By Bai Gbala ( October 23rd 2005)
|"...Today, October 2005, that keyword, marginalization, is replaced by the following words and phrases: “sideline, restore lost opportunities, special preferences, wipe out the tears, birthplace of Samuel Doe, krahn ethnic group, semi-literacy and little education”. These words and phrases and the political conditions that they imply are cleverly crafted into newspaper articles, apparently designed to inflame ethnic/tribal passions and influence decisions in the selection of our next president during the forthcoming run-off. WHAT ARE THE FACTS?..."
Yes indeed, some of us are back into ethnic/tribal politics or better yet, ethnic/tribal hatred. In the old days, it was ethnic/tribal exclusion; political power and participation were exclusively reserved for the settler elements of our society.
Apparently, we have learned nothing from the facts and lessons of our turbulent and brutal, historical experience. It is this experience that expectedly culminated in our recent, fifteen-year national tragedy, the historic nightmare of wanton destruction, population displacement, atrocious brutality, human suffering and death that spared no village, town and city throughout our land, all driven by ethnic/tribal bigotry – envy, jealousy, hatred, prejudice, antagonism, fear, suspicion and rumor, within the framework of an inordinate quest for political power.
As indicated, during the old days, the keywords were ethnic/tribal exclusion. However, Mr. Charles Ghanky Taylor, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia(NPFL), and their supporters/sympathizers sought, in 1985-89, to explain their murderous, so-called “popular revolution” by the key word, marginalization. They argued that the citizens of Nimba County and others who dominated the NPFL, were systematically marginalized or excluded from political participation in the affairs of the nation; therefore, the military, armed operations against the government of President Samuel Doe was necessary to reform the political “imbalance”.
Thus, the term or keyword marginalization was effectively used to convince the Liberian people in the effort to wipe out, by the barrel of AK-47, the vision and wisdom of ageless history of friendship, solidarity, and fraternity which subsisted by and between the GIO & MANO TRIBAL PEOPLES on the one hand, and the KRAHN TRIBAL PEOPLES on the other, including all the entire TRIBAL PEOPLES OF THE LIBERIAN NATION, characterized by Peace, Unity, Security, Cooperation, and Socio-political Stability throughout antiquity, UNTIL December 24, 1989!!!
Today, October 2005, that keyword, marginalization, is replaced by the following words and phrases: “sideline, restore lost opportunities, special preferences, wipe out the tears, birthplace of Samuel Doe, krahn ethnic group, semi-literacy and little education”. These words and phrases and the political conditions that they imply are cleverly crafted into newspaper articles, apparently designed to inflame ethnic/tribal passions and influence decisions in the selection of our next president during the forthcoming run-off. WHAT ARE THE FACTS?
Firstly, on October 16, 2005, Mr. Jacob Diama published a widely-circulated e-mail in the USA (maybe in Liberia as well) under the headline of “George Dweh as Weah’s Defense Minister”. According to Mr. Diama, “news from Monrovia, not confirmed”, indicated that George Weah “promised to restore lost opportunities” to the citizens of Grand Gedeh County after the death of the former president, Samuel Kanyon Doe. Mr. Diama stated that “a few of the political players – George Dweh and (Thomas) Yaya Nimely, (former) leader of a warring faction have already joined the Weah camp”. He concluded by the old saying that “where there is smoke, there may be fire”.
Secondly, Mr. Daniel Mahn, a political activist, also circulated an e-mail dated 19 October, 2005 here in the USA. Under the headline “CDC Denies Report”, Mr. Mahn quoted an article allegedly published by unidentified members of also an unidentified political party in the October 17, 2005 edition of the Liberian Express newspaper. In this article, the writers claimed that while on a campaign visit to Zwedru, capital of Grand Gedeh County, “Mr. Geaorge Weah promised special preferences to Grand Gedeh and that Nimbaians (citizens of Nimba County) will be sidelined”.
