By KABS KANU
Saturday April 12, 1980 was a day like no other in Africa. It was the day when soldiers stormed the Executive Mansion in Monrovia, assassinated President William Tolbert and overthrew the True Whig Party government.
Though many have condemned the coup, let it be conceded right here that the disaster took many, many , many years in the making.
I was there. I saw the coup and the tragic events , including the public execution of government officials by firing squad later and I can tell with authority how and why it happened.
I was there when the rumbling that led to the coup started.. I listened to the complaints of the people. I listened to my students, many of whom were participants in the affray that followed. They were angry. I listened to the grumbles and complaints of the people in Douala buses ( Poda Podas ) taxis, pubs in New Kru Town, Buzzay Quarters and Biafra. They were angry. I listened to the complaints in my neighbourhood of Caldwell Road and Douala. I listened to the angry rhetoric of the reformers Gabriel Bacchus Matthews, Oscar Quiah, George Boley, Boima Fahnbulleh, Togba Nah-Tipoteh, Chea Cheapoo. I attended some of their street meetings that were broken up by armed police. I read their leaflets. They were all angry. Liberians were angry.
I was there. I met an angry nation waiting to explode. And I witnessed the bloody explosion that ensued later
However much we condemn coups, as it has just happened in the Sudan, coups do not happen in a vacuum. Coups, like accidents, are caused. Coups do not solve any nation’s problems but they have one redeeming quality—They teach African leaders that when you press your people to the wall for long, they snap and do kick back, often with tragic consequences . No people can endure injustices, neglect, marginalization, abuse of their rights etc for too long.
TOMORROW, I will rewrite my treatise on April 12, 1980–How it took years and decades in the making, how the explosion happened and what lessons Africans can glean from it. PART 2 that never came will land tomorrow.
WILL MY FRIEND, SYLVESTER GBAYAFOH-MOSES , SAMUEL DOE’S SECURITY CHIEF, SLEEP WELL TOMORROW ? Wait and see.
You dare not miss it.