Thursday, August 19, 2010

David D. Kpormakpor, 75, Former Head of Liberia Council of State is Dead - FPA OBITUARY

Source: FrontPage Africa

Staten Island, New York-

David D. Kpormakpor
David D. Kpormakpor, the former chairman of the council of state collective presidency that ruled Liberia from March 7, 1994 until 1 September 1995 has died. He was 75.

Kpormakpor’s family members broke the news to FrontPageAfrica late Thursday night, said he had been ill for a long period of time. He died at his resident in Staten Island, the United States of America, Thursday.

The council of state consisted of a civilian chair, as well as members representing warring factions. Isaac Musa represented Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia, while Mohammed Sheriff represented ULIMO and Philip Banks represented the past civilian interim government. Also serving as a member was Dexter Tahyor.

A mourning family member told FrontPageAfrica late Thursday night that the late head of state was a very straight man. “He never liked cheating and he never took bribe.”

Following a year of political stalemate, the Kpomakpor council was succeeded by another council headed by Wilton Sankawulo and including factional heads themselves rather than representatives as in this version of collective presidency.

Sankawulo, who succeeded Kpormakpor died from congestive heart failure on February 21, 2009. He was 71 years old.

Kpormakpor, a former Supreme Court judge, a law school professor and an intellectual was one of Liberia’s well-respected statesmen. But during his last days and despite his illness, he was battling deportation and living on welfare.

In 2007, just short of his 72nd birthday, the former head of state underwent two surgeries to remove a tumor in his brain.

Like most Liberians, residing in America, Kpormakpor benefited from the annual reprieve granted Liberians in the U.S. on Temporary Protective Status(TPS).

The temporary immigration designation has been extended annually to those fleeing the war-ravaged country since 1990, offering a fallback option for those who could not obtain legal immigration status through work or marriage.

In recent years, Kpormakpor's health has been on the decline amid failing memory and has lost much of his cognitive functioning, family sources say. Although the former head of state had toyed with idea of return to Liberia, family members says he did not feel he would get the best treatment in Liberia as he required assistance from a full-time home health aid. Even if he could survive the long trip to Africa. In Liberia, there has been a push in the national legislature in recent years for benefits for former heads of state but not much has been done to assist those who once served as leaders.

The Staten Island Advance, the state newspaper where Kpormakpor lived before his death reported in July 2007 that when the U.S. government notified Kpormakpor of his changed immigration status this summer, they also cut off his Social Security benefits. Now, the First United Christian Church in Tompkinsville pays his bills. "He's not a charity case. We'll take care of him. He just wants an opportunity to stay in this country," said associate pastor Lloyd Land, who the paper said, had been helping Kpormakpor with his petition for a green card.

Kpormakpor originally applied for a green card in 1961, as a college student in California. He had the opportunity to study there because a missionary from Mississippi recognized him as a promising young man, and secured him a place at the prestigious College of West Africa in Monrovia.

"A bush boy" raised by Gola tribe parents who could neither read nor write, he finished third in his class and won scholarships to San Francisco State University and later to UCLA Law School. He returned home, became a professor of law, and was appointed to the Liberian Supreme Court by then president Samuel Doe. After Doe's assassination in 1989 and years of bloody civil war, a group of West African states, backed by the U.S., set up an interim government. Kpormakpor was appointed Interim President of Liberia between 1994-1995.

As Interim President, he had little power, but access to millions of government dollars. While many of his colleagues plundered, Kpormakpor said he kept his reputation as the only honest politician in Liberia. Others called him a fool.

"They said anyone who doesn't take money is an ass," Kpormakpor told the Advance in a 2007 interview at the Vanderbilt Nursing Home, where he was recovering after another stint in Richmond University Medical Center. "Well, when it's not in you, it's not in you," he added.

After Charles Taylor took over the government, he threw Kpormakpor in prison for two months. He then spent two years living on a military base guarded by African peacekeepers who broke into his home twice, stealing everything he owned.

Kpormakpor returned to the United States in 1997, broke and already in failing health. He has remained relatively unknown outside his native country and the borough's Little Liberia community. In 2005, he was introduced to Jason Price, an NYU graduate student who was volunteering with survivors of African civil wars. The chance meeting sparked the creation of a short documentary, "The Professor," which was screened at the Staten Island Film Festival in the summer of 2007.

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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