The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Charles Walker Brumskine, You Left Your Footprints On The Sands Of Time

Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

Last Thursday was such a difficult time for me because of the death of one of my good friends, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, former political leader and founder of the Liberty Party (LP). As I was en route to work I received calls consoling me for his passing. I, too, called others, including my New Kru Town and Methodist brother Cllr. Oswald Natu Twe, formerly of the Brumskine & Associates Law Firm, for the loss of his good friend and brother.

I also made attempts to get one of his colleagues, Cllr. James A. A. Pierre, Jr. to also share the grief with him because I am aware of their association for years, but I was not successful.

Obviously, this sad news dispirited me because of the many years of friendship, before he could even venture into national politics. Also, he was one of my political friends who had high regards and respect for me. Others are Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, Mr. Nathaniel Barnes, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Dr. Amos Sawyer and former Vice President Amb. Joseph Boakai, who even visited my home during my illness. He is the first to do so.

I came in contact with this fallen brother and friend many years ago as a senior partner of the then Brumskine & Associates Law Firm, when he invited me to his law firm in a building then known as Europe Bank on Broad Street near Crown Hill, to proactively do a story to protect HOTEL AFRICA, one of the facilities built to host the 1979 summit of the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), which has now been replaced by the African Union (AU).

Regrettably, the desire of this son of the soil to protect the structure, failed years later, as looters, vandals and hooligans have destroyed the building and stripped it of all of its facilities, leaving it as a skeleton. Anyone who saw this building years ago and now see it would be dumbfounded and in a state of disbelief.

Since that first encounter, we have been having close ties and sought my assistance on issues he wanted done in the media, especially some publications, in keeping with the legal profession, sometimes known as “Notice By Publication,” ‘something which is a major procedure in law, as one’s failure to do so could leave one committing a procedural error which would go against said moving party.

My relationship with Cllr. Brumskine got to a greater level when he decided to join politics, emerging as Senator for Grand Bassa County during the special Proportional Representation (PR) election on the ticket of the National Patriotic Party of Liberia (NPP), organized by former President Charles Taylor, then leader of the former National Patriotic front of Liberia (NPFL) during the civil conflict. The deceased was later elected president Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate.

It was while in that position that he and Mr. Taylor, who was elected President fell apart.

As Pro-tempore of the Liberian Senate in 1997, Cllr. Brumskine wanted an open Senate. That is, he wanted to break away from the notion of a rubber-stamped Senate so those issues from the Executive Branch to be opened to the public to avoid that body being seen as a ZOE BUSH. Disappointingly, this good intention angered his boss, President Taylor, thus with things falling apart, as Chinua Achebe would say.

For me, today, the issue of an open Senate can also be attributed to the efforts by the deceased. This is one of the legacies of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine.

As a result of this soured relationship and threats from some Taylor’s supporters, Cllr. Brumskine was constrained to quit the post and subsequently left the Senate and went into exile. I believe that he shared the philosophy that says that it is better to say, “there goes the living COWARD, then to say there lies the dead HERO.”

Commonsensically, considering security implication of this cat-and-mouse relationship, the fallen politician tactically went into exile in 1999 to return another day, something he did, thereby organizing the Liberty Party (LP) on whose ticket he unsuccessfully contested the Presidency three times.

Initially, it was not his desired intention to form a new party, but because of reported “games” with a party he tried to associate with, he consciously saw the need to organize a new party, thus giving birth to the LIBERTY PARTY, which is one of the strongest opposition political parties in the country, now with Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, as its leader.

While in exit, a group of young people who saw Cllr. Brumskine as the only person to challenge his former boss, Charles Taylor, in the next elections, organized what was known as ”FRIENDS OF BRUMSDKINE,” to begin activities for his return and subsequent nomination for the presidency. With massive support for his presidency, Cllr. Brumskine returned home in 2003 for the scheduled 2005 presidential election.

Nevertheless, because of the outbreak of another civil conflict, coupled with Taylor’s resignation, the process was not held that year. Later, a two year interim government headed by businessman, the late
Gyude Bryant, was installed. It was the result of the outcome of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed in Accra in in 2003 by the former warring factions, civil society groups and political parties under the supervision of ECOWAS. Cllr. Brumskine also attended that meeting.

When the dust settled for the elections following the two-year interim period in 2005, Cllr. Brumskine contested the presidency, but came third place. Again, 2011 he challenged the incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the Presidency, but did not succeed. Thereafter, he announced that he was retiring from politics.

However, during the 2017 elections, he resurfaced and contested on the ticket of his party. The election was won by Mr. George Manneh Weah on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), who following news of the death of Cllr. Brumskine described it as ”paralyzing.”

In his press statement issued on the matter, President Weah and his wife said, ”

My wife, First Lady Marie Clar Weah, and I, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Brumskine family, particularly Estelle, his wife, and three children, Charlene, Charles Jr. and Walker.

Indeed, our Nation is broken. The cruel hands of death have taken away a fine Liberian patriot, a man of peace, who preached “Liberianism” for far too long.

I had the privilege to interact with the late Cllr. Brumskine on many occasions. Despite the lake of politics which consistently divided us, we both respected and admired each other. He, particularly as a big brother sharing Bassa affinity, wanted the best out of me; his many counsels and overtures I shall never forget.

There is no gainsaying about the fact that Liberia has lost a great fighter, who would never settle down unless the right and legal thing was done. He put Liberia first. He made peace and ordered his political badge.

Indeed, history will remember Cllr. Brumskine as a principled politician whose tenacity and wisdom as a lawyer and humanitarian saved this nation from many odd events. Liberia will miss this great hero and progressive of our time.

My sympathies also go out to the leadership and membership of the Liberty Party which he faithfully served and fought for. I order that the National Ensign be flown at half-mast tomorrow from 8:am to 6pm.May the Lord of Host give him a peaceful rest until the Resurrection Morning.”

Since his death, there have been plethora of tributes and eulogies for his role as a politician and lawyer in this country.

Yes, O death, why take away a promising citizen? We are aware that you are the uninvited guest. But thank God this son of the soil made his contributions in a short period of time in his political life. This son of the soil may not have been one of the “Methuselahs” of Liberian politics. But as it is often said, “not how long, but how well.”.

” For the few years he ventured into it, he deserves to be referred to as a hero, as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow would say, “he left his footprints on the sands of time..” We are told in literature that
Footprints on the sands of time, ” is as phrase from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, describing the “mark that great individuals leave on history.”

”My-Man” as I sometimes affectionately called him as friend, I miss you. All I can say is, well done that good and faithful servant; you honestly and selflessly played your part in national politics; you were a brave political soldier.

As President Weah has said, “Indeed, our Nation is broken. The cruel hands of death have taken away a fine Liberian patriot, a man of peace, who preached “Liberianism” for far too long.”
Rest In Peace.
I Rest My Case, as I begin Three-Day Of Mourning Today.

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