Time personified as yesterday begot today, and today will definitely beget tomorrow. This is the major attribute of time which is indisputable. The evil deeds of our yesterdays which were done discretely, and shrewdly in the darkness as a means to elevate ourselves to stardom at the detriment of an individual or a group of people will surely crop up in our face one day no matter how long it takes, and thereafter it would be too late to right the wrongs, as everything else will be mere conjectures as a defense.
There is a trend that has developed in Liberia for quite awhile occasioned by the war where buffoons and masquerades of inconsequential nature have become heroes overnight, and craved rewards through subtle means especially having failed miserably in every realistic endeavor, however simplistic. The intent of this piece of narrative is geared towards unmasking ONE of such individual who is dabbed in an inexorable latent of ignorance in almost everything he’s associated with and getting by with callous impunity to an unsuspecting gullible public.
For over a period of almost thirty years in time, spanning his youthful days, and outstretching to his adult life, Mr. Philipbert Browne had exhibited an ambience of untoward behavior that has characterized his entire life even at present, and to an extent where family members and peers are now highly skeptical on the way he conducts himself both publicly and privately.
Sired by a modest but hardworking family fifty-one years ago, on September 10th 1964, Mr. Philipbert Browne was lucky to have a father in the person of Mr. Archibald Browne, a former Director General of the Civil Service Agency, and an astute and cultured caliber of a gentleman who commanded an aura of respectability in all of his endeavors - a feat he had opted his son to emulate. But much to his chagrin, and disappointment, which subsequently culminated into his biggest regret prior to, and on toward his demise, was that his son had sullied his hard earned legacy as an intellectual, and a professional wonk as there was nothing befitting and worthwhile that he saw ideally which convinced him otherwise, and to the contrary. The elder Browne’s convictions were based purely on years of observations; coupled with several dismal outcomes of reasoning on petite matters, and disappointed performances injected with incessant failures in school and other miniatures his son associated himself with. While his other siblings were germinating worthy scholastic accolades through the burning of midnight candles that represented the hallmark for which the family was noted, young Philipbert Browne busied himself within the cringes of the various movie theaters around Monrovia. He would mimic Bruce Lee, and other Chinese characters, including “Black Dragon”. When asked what his intent for the future would incorporate, not surprising though, his blunt answer was to double cross anyone he encountered, as was the major episodes in the Chinese Movies he was accustomed to watching. That was the time his father knew that he had lost his son to the fictional world. The obsession imbued in him with movies at his early upbringing, as compared to education, has shaped his destiny as of today and is greatly impacting his life.
His father’s conviction was further manifested and became a reality when he was dropped from the St. Patrick’s Catholic High School for failing to meet the required academic standards, coupled with untidiness, indiscipline and arrogance. He ended up at the R. C. Lawson Institute that pales both academically and discipline-wise as compared to St. Patrick’. At the R. C. Lawson, he furthermore proved himself academically unworthy. When the results of the 1984 12th grade National Exams were released that year, he performed dismally and failed with an appalling overall average as the least in a class of thirty- seven. He thereafter commented that ‘Education was not meant for everyone’.
Realizing that he was vastly becoming a laughing stock during academic discussions without any substantive input in social gatherings amongst his peers who were his classmates at St. Patrick’s and R. C. Lawson, and were later enrolled at either Cuttington or the University of Liberia, he shamelessly enrolled at a quasi commercial school called Institute of Professional Studies (IPS) located right at the end of the Monrovia City Hall, which was operated by a Ghanaian national, named Ofori. It is whereat he masquerades as obtaining a ‘’Bachelor Degree’’ In Accounting, whereby such an academic panicle was never awarded at that institution.
