Thomas Quiwonkpa

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Thomas Quiwonkpa (1955-1985), a Gio from Nimba County, was a Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and founder of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia.

Nimba County County in Liberia

Nimba County is a county in the northeastern Liberia that shares borders with the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire in the East and the Republic of Guinea in the Northwest. Its capitol city is Sanniquellie and its most populous city is Ganta. With the county's area measuring 11,551 square kilometres (4,460 sq mi), Nimba is the largest of Liberia's 15 counties. The county has 6 statutory districts and as of the 2008 Census, it had a population of 462,026, making it the second most populous county in Liberia.

Armed Forces of Liberia Combined military forces of Liberia

The Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) are the armed forces of the Republic of Liberia. Tracing its origins to a militia that was formed by the first black colonists in what is now Liberia, it was founded as the Liberian Frontier Force in 1908, and retitled in 1956. For almost all of its history, the AFL has received considerable materiel and training assistance from the United States. For most of the 1941–89 period, training was largely provided by U.S. advisers, though this assistance has not prevented the same generally low levels of effectiveness common to most of the armed forces in the developing world.

The National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) was a rebel group that initiated and participated in the First Liberian Civil War from 1989 to 1996.



Born in the town of Zualay in 1955, Quiwonkpa was the son of subsistence farmers. At the age of sixteen, he joined the AFL. After finishing high school in 1978 through a programme at the Barclay Training Center, he received an assignment to the AFL's records department. [1]

Subsistence agriculture farming which meets the basic needs of the farmer and family

Subsistence agriculture occurs when farmers grow food crops to feed themselves and their families. In subsistence agriculture, farm output is targeted to survival and is mostly for local requirements with little or no surplus trade. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to feed and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made principally with an eye toward what the family will need during the coming year, and secondarily toward market prices. Tony Waters writes: "Subsistence peasants are people who grow what they eat, build their own houses, and live without regularly making purchases in the marketplace."

Part of Samuel Doe's coup (1980)

He came to prominence on 12 April 1980 when he assisted Samuel Doe in a military coup that overthrew the Americo-Liberian government of William R. Tolbert, Jr. About a month later, the revolutionaries arrested AFL commander-in-chief Edwin Lloyd and other military leaders on charges of planning a counter-coup. By mid-May, Quiwonkpa was proclaimed a major general and made the new AFL commander. [1]

Samuel Doe 21st President of Liberia

Samuel Kanyon Doe was a Liberian politician who served as the Liberian leader from 1980 to 1990, first as a military leader and later as a politician. While Master Sergeant of the army, Doe staged a violent coup d'etat in April 1980 that left him de facto head of state. During the coup, then president William R. Tolbert, Jr., and much of the True Whig Party leadership were executed. Doe then established the People's Redemption Council, assuming the role of general.

The People's Redemption Council (PRC) was a governmental body that ruled Liberia during the early 1980s. It was established after the 1980 Liberian coup d'état wherein Samuel Doe seized power on 12 April 1980. The Council, with Doe as its chairman, promised a complete overhaul of Liberia's society, economy, and political system and the replacement of the corruption of previous regimes with respect for the rights of the Liberian people. The PRC had 17 founding members and was later expanded to 28. The PRC initially functioned as the executive and legislative body in Doe's government. However, over time Doe consolidated power as a central executive. In 1984, the PRC was dissolved and replaced by the Interim National Assembly.

Major general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. The disappearance of the "sergeant" in the title explains the apparently confusing phenomenon whereby a lieutenant general outranks a major general while a major outranks a lieutenant.

Two months later he was using the title of brigadier general. [2] Before long, he fell out with Doe; in 1983, Quiwonkpa was demoted and subsequently charged with an attempt to overthrow the Doe administration, forcing him to flee the country.

Brigadier general or Brigade general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000 troops. In some countries a brigadier general is informally designated as a one-star general (OF-6).

Coup attempt against Doe (1985)

On 12 November 1985, one month after elections were held, Quiwonkpa, supported by about two dozen heavily armed men, covertly entered Liberia through Sierra Leone, and launched a coup against Doe. Bad timing, Quiwonkpa's unorthodox methods and lack of support from the United States resulted in a disastrous failure. [3]

Sierra Leone republic in West Africa

Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savanna to rainforests, and a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,075,641 as of the 2015 census. The capital and largest city is Freetown, and the country is divided into five administrative regions, which are further subdivided into sixteen districts.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of more than 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Quiwonkpa was captured and on November 15 was killed and mutilated by Krahn soldiers loyal to Doe. [4] His killers then dismembered his body and reportedly ate parts of it. [5] His body was publicly exhibited on the grounds of the Executive Mansion in Monrovia soon after his death. [6]

Joe Wylie, later Deputy Minister of Defense in the NTGL, was among the group who launched the coup. [7]

Post-coup attempt reprisals

In a campaign of retribution against the coup plotters and their supporters, Doe's government launched a bloody purge against the Gio and Mano ethnic groups in Quiwonkpa's Nimba County, raising alarm about a possible genocide. Doe's slaughter of an estimated 3,000 people provoked ethnic rivalries that later fuelled the First Liberian Civil War. [8]

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History of Liberia aspect of history

Liberia is a country in West Africa which was founded, established, colonized, and controlled by citizens of the United States and ex-Caribbean slaves as a colony for former African American slaves and their free black descendants. It is one of only two sovereign countries in the world that were started by citizens and ex-Caribbean slaves of a political power as a colony for former slaves of the same political power, the other being Sierra Leone, established by Great Britain. Settlement of former slaves was organised by the American Colonization Society (ACS). The mortality rate of these settlers was the highest in accurately recorded human history. Of the 4,571 emigrants who arrived in Liberia from 1820 to 1843, only 1,819 survived until 1843.

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  1. 1 2 "General Quiwonkpa: A Profile". The Redeemer 1980-05-16: 7-8.
  2. "'We're Soldiers, Not Politicians', Says Gen. Quiwonkpa". The Redeemer 1980-07-25: 1.
  3. Ellis, Stephen (2002). The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Roots of an African Civil War. C. Hurst & Co. p. 146. ISBN   1-85065-417-4.
  4. Ellis, Stephen (2002). The Mask of Anarchy: The Destruction of Liberia and the Religious Roots of an African Civil War. C. Hurst & Co. p. 146. ISBN   1-85065-417-4.
  5. Dickovick, J. Tyler (2008). The World Today Series: Africa 2012. Lanham, Maryland: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN   978-1-61048-881-5.
  6. "How Quiwonkpa Was Killed". Daily Star 1985-11-18: 5.
  7. Adebajo, Adekeye (2002). Building Peace in West Africa: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea-Bissau. Lynne Rienner Publishers. ISBN   1-58826-077-1. p. 46