Wilton Sankawulo

Professor Wilton Sankawulo
Source: Poetry for Peace
Chairman, Council of State of the Liberian National Transitional Government II (LNTG II)
Term: September 1995 – September 1996

Wilton Sengbe Sankawulo was born on July 26, 1937 in Haindi, Bong County to parents Dougba and Naisua Sankawulo. His early education was at the Lutheran Mission in Kpalopele, Bong County. He embraced Christianity and attended several Lutheran Mission schools including the Totota and Sanoyea Lutheran Schools and the Lutheran Training Institute in Salayea, Lofa County.

Later, he attended the Cuttington College Divinity School from 1960 to 1963. A fellowship award landed him at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California where he specialized in Sacred Theology, obtaining a Masters of Divinity degree. As one focused on higher education, he also studied at the University of Iowa where he earned a Masters of Fine Arts in English.

After studying abroad, he returned to Liberia and worked at the Department of Information and Culture Affairs (currently the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism). He later served as Special Assistant to the Minister, Dr. Edward B. Kessely and Director Specialist for Research at the Ministry.

With less than a year at the last position, Sankawulo was transferred to the Executive Mansion as the Assistant Minister for Presidential Affairs. He later served as President Doe’s Special Assistant for Academic Affairs. Among other duties, he aided the President in obtaining his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Liberia in 1989.

A prominent Liberian author beginning in the 70s, his literary works include ‘The Rain and the Night”, “Marriage of Wisdom”, “Why No One Knows When He Will Die”, ”In The Cause Of The People” and several others. Professor Sankawulo, as he was known, taught English and Literature at the University of Liberia and Cuttington University before and during the war.

The Abuja Agreement signed in August 1995 established a comprehensive ceasefire, an end of hostilities and selected Sankawulo as a neutral party to head the Council of State which included representatives from the rebel groups and neutral citizens. Others on the council would serve as equal vice chairs. Government posts were to be distributed among the various parties/rebel groups. It was intended that this Council would serve till elections scheduled for August 20, 1996.

In this capacity, Sankawulo made several foreign trips including one to the UN and another to the African Summit in Cameroon. On this Council’s watch, the April 6, 1996 unrest occurred due to Taylor’s incessant attempt to arrest another warlord, Roosevelt Johnson, for the murder of some civilians. In September 1996, the Council was replaced by the Council of State of the National Transitional Government of Liberia. This subsequent council was headed by Africa’s first female head of state, Ruth Perry.

The admirable professor died on February 21, 2009 at the JFK Memorial Hospital in Monrovia at 72 years old, and was interred on March 18 at his family compound in Nyanfor Town, Gardnersville, Monrovia. The Liberian official gazette described him as a ” Renowned Novelist and Folktale Writer; Author; Administrator; Educator; Faithful Servant of God; Patriot; Septuagenarian and a Dedicated Public Servant” (Foreign Affairs, 2009).


Abuja Agreement to Supplement the Cotonou and Akosombo Agreements as subsequently clarified by the Accra Agreement. Peace Agreements Digital Collection. United States Institute of Peace. 26 Aug. 1995. Web.

Government Pays Homage to Professor Sankawulo. Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Republic of Liberia. 19 Mar. 2009. Web.

Liberia torn by long civil war. CNN. 30 Apr. 1996. Web.

Liberia – UNOMIL Background. United Nations Peacekeeping. Web.

Price, Jason. The Place of David D. Kpormakpor in Liberian History. The Professor: a documentary short by Jason Price. 2006. Web.

Ruth Perry at the United Nations. United Nations. The Perspective. 09 Oct. 1996. Web.