PYTHONS BASKETBALL TEAM/ LEON CLARKE/SPORTIG LIFE
During the peak of Liberia Basketball in the early eighties, based on his towering figure, how-be-it bumbling athletic maneuvers, Philipbert was recruited to play for the Pythons Basketball Team whose major sponsors comprised of professional personalities and independent businessmen considered at that time as Liberia’s “Middle Class”. Two notables amongst others were the late Jim Holder and Nathaniel Richardson. Prior to his recruitment around 1985/86 or thereabout, the team was a marvel to watch as it drew its strength from players with disciplinary backgrounds. The team subsequently became the LBF champions. Fate struck, as most of the team’s dependable players left for further studies abroad which ushered him to be feature sporadically. His advent introduced a specter never experienced before at the LBF: rudeness and disrespectfulness to the referees, his colleagues and sponsors alike. On the court, he became the Hercules who would challenge almost every decision against his team. During a game against Barrolle, a foul was called against him which he protested, and furthered it by raining insults on referee Leon Clarke who wasted no time by invoking his authority to eject him outside of the court, and ban him for three months. The incident was reported in the Vol. 1 No. 47, July 20 – 27, 1987 edition of the Sports Life Newspaper. After his suspension was lifted, he was seldom utilized. He became an off and on player. Frustration got the better portion of him, which led to an early retirement from the game and team just prior to the 1990 war.
FIRST NATIONAL POLL
When the 1990 war subsided, with Ecomog, and IGNU presence in Monrovia, culminating into a semblance of political authority, several citizens that fled Monrovia, and sought refuge either out of Liberia, or elsewhere returned to reconstruct their lives, and to further engage in meaningful endeavors. One of such was Monie Captan, who subsequently became Foreign Minister during former President’s Taylor reign. It is said that when the capables are unavailable, the availables become capable. Such was the marriage of convenience between Captan and Browne. Based on availability, necessity, and pity for Browne who without an iota of skill and profession whatsoever, as most journalist were not around, Captan hired him with maximum supervision to manage his Newspaper called First National Poll with sponsorship from the American based National Endowment for Democracy (NED) solely to conduct opinion polls reflective of the socio-political dynamics unfolding on the grounds. As more Liberians returned, Captan began to restructure the hierarchy of the paper with the inclusion of professional journalist such as Syrenius Cephus, Ndborlor Singbe, Apala Barclay, amongst other professionals. The infusion didn’t auger well for Browne who saw them as obstacles, threats, and erosion to his power autonomy. His disdain for Cephus especially was so conspicuous and glaring that it resulted in a near fist fight which was quelled by Singbe, an elder of both antagonists. Cephus would later refer to Browne as a Leviathan, with a manure obsession for power to an extent he would go at all length to plot and frame his colleagues for pecuniary gains. (See Vol. 1 No. 28 Weekly, SAT-FRI March 30-April 5, 1992 edition of the First National Pool, Caption: “HOW LONG “). The paper was to be distributed free of charge to the citizens as per the NED’S Policy. Instead of so doing, Browne hired vendors to sell the papers under the guise that it was Cephus’ orchestration with the sole aim of profiteering. That was the crux of the hullabaloo. Captan would later assume full managerial control of the paper thereby placing a halt to Browne’s escapades at the First National Pool.
After he fell out with Monie Captan based upon his intellectual inadequacies, and a demand to take control of the First National Poll, especially after Captan became Foreign Minister, Browne found favor with Benoni Urey, who needed someone to run his errands and manage his emerging business interest, including the National Chronicle Newspaper. The intent of establishing the newspaper was solely to rival anti-establishment newspapers like the New Democrat which was seen as ultra anti-Charles Taylor. Philipbert fitted the description perfectly. He was hired, and was given the rules of engagement to operate, which he did within the confines of his limitations under the circumstances.
After several years of smooth operations, and cordiality, greed took a hold of him based on the prestige, and its attaining power accrued while at the helm of the paper. He decided to surreptitiously convert several documents in his name to acquire ownership of the businesses entrusted him. Sensing a rip-off based on intelligence conveyed to Urey by one of the employees, he decided to part Company with Browne. Browne was subsequently given a purse of USD Forty-Five Thousand ($45,000.00) and the National Chronicle as compensation. Urey would later discover to his consternation, that most of the documents for the property on Duport Road comprising an Entertainment Center were altered. Presently, that property is in dispute. Within time the reversion will be effectuated.
