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Jerome Billy Joss, National Secretary General, Liberian National Union

I am a Liberian born in central Liberia, Bong County unto the union of Jerome M. Joss, Sr. and Mrs. Ponawennie Joss. The event that made me to be a part of the human family occurred on January 30, 1955. I have to admit that I have had a successful childhood and for this I gave thanks to omnipotent God.

The sojourn of my education began at the E.J. Yancy Kindergarten School. The school was located in Kakata, Margibi County and the period that I am referring to is in decade of the 1960s.

In that school, I was afforded the opportunity to act on stage in concert. When I reminiscent on those occasions there is one thing that remain vivid in my mind.

It was in the school that I learned how to thrill the audience and this I realized could be achieved after a splendid performance. The climax of an act was followed by gracefully bowing before the audience and it was reciprocal when I received the loud sound of applause.

There is one title in the first recitation that I gave on the stage that night which I continue to remember. It was, “You Can Never Tell When You Send a Bow from An Arrow”. I sometimes hope if it was possible to rewind the span of time.

My education was positively influenced by the Christian tradition because I attended Christian Schools with limited exception. One is the Salala Rubber Corporation Elementary School. The school is important to me for two reasons. One is that it was there that I completed Elementary School and earned my first academic certificate. The other reason for the importance of the school is the fact that it was there that I scored the highest grade in English that year in the National Examination for the 6th grades in Liberia. I got a reward for the grade I got. It was a scholarship award from the Salala Rubber Corporation’s Management. The award was given under the signature of W. Boissevain, General Manager of the Corporation.
I am Lutheran and because of this my father decided that I attend the Totota Lutheran Mission. It was subsequent when I enrolled in that school. I spent only a year there because the church had reached a decision to transfer 7th and 8th grades to the Lutheran Training Institute (LTI). The decision was implemented the following year and I matriculated into the Institute.

LTI was academically renowned in Liberia and I benefitted from the institute in unique ways. I began my training in Journalism from the school as a feature reporter and later ascended to news editor in the Tidding Magazine.

It was during the course of my studies at LTI that I gained political consciousness about the socio economic conditions of Liberia which I believed required positive transformation. From reading the works of Frederick Angles and Karl Max, I decided to continue in extensive reading. The urge to learn more about events in the world that were contemporary immensely helped to increase my awareness level.

The quest in the development of my education led me to gain admission to Cuttington University College in decade of 1970s. I began the study of a life career in the field of Politics. Geoff Stanley became my advisor. He was a British national. My first visit into his office caused me to notice the portrait of comrade Fiedel Castro in his olive green military outfit in a sitting position. I admired the way he sat and copied it to be used as a way to be seated at my desk. Since that day it has been my way of sitting. The limited exception to it is when I am formally engaged with others.

It is worthy to note that my days on Cuttington were the same period when pro democracy was beginning to spread into Liberia. I readily noticed that there was dissimilarity between Cuttington and the University of Liberia and this presented a paradox in my mind. The fact about the matter is that students’ politics was outlawed on Cuttington and Practiced at the University of Liberia. I attempted to get an explanation on why students on Cuttington could not be permitted to organize political parties as a forum to articulate pertinent issues in their interest. The account I got is that past experiences of students’ politics promoted hostile camps between students of Americo Liberians and others of the tribes. In spite of the status quo others like minds including me decided to do something about it. Our effort came to reality when we founded Studentocracy an underground political party on the Campus.

My days on Cuttington were truly eventful. I witnessed two events that were twined together. These were the rice riot of April 14, 1979 and the LINSU Congress hosted on Cuttington during the same period. The former led to death of hundreds of citizens and the destruction of several properties. The government of Tolbert instituted massive arrest and this affected Cuttington. The Editor- in- Chief of the Echoes Magazine, Emmanuel Johnson was arrested and I was offered the position to stabilize the tension on Campus. I agreed to accept the offer on condition that the University of Liberia was reopened and requested the unconditional release of students from both Cuttington and the University of Liberia from detention. The request was rejected and with the support of other progressives, we decided for students of Cuttington to remain out of School in solidarity with the University of Liberia and the imprisoned students. We succeeded and eventually got government’s compliance.

My romance with Cuttington ended when the military intervened into affairs of the state through a coup d’tate on April 12, 1980. I later transferred and obtained a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Liberia in Political Science (INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS).

The cynics may wonder on the reasons for my commitment to make politics a life career. This could be the ultimate gamble of my life for primarily two reasons. One is that I want to change the perception of those who looked at naky power and wealth to ask others the empirical question; do you know who I am? Secondly, I feel destined to contribute to the theory building exercise in Politics for further enrichment.

I have worked in modest fields in the service of my Country but I believed that with these contributions that the stage is set for the upward thrust in this nation. The following sums up my activities.

1. The Liberian Senate: Worked two years as Chief of Office Staff
2. Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS): Taught in the system for 16 years and ascended to the Presidency of the MCSS Teachers’ Association

3. Bureau of State Enterprises (BSE) worked for 9 years in Administration and successively in the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) and the Administration of Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Acting Director General.

I also worked in the print media as a Journalist and the below specifies the extent of my participation.

1. Independent Newspaper: Served the paper as a columnist and wrote under two columns at separate periods. The ‘Puzzle of Life’ and ‘The Quest for Democracy’.

2. Monrovia Guardian Newspaper: Wrote under the column, ‘Issues of Our Time’.

Association

1. Liberia National Union (LINU): I am currently the National Secretary General of this party and I have been in the position for the past 11 years.

2. Liberian Studies and Culture Foundation (LISCF): Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). LISCF studies Liberia and works to preserve her heritage.

Hobbies

Reading, Writing and Listening to Traditional African Stories and Classical Music.