If I Must Remember G. Baccus Matthews

By Jesse Z. G. Fahngon

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
Sept 11, 2007


If I must remember G. Baccus Matthews, I will say in few words: he is the father of multi-parties system in Liberia. He planted the final cornerstone to end one-party rule in Liberia. He challenged the OLD ORDER while in his 20s. He organized the “People Progressive Party (PPP)”. What a man!

“Jesse, G. Bac is dead.” When I received a text message from my friend on Friday September 7, 2007 of his demised, I immediately called Liberia to confirm. “Yes, Matthews died two hours ago.” I was shocked and saddened.

My thought as we mourn this irreparable lost is that the passing of so great a champion of civil liberties and multi-parties system in Liberia will be felt not only throughout in Liberia but the Sub-Region.

No matter what side of the political spectrum you belong to my friends, history will treat you unkindly if you ONLY remember Baccus Matthews for the RICE RIOTS of 1979. Whether you like him or not, it is because of Baccus that we have over twenty registered political parties in Liberia today some organized by the “COUNTRY PEOPLE” (indigenous). In the 2005 presidential elections, over 85% of the candidates were indigenous. Today, over 75% of our cabinet ministers and Lawmakers are indigenous. The press is freed my friends. Political pressure groups are being organized in ever corner of our society. I can sit any where today and criticize the government. Today, it is because of Baccus that we do not have to cross to the other side of the street to avoid passing before a government official home fear of being arrested in any part of the country. IF I MUST REMEMBER G. BACCUS MATTHEWS.

When I told a friend of Baccus’ death, she asked: “Oh! The man that brought about all the trouble in Liberia today?” My fellow Liberians, as we mourn we will not relent as usual to set the record straight about the legacy of Baccus Matthews. Baccus opposed war; he never supported war. He was the ONLY PUBLIC OPPOSITION to President Samuel Doe that OPPOSED the 1989 WAR; he was approached, but rejected the idea (ask the organizers). Baccus never contested the 1985 general presidential elections as reported in the Frontpageafrica website on September 7, 2007; his party (UPP) was banned by the Military Junta.

Like any politician, he had his shortcomings; he was sometimes inconsistent. Well, ALL POLITICIANS are inconsistent. We politicians say things today and change the next day (nothing new). Baccus immediately wrote a letter of apology to President Tolbert after the Rice Riot. His followers felt betrayed, but they never abandon him. Matthews should have used his influence over the Military Junta not to eliminate Tolbert’s cabinet ministers; whether he did or not is unknown. The Military Junta would have listened? His quest for the presidency failed; not every politician become president. Had it not been for the BANNED on his party in 1985, Baccus would have won that election (Doe was still going to take it away anyway). His chances of becoming president ended in 1985; in politics, there is time for ever event. While others may only focus on his negatives, let us also critique his pluses. We all have odds. IF I MUST REMEMBER G. BACCUS MATTHEWS.

The character of the life he lived might be summed up in a few words: he was fearless and self-sacrificing man as he challenged the oligarchy for political transformations. He was jailed and flogged. He was sometimes inconsistent. But I know no one in Liberia that tried harder than Matthews to end long years of political supremacy by the Mainstream. To all of us still in the political vanguard and the struggle for good governance in Liberia, he was and will always be an ideal. The great effort he started will long continue to influence and inspire us despite some pitfalls he had. He fought a good fight; he laid the foundation for political transformations in Liberia my friends. He is the father of multi-parties system in Liberia.

I extend to you my deepest sympathy. IF I MUST REMEMBER G. BACCUS MATTHEWS, I will close: “In the cause of the people, the struggle for economic and political equalities, good governance, freedom of speech, and multifarious political system still continues.”

Rest in peace G. Bac; Yes! You fought a good fight comrade. IF I MUST REMEMBER G. BACCUS MATTHEWS, long live Liberia.

Today’s lesson for success: “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated” author and poet, Maya Angelou (1928).

© 2007 by The Perspective
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