BRAWL WITH THE LATE G.HENRY ANDREWS
To know your limitation is the beginning of wisdom. There is a saying that a child that does not listen to elders in the village cannot blame the evils of the forest. For Browne such counsel is nowhere in his persona. He measures and sees everyone from his own narrow and myopic landscape. After few months of experimental practice in writing phrases and sentence fragments as a columnist in the First National Poll, he dubbed himself as a “journalist” with an authority to propound on issues far beyond his reach and comprehension. This is a sheer deceit and dishonesty in intellectualism. In one of his commentaries in the First National Poll, titled, “To be something is nothing” he referred to several veteran journalists who he claimed were living in the comfort of Ecomog in Monrovia, as “outdated and out of touch” abrogating unto themselves authority that they are the doyen of the media landscape of Liberia. See (Vol.3 No.34 Thursday February 2, 1995 edition). After reading said article, Mr. G. Henry Andrews, in reaction likened the grammatical construction of the article as reminiscent of a third grader. He further dissected through his column in the New Democrat “FROM WHERE I SIT” captioned: OF GRAMMAR AND USAGE, the whole composition, pinpointed, and identified one hundred and six (106) misspelled words, twenty-nine (29) disjointed subject and verb agreements, coupled with several run on sentences. He further commented that such article was a disgrace to not only the journalism profession, but also the school the writer attended, including his instructors and employer or supervisor who allowed such filth to be distributed for public consumption. (See Vol. 3 No 177 Tuesday-Thursday February 7-9, 1995 edition of the New Democrat)
ALEX REDD SETUP
Few months after Taylor became President, most Liberians were of the conviction that a new dawn had arrived to herald and usher in the democracy that evaded us as a people. Journalists were of no exception to this widely held notion. The platform so they thought was set to execute their profession without any hindrance. Unfortunately, two of Liberia’s emerging Journalist and Talk Show Host, Alex Redd, and Al. Jerome Chede, respectively of Radio Monrovia and D.C. 101 fame, were targeted for elimination based on their exposure of grave human rights violations, and the creeping menace of corruption effectuated by those in power. At different intervals, both Journalists and Talk Show Hosts would invite critical views on their programs to propound and dissect the new government to the dissatisfaction of those in authority. Alex Redd as producer of the Sunrise Program of DC 101 was designated to cover the funeral service of the late Samuel Dokie in Sanniquellie, Nimba County. Dokie and others were murdered allegedly on orders of President Taylor. Armed with first hand information, including photos, confidential recordings based on family members narratives, and other investigations surrounding the Dokies’ murder, the stage was set for the perpetrators and their masters to be exposed. Enroute to Monrovia, Redd, together with his brother Benjamin decided to spend the night in Gbarnga, with another brother, Isaac Redd who at the time was Station Manager of Radio Gbarnga. Upon leaving Gbarnga, both Alex and Benjamin were arrested from among several occupants of a taxi cab. Benjamin was beaten, manhandled and managed to escape, and alerted Isaac. The captives took Alex to an unknown destination with the aim of silencing him. Fortunately the news hit Monrovia, through a broadcast from his brother Isaac Redd, who highlighted the episode. Alex’s capture and near death emanated from a revelation made to Philipbert Browne who was a friend, confidant, and brother of several years, while still in Gbarnga that he had in his possession all the facts and evidence surrounding Dokie’s death, and promised to avail it to the public. Browne, as Assistant Minister of Public Affairs at the Defense Ministry wasted no time by unleashing the information to his bosses, who acted to ensure that such information shouldn’t be exposed whatever by any means possible. Cosmetically, the Government was forced to issue a press release distancing itself from Redd’s arrest. Redd was stripped naked and subsequently released based on pressure from officials of the American Embassy, Catholic JPC, headed by Kofi Woods, The Press Union, headed by Abraham Massaley, the DC Management, coupled with public outcries. The rest is history. (See VOL. 6 NO. 234, Tuesday, December 21, 1997 edition of the INQUIRER)
AL. JEROME CHEDE SCENARIO
