"... I have come to realize over the years that one of our greatest problems is we continue to put people with little or no education into positions of trust based on what we may get or our personal connection to such person. On January 3 rd 1944 we put an 8 th grade student in power that ruled the nation for 27 years unaccountable to no one but himself.... There is something deep down within the very soul of the ordinary people from mount wologisi to Maryland , from mount Nimba to Cape mount, and from St.john River to the Montserrado River that is crying for a leadership that will not fail them again..."
Since I posted my last article, “NEW SLOGAN, SAME PEOPLE, DIFFERENT DAY,” I continue to receive comments from Liberians of diverse ideas and backgrounds. I greatly appreciate those comments mainly because I believed diversity is the beauty of democracy. However, while many of these comments are in agreement of my idea of sober reflection in the Liberian situation; some considered me bias and uninformed but one particular question that keeps coming up in most of these comments is “who are those that keep failing Liberia?”
The simplest answer to this question could be it is Liberians that keep failing Liberia. But my intention for this article is far from being confined to only who continue to fail Liberia; it is of much greater extent, and shall take in the main reasons for Liberia failure over the years. As to my own parts, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weight the several proposals of other projectors, I write for the dignity of Liberia and the destiny of our democracy.
I think it is agreed by all parties that the prodigious situation of Liberia is in its present critical stage; therefore whoever could find a fair, unique and easy way of making this situation greatly improve would deserve a public recognition on the local and international level. We continue to hear the international communities tell us that our problems can be better solved by us. I shall now propose my own thoughts, which I hope will be taken into consideration.
I have come to realize over the years that one of our greatest problems is we continue to put people with little or no education into positions of trust based on what we may get or our personal connection to such person. On January 3 rd 1944 we put an 8 th grade student in power that ruled the nation for 27 years unaccountable to no one but himself. Liberia was at a motionless point for those years because all that matters to the leadership at the time was making sure that their farms had workers. When the president died in 1971 and his vice president took over as president, Liberia was already sitting on a political and social time bomb waiting to explode. The bomb exploded finally when the master sergeant took over a leadership he had no idea how it functions. By the time he could realize his own function it was already late. The wanted embezzler was on his way to get him.
From 1980 to present most Liberians continue to make the same mistake of singing and dancing to songs such as, “native women born soldier, soldier killed Tolbert,” you killed my pa, you killed my ma, I will vote for you, and now you know book, you don’t know book that you we want.” These slogans/songs mainly by some of our citizens continue to show the outside world our level of education. I am not reciting these facts for the purpose of recrimination. We cannot afford it. I recite them in order to explain why we continue to fail as a nation.
The pending election in Liberia is one that must decide the direction of the generation after us not a repeat of our failed past. Sound education with sober judgment must be very important components expected of people we elect to offices in Liberia during the coming election. We must be able to give our children reason for their education. Two well known functionalist sociologist, Kinsley Davis and Wilbert Moore, once concluded that, “social stratification (society in layers according to class, power or prestige) is inevitable because society must make certain that its positions are filled; ensure that the most qualified people end up in the most important positions; and finally, reward people for the time and energy it takes to develop strong qualifications.” Liberia is in my view, no exception to such society.
There is something in the soul of the ordinary Liberians that is crying out for freedom and great leadership. There is something deep down within the very soul of the ordinary people from mount wologisi to Maryland, from mount Nimba to Cape mount, and from St.john River to the Montserrado River that is crying for a leadership that will not fail them again. Liberians have tried to adjust to the failure of our uneducated, selfish and arrogant leaders but now is the time that we can sing to a better song with its truth meaning---all hail Liberia hail. It should be cleared that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of Liberian can ignore the present events leading to the 2005 election. Now is the time for us all to get involve. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with lost opportunity.
We can make a collective decision that will restore our dignity and respect by electing some one with sound educated judgments. Some one that will be able to negotiate and lobby for the well being of Liberia on the global scene or we can elect someone with little or no leadership/education experience and make the university of Liberia (UL) an extension of the executive mansion and repeat our failed history. Indeed our problems can be better solved by us. For too long Liberians who come up with new slogans different days continue to point finger at the educated people/politicians for our failure. But my only question to the finger pointers is which real educated Liberian has been placed in the presidential chair base on real issues by a popular vote since 1944?
Once to every nation comes a moment to decide. I urge every Liberian of diverse political and social interest, Liberians of all religion and tribal grouping, from every section of the country to join in the process of educating the masses, that the upcoming election is what will direct the path of our children. Therefore we must elect candidates base on their education, wisdom, courage, vision, record and decision making abilities not their popularity.
In our time we have come to live with moments of great crisis mainly because of our past leaders lack of proper education, vision, common sense, loyalty to the nation, and respect for the rule of law. Our lives have been marked with debates about issues of war and peace, issues of prosperity and commitment. But rarely in any time does an issue of electing someone that will bring our country to the stage of respect, accountability, and social, political, and economic equality lay right at our feet. The upcoming election is not only a challenge to our growth, our security and respect; it is also a challenge to the value, meaning and purpose of our beloved sweet land of liberty.
Our founding fathers believed that if the view of the right of people was to burgeon, it must be rooted in democracy. The most basic right of all is the right to choose our own leaders. But about this right there can be no argument that every Liberians must have the right to vote or be voted for. But the duty that must weigh heavily on us as citizens must be the duty to vote the most qualified person into position of trust. If we will make the right choice we will be able to transform our bitter and failed past to a beautiful masterpiece of brotherhood.
Again remember, the ultimate question for any of us to ask is not how we can extricate ourselves heroically from the affair, but how the generation after us shall continue to live.
About the author:
Ben Browne is a Liberian residing in Minnesota and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org