By any means necessary is a version of the phrase used by the Martican intellectual, Dr. Frantz Fanon in his 1960, which contained in his address to the Accra Positive Action Conference, “Why we use violence”. The phrase was later used by French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre in his play Dirty Hands. The phrase became popular during the civil rights struggle in the United States after Malcolm X used it in the speech given by him at the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAU) founding rally on June 28, 1964. It is generally considered to leave open all available tactics for the desired ends, including violence; however, the “necessary” qualifier adds a caveat—if violence is the choice of last result, it should be used.
However, many people are quick to judge; instead of trying to understand why certain individuals in the struggle resort to ‘Any Means Necessary’ to seek justice. Usually, it is when every effort to resolve burning issues fail, ‘by any means necessary’ becomes the choice of last result.
In 1965, when African Americans were struggling for their human and civil rights, Malcolm X said: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”
Later on, Malcolm added: “One of the first things I think young people, especially nowadays, should learn is how to see for yourself and listen for yourself and think for yourself. Then you can come to an intelligent decision for yourself. If you form the habit of going by what you hear others say about someone, or going by what others think about someone, instead of searching that thing out for yourself and seeing for yourself, you will be walking west when you think you’re going east, and you will be walking east when you think you’re going west.”
Due to this way of thinking, many people will condemn a person based on secondary information they got from the talking points of the tyrant in power who wants conditions to remain the same or propaganda published by the paid media of the oppressor and their foreign sponsors.
And in the struggle for South African blacks’ liberation, Madiba Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela made this profound statement: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Finally, Madiba said: “Freedom can never be taken for granted. Each generation must safeguard it and extend it. Your parents and elders sacrificed much so that you should have freedom without suffering what they did. Use this precious right to ensure that the darkness of the past never returns.”
These deep messages Eminent Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu understood and believed; and as a member of ‘the restless generation’ of NOW and not in some distance FUTURE, history will exonerate him by adding his name in the category of all those who had to suffer to gain freedom for their people “by any means necessary” which was the choice of last result.
As you will notice, Tom belongs to two uniquely related tribes of Liberia: Bassa and Klao/Kru. Legend has it that they are two sisters’ children. The Bassas are known to be civil minded, and would take a person to court for refusing to pay 25 cent debt owed; while their Klao/Kru cousins are known to be fussy because they will not stand by for anyone to be abused or taken advantage of; which is obvious in their motto: “Too much of gentility (tenderness) leads to brutality.”
Find below An Open Letter as President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Tom wrote to ‘Mr. Samuel K. Doe’ (March 2, 1984):
“March 2, 1984
Mr. Samuel K. Doe
Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council
Dear Mr. Doe:
Speculations and rumors are running high and wild regarding your intention to become the Civilian President of the Republic of Liberia. Some observers attribute the eratic [erratic], ill-conceived and inconsistent policies and practices of your government to this intent. It would be unpatriotic on my part if I were not to make these pre-emptive observations. For the following reasons I urge you to keep the Presidential election clean and fair by staying out of it:
- In your own words, “We must realize that excessive ambition for political office could reverse the direction of the goals we have set ourselves to achieve in this country”. (Page 6, your address to the nation, December 18, 1983). Your desire to perpetuate yourself as President of Liberia after you have headed a 5-year military government is not only repulsive but also a blatant departure from the expressed goal and aspiration of the coup. We understood the goal of the coup as redeeming our country from rampant corruption and returning it to the Liberian people for a fresh start. It is fair to say then that your desire for the presidency is an excessive ambition for political office which definitely will reverse the goals you have set for our country.
- In the words of the late President William V.S. Tubman, “a professional solider can never be a president or a politician, nor a statesman. As a military commander he says ‘G’ and men go; h says ‘Come!’ and men come. In politics and statescraft, he says ‘Go’ and fellow says ‘No!’ I do not agree with you. Why should I go? Therefore, professional soldiers cannot manage state matters. They get apoplexy, strokes, and all sorts of things… we will not be able to get out of it except at gun point”. (Foot Print, col.3 No1, Jan. 1984, p2).
I wonder why a great thinker like Tubman could say this why alive and conscious, and yet his ghost tells you in your dream not to turn the country over to civilian government in 1985. Tubman was not speaking of ordinary soldiers. He was speaking of professional soldiers such as you have constantly described yourself to be. In your own words, your father was a warrier [warrior] and you are a warrier [warrior] … four years experience with your leadership proves you right. Unless you get out of the army and go through a period reprogramming, you will not tolerate dissent and opposing views and ideologies that are the essential ingredients of participative democracy.
- Without any putdown or insult intended, it must be stated that your general experience in the area of World economy, geopolitics, humanity, other disciplines and democracy in general may not be adequate for the new Liberia you envisioned in the inception of the revolution. You see, Sir, it is easy to dictate with an M16, but to administer a democracy requires a functional knowledge of precepts and concepts upon which the world and mankind revolve today. To lead a democracy through the interpretation of others, without a basic knowledge or the essential factors of life is like playing Russian roulette.
- By your own published standards with regards to the upcoming elections you are absolutely and unequivocally unqualified to run for any office since you did not resign from the military at the time when you compelled others to do so in order to qualify for public office in the new Liberia. If you cannot live up to the standards you impose as a military leader, why should anyone expect you to live up to public standards and expectations in a democratic-civilian government.
- The PRC government under your leadership for the past four years has not produced any positive and noticeable change in the economic, political and social developments of Liberia. Instead, it has multiplied the suffering of the masses while a small number of people are sharing the wealth of our nation. In the words of a peasant, “corruption was pregnant during the Tolbert administration; corruption delivered plenty babies during the Doe regime”. The plain truth is what you have not accomplished with an M16, you certainly will not accomplish with political rhetorics.
- As you have occasionally admitted, the economy of Liberia is at its lowest point in the history of the nation. It needs to be stimulated very quickly to avoid total collapse. Investment that will create jobs and movements in the economic activities of Liberia is the immediate solution. Do you think that the multitude of potential investors who have held back on your military government will change their minds and come rushing with their money simply because you have changed your title from Chairman to President? Certainly not.
- Keep your promise, deliver the country, your military government should supervise the upcoming election so that an unquestionably acceptable leadership can be brought about. Our history will forever remember you as the man that gave us the fresh start.
- Do like Yakabu Gowan, go into the world and expand your personal horizon. Upon return, the historical seeds you have planted would have grown into a forest and ready to be harvested.
- Pay resolutions of self perpetuation no mind. They are the evil instruments of regimes before yours. They deceptively speak in the interest of the tiny minority who present them not in the interest of the masses neither to whom they are presented.
Jucontee T. Woewiyu [Signed]
NOTE: Above is the transcribed copy of the letter.
Photocopy of the original letter is available upon request from the archive of Siahyonkron Nyanseor (email@example.com).
Elder Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr. is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 48 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially, the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.