Mere jealousy and the quest to buy favor from individuals associated with President Charles Taylor, almost caused the death of Mr. Al. Jerome Chede. Al. Jerome, like Redd, was the Talk Show Host of a popular morning magazine program “Issues in the Press”, of Radio Monrovia, which was the first independent Radio Station to hit the airwaves. Co-host to the program was Winston Mombo, and later Ledgerhood Rennie. A portion of the Morning Magazine comprised reading to the public issues captured in the local dailies, especially those which made acute headlines. As alluded earlier, Chede decided to center his discussion on the situation surrounding the criticism against Philipbert’s sub-standard article written in the First National Poll, which Mr. Andrews condemned, and pinpointed 106 misspelled words, and identified 29 disjointed subject and verb agreements. Chede, a Mass Communicator, thought to elevate, and highlight the episode for public participation and solicited views relative to the merits and demerits of the article, its intent and the message it portrayed. His tick was whether or not the public should be concerned with the substantive component of the composition, or dwell on its inherent errors, and misspelled words sidestepping the message it carried. Almost everybody overwhelmingly opined that to convey a message through composition one has to be au-courant with the issues firstly, have a command and authority over the language which is the vehicle through which the thought process is to be conveyed, and that thought process should be accurate, balanced, and clear for the reader to digest, comprehend, and understand to subsequently make an informed decision. At the climax of the program, Browne became infuriated, and concluded that Chede was out for mischief to ridicule him in the eyes of the public. Few weeks earlier, Mombo Jibba, then Deputy Director for Operations of the Liberia National Police appeared as guest of the Show. He became a laughing stock when asked about his credentials and suitability for the job, in which he responded that he was “donated” to the police by President Taylor. Even Information Minister Joe Mulbah had a hard time defending President Taylor, when he referred to himself as a “Mischievous President” who would go at any length and breadth to get even with his opponents. These scenarios didn’t go down well with several bigwigs in the Government cycles. Thereafter, a plot was hatched to silence AL. Jerome who was considered “frisky.” In a caucus meeting to devise a strategy, Coocoo Dennis decided to take upon himself the gauntlet to execute whatever was necessary. The long of the short, Al. Jerome escaped death by the skin of his teeth from the claws of Coocoo and his gang of body guards in the Club Beer Factory area where he frequented after work to visit a female friend. Coocoo would later accuse Chede of a secret affair with his “wife to be”. When the incident became public, Browne justified the action of Coocoo Dennis in an article published in the First National poll as an act of self defense, because according to him, it was Chede who under the cover of darkness attacked Dennis so as to eliminate him (See VOL 5, NO. 46, 1997 edition of the First National Poll). To save his life, Chede left the country.
MOHAMMED KANNEH ASSAULT
On a sunny Monday on September 16th 1999, little did Mohammed Kanneh, Publisher of the National Heritage Newspaper, know that he would have experienced a major shock of his life that would re-orientate, and re- engineer his journalistic friendliness. As a Production Officer and Photo Journalist working for the First National Poll, and subsequently the National Chronicle during their formative stages, especially after a breakaway from Captan, Kanneh decided to part ways with Browne and align himself with the late Alexander Kulue, Eugene Nagbe and Sam Dean at the Guardian Newspaper. Browne, who does not let go an offence, saw Kanneh’s alignment with the three gentlemen he considered his nemesis, as an affront. He needed to teach Kanneh a lesson he would never forget ever in his lifetime. On several occasions Browne would prevail on Kanneh to consider his decision, but the answer was always the same. “I am comfortable at where I find myself”. That was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. At the Ministry of Information Ministry on said date, both gentlemen met during an annual media registration process. Hell broke loose. Browne accused Kanneh of absconding with two Kodak Cameras entrusted him while in the employ of his entities as photo journalist. Kanneh retorted that all assets entrusted him were turned over to the Administrative/ Business Manager named Orlando Grimes, and attested by the Associate Editor, Emmanuel Cooper, prior to his resignation. He further justified his assertion that as evidence, he has receipts to the effect. Instead of authenticating the facts Browne hijacked Kanneh by his trousers indicating that he wouldn’t move a step until his properties were produced. During the scuffle, Kanneh’s left thumb finger got fractured, a scar and pain he carries to this day. Surprisingly, it was the same Kanneh who stood in the gap as a protector for him when the police was mandated to bolt his newspaper, the National Chronicle’s office. Browne would later shamelessly find solace in Kanneh’s upper Broad Street office whereat he held an interview with both the national and international press concerning the closure of his newspaper, the Chronicle.
