…but he ended up dying a terrible tortured death
Even as Kenyans focus on the events of August 1982 with new revelations by the TJRC in Bungoma, analysts will want to shift their attention to another coup in Africa also carried out by low-ranking soldiers that was unlike the Kenyan case, successful.
Top photo; the dramatic beach execution of President Tolbert's entire cabinet, below: Video footage of president Doe 10 years later being tortured and then killed.
Actually the Liberian coup of April 12th 1980 by 18 plotters (all non-commissioned officers) that brought master sergeant Samuel Doe to power (less than a month before his 29th birthday) is without doubt the bloodiest ever recorded in recent history.
The coup toppled 66-year old president William R. Tolbert Jnr who was immediately executed by one of the 18 (Harrison Pennoh, who later proved mentally unstable). The rest of the avialble cabinet that was captured were all executed in a very sick firing squad along a famous beach in Monrovia.
But 10 short years later President Samuel Doe was himself tortured and then executed on video tape. The video footage is still doing it’s rounds to enthusiastic audiences in Monrovia Liberia even as you read this. I carry some of the photographs from the video on this page. The most sickening cannot be published here and I have been forced to make it available only to my raw notes subscribers. President Doe's torture video showed his ears and fingers being hacked off and finally his naked dead body (hardly pictures I can publish here). Get instant details on how to subscribe to my raw notes NOW.
But questions linger. How was it possible for such a young junior officer in the military to seize power without any backing from a more prominent person. Ochukah in Kenya had backing from Raila Odinga. There were rumours that Doe had backing from the Americans but even then military analysts marvel at how he would have pulled off such a thing.
But even more startling and unbelievable is how President Doe was captured by rebels while still in office with hardly any shots fired. The superstitious point to witchcraft having played a major role in both cases.
Here is the full gruesome details of the life and times of Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe;
Samuel Kanyon Doe was born on May 6 1951 in Tuzon, a small town in Grand Gedeh County, in the Southeastern part of Liberia. His parents were poor and uneducated and belonged to the Krahn tribe. Samuel Doe had only accomplished primary education when he became a career soldier because of lack of other job opportunities. In October 1979 he was promoted Master Sergeant in the Liberian Army. He was in his 4th high school grade and attending night school classes when he and a group of soldiers seized power, assassinated President William R. Tolbert, Jr., and established, for the first time in Liberia’s history, military rule over the country. It was April 12, 1980.
Since Samuel Doe was the highest ranking non-commissioned officer of the 18 plotters, all but him ordinary soldiers, he became Chairman of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) that was created.
The military coup is still shrouded in lots of mystery and surreal happenings. People talk about them on the streets of Monrovia today and link it all to witchcraft and the popwerful magic behind President Samuel Doe that turned against him in the end.
But even the non-superstitious are hard pressed to explain the strange happenings For example how did preparations for the coup go unnoticed, given the fact that there was considerable political tension and also in light of the well-staffed U.S. Embassy in Morovia (over 500 people). Samuel Doe was not a publicly known figure in Liberia before April 12, 1980.
The military take-over, labelled ‘a revolution’ by the 18 soldiers was extremely bloody by any standards and toppled the Government of William R. Tolbert. The 66-year old President was then savagely murdered by private soldier Harrison Pennoh, who later proved to be mentally unstable. Within weeks all of the cabinet that was available at the time of the coup had been put on trial and sentenced to death. They were all publicly executed on a beach near Monrovia.
Head of State - Samuel Doe at numerous occasions reiterated the army’s pledge to return to the barracks but it was the usual populist talk by military dictators who get usually quickly get addicted to power. In reality Doe increasingly surrounded himself with members of the (small) Krahn-tribe. The US was greatly relieved when Doe maintained the country’s pro-Western stance and the bloody butcher was even invited at the White House. It was here that President Ronald Reagan made his historic blunder when he cordially greeted the man ‘Chairman Moe’ when he warmly shook his hand. Liberia received more political and military assistance from the US in the decade of Doe’s rule than it had ever received, despite an increasingly deteriorating political climate and human rights record.
When in July 1985 the ban on politics and political parties was lifted President Doe created his own party, the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL). He was the NDPL’s candidate for the presidential elections slated for October of the same year. The elections were neither free nor fair but Doe was declared winner with nearly 51 percent of the poll. There were numerous accusations of fraud and indications that the opposition Liberia Action Party (LAP), led by Jackson Doe (not related), was the real winner. The international community did not react, the US State Department ‘was pleased’. Dr Samuel K. Doe – he had received an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Political Science from the University of Seoul during one of his numerous visits abroad – was sworn in as Liberia’s 20th President, and First President of the Second Republic, on January 6, 1986.
One month after the elections Doe’s former right hand, Commanding General Thomas Quiwonkpa led an armed invasion from Nimba County, in the north of the country. Soon the rebels were in Monrovia where they attacked the Executive Mansion. Two years earlier, Quiwonkpa, who hailed from Nimba County, had been accused of an attempt to overthrow the Government but was granted clemency. This time, during the November 1985 revolt, he was killed, his mutilated body publicly displayed. The excessive and brutal reprisals of the Krahn-led Liberian Army against the Mano and Gio, in Nimba County, proved to become important stepping stones to the civil war that officially began in December 1989 – also starting in Nimba.
On Christmas Eve 1989 an alliance composed of Americo-Liberians and Mano and Gio people, united in the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPLF), invaded from Cote d’Ivoire. The NPLF was led by Charles Taylor, a corrupt former civil servant under Doe, who was born from an Americo-Liberian father and a Golah-mother. An internal rift between the Americo-Liberian and tribal fighters in the NPFL resulted in a split led by the mentally ill ‘General’ Prince Johnson, from Nimba County, who created the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia. The Liberian army was soon losing control over a large part of the territory and Doe asked Nigeria’s president Babangida, with whom he presumably had common business interests, for support. In August 1990 the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sent a 4,000 men peacekeeping force to Liberia, known as ECOMOG.
On September 9, 1990 President Samuel Doe, on a visit to ECOMOG-headquarters in Monrovia, was captured by Prince Y. Johnson. How this could happen is still unclear. Doe was tortured, mutilated and finally brutally killed by Johnson and his men. All gruesome details were videotaped. The tape later found its way all over West Africa and the world. Images of the videotape shocked the world. In the confusing period following Doe’s assassination, the psychopathic Prince Johnson claims to have been acting President, for three months, before the arrival of the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) headed by Profesor Amos Sawyer.