Don’t Spoil Your Chirren – A lesson from the Arrest of Charles Sirleaf


So, a lot of people are saying the recent arrest of Charles Sirleaf and his former boss Milton Weeks are an attack on the “Congau People” or a replay of April 12, 1980.

However, I don’t see it that way. Let me tell you why.

In every Congau/Americo-Liberian family, the story of the boy and his mother who saw no fault in his doing is often told to children because they, as would be parents should not to lead their child down a slippery slope or allow their love for the child to becloud their judgment from rendering discipline.

My deceased grandmother, Sarah Jane Porte Stewart, told this story to all her children (biological and reared ones), nieces, nephews, little cousins, grandchildren, strangers and anyone who came her way, especially when she was about to discipline you or after you are done crying from her punishment.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (though claimed no “Congau” lineage) is well aware of that story as her mother was reared by the McCrittys and the Dunbars.

The arrest of Charles Sirleaf resurrects that story my grandma told us.

Years ago, the former Cultural Attache at the Liberian Embassy in Washington DC, Tarty Teh, recalled how the kids of President Sirleaf would run up the telephone bill of the Embassy as they spent hours on the telephone, talking with their mom who was then the Minister of Finance in Liberia.

According to Teh, Sirleaf saw no problem with that. After all, she controlled the budget of all the Liberian embassies worldwide.

Prior to then, the budget of all Liberian embassies was controlled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was a contentious and disconcerting issue for Dr. Rocheforte Weeks who had just been appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and he would have none of it from Steve Tolbert, brother of President William R. Tolbert. Dr. Weeks resigned following a trip with the President to the States.

Steve was the mover and shaker of his brother’s government up until his death in 1974 when his plane plunged in the Atlantic Ocean, following takeoff from Greenville, Sinoe County. Dr, Weeks was the father of former Central Bank of Liberia governor, Milton Weeks who was recently arrested for economic sabotage.

Fast forward to 2006 and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is inaugurated as Africa’s first democratically elected female President. In the tail-end of her first term, she appoints her son as Deputy Governor of the Central Bank. Another rose from floor member on the board of the state-owned oil company to its Chairman (pro-bono he claimed to have served). Another had been serving as head of the National Security Agency, all in violation of Article 5c of the Liberian constitution.

“…take steps, by appropriate legislation and executive orders, to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power as the misuse of government resources, nepotism, and all other corrupt practices.”~Article 5c of the Liberian constitution.

When pressed on the violation of the constitution, Sirleaf claimed her family is qualified and faultless. A year a two later, the booming state oil company ran aground months following the resignation of her son as its chair. His mother said he did a fantastic job there and that the bust of the company was not his making but her and she takes responsibility for it all.

Another son, Fomba who was head of the NSA, was found culpable in the illegal arrest of Korean businessmen by agents acting under his command. Nearly a quarter of a million dollars was seized from the men who were in the country to invest in a gold mine. An investigation was launched by the Ministry of Justice and when Minister Tah’s aggressive investigation began, it was obstructed, allegedly though, by the President. Out of frustration, she resigned.

And now Charles. God knows what went on at the Central Bank. Listening to close friends and followers of Sirleaf including Samuel Jackson and following her trend of politicking, it’s difficult to think she wasn’t in the loop of all that went on there, considering her closeness to the Weekses (it was Milton’s brother Vittorio Jesus Weeks who reprinted Ellen’s 1972 speech she delivered at her alma mater CWA which caused her to resign as Assistant Minister and take up a portfolio with the World Bank) and the strategic placing of her son as Deputy Governor.

And so it comes back to the story my dear grandma told us. Ancestry is no basis for bad behavior. Wrong is wrong. Don’t spoil your chirren.

By Gboko Stewart