L IBERIA BASKBALL FEDERATION
During the time he served as Chairman of the Liberia Basketball Federation, there were tense moments between Browne and the administrative staffers on almost a daily basis concerning proceeds and gate intake. On one occasion, Ms. Gbour Wilson, Vice President, was insulted in full glare of Basketball Stakeholders at a meeting convened to address the appalling situation of the Federation under his leadership. Several Presidents of the First Division Teams had on several occasions threatened to stage a boycott of crucial games if the issues of the fees paid by advertisers were not adequately addressed. Funds contributed by former President Taylor and several businessmen to roof the court were unaccounted for until he was booted out disgracefully
LIBERIA NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
Browne currently heads the Liberia National Olympic Committee, a position which he won firstly in 2005. The main reason was simplistic. Clemenceau Urey as head at the time had decided to delve into politics by publicly joining the Unity Party, with a pledge to support the candidacy of Madam Sirleaf. LNOC, as a sporting organization, eschew its administrators from actively participating in and contesting in political feats. The admission by Urey disqualified him from further contesting. Browne saw the loophole, and threw in his bid as a lone candidate. At that time he was the Chairman of the Liberia Basketball Federation which coffers he depleted. He is contemplating on designing a grand scheme to replace the General Secretary of the LNOC, Mr. Joseph Willie, who according to him is incapacitated to execute the function of the office because both of his legs are amputated. What a sheer wickedness from the belly of the devil. Willie, a veteran sport administrator, was for many years president of the Inter High School Sport Association, (ISSA) which he managed so well that he garnered accolades from notable sporting originations, both nationally, and internationally.
FRONTPAGE AFRICA/ RODNEY SIEH
During the FrontPage/Rodney Sieh and Dr. Chris Toe saga, Browne abrogated upon himself the cloak of a Good Samaritan to mediate between both parties to find a common ground for the resolution in favor of both parties. Such gesture was never done in good faith, as his inherent desire was to expose Sieh to public ridicule under the guise of proffering the way out. He had a dual posture whereat he would go to instigate Dr. Toe to continue the pursuance of his case to serve as deterrence because according to him, Sieh and FrontPage saw themselves as untouchables with a license to besmear and tarnish the hard earned reputation of credible LIBERIANS AND GO WITH IMPUNITY. The underlying factor for his deceit was based upon the fact that he saw FrontPage and Sieh as stealing the show from him. Most of Government’s advertisement were not forthcoming as his paper was branded substandard, and a tabloid that thrived on a mixture of both yellow and gutter journalism with an aura and flavor of blackmail for financial gains. Never a day would go by without a publication in the National Chronicle infringing and or attacking personality while leaving the main issue. Almost every strategy or attempt made by Sieh and others that was geared towards the resolution of the saga, when shared with him for his opinion; Browne would discourage the positive move and instead proffer defiance. Such was his role until Dr. Toe won the libel suit against FrontPage (See VOL. 21 NO.21 Wednesday, February 16 2011 edition of the Inquirer). While FrontPage was banned, his newspaper flourished with advertisement, and stories emanating from Government cycles.
