GABRIEL BACCUS MATTHEWS’ LIFE AND STRUGGLE FOR MULTIPARTY DEMOCRACY IN LIBERIA (May 8, 1948-September 7, 2007)
Matthews dedicated his entire life without reservation and without a squint, to the cause of transforming Liberia into a genuine multiparty democracy and, that he and his compatriots succeeded in the great mission, there’s no doubt and there’s no debate. Gabriel Baccus Matthews was a consummate political leader.
Baccus had been incessantly consumed by the conviction of multiparty democracy for the Liberian nation and people. Born a product of the Liberian status quo at the time, Matthews in his early days conceived and subsequently embarked on a national mission focusing on the imperative that Liberia needed to be reconciled in a fashion that will induce social integration and political reconciliation, by bringing together the then minority ruling elite, and the indigenous majority population, as the basis for lasting peace and political stability in Liberia.
Baccus quickly distinguished himself among many young Liberians who were yearning for peaceful change in their country by exposing himself to countless and unthinkable security risks towards the realization of his political ideals, and in pursuit to nationally beneficial objectives for constructive social change in the country.
In the early days of the political struggle, Gabriel Matthews sought a precarious relationship with the leaders of the True Whig Party (TWP). During his interaction, Matthews used the opportunity to gauge each official of the TWP, making a determination of their disposition to the call for multiparty democracy that he and members of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia, PAL, started in l975. He learned a lot.
With the knowledge he had gained from these interactions, Matthews, in late 1979, engaged President William R. Tolbert in a close conversation. Matthews brought up the subject of what he believed to be an attempt in the making, by some TWP elements, to unseat President Tolbert. Well, this a something you may not know. Matthews and President Tolbert had a close relationship, dating far back before his entry into the Liberian political sphere. While serving as Vice President to President William V.S. Tubman, Tolbert had officiated at Matthews’ wedding in 1968, to Mai George, Cllr. Peter Amos George’s daughter. There are accounts which places Matthews’ paternal lineage to Georgia Payne and President Tolbert. So, Matthews was dealing with a personality he knew fairly well. He knew that President Tolbert was determined to open up the society and make it more inclusive, after nineteen years as Vice President under President Tubman. He deduced that President Tolbert was facing serious resistance from conservative elements within the True Whig Party. Matthew confronted the President about what he had discovered. The President confirmed that he knew about the plans. “Why not arrest them Mr. President?” Mathews inquired. “Because they are my friends, Gabriel”, the President responded. “Why do you think they are doing this to you, Mr. President,” Matthews further asked. “Because I’ve allowed you to do what you are doing, Gabriel”. Some elements of the TWP were very uneasy that their “pepperbush” was being tampered with, and that was never going to happen. They would not allowed some “insignificant jigger fleas”, according to Senate Pro-Tempore Frank Tolbert, President Tolbert’s brother, to upturn their privileges of power. Not by sight, our people would say.
On the night of the March 3, 1980, while President Tolbert was on a tour in Nimba County, the conservative elements of the TWP converged at the Executive Mansion to stage a palace coup against the President. Chairman Matthews, acting on a tip-off from government security sources, mobilized about two hundred persons and marched to the Executive Mansion, in an attempt to avert what appeared to be a palace coup in the making. At the onset, the plotters had no inkling what Matthews was up to.
Wilfred Clarke, the SSS Director, was sent by the men assembled at midnight in the Executive Mansion, to ask Matthews why he had assembled people outside of the Executive Mansion at that time of the night. Mathews told Clarke to inform the TWP people meeting in the Executive Mansion that they should tell President Tolbert that he Matthews now had the evidence regarding a discussion they had earlier. Matthews told Clarke that to inform the conspirators that he would await President Tolbert’s return to Monrovia, to produce the evidence. What a fateful coincidence! Of course, it became obvious to the TWP elements in the Executive Mansion that night, that Matthews may have gotten a wind of what was unfolding.
To avoid the possibility of Matthews providing his “evidence” to President Tolbert, the TWP staged a diversion and led President to Bentol, instead of his residence at the Executive Mansion. There, all by themselves, they provided a different explanation as to why the March 3 midnight march by Matthews and his men, had taken place—Matthews and his people had attempted to overthrow the government that night. Word got back to Matthews and the PPP leadership that based on the falsehood conveyed to President Tolbert, the plan was to arrest Matthews and the PPP leadership, and charge them for attempting to overthrow the government.
The PPP leadership then sprang into action. To avert any arrest under false charges, they would call for the resignation of the President and his Vice President on March 7, 1980, and proffer the formation of a government of National Unity, with the TWP and the PPP forming the new government. To back this up, PPP which had just been registered on January 8, 1980, as a full-fledged political party, called for a nationwide strike action until the two officials resigned. That was too much for the TWP.
The next day, on March 8, 1980, the Government sharply reacted and ordered the arrest of the entire leadership of the Progressive People’s Party from across the country. They were charged for treason. More than two hundred party leaders and members were arrested and detained at the notorious Post Stockade prison, situated in the BTC. The prisoners were stripped naked, continuously and severely beaten and tortured. One night during a prayer service amongst the prisoners, Matthews said: “I was born on May 8, 1948; arrested on March 8 and placed in room 8 in the Post Stockade. All of this has a meaning and a purpose. I am convinced that we will all be freed from here one day. And, many years after we leave here, we will have an appreciation of why we had to be here at this time.” Matthews the clairvoyant.
One month later, on the night of April 12, 1980, the TWP government was overthrown. The more than two hundred PPP leaders and members were set free.
One hundred and thirty three years of the Grand Old True Whig Party hegemony came to an end. The door to multiparty democracy was swung wide open.
In the Cause of the People, the Struggle Continues!!!
Now can anyone in his or her right mind compare this coca cola factory indicted criminal Alex Cummings with this great progressive and statecraft??? HELL NO!!!
Here below is the link via which you can hear that criminal Jerome Verdier plotting to assasinate the character of Mayor Koijee. You will also hear that other indicted criminal Stanton Witherspoon, and their accomplice or partner in criminality Eugene Fahngon.
One would not be surprised to know that these criminal culprits are hired guns of that very desperate candidate who goes aroud bribing, forging, buying sanctions, and making fake terrorist videos.
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