Athlete, Diplomat, Politician: Liberia Mourns Ambassador J. Wesley Johnson


Monrovia – Ambassador Wesley Momo Johnson, a former Liberian Ambassador the Court of St. James in the United Kingdom and a former Vice Chair of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) from 14 October 2003 to 16 January 2006, has died.

Ambassador Johnson who had survived two strokes in the past year, died early Saturday at his home in Jacob’s Town.

Ambassador Johnson, who also previously served as ambassador to Egypt, also previously served as the Liberian Ambassador to the Holy See.

Born May 27, 1944,  Ambassador Johnson studied at the Monrovia College and also earned a degree in accountancy from St. Frances College and obtained an MBA from the Long Island University.

Before entering politics, he was an athlete who represented Liberia in the 100m and 200m sprints at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

In August 2003, Johnson, was appointed deputy leader of the transitional government headed by late Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant.

He is remembered as an affable accountancy lecturer and Baptist church elder who was active in local politics for the past 25 years.

The US-educated leader of the opposition United People’s Party is widely considered to be a unifier who worked easily and got along well with his peers.

Ambassador Johnson, a member of Gabriel Baccus Matthews, represented the party at the Liberian peace conference in Accra, Ghana and was elected by the other delegates to become Vice-Chairman of a new transitional government.

During the rugged 70s, Johnson and several other Liberians who returned from the United States, helped form the country’s first opposition party, the Progressive Alliance of Liberia, in 1978.

The party was set up to challenge more than a century of corrupt rule by the True Whig Party and press for the introduction of a multi-party system. But the True Whig Party’s hegemony of national politics was ended instead by Samuel Doe’s military coup in 1980.

Ambassador Johnson also taught accounting and financial management at various church-owned universities in Monrovia and at the state-run University of Liberia and in the early 1980s he served as a consul at the Liberian embassy in Washington D.C.

Ambassador Johnson was a Baptist Deacon and an active member of the Baptist Convention in Liberia.