Paul Yeenie Harry ~ (August 20th 2005)
"...if you choose to ignore the reality, if you make the wrong decision, if you knowingly choose the wrong person for president, I will not hate you, but for sure, I will blame you for the consequences that our country will have to face, as a result of your wrong decision. I will blame you the same way I blame those who voted for Charles Taylor in the 1997 elections....”
"Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment. Therefore I say: Hearken to me; I also will show my opinion." Job 32:9,10
Liberians will, on 11 October 2005, be going to the polls to elect their a new group of leaders, after fourteen years of intermittent civil wars, wars, which are better described as wars of plunder and/or wars for mere state power. The political race has actually begun. Campaign officially opened on August 15. Already, by August 15, a total of 22 presidential candidates had been qualified to contest the nation’s highest political office – the presidency.
What is most interesting about the process is that disarmament has already been successfully carried out, thereby, incapacitating warlords who are fond of beating their chests about having ready-to-fight men and stockpiles of arms and ammunition, which they could use to unleash new terror on the Liberian people, if things didn’t go their way. Thanks to the fifteen-thousand-men peacekeeping troops operating in Liberia and to all other organizations and individuals who have helped, one way or the other, in restoring peace to Africa’s oldest republic.
I also salute my compatriots, the Liberian people, for their resilience and desire to graduate from the era of wars and destruction to the epoch of peace, democracy and nation building. The event of the elections is becoming a reality because most Liberians believe in peaceful co-existence. Bravo, my countrymen, for your willingness and readiness to embrace peace. You deserve it! Let’s beseech our ancestors to grant us a truly genuine peace, and to frustrate the plans and deeds of individuals who might be thinking of reinventing the dark days of our nation’s existence.
Without doubts, fellow Liberians, we have to handle the entire electoral process with cogitation and caution, not only because the elections serve as a turning point in our existence as a nation and people, but also because some of those in the race, or individuals associated with them, are people whose track records show that the shouldn’t be participating in the process, in the first place. Most of these individuals have either favored or supported the disintegration of our country, the suffering of our people, the igniting of religious tension, the igniting of tribal rivalries, the plundering of our resources, etc., etc. Besides, most of them have proven over the years that they are greedy, corrupt, self-centered, deceitful, nepotistic, despotic, intolerant, unpatriotic, etc.
It is in consideration of these facts that I venture to write this article, an article that contains pieces of advice for my fellow countrymen who will be casting their ballots on Tuesday, 11 October 2005. Each ballot is very important in determining who becomes the next president of Liberia, or better who becomes Liberia’s first true post-war president. Because your vote is essential in determining who becomes the next president, you must look, check, investigate and, if possible, pray hard, before deciding to give your ballot to that candidate of your choice.
I will not be there when it’s time for you to make that important decision. If you allow our ancestors to help you in making the right decision, vocational camps will replace displaced camps; if you make the right decision, human rights violators will face justice; if you make the right decision, academic soldiers will replace child soldiers; if you make the right decision, vindictiveness will change to genuine reconciliation; if you make the right decision, beggars will change to givers; if you make the right decision, poverty will change to self-sufficiency; if you make the right decision, destruction will change to construction; if you make the right decision, peace and democracy will replace war and jungle justice; if you make the right decision, respect for human rights will replace security brutality; if you make the right decision, enlightenment will replace ignorance; if you make the right decision, dark Monrovia will turn to bright Monrovia; I tell you the truth, if you make the right decision, the dry bones in the valley will walk again.
On the other hand, if you choose to ignore the reality, if you make the wrong decision, if you knowingly choose the wrong person for president, I will not hate you, but for sure, I will blame you for the consequences that our country will have to face, as a result of your wrong decision. I will blame you the same way I blame those who voted for Charles Taylor in the 1997 elections.
Since October 11 is still weeks away, all I can do for you now is to give you fifteen strong pieces of advice, and I hope you will heed them. Here we go:
- Do not vote for anyone who has exhibited dictatorial tendencies/behavior in the past, or whom you strongly believe has the potential to become a dictatorial leader. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize dictators, because during the campaign process (and sometimes after the elections), they become benevolent givers, a short-lived situation intended to confuse the electorates. We have seen, heard and read about emerging dictators who spent money and goods, here and there, as a means of encouraging the voters to make them president. The case of Charles Taylor is still fresh on the minds of most Liberians, as well as non-Liberians. Though Taylor was a ruthless leader, he interspersed it with donations, here and there. It was even worse doing the campaign season of 1997, where he constantly distributed rice to win the hearts of many voters. You also know about Tubman, a man who has gone down in history as the first Liberian benevolent/benign dictator. Like Charles Taylor, he was helping some people here and there. Should I mention Doe, the youngest tyrant in Liberia’s history? One major difference is that Doe did not donate here and there. Investigate the candidates well before making your decision. People seeking state power are usually deceitful. They don’t mean what they say, and they don’t say what they mean. This is why you have to be very, very careful with them, especially during this campaign process.
- Do not vote for anyone who is overly anxious about the presidency. If you think this statement doesn’t say exactly what I mean, let me clarify. Do not vote for anyone who feels that the presidency is set aside for him, and him alone, for which he must get it at all cost. You will agree with me that there are those who see no other jobs to do in civil society, except to be president. This tendency could cause such individuals to use clandestine means to get the presidency. Such individuals, when given power, may refuse to exit or feel uncomfortable relinquishing power, when it’s necessary to do so. They may even revert to the use of brutal security forces, terror, jungle justice, selfish amendments to the constitution, censorship and intimidation of the press and, if possible, the use of war, to hold unto power. Please do not vote for such individuals. They are dangerous to the future survival of Liberia. Do a background investigation of the candidates – check their past records, check their current deeds and utterances, etc. If you can’t find more information about the candidates in the newspapers, on the radio and on television, visit the Hatai shops on Carey Street, or ask other family members, friends, etc., to find out more about each candidate. You may be surprised to find out that others know more about these candidates than you do.
- Do not vote for anyone who is a religious or ethnic bigot, or who has the tendency to infuse ethnic and religious tensions in our country. Some of those in the race, and individuals working with them, squarely fall into this category; that’s why you have to be careful with your choice of candidate. There are those who want to become leaders, but see no other convincing political platform, except to agitate one ethnic group against the other, or one religious group against the other. Such individuals could lead Liberia into a vicious cycle of chaos and decimation. We are cognizant of the different dimensions that the Liberia Civil War took – killing people because they belonged to a specific religion, tribe, etc., or because they used a specific name. ome of those who are igniters of religious and/or tribal tensions are running up and down in Liberia, campaigning for the leadership of our beloved country. Do not support them!
I will stop here for now. In the next article, I will continue the advice to you, my countrymen, who will be voting on 11 October. Meanwhile, I will share with you a poem, a poem that will end each of the series on the current topic: “Do not Vote for Such People.”
The Men of My Land
The men of my land!
Oh! The men of my land!
When they want power,
They are like the gentle breeze,
Touching even the grass.
But when they get the power,
They're like blood-thirsty mosquitoes,
Sparing no one, not even anemia patients;
And like the scorching sun,
Pitying no one, not even the inhabitants of the Sahara.
For now, allow me to rest my pen for the next article.
About the author:
Paul Yeenie Harry is a Liberian; he lives in Poland. He can be reached at email@example.com