A Decorated Diplomat Ponders Life and Country
When one thinks of a diplomat, it’s hard to sway your thoughts away from tuxedos, “need-to-know” classified meetings, and high-class functions. However the actual life of a diplomat provides a stark contrast to this common misconception.
Johnson treated his position with distinction.
Behind the glamorous scenes and social outings, Johnson received grave threats to his personal safety and endured numerous transitions around the world while mastering the ability to adjust to foreign settings. On top of all these experiences, he also found the strength to uphold his national sovereignty through the haze of conflict and corruption that terrorized and almost obliterated his beloved country.
Martinus L. Johnson Sr. served Liberia as a foreign service diplomat for over 25 years. Johnson was born on March 24, 1929, in Grand Bassa County, Liberia, West Africa. Throughout Johnson’s career as an ambassador for Liberia, he was stationed in the United States, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Hong Kong, and Germany, among others across four continents. In all these countries, Johnson experienced the dynamics of world politics firsthand.
A handful of his decorations include the Order of the Collar of the Nile First Class (Arab Republic of Egypt), Knight Commander, Humane Order of African Redemption (Liberia), Commander of the Order of the Star of Africa (Liberia), and Cross of Merit First Class (Federal Republic of West Germany).
A military coup in Liberia in 1980 saw the toppling of Tolbert’s Americo-Liberian government and the instigation of Samuel Doe’s de facto office. Johnson was recalled by Doe, where he served until Doe’s assassination in 1990.
Fearing for his safety, Johnson had no choice but to flee the land he loved and return to the United States.
Johnson maintained his career of service in the United States by sharing his expertise as a teacher of Third World Diplomacy at Wayne State University in the Peace and Conflict Studies Center.
Days could be spent unfolding Johnson’s fascinating career and the unique experiences he encountered. His book Reflections of an African Diplomat is a must read—captivating to say the least. Johnson recounts his observations and insights into the dynamics of world politics. His reflections inspire you to assess your own personal experiences.
At the age of 83, Johnson has left his mark on the world. Johnson is now residing in Michigan with his second wife of 16 years, Julia Simmons Johnson. He is the father of five children: Joyce, Martinus Jr., Michael, Jutta, and Michelle, as well as five stepchildren: Louis and David Mitchell, Gail Summerhill, Julie Ivy, and John Simmons—a total of sixteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.