His latest prey who would subsequently become victimized is Tony Lawal, the CEO of Pealat Construction Company who was arrested by the Police for allegedly shooting the vehicle of one Samuel B. Cooper, CEO, and owner of Westwood Construction Company. After he met and discussed his so-called Public relations plans with Lawal, unknowingly without suspecting his hidden agenda, Lawal confided certain classified information to him, concerning his fears, apprehensions and alleged Liberian citizenship. Browne impressed upon Lawal that he was the brain behind his fellow Nigerian kinsman named Chris Onanugar obtaining Liberian status when his nationality was questioned. Convinced by his antics, money changed hands, with the intent of smoothing the rough edges for Lawal. Little did Lawal know that he setting himself up for blackmail. To Lawal’s utter surprise, a day after their discussion, a handful of pressmen accosted and subjected him with a barrage of sensitive and classified questions only discussed with him Browne. The scheme was orchestrated to extract more funds from Lawal if he didn’t cooperate.
EYEWITNESSES TO SEVERAL CRIMES
Currently, the international Community is conducting several investigations bordering on crimes against humanity. As a Former Assistant Minister of Defense for Public Affairs, and spokesman for the ministry that was in the forefront of ensuring the disappearance and elimination of citizens who dare express alternative views against Taylor and his war machine, Browne is eyewitness and privileged to several occurrences and information that would be very helpful in fostering and enhancing the process of national and international investigations, and the role he played, BASED ON HIS PROXIMITY TO THE MOVERS AND SHAKERS OF THE NPFL WAR MACHINERY. The Dokie and his family murder, former Vice President Dogolea’s mysterious death, Nowai Flomo abduction and subsequent murder, John Yormie and Paul Vaye murder, as well as the murder of the five Catholic Nuns, which his paper the National Chronicle at the time blamed on AFL and Ecomog. In all of the above and other unlisted atrocities, Browne needs to be questioned as a person of interest. Besides being spokesman he was an active participant and combatant especially during the April 6, 1996 madness whereat he was on the battlefront in full military regalia commanding troops for combat. Even the recent Lurd, Model, and GOL WAR that destabilized the entire Liberia, he was at the front, as expressed, and narrated in his own words in his own paper (See VOL. 15. NO. 86 Friday June 27 2009 edition of the National Chronicle).
REJOICING OVER ROBERT KPADEH
Robert Kpadeh, a shrew gentleman from a humble background, became the Publisher of The Parrot Newspaper, and later Deputy Information Minister following the 2011 elections. Before his appointment, Kpadeh’s Parrot could be counted among Monrovia’s fearless dailies that exposed societal vices. As Parrot publisher Kpadeh befriended several gurus of the media who welcomed him in their club dubbed the ‘Big Fish’ comprising notable journalists from both the print and electronic media that decides the fate of stories for public consumption on the daily basis. As Chinua Achebe’s stated in his literature “THINGS FALL APART” so it was with Kpadeh and Browne concerning an inconsequential matter of no magnitude which could be handled maturely. Kpadeh, as one of Government’s spokespersons, had on several occasions defended government’s policies that bordered on the independent media so-called unethical transgressions against Government, to the dislike of some elements of the ‘Big Fish’, who were of the view that Kpadeh was dismantling the boat because he had crossed the river, and was fastly forgetting that their common interest at one point in time was tied to the very boat. Notably, it was Browne who felt that Kpadeh’s continuous mannerisms would dam the avalanche of largesse they are beneficial of, because Kpadeh is quite knowledgeable of their schemes and maneuvers. As a result, bad blood blistered between both gentlemen occasioned by news which circulated in and around Monrovia that elements of the ‘Big Fish’ were transported out of the country to spearhead a public relations onslaught against the Government concerning oil blocks on behalf of a company which was not favored by Government. Browne shifted the blame on Kpadeh in an uncharacteristic manner through a center spread open letter in the National Chronicle, detailing personal and classified occurrences that transpired between them. He even went below the belt to an extent of unveiling Kpadeh’s domestic inadequacies for public consumption against the advice of other members of the group. He furthered by issuing damnation on Kpadeh’s future. (See VOL. 18 NO. 107 Friday May 19, 2013 edition of the National Chronicle).So it was no surprise when it was announced recently that Kpadeh was removed from his deputy ministerial portfolio pending reassignment, upon hearing the news, Browne threw a party to celebrate (To be continued)…