"...Liberians have endured all the pains of conflict and many hearts are staying heavy with the memory of the sorrow. However, the past is over and it is the future that summons us now. That future is not one that can be found in uneducated popularity, it can not be found in greed in the name of serving the people or the youth, nor can it be found in nepotism, corruption, injustices, and favoritism. Such future can be found in leadership that will be able to make real the promises of democracy by the past failed leaders..."
“All hail Liberia hail!!
All hail Liberia hail!!
In union strong success is sure
We can not fail
Our right to prove”
Over the years the youth of Liberia continue to be used by warlord, politician and other job seekers in the name of serving the Liberian people. Many have used statements such as, “I want to seek the interest of the Liberian youth” or “I want to serve the Liberian people for the betterment of our young generation.” These statements and many other may have appealed to the masses, but how many of these people making these statements have upheld their values?
In recent times I have been questioned by some of my readers why I date few of my recent articles as far back as 1944 till present. I think most Liberians would agree with me that the period from 1944 to present could be remembered by many Liberians presently alive as a very critical period in our history.
With the count down to elections in war ravaged Liberia, it is important to take an introspective look at our history of electoral processes. From 1847 to 1980, elections in Liberia was mainly clothed in the diabolic inner workings of the political minds of said eras, the incumbent always having the say, referred to as, “so say one, so say all,” mainly because it was alleged that the election was decided at a Masonic meeting before the actual election, with the chair of the elections commission present at such meeting.
When the young 17 enlisted men headed by sergeant Doe took over in 1980, the leadership before him was condemned for not doing much for the youth of Liberia. He promised to do every thing to improve the status-quo, but the promise, like many other failed to yield its intensions. The youth were encouraged to drop from school and join the military which was seen as a step to success.
Before the 1985 election, Sergeant Samuel Doe changed his age to be within the frame work of the law which requires presidential candidates to be 35 years of age or above. That election result was decided at the executive mansion before it was announce to the Liberian people.
As the chairman announced the result to the public at the Unity Conference Center outside of Monrovia, he could not help himself but mistook Samuel Kanyon Doe for Samuel Fiah Doe (Fiah being the middle name of the late Jackson Doe, the presumed winner of the 1985 election). Some of what lead us to our present situation is a direct link to such election results.
After the death of sergeant Doe, when time came to discuss the formation of an interim leadership for Liberia, Liberians politicians, religious leaders and civil servants pulled in from every parts of the world to find job in the name of serving the Liberian people and improving the lives of the young people bearing arms. These job seekers, headed by Dr. Amos C Sawyer, a Liberian political scientist and Bishop Ronald Diggs, a Lutheran preacher, soon found themselves in positions of trust in war crippled Liberia but in no time it was business as usual in the Liberian sense ( corruption, nepotism, favoritism, tribalism greed, ETC). After the disgraceful death of Samuel Doe at the hands of mentally unbalanced rebels in 1990, the period between 1990 and the 1997 elections was mark by change of much interim leadership based on political, tribal, and factional interest. Indeed, Liberia was at a very critical cross road of uncertainty until 1997; when Liberians started coming out of the woodwork and every possible holes to contest the election in the name of serving the people and improving the lives of the youth, many of whom were being used by the warlords. But sadly at that point many Liberians thought rewarding the guy with the biggest gun with the executive mansion would’ve solved the problem. It was often said in Liberia at that time, “Liberians must allow the guy that created the mess to clean it up.”
It is widely believed that Liberians therefore elected Mr. Taylor out of fear and with the blind hope that he would’ve made a difference. In less time they came to the painful realization that Mr. Taylor's interest was not the Liberian people, indeed, it was not the youth that slaughtered, tortured and raped to get him to the position but his family and close associates. He failed to live by his popular slogan, “above all else, the people.” Many of the other factions that have emerged over the time in the Liberian situation in the name of bettering the lives of the youth and the Liberian masses have all failed to meet those promises because of their selfish and personal interest.
Upon Taylor’s departure from Liberia, most Liberian again converged on Ghana to seek Job in the name of doing better for Liberia. Most of those leaving from the United States took out the saving form their 401k accounts, some took out from their personal saving accounts and others borrowed from friends and relatives to be able to buy their way into the job seeking process, all in the name of serving the Liberian people. But again in less time Liberians and the international community have come to the realization that when those few Liberians who keep running around in the political corridor says they want to serve their country it means they want to steal, loot, kill and corrupt.
It is often said that experience is the best teacher. Liberians have had their own share of experience with every thing ugly and nasty, but the future of Liberia is now in the hands of Liberians, so beware because they are at your doors again. Some are just old wine in new bottles while some are just new devils dressed to dance to the singing of the same old singers and drummers.
A distinguished medievalist, J. R. Strayer once said, “No community can survive and no institution can function without constant reference to past experience. In every society people are usually ruled by precedents fully as much as by laws, which is to say that we are rule by the collective memory of our past. It is the memory of occurrences that makes a scattered individual into community.”
As we start the count down to October, we must allow our history to enable us deal more knowledgeably with continuity and change in our society. The construction of an informed sense of our past is a fundamental component in appreciating and understanding the present as well as anticipating the future. The decision to elect leaders that will seek the common good of Liberia will be in the hands of Liberian, especially the youth in October. This election will not be the old, “so say one so say all” it will not be a reward to the guy with the biggest gun nor should it be a popularity contest but a mark of broadminded zeal to the integrity and freedom of the Liberian people.
Come October, we must elect leaders that will lead our nation under God’s guidance to a new birth of freedom and equality. The coming moment is one that is rare in the Liberian history of political election. This moment is an opening of opportunity to the greater achievement that awaits us as a nation. Will we be wise enough to seize this opportunity?
Before this opportunity, Liberians have endured all the pains of conflict and many hearts are staying heavy with the memory of the sorrow. However, the past is over and it is the future that summons us now. That future is not one that can be found in uneducated popularity, it can not be found in greed in the name of serving the people or the youth, nor can it be found in nepotism, corruption, injustices, and favoritism. Such future can be found in leadership that will be able to make real the promises of democracy by the past failed leaders. Liberia may not be able to succeed in taking the last step to total peace and freedom in a condition of relative calm if we are not wise enough to soberly reflect on our historical failure before October.
Let us remember it is not how we can disentangle ourselves heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live. WE CAN NOT FAIL OUR RIGHT TO PROVE.
About the author:
Ben Browne is a Liberian residing in Minnesota and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org