In my Africa in DC Guide I list the Library of Congress as having the area’s most impressive Africana resources and I often go there to further my knowledge of recent African history. I usually peruse the Library’s collection of African newspapers, but today I went for the books.
I stumbled across “Love of Liberty: The rule of President William V. S. Tubman in Liberia, 1944-1971” by Tuan Wreh. This book, published in 1976, offers an extremely transparent and informative critique of the more authoritative aspects of Tubman’s administration.
I found one passage in this book of particular interest. In the 1955 election, S. David Coleman, a former Minister of the Interior under Tubman threw his support to Tubman’s challenger, former President Edwin Barclay. Roughly two months after the election, which Tubman won resoundingly, an apparent assassination attempt caused a severe crackdown on his political opponents.
S. David Coleman, son of Liberian President William David Coleman, engaged in a shoot out with authorities who had been sent to apprehend him due to suspicion of his involvement in the attempted assassination. After killing several officials, Coleman attempted to flee with his eldest son to Sierra Leone. Both were slain while on the run.
The DC connection? John Coleman, grandson of Liberia’s Kentucky-born 13th President, had graduated from Howard University just two years earlier.
The bodies of both Coleman’s were displayed for the public to see outside of a military barracks in Monrovia. Perhaps this had something to do with enabling the environment that led to the public, beach-side execution of numerous high-ranking government officials days after a coup in 1980 and the video-taped execution of President Doe, the man responsible for those killings, a decade later in 1990.