Liberia: Relatives of Slain President Tolbert Say “He Wasn’t Given the Chance” As They Observe 41st Memorial
Monrovia – The family of the slain Liberian President, William R. Tolbert, has laid wreaths on the mass grave hosting his remains and the remains of several other former officials of governments in commemoration of their 41st memorial.
Former President Tolbert was killed on April 12, 1980, in a military coup, and April 22nd, the same year, 13 members of his government were executed, and all of them were buried in a mass grave at the historic Palm Grove Cemetery on Center Street in Monrovia.
Dr. Cyril A. Bright, Joseph J. F. Chesson, Sr, Richard A. Henries, Sr., Charles D. B. King, D. Franklin Neal, Sr., P. Clarence Parker, III, James T. Phillips, Jr., James A. A. Pierre, John W. F. Sherman, Frank J. Stewart, Sr., Frank E. Tolbert, Sr and E. Reginald Townsend and several other deal killed in the month of April 1980.
And after 41 years, the Tolbert family under the scorching sun gathered to lay wreath and offer prayers to the late President and his fallen former officials.
Several relatives of slain President and officials were present.
Teleatha Bonner Walters is one of the relatives. She traveled from the United States of America for the memorial. With a sense of sorrow, she praised the former Liberian leader calling him a great man.
“No matter what people say, I know he was a great man. He was great for Liberia, and he meant good for Liberia, but they did not give him the chance. We praise God for him that he has gone back to his father (God) and whatever he had to do, I know he is doing something on that side,” Madam Walters said.
“All those who were buried here, we do not know who they are but we know this is a mass grave. We praise God for you; you came here and did what you were supposed to do.
“God did not judge you, people judged you. We praise God for you, and we know you did the work you were supposed to do but people underestimated you. But it is good that we are happy because we have reconciled, we have nothing against anybody because all of us will be going six feet, some people will not have mass grave, some people will not have a grave at all,” Madam Walters said painfully.
Also, Theresa Tolbert Curtis is the granddaughter of the late Liberian leader. Her father A. Benedict Tolbert was also killed at the same time and his name was placed on the mass grave but was never buried in the mass grave and until today, his lifeless body was never found.
Holding a specially made wreath in her hands, she said, “Grandpa, uncle Frank, and all of the elders and the Liberians who were buried in this mass grave, I think about you all, I think about all of the innocent, the victims of the 1980 coup, of the civil war, of Ebola, of all the brutality in this Liberia, I pray that you all remain in peace.
“And I pray that God forgives all of our sins and that we reconcile and that we move forward. Daddy, I think about you every day and your name is on this throne stone but until this day we do not know where your remains are. You were killed and buried like a dog with no grave, you are in our hearts all of the time,” she said.
The granddaughter of the slain President called on the Tolbert family to play a pivotal role in the development of Liberia.
Also speaking, Richard Tolbert, nephew of President Tolbert and the former National Investment Commission Head said the failure to adhere to his uncle’s “We all are one” slogan was the cause for the country’s senseless war.
During the 41st wreath laying and thanksgiving ceremony, there was no current government official at the site, despite communications were sent to several government entities.
Tolbert says he shared the event’s invitation on both on their Facebook Page but only Tolbert’s family was able to show up.
“We did not want it to be a Tolbert’s family all-day event, it sure is a national event but we will not go and drag people here, anybody of age should know the significance of April 12,” he said.