G. Baccus, A Member of My Generation that Could not “Leave the People’s Thing Alone”


By Siahyonkron Nyanseor



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
Sept 11, 2007


Unlike the Roman politician and general, Marcus Antonius, I  come to honor G. Baccus not to bury him; because of the struggle he championed, there is no need to dwell on his mistakes at this time. In fact, who among us - here - is without any faults? Since there is none, I will take this time to pay tribute to my friend and brother in the Struggle. G. Baccus, as he was affectionately called, was a product of my generation -- a generation that was ‘restless.’  Therefore, he was determined to get involved in the “people’s  thing” as opposed to “leaving the people’s thing alone.” 


Our generation was sometimes referred to as the “children born during the Tubman Administration.”  On the eve of July 26, an annual event was held in our honor at the Centennial Pavilion at which formal attire (European-American) was the required dress. Those who did not have it had to either borrow it or wear their grandparents’ formal society’s attire to attend the party that was being held in our honor.  The occasion was referred to as “Children Dance”. I attended some of the events when my parents could afford it.


As children born in Rocktown, Monrovia , many of us used to hang out at the YMCA located in Crown Hill or at Dennis’ Field in the same vicinity to play soccer.  G. Baccus played the position of a goalkeeper.  I was reminded by our mutual friend, Leslie Norman Abayomi Cole that their soccer team for which G. Baccus served as the goalkeeper had the name, “Killer”.


When I resided at a place called PHP (Public Health Pond), G. Baccus used to spend the weekend with his cousin, Duke Terry; and when we played soccer, he served as one of the goalkeepers.  G. Baccus played this position on the soccer team at CWA ( College of West Africa ), a Methodist high school in Monrovia . Later, I went on to attend Laboratory High (Lab High), which became William V.S. Tubman High (Tubman High).



In 1968, when I came to the United States to attend collage, I met G. Baccus who at the time was enrolled at Long Island University , New York . In the later part of 1970, he ran for the presidency of the Liberian Student Association (LSA) of New York metropolitan areas; his opponent was a gentleman named, John Moore who had transferred from England to attend school in America . The election as we say in Liberia “was something to see”.  As the poll was about to close, Thomas Smith (now Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu) and Martha Brewer arrived to cast their votes.  An argument ensued; there were those who felt they were late, therefore, should not be allowed to vote. However, the majority prevailed; they voted and G. Baccus lost the election to John Moore by two (2) votes. The election was held on the campus of Columbia University . And not too long after, G. Baccus was appointed to the Liberian Counsel General’s Office in New York , where he was later  dismissed by Finance Minister Stephen Tolbert over some disagreements.


In 1972, G. Baccus and I served on the Task Force of the Liberian Student Association; the Task Force was assigned the responsibilities of forming an umbrella  organization that would include all Liberians residing in the United States and Canada . G. Baccus chaired one of the committees of which I was a member. In 1973, at the final meeting that was held at  Drexel University , Philadelphia , Pennsylvania ; our committee was assigned the task to coordinate, and compile the final report, which was to be submitted to the body. To my surprise, I was left out of this process. The excuse was, I could not be found, yet, the final report had my name as a member, so I protested that if my name had to be included, the committee had to reconvene in order for me to make my input. After 35 to 45 minutes debate, consensus was reached for the committee to reconvene; we met and put the finishing touches to the report, the end result was the birth of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) and Canada . This deliberation is what Ambassador Joseph Saye Guannu referred to in the letter dated April 12, 1983 . (see letter provided below)


Ultimately, G. Baccus and others went on to organize the Progress Alliance of Liberia (PAL), which became the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and later the United People’s Party (UPP).  Its first chairman was Samuel P. Jackson.  PAL’s  official news organ was the Revelation.  The Revelation was published in the United States .


Based on an article Dr. Byron Tarr published in the Liberian Studies Journal, titled: “Founding the Liberia Action Party”,  Dr. Tarr  wrote, the paper was “…initially distributed in Liberia materials printed in the United States . In a society in which any criticism of the government or of its officials was sedition, PAL’s news organ, Revelation became an event. It mostly reported misdeeds of government and of its officials; sometimes photocopies of official acts or transactions considered wrongful were printed as documentary evidence of their allegations.  Cornered, Tolbert entered into a dialogue with PAL, then invited its leadership to Liberia for a ‘fact finding’ visit.  Following their visit, PAL gradually set up shop in Liberia .  Eventually, PAL was to transform itself in early 1980 into PPP, becoming the UPP in 1986”.

Since  tomorrow was not promised to our generation, and there were things we had to complete before we were call to GLORY, the most restless and risk taker among us was Gabriel Baccus Matthews; he took the lead to change the course of Liberian History forever.


Therefore, death need not be proud; for there was nothing it could have done to stop us from changing the course of our history.  Because our generation was destined to alter the course of Liberian history, which some of our forefathers/foremothers, parents and relatives were too afraid and content not to change – knowing fully well there were many problems ahead of us that needed to be resolved. Hence, with no disrespect to our parents and elders who were bent on  advising us to “leave the people’s thing along”, we went ahead anyway to do what we thought was the RIGHT thing to do.


While we may have made some mistakes in the process, we considered them youthful imprudence for a greater cause on behalf of a people that were yarning for change. Since we never claimed in any way or manner to be flawless, we are hopeful that the good Lord will forgive us, for He knows our hearts’ desire. 


The Day Monrovia Stood Still

On that April 14, 1979 , G. Baccus as Chairman of the Progressive People’s Party led a peaceful demonstration against the government of Liberia . The demonstration had not started when the government officials who were not prepared for such a mass demonstration, ordered its security forces to prevent PPP and its supporters from demonstrating. The situation went out of control, and in the end, many innocent and peaceful demonstrators lost their lives and many others were seriously injured. The government and the local media referred to the event as “rice riots”, when in fact it was a “Massacre over the increased of Rice”.  The rest is history!


Although, G. Baccus and I were from different camp, and our approach and strategy was different, our ultimate goals were the same – to conscientize the Liberian people and to democratize the country.  Whether we agree or disagree with G. Baccus and the approach he and his organization made, one thing for sure, they were not onlookers; they did what most people in history who wanted change did – got involve in bring about CHANGE, instead of dreaming about it.  This, my  friend and brother did too well.  Let history be his judge.  For to me, he paid his dues as a participant contributor to the cause of the people in ushering a “New Day in Liberia ”.  G. Baccus’ place is already reserved in the new History of Liberia; first as an active participant and Foreign Minister of Liberia twice – 1980 and 1990. This no one can dispute!


During the occasion of his 58th birthday celebration in 2006, G. Baccus made this closing remark:


“On the issues of peace, law and order, and national security, I call on all political leaders not to leave room for any doubt that we will be resolute and stand firmly with Madam President. She may not necessarily have been the President that all of us wanted, but she is the President that all of us have. And she is the President that all of us must keep, whether all of us like it or not”.


In short, we are reminded by the late Martin Luther King, Jr.  that,  "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."


G. Baccus was such a man; so I bade you farewell my friend and brother, you fought a good fight; therefore, death need not be proud; for there was nothing it could have done to STOP the course of our history you contributed immensely towards. May your travel be smooth and safe, and give our best regards to those of our brothers and sisters in the struggle who went ahead of you.


PEACE, until we meet  again!


Our eyes are opened, the time of the people has come!


Gwe feh Kpeh!


In the Cause of the People, the Struggle Continues!


In union strong success is sure, we will over all prevail.



Yours truly,


Comrade Siahyonkron Nyanseor

© 2007 by The Perspective
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