The History of the modern “grassroot political movement”: to the best of my recollection

Dr. James F. Kollie, Jr.

It was on a Sunday, in May 2004 when Samuel D. Tweah (Dtweah) came to visit me at my home in Crystal, Minnesota (6500 34th Ave N) that we started a conversation about the “humanitarian and political future of Amb. George Manneh Weah” and then it was on Thursday, February 16, 2006 that I officially resigned from the CDC. In between those dates, a lot of things happened.

As I embark on another journey with the CLP, I am compelled to look deep into the files to review notes of our actions and inactions that led us to where we are and why I think we need to give the grassroot progressive revolution another shot.

It is no secret that in 2004 I was at the foundation of the Liberia National Congress (LNC) which later became the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) but also operated in the US as Liberians Aspiring Communal Esteem (LACE) due to NEC’s regulation that political parties cannot conduct political activities outside of Liberia.

Usually when folks ask me if I am a founding member of the CDC, I am quick to correct them by saying that I am not a “founding member”, I am a “founding ideologue” of the CDC. I say “a” because my colleague, Samuel D. Tweah (DTweah), is another “founding ideologue” of the movement.

So in order that my politics is clearly understood and that the purpose of the CLP’s formation is properly situated within the political history of Liberia, I have decided that I will narrate my involvement with the CDC “to the best of my recollection” by reviewing my notes on file.

My accounts can be corroborated and/or corrected by comrades DTweah, Alex Kerkula, Piso Saydee-Tarr, St. Tomalin George, and few others.

DTweah and I had not seen each other for several years before our meeting in May 2004. It is important to note that DTweah and I were team mates on the Tubman High Meet-the-Challenge team that won the championship in 1992 and we had remained very close ever since that time; always comparing notes on issues of mutual interests. I remember on the night I was preparing for my debate before my elections as student council president at Zion Community College in 1994, Dtweah visited with me on camp and again we compared notes. Our political and ideological relationship date several years before our May 2004 meeting and then the journey that began thereafter and continues to this date.

In the next few weeks, I will spend some time giving the full details of how we started; the mistakes we made; the challenges that confronted us; opportunities we missed; and the things we wish we could do over.

Political Change and Historical Accidents

I am baffled when I see that someone of our colleagues, rather than take pragmatic and measured steps to achieving political goals and outcomes, they chose to think that historical accidents will deliver the political change they seek.

I would rather have a deliberate plan based in realism than think that if I am standing there and someone makes a mistake I could benefit,politically. It doesn’t work that way. No one should base their hopes or dreams on the mere occurrence of accidents. Let your plan be solid and thoughtful. And you need to be truthful to yourself; you need to know what is possible and what is not and you need to work hard.

It is against this backdrop that my colleagues and I have been frantically organizing under the banner of the Coalition for Liberia’s Progress (CLP). We believe that our approach is systematic and realistic. We believe that grassroot people can bring about change if they focus on the right things and build the right mechanisms and approaches.

The presidency is not all to political change. A movement that recognizes that could be on its way to leading a true revolution. Imagine for a bit if we had a cadre of 10 or 15 legislators who were prepared and able to stick together and make the hard choices, what a difference we could see?

But when legislators render themselves powerless and join the chorus of complaints then you know for real that we are in serious trouble and that our path to political change would be a long and tedious one because the people entrusted with the authority to change things don’t think they are the ones to really change things.

Let’s be reminded that change will not happen by accident. Men and women will have to take deliberate actions to force the desired outcome and that is the where the progressive grassroot coalition under the banner of the CLP comes in.

We all have the an opportunity to be part of history by declaring solidarity with the CLP.

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