"...ULAA has not only failed to make itself relevant in the community, its leaders over the last decades have used the organization as a stepping stone to personal political ambitions. Not soon enough had Mr. Ranney B. Jackson, Sr. Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Mr. Mohammed S. Kromah, President of ULAA been given the opportunity to represent the organization at the peace talk did they use to opportunity to secure for themselves positions in the Transitional Assembly...."
Once again the fragmentation which exists in the Diaspora has been exemplified in what is promoted as a unifying conference which is marred by disunity.
The concept was great and long overdue. There was a need to bring all of the Liberian organizations/associations together to discuss similar concerns and chart a course forward. Not only was the concept great for the influence of Liberians in the Diaspora in national decisions, but it was great in fostering opportunities for Liberians particularly in the
Despite the large numbers of Liberians in the United States, the community does not speak with one voice, neither are Liberians in highly populated areas benefiting from resources of their communities. Heavily concentrated areas of Liberians, in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, the Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island areas should have long
had government-underwritten/subsidized community centers for their Liberian Communities.
The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) which was formed as an umbrella organization has failed to bring itself into the twenty-first century. It neither functions as a Union, nor those it have any relationship with the multitude of Liberian Organizations and Associations. It consists only of a small group of Liberians with a narrow agenda. Most Liberians today do not even know what ULAA is. Well run high school associations and other organizations are much more successful in bring together a larger number of Liberians in the United States than any ULAA effort can.
ULAA has not only failed to make itself relevant in the community, its leaders over the last decades have used the organization as a stepping stone to personal political ambitions. Not soon enough had Mr. Ranney B. Jackson, Sr. Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Mr. Mohammed S. Kromah, President of ULAA been given the opportunity to represent the organization at the peace talk did they use to opportunity to secure for themselves positions in the Transitional Assembly. Already there is speculation that Mr. Arthur Watson, the current president, is courting the opportunity to run for elective office. This misuse of the association has only distracted the rapidly shrinking base of individuals who see the need for such an organization.
Today, ULAA sits on the sideline as the endeavor is made to host an All Liberian National Conference. It is on the sidelines, not because it does not recognize the need and benefit of such a conference, infact it was ULAA that established the Steering Committee under Dr. James Teah Tarpeh. It sits on the sidelines because the Tarpeh Steering Committee took a path with the conference that provided a seat at the table for ULAA and all Liberian groups and organizations as oppose to ULAA being at the helm. ULAA saw that it was beginning to lose control of the Steering Committee. The Tarpeh Steering Committee had become like the run-away jury. Instead of being just another Liberian organization at the table, ULAA had hopes of being at the controls so that ULAA leaders could be in the forefront when the post-election government was being formed. The Tarpeh Steering Committee was not making the ALNC a subset of ULAA, thus ULAA went into action. It formed a new Steering Committee with Mrs. Mydea Reeves Karpeh as the New Chair intended to replace the Tarpeh-led Steering Committee. Unfortunately the original Tarpeh Committee was not going away and has proceeded with plans while the Karpeh committee is somewhere still having teleconferences and
trying to put ULAA back into the spotlight.
This is not intended to declare my personal support for the Tarpeh Steering Committee nor approval for the manner in which it has conducted its activities. There are those in the Tarpeh Committee, just as in ULAA, who want to be seen prominently so as to benefit from governmental appointment in the next government. The Tarpeh Steering Committee has
even gone to the extent of attempting to incorporate the ALNC - the formation of another organization as opposed to unifying the many existing ones.
So if all goes as planned, the Tarpeh Steering Committee will have its All Liberian National Conference. It will be a conference alright but not representative of ALL LIBERIANS.
The actions and inactions of both ULAA and the Tarpeh Steering Committee can be challenged and/or supported from both sides. But regrettably, once again, a unifying opportunity has eluded Liberians and political-mongering has superceded the opportunity to recognize that “in union strong success is sure”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Siakon Nagbe is a Liberian, Computer Programmer with Intellicon. He lives and works in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org..