Ellen Reflects on Fond Days With Fallen Dr. Sawyer -Says, ‘I Was Honored When He Accepted To Work with Me’

True to the popular observation that the longtime political activist and educator, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, was a man of the people and a man of peace, who attracted associates and admirers from across heterogeneous of social and political cleavages, countless mourners and tribute-payers at his death tell it all. During the heydays of progressivism and agitations in the 1970s by Dr. Sawyer and others, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was in mainstream authority of the oligarchy against whom the progressives were fighting. Many of those progressives and former members of the dethroned hegemony hardly see eye-to-eye. But it seems that was not the case with Dr. Sawyer, because at his funeral service on Saturday, many, including various opposition groups, beat their chests about their fond relationship with him. One of such prominent persons is former President Sirleaf who also spoke well about the pragmatic and peaceful nature of the fallen former Chairperson of the opposition Liberia People’s Party. The Analyst report.

Amongst many prominent Liberians who paid tributes at the state funeral of the late Dr. Amos Sawyer were those who were across the political aisle with him but got gravitated to him due to his peaceful overtures to critics and foes.

In the view of his mourners, Dr. Sawyer always reached out to opponents and erstwhile foes, working to build consensus.

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf bore testimony to those observations when she spoke at the funeral of Dr. Sawyer.

She has praised him for the resilience and consistency throughout the struggle when he fought for the Liberian people in the cause for the enthronement of popular democracy, rule of law and good governance.

In special remarks at the state funeral of the demised statesman, Madam Sirleaf went memory lane to recall how she admired Dr. Sawyer’s politics and ability to mobilize people though she was not a member for his Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) which was crusading for majority rule in Liberia in 70’s.

She admitted she shared with the progressives’ similar principles and values and made reference to the “Sawyer for Mayor” campaign that Sawyer used to tackle the True Whig Party regime and its establishment.

“In many days when we reflect on that, we remember the mantra of Amos [Sawyer]; it does not take violence to challenge a dinosaur,” former President Sirleaf said.

“Our past became interactive during the 1985 elections, when I returned from exile to join the Liberia Action Party (LAP) and to contest in the general election. MOJA would form a political party, the Liberia People’s Party with Amos as its founding Chairman. Because of the turbulent days, they would send us to separate exiles for many years. But we found common grounds in the work of the Association for Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL), composed of Liberians both at home and in the diaspora dedicated to political change. Differences of approaches were there, but with Amos as the head, the one who fosters unity and reconciliation always made sure that the common ground prevailed.”

She said they once went their separate ways during the clamor for change in Liberia but again met in Banjul, The Gambia, when the interim government was formed and Dr. Sawyer became as the interim president where he took the challenge with honesty and fairness to lead the country through the rough path until he left the presidency.

Madam Sirleaf said that after the 1997 general elections where she contested against former President Charles G. Taylor and lost, Dr. Sawyer and his LPP remained consistent as the conscience and hope of the people and recalled the efforts made by Dr. Sawyer agreed to reconcile all the major political actors in the country through a called meeting in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso so as to move the country forward but it could not hold because ‘the prime actor did not attend’.

She said what remained outstanding to her about Dr. Sawyer at the time when Liberians were yearning for peace was his consistent networking with actors in the various political parties, interest groups and other stakeholders that ended up with Liberians meeting during the Accra Peace which produced the interim government and eventually the elections in 2005 where she was elected President.

She said when she resigned from the Governance Reform Commission as head to contest the presidency, Dr. Sawyer was a reliable partner that offered pieces of advice and guided her through the charged political climate and eventually brought victory with her election as the first elected female President of Liberia and Africa. She said Dr. Sawyer would go on to serve in her government and assisted immensely to change the narratives for the quest for good governance in the country.

“On the formation of my government in 2006, I was very pleased and honored when Dr. Sawyer accepted my offer for him to head the governance reform commission to take on the task to reform the entire government architecture. This required him to address issues in the constitution and the laws, working with the civil society and the national legislature. I am very grateful for his leadership and the great strides he made for the transformation and efforts, sometimes under resistance and difficulties. Expectedly, he performed exceptionally, changing structures, putting emphasis on local administration, ensuring that those who serve, serve from the basis of merit, serve on the basis of abilities, serve on the basis of integrity and honor. He reformed the government reform commission and changed it to Governance Commission to give it more scope, more authority and more independence.  Again, I am grateful that he remained in that position until my administration ended and then I asked, where is the Governance Commission?”

She said in addressing current national issues, perhaps her happiest days with Dr. Sawyer during the period of collaboration with him after the presidency, were for both of them to look back after passing through all the long trails, they could sit and reminisce about the long road they travelled, sometime on the same path, sometime on different path, but certainly towards a common goal.

Madam Sirleaf seeing the written sorrow and feeling the pain in the minds of the audience who were  witnessing the final outing of the former interim president, added some humor to her statement when she said “Since his transition, I received so many calls from colleagues who wanted to be here, but sometime  I wondered whether RIA was dark”, in apparent reference to how the international airport has been going through some challenges to provide electricity to the facility that has made the landing of aircrafts at night nearly impossible.

“I can recall on some events and occasions, when we listened, we learned, we shared values, we took action with him, as a professor, the historian, visionary leader and a true public servant. He exemplified a strong belief in the rights, anticipation and power of all, the high-ups and the ordinary ones among us because he was a people’s person. And now our mentor, our friend, our national hero and conscience has left us. I am glad that in Amos’s last days we were able to do more, to talk to him a bit more, to appreciate him a bit more, for what he was, and no one else has risen to the stature that he exemplified in our country.

She urged Prof. Dew Tuan Wleh Mayson and Senator Conmany Wesseh, two close allies of Dr. Sawyer, to carry on the works left behind by Dr. Sawyer, carrying on the banner to do the right thing for country and God.

Madam Sirleaf who spoke so solemnly in a subdued emotion turned to the widow, Madam Comfort Thelma Duncan Sawyer and said ” Comfort and family, God bless you and keep you strong, knowing that the person  that we will all put down today will be remembered , not just in Liberia but all over the world. But truly, he was a man that stood out, God bless you all.”

Comments are closed.