic, one of Liberia’s most studious personalities, earning a Doctorate in Economics at the age of 27. But that has never placed a social barrier between him and averaged educators and illiterate citizens. In fact, his prominent companions are market women, their children and rural people. Dr. Tipoteh has held some of Liberia’s prestigious public offices, serving as Ministers of Government and top manager with esteemed public and private institutions. But that has never stolen away his sense of service to the ordinary and marginalized people of society.
- TIPOTEH IS NEVER too busy to shake hands and sit with students, journalists, unionists, petit traders, zokos and other lower-level people. He mourns with the bereaved. He coddles and nurses the victims and survivors of societal ills.
THE ANALYST HAS had a very long, friendlier and fruitful relationship with him, dating as far back as the founding years of the newspaper. He has never been too busy to respond to our inquiries. Where we err, he will always call and counsel. Where we shine, he will always call to commend. He has often dignified our pages with his insightful commentaries.
UNLIKE MANY LIBERIAN bigshots who often brag that they read only Newsweek, Times and The Wall Street Journal and other international media outs, Dr. Tipoteh is an avid reader of The Analyst and other local dailies. And he listens to local print media. Indeed, he is a very loyal friend of the media even when he was Minister of Planning and a Professor of Economics and a World Bank fellow.
- TIPOTEH IS also a true friend of orphans, widows and the physically challenged. And these attributes are not mere mundane and rhetorical handles assigned him. He lives them. He merits. The records are clear and there.
DESPITE HIS VAST international contact and exposures, Dr. Tipoteh refused to exploit his stature to form a warring faction during the Liberian civil conflict. He could have done so. He could have been the best freedom fighter. He eschewed the temptation. Furthermore, Dr. Tipoteh refused to leave the country while others fled. He could have done so. But he remained in Liberia for all the years of the civil conflict. And he’s still here. That’s why he’s fondly pinned with the epithet, “the Only Man of the Ground”. His love for Liberia and for Liberians is just so unmatched.
AS HE CELEBRATES his 80th birthday, we just cannot remain aloof while this fine son of the soil, this highly virtuous statesman of Liberia, does so. We say in the loudest shout ever, “Happy Birthday, Dr. Tipoteh. May God bless you as you remain a shining example of true patriotism Liberia has ever known.” We salute you, Sir!!