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Opposition Movements

Open opposition to the political establishment?and specifically to the Tolbert administration?was manifested in the 1970s through student associations, self?help groups, and organizations of Liberians resident or studying abroad. The two most influential of these were the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA), founded by Togba Nah Tipoteh among students at the University of Liberia in 1973, and the Progressive Alliance of Liberians (PAL), organized in the United States in 1974 by Gabriel Baccus Matthews.

Tipoteh, who had been dismissed earlier from a government planning post after a disagreement on policy objectives, regarded the MOJA as a "vanguard party" preparing the way for social and political change in the long term, but he avoided becoming identified with radical programs based on class struggle. Pan?Africanist in its orientation, the MOJA established links with nationalist groups outside Liberia. Among his allies on the Monrovia campus were H. Boima Fahnbulleh, the son of Henry B. Fahnbulleh, and Amos Sawyer, both members of the university faculty (see Organization under the Second Republic, ch. 4).

The PAL, which drew support from disaffected students and expatriate Liberians who were beyond the reach of their government, was more political in its rhetoric and demanded more immediate action, but it was committed to working through the democratic process. Matthews took his inspiration from the brand of "African socialism" practiced in Tanzania by Julius Nyerere but advocated the reform of existing Liberian institutions rather than revolution. The PAL opened an office in Monrovia in 1978.

Although the two movements differed in their ideological underpinning, methods, and aims, they were not in direct competition as opposition groups, and a measure of cooperation developed between them. Both engaged in political education activities that were intended to radiate from its elite members to the broader masses. The MOJA set up its own cooperatives for the production and marketing of rice, emphasizing labor?intensive methods. It was closely linked with an enterprise known as Susukuu, which organized small Liberian businesses and craft shops into self?reliant companies.

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