Thirdly, on October 19, 2005, the Press Union of Liberia reacted very vigorously to publications of the Forum and the Liberian Express newspapers under the headlines of “Secret Hands Behind Weah’s Presidency”, “George Dweh Eyes Defense”, “General Julu Returns Soon” and “Fear Grips CDC Over Run-Off Election”, respectively. In the Forum story, the paper named Mr. Thomas Yaya Nimely, Liberia’s Foreign Minister, CDC’s National Chairman Horatio Gould, and “other key Grand Gedeans of secretly supporting George Weah”. The paper claims that this “massive support” is in return for promise by Mr. Weah “to wipe their tears for the death of their son, Samuel Kanyon Doe”.
In a release on October 20, 2005, The Liberian Express newspaper, without identifying the political party members who authored the controversial article of October 17, 2005, said that “Nimbaians were disenchanted with Weah’s (alleged) promise to give the post of Defense Minister to George Dweh” of Grand Gedeh County.
Fourthly and finally, the Daily Observer newspaper, perhaps the “guru” of Liberian Journalism and the savy, intellectual, newspaper politician of them all, posted an article on the internet dated October 20, 2005, entitled “Weah’s Magic Whip For Grand Gedeh”. Immediately under the headline, is a color, campaign photograph showing Candidate George Weah and the late President Samuel Kanyon Doe, with the caption “VOTE WEAH PRESIDENT FOR A BETTER LIBERIA”. This photograph is critical, in symbolic as well as in logical terms, in successfully convincing the people by the themes of the article: (a), that Samuel Doe, the late President of Liberia and citizen from Grand Gedeh County, and the Soccer Legend now candidate for President, Mr. George Weah, have commonality of backgrounds; (b), that both were poor, country boys and semi-literates who loved and played soccer, the Liberian national sport; (c), that as leaders, their initial popularity dwindled, such that Doe turned to soccer and Weah turned to Grand Gedeh County (birthplace of Samuel Doe who was slain by Nimba citizens), and did better there than in his native Grand Kru County.
These themes, expertly woven together to explain and lend support to the conclusions made in the article; the paper argues:
That “one of Doe’s early beneficiaries in his (Doe’s) patronage of the game (of soccer) was George Oppon Weah…presidential contender. This football super star-turned-politician has been likened by his fanatics to Samuel Doe. Their logic is simple, both are semi-literate natives. Since the fall of Samuel Doe …most of the kinsmen …(the Krahns)
inhabitants of Grand Gedeh County, have certainly savored a return to the corridors of state power. Latching on to a caravan now that preaches and honors Doe’s philosophy can not be (for the Krahns and other indigenous Liberians) a step in the wrong direction for those to whom Samuel Doe is an idol. Most of those who follow George Weah have
also made justification of Samuel Doe’s little education as reason for the little-educated Weah to lead the country”.
Continuing, the paper says “paradoxically, the majority of the very people who harbored ill will towards the Krahns, if for nothing more than what Samuel Doe did as leader of the country, now support Weah for having commonality with Doe. And Weah being a frontrunner, the Krahns have cast in their lot with him, hence their chance and flocking…Weah is reported to have visited…the Town of Tuzon, the birthplace of Doe...”and “reportedly told the residents of Zwedru…that Doe was responsible for his (Weah’s) success…Other sources reported that the presidential contender (Weah) promised overtures to the residents of that county”.
From the Daily Observer article, it is reasonable to conclude that almost all of the controversy concerning Presidential Candidate Weah, Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties relations with implications affecting the entire nation, is found in the article, in various forms of construction and choice of language, apparently to provide and guarantee deniability.
Notwithstanding all of the political manipulations designed to re-introduce rift and tribal antagonism into the traditional friendly and cooperative relations between the GIO/MANO and KRAHN PEOPLES of Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties respectively, and the nation as a whole, have failed miserably.
These politically diabolical, hate-breeding, rumor-mongering, ethnic/tribal and national divisive activities, heretofore regarded as “savy” politics, are exposed and have now laid to rest permanently by the remarkably informed and reassuring PRESS STATEMENT MADE by the ELDERS OF THE TWO COUNTIES, THAT “WE REMAIN UNITED”.
Bai Gbala is the Co-founder & Director of Political Affaire of NDPL