LIBERIA: Young Democracy Activist, Dougbeh Chris Nyan Profiled by Archie Williams Archive Center
He is sometimes referred to as “political doctor.” Many who may not know of his past continue to wonder why a medical doctor, inventor and award-winning scientist, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan, is so politically informed, engaging, and astute to Liberian, African and global politics – on issues of democracy, good governance, economic independence, women’s rights, the disadvantaged, etc. Recently, the electronic-based “Archie P. Williams Center For Historical Information And Archives Research” profiled Dr. Nyan and his early days of pro-democracy and human rights activism for which he was arrested by the then military government of Samuel Doe, expelled from the University, imprison, exiled and where he ended up today professionally. Read Below:
By Archie P. Williams
During the 1980 era when students activism was ideally birthed, and cloaked with ideals that centered around advocating for their rights to quality education; they were branded by government as radicals who were indoctrinated with “foreign ideologies” that served no useful purpose to the growth and development of their education wellbeing.
In a bid to hammer indications to the general populace per the allegations of “foreign indoctrination,” fourteen leaders from the students community that represented both University of Liberia, and the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU) were rounded up from the premises, and, or environs of the Soviet Embassy in Sinkor, and detained by state security in 1984. The students were invited to witness a movie that pertained to the way of life of the Soviets.
Correspondingly, also, prior to their visit at the Soviet Embassy, they were similarly invited to the United States Information Service (USIS) on Ashmun Street to witness series of documentaries on American Democracy without a faint bother from state security.
The resultant effect of the Embassy’s incident triggered the government to label several Soviet Diplomats as Persona Grata for “engaging in acts incompatible with their statuses.” They were given 72 hours to leave the country. In similar measure the Soviets reciprocated equally, also.
So, in the aftermath, the University of Liberia, and LINSU became hotbed arenas where students activists that included Alaric Tokpa; Ezekiel Pajibo, Lucia Massaley, Christian Herbert, and Dempster Yallah amongst others, rose up to the occasion as forerunners on issues that encompassed the general cause and welfare of students.
But as time unfolded, the aforementioned student leaders gradually ceded authority to a new breed, and cadres of students who were groomed to assume the mantle of leadership from whence they ended. Amongst the new breed was a certain Dougbeh Chris Nyan whose name thereon acutely resonated within the realms of the students community as a social justice advocate, and students rights activist for quality education when he served as chairman of the University of Liberia campus base Student University Party (SUP), and subsequently Deputy Secretary General of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU).
SUP has been the dominant political party on the University’s campus since its formation in 1970. Along those years it survived series of fierce political contestations against rival parties that included the Students Democratic Progressive Party (SDPP); All Students Allied Party (ASAP), Union of Progressive Students (UPS), Students Integration Movement (SIM) and the Students Democratic Alliance (STUDA).
In 1972, it survived its first major political battle of wits for the University of Liberia Students Union (ULSU) presidency when its Standard Bearer John Vawar was pitted against SDPP Standard Bearer, Charles W. Brumskine of sainted memory, in a grueling election which final outcome witnessed a resounding victory in SUP’S favor.
In the history of its half century existence, SUP was defeated only once; and that was in 1980 when Kwame Clement, and the late Abdulai Tunis; both of whom contested as Independents defeated SUP’S ticket that comprised current Liberia National Bar Association President, Tiawan Saye Gongloe and Emmanuel Saingbe as Vice Standard, and Standard bearer, respectively.
As chairman, Mr. Nyan navigated SUP to several coveted victories. His most daring challenge was the 1988 contestation between Sando Wayne, and Benetta Tarr of the Students Integration Movement (SIM) vs. Wuo Garbie Tappia and James N.Verdier which SUP won narrowly.
At the time, SIM had in its fold several student heavyweights that included the late A.C. Teah Farcarthy; Lewis Brown, Edward T. Farley, and Ngbalee Warner who was also defeated in 1993 when he contested on SIM’s ticket against SUP’s Patrice Weah.
As LINSU’S Deputy Secretary General, Mr. Nyan spearheaded several national advocacies on behalf of the students’ well-being; which feats always brought him in collisions with the UL authorities, and by extension the NDPL government which triggered his expulsion from the University in 1988.
As a result he fled the country under the cover of darkness for survival based on threat posed to his life.
He finally settled in Berlin, Germany whereat he perfected his doctoral studies in medicine, and subsequently, at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA.
After few years of professional medical research, he garnered for himself a landmark discovery with global acclaim when he invented a rapid diagnostic test that serves as a detector for several infectious diseases.
A graduate of the Monrovia College, Mr. Nyan enrolled at the University of Liberia where he was a Zoology/Chemistry major prior to his unfortunate departure from Liberia due to political heavy-handedness exerted on him; which feat served as a blessing in disguise.
Based on the international inroads he made in medicine, President Sirleaf invited him to serve as the country’s 169th Independence Day orator on July 26, 2016; at which time he admonished both government, and opposition forces to rally themselves around a common objective and operate in unison for the country’s betterment to ensure its rapid development.
Thereafter, he was sashed, and admitted into the Humane Order of Africa’s Redemption by President Sirleaf.
As a professional public health, and infectious disease specialist he is widely sorted after, and consulted by several global organizations on issues relative to infectious diseases that include Ebola, and Covid, amongst others.
He holds memberships in several International medical organizations, and has authored numerous articles that cut across spheres of infectious diseases which are published in some of the world’s renowned medical journals.
Dr. Nyan is a blessing to his generation, and by extension, his country Liberia.
Below is the youthful photo of Dr. Chris Dougbeh Nyan during his days at the University of Liberia.