(Faith of my Father) What Would Dr. Sawyer Say: A Tribute to A Fallen Icon (Remembering My Father)

(Faith of my Father) What Would Dr. Sawyer Say: A Tribute to A Fallen Icon (Remembering My Father)

Today, Saturday, June 14, 2024, would’ve been my Dad’s, the late Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, 79th birthday. And though I miss him dearly (Lord knows how badly I do), I can’t help but think about his life’s mission while with us here on earth. You see, more than anything, he was as much the “People’s Servant” as anything in life, and he adeptly navigated his responsibility as our Dad and his role as the “People’s Servant”.

So, on this Father’s Day weekend, I’m especially consumed with thoughts about “Dad.” Could it be because Dad’s grandson’s graduation celebration is on his birthday today? Could it be because I’m driven to carry out Dad’s legacy through his foundation, the Amos Claudius Sawyer Foundation (www.amosclaudiussawyerfoundation.org)? Could it be because our country, having recently experienced a peaceful, democratic transfer of power after a bitterly contested election process, still finds itself at somewhat of a crossroads with passionate partisan divisions? Or, could it simply be a combination of all of the above and then some?

Whatever it actually is, I’m compelled to honor my Dad’s memories by initiating (what I hope) would be a national discussion on, yes, “Good Governance” in Liberia. As we all know, starting from at least his student activist days of the 1970s til the end of his life, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer was publicly driven by his singular public policy goal of “Good Governance.”

Heralded as the “Agent for Change” in 1979, he was popularly acclaimed as the frontrunner for the Mayoral of Monrovia race had the government not canceled the elections after they apparently realized that he was primed to upset the establishment at the time. What was his mantra then? Good governance issues of mass public participation in the body politics of our country, driven by popular support of the cause of full involvement of all citizens. After the 1980 coup that dethroned the establishment, he was asked and offered a high-level cabinet job by the military Head of State, but, again, his drive and focus on “Good Governance” prevented him from accepting a personal appointment to the detriment of his life’s calling. Likewise, as the civil war raged and destroyed our institutions and threatened our very existence as a people, Dr. Sawyer was summoned to lead the country at a most challenging time. His ability to steer the ship of State amidst a raging sea of warfare and its accompanying chaos was informed by his enduring faith and belief in “Good Governance.”

So, what would one of the leaders of the 1979 mass movement in Liberian history say 45 years after the rice riot left citizens dead and the country literally shaken at its core since, say in the midst of rice importers and the Government of Liberia threatening, then reneging, to increase the price of rice? What would the former head of the Governance Reform Commission say in the face of the current fracas and leadership vacuum at the Commission? What would the former Political Science professor say as the country remains divided along partisan and, even worse, tribal lines? What would the “Good Governance” guru say in the face of unrelenting public display of bad leadership and embarrassing spectacle of international ramifications? What would a once youthful reformer say to young people so quick to shy away from the responsibility of leadership and, in fact, abdicate their role to an old order still struggling to fully grasp and appreciate the magnitude of an ever-changing global order? What would Dr. Sawyer say to an inexperienced sect too naive to appreciate the rising tide of history, along with its attendant burden of leadership? What would Dr. Sawyer say to those who so recklessly debase our public discourse with invectives of the worst kinds? What would Dr. Sawyer say to public officials so prone to defile their public offices by engaging in fistfights and threats of violence on others? What would Dr. Sawyer say to a culture too accepting of the impunity of rape? What would Dr. Sawyer say to the idea of a War and Economic Crimes court? What would Dr. Sawyer say today, my friends?

Well, for starters, he would insist that we all matter and must not give up. Dr. Sawyer would insist that our current state of imperfect politics is a necessary ingredient in our march to a more perfect nation. Dr. Sawyer would insist, no, Dr. Sawyer would demand that we recruit and deploy the political services of the country’s best and brightest, irrespective of one’s tribal lineage or political orientation. Dr. Sawyer would demand accountability of all of us for our actions in public service, but on a very fair basis. Dr. Sawyer would demand a simultaneous respect and appreciation for an old order steeped in our history AND acceptance and encouragement of a new, younger, progressive order determined to reap the benefits of our rich history. Dr. Sawyer would recoil at the revolting thoughts of publicly raining insults on our leaders and, even worse, their families. Dr. Sawyer, the father and husband, would be repulsed by our inability to properly punish and deter rapists. Dr. Sawyer would squirm at the idea proffered by some that to hold war criminals and economic miscreants accountable is counterproductive to our national development. We NEED both, he’d say. Dr. Sawyer would shudder at the mere spectacle of security officials engaging in fistfight and quite literally threatening the lives of others. What would Dr. Sawyer Say? “Aye mehn, Bo, we must do better, mehn. This country is much too precious for all of this. We owe it to our fallen elders; we owe our children a better tomorrow.”

Thank you, Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer. Happy birthday& Happy Father’s Day, Pops. Your Son Frantz Che Sawyer.

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