PSYCHO: 1949 -  2016

A man never in a hurry

A special feature celebrating the life of Alexander Kojo Anderson

by Stephen jaitoh koffa, jr.

Class of '79

THE MAN

alexander kojo anderson  - psycho

Over a lifetime, few men are affiliated with a single institution. Say the name Psycho in any Liberian gathering and basketball immediately comes to mind. Stories pour, memories abound. Everyone he's ever touched has a story of how he made them feel. On his own, Psycho was an institution, a revered icon. But that didn't happen by chance. His journey, one filled with purpose, perseverance, challenges, and reward, started at St. Patrick's High School. Student, Teacher, Coach, Athletic Director, Dean of Discipline, Vice Principal. Multiple stations, one institution. Who knows whether this was the grand design for his life. Divine or not, Psycho embraced his journey and far exceeded what was expected of him. 

So, who was Alexander Kojo Anderson, the man many affectionately called Psycho.  

 

Psycho was born in Monrovia, Liberia, on August 29, 1949. His father was Frederick Anderson, and his mother Miatta Jagborma. As a child, Psycho was more curious than many kids his age. He explored everything around him and always shared new things of interest. The minute he discovered books, he was never far from them. He would rummage through them, stack them, play with them. He treated them like toys. Being a child, especially a little boy, his real toys were always there. Kicking his soccer ball around the house or out on the playground became his favorite pastime. His parents soon realize that their child had both energy and curiosity that needed nurturing. Books and balls would eventually define the life of this child, and his parents knew just the right school for him to get his start.

For young Kojo, education began at St. Patrick's Elementary School in Monrovia, Liberia. After spending six years in elementary, he was enrolled at St. Patrick's High School, and studied there until his graduation in 1970. As a student, Psycho excelled in academics, sports and the arts. He frequently made the honor roll, was a star soccer player for the Saints, and a budding actor in the drama club. Particularly noteworthy is the role he played in the drama "Natives vs Settlers." The play dramatized the early years of the Republic, and explored the relationship between native Liberians and former slaves from the United States who settled in Liberia. Playing the role of Native Chief, Psycho showed that he had the talent to be the leading man in any drama. Except, leadership for Psycho was not simply reserved for dramatic plays. The stage in real life awaited him. And St. Patrick's High School would be his proving ground. There, his devotion to personal enlightenment and service to humanity became consciously resolute. This enterprise would play out during the course of his entire life.

As a student, Psycho's participation in sports and the arts was not the limit of his range, but an extension of it. He read books outside of academic requirement, and wrote essays on issues of the day.  He was constantly in thought. Never one to to avoid intellectual challenges, he engaged in creative and critical thinking. Poetry soon followed. Whether written in free  or formal verse, the rhythm and images in his poetry showed the brilliance of his young mind. He was deeply conflicted, as young people often are. And this was not a bad thing. It provided him both the impetus and source for much of what was written in his poems. He wanted his readers to know what he was thinking, so he didn't engage much in the abstract. 

 

With so much going on in his mind, Psycho constantly sought activities to release this energy. He found one such outlet in Amicus Unus Fellowship (AUF).

AUF was an organization founded in 1966 by a group of 1965 graduates of St. Patrick's High School. They founded this organization to serve as a subsidiary of St. Patrick's High School Alumni Association. Psycho was in the 8th grade at the time AUF was founded, yet he found the organization to be inspiring. He participated in many of AUF's activities, which included an intellectual discourse. Since this was an activity that challenged one's mind, Psycho found it a natural hub for both intellectual stimulation and release. He continued to engage with AUF until its dissolution prior to his graduation from SPHS.

In 1970, Psycho graduated with honors from St.Patrick's High School.

Psycho in his office in the early 80's.

He continued his education at the University of Liberia where he studied Political Science and Public Administration. At UL and to no one's surprise, he was an outstanding student and athlete. He graduated from the University of Liberia in 1974 with a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Political Science, and  a minor in Public Administration.

After graduating from college, Psycho did not have to toil long about what he wanted to do with his life. He knew almost instantly. He wanted to mentor young people in some capacity, and wanted this role to involve St. Patrick's High School. With this goal in mind, Psycho applied for a job at his alma mater, and Brother Edward hired him as a teacher.

Psycho began his career teaching English, and then later Economics. As a teacher, Psycho brought many of the qualities that served him well throughout his life. He was affable, respectful, patient, warm, inspirational, caring, understanding, purposeful, knowledgeable  and more. Most of all, he was a man of high moral character and served as an exemplary role model to young people. If teaching seemed natural to him, it is because it was. Psycho kept his students very engaged. He saw tremendous potential in every student, even when they were inclined to doubt themselves. Because he loved learning himself, he would always remind students of that familiar Saints refrain: "You came here not to learn, but to learn how to learn." He would teach you how to teach yourself, and in the process saw his role simply as a guide.

Psycho was never too busy to tend to the needs of any of his students. He would tutor them, mentor them, scold them, discipline them. Most of all, he would encourage them. His extraordinary qualities as a teacher led to his several promotions at St. Patrick's High School. He served as Coach, Athletic Director, then Dean of Discipline and eventually Vice Principal. Psycho built relationships with hundreds of students who regarded him as a surrogate father. One could see why. He was a loving and caring Dad to his biological children whom he often spoke of with love and affection. Seeing his interaction with his children left no doubt what kind of father he was.

 

As distinguished as his career as a teacher and administrator was, and as exemplary his role as a father, he became most famous for a single impactful role that most remembered him as: COACH.

COMMENTS: Tell us what you remember about Psycho

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