By Nvasekie N. Konneh (June 21st 2005)
"...As a people, our lives have been seized by the cutthroat politic of our time. This has miserably stifled creativity in our nation. There is no way we can move beyond this current predicament without being creative about finding creative solutions to our many problems. There is something we all can do and we don't have to be politicians to make our contributions to the development of our country..."
Most Liberians have expressed their indignation over the fact that there are too many candidates running to be their president. One thing they haven't considered is what else can most of these people be or do if not running for president, or trying to be ministers or directors in government? Liberia is one country in the world where nothing else matters but politic. Politic is the most enterprising and lucrative adventure. That's why everybody wants to be in politic with the presidency as a golden crown. Our way of thinking is so screwed up to the extent that it feels like our world belongs to the politicians and the rest of us are just living in it at their mercy.
Our media is saturated with news about politicians and whatever they are saying or doing. They crave and try to remain in the spotlight constantly. They are the only ones whose opinions matter and no one else’s does. When they say something we all suppose to stand at attention, because it's their world and we are just living in it. By and large we have come to accept this as the gospel truth. Young people growing up in such society can only think of becoming politicians one day since it’s the only field of occupation that seems very promising. They have grown up seeing it and have been taught that way. No wonder why every body wants to be president. Let's face it, what else can most of these folks do? What else can they be?
In the mind of an average Liberian, investing in any other venture outside of politics is hopelessly fruitless. Why waste your time and energy in pursuing anything that will not bring in any money and prestige? Whatever investment one makes in politics is worth it because there is always the hope that one day one will end up being "big shot" in the government where one will have unrestricted access to wealth. In our mindset, the foundation for politics is already there. One does not have to be a creative genius to join politics. All one has to do is to belong to some organizations or make some politically correct statements, and hope that one day you too can be director, minister, or president. We go to school with this solidly drummed in our heads. So much so it seems as if that's theonlyreason we go to school for. Having obtained all the degrees, our minds are set on becoming "big shot" in government. To be anything else or to succeed at any other thing is an uphill battle and why try something that requires so much effort? No wonder why there is no great writer, artist, musician, investor or CEO that we can draw inspiration from as we grow up.
If we are to make a turning point from this everybody-want-to-be-president mentality, we have to recreate a society and culture where everything else matters, so that when musician sings, when writer writes, when painter paints, when architect builds, when manager manages cooperation, private or public, we can see beauty and admiration in their efforts and works, and accord them the same respect and honor we have so long reserved for only the politicians. If we don't do this, I am afraid of the future of Liberia . If we don’t do this there will always be this stiff competition for the limited positions in government. In the scramble for power in that kind of environment, the question of moral values being prerequisite for holding public office will no longer be valid. Those already in government will do anything to maintain their jobs and if they know they will be out of job any time soon, they will grab as much as they can because there will be nothing to fall back on when they are out of office. And if they don't grab enough, next time we see them on Broad Street waiting for bus or taxis, we will laugh at them for being foolish because they couldn't grab enough while they were in office. Who wants to come from being a minister one day and the next day you are out there on the streets with the common people hustling to get in the bus or taxis? So while those in government will do anything to hold unto what they already have, those outside will do anything to get in. So in all true and honesty, there's no difference between those already in power and those fighting to get to power.
In some society, politic may be the last thing to do, usually when a person shall have accomplished much in other professional areas. In this case, he or she will not become politician because politic is his or her only breadline without which he or she will starve to death but because he or she genuinely wants to contribute to society's progress. Politicians of this character are not too many in our society. For the most part, there's not much of a difference between one politician and the other because they are all in it more for themselves. Because their lives depend on it.
As a writer, who have led demonstrations or being involved in some led by others, I sometimes find it difficult to tell people that I have no political ambition, that writing about social and political issues or leading demonstration for a cause does not necessarily make one a politician. It's hard to convince people who believe that once you participate in public discourse, or demonstrate for a cause, you are a politician. Often I have told them there is a difference between being a politician, an activist, or writer. For me, other than wanting to see a Liberia in which all Liberians are treated equally, I have no desire to be a politician, at least not the way Liberians have come to know what is politic. Whatever I do, and preferably that will be creative writing, I want the same respect as the politician.
As a people, our lives have been seized by the cutthroat politic of our time. This has miserably stifled creativity in our nation. There is no way we can move beyond this current predicament without being creative about finding creative solutions to our many problems. There is something we all can do and we don't have to be politicians to make our contributions to the development of our country.
After the war that has caused us to wander in the wilderness for too long, this time should be a national rebirth. This requires that we go beyond our normal comfort zones. We must begin to demonstrate a high level of creativity in everything we do. We cannot afford to still do things as we have always done. At more than 150, Liberia is still like a virgin territory, compared to her neighbors. There are so many areas for any Liberian to get involved and contribute to the country’s development. With 50 presidential candidates running to be president when only one person will eventually be elected, it makes a logical mind to wonder whether these 50 candidates have considered the fact that they are only good for the presidency, and nothing else.
As a conclusion to this article, let me share with you a poem (Political Party Line) from my book of poetry, "Going To War For America," that expresses my feeling as a writer and what I feel about politic in general.
POLITICAL PARTY LINE
My gift as a writer
And the independence
To express it
Cannot be surrendered
To any political boss.
That’s why I am not a member
Of a political party
Which may want to control
What I see and how I see it
What I say and how I say it
What I do and how I do it.
Let the politicians
Join political parties
And let me just write about them
Doing their things
And how they do it
In daylight and darkness .
About the author:
Nvasekie N. Konneh is a Liberian writer, and active duty personnel in the United States Navy. He’s currently assigned on board the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier based in Norfolk , Virginia . Nvasekie Konneh is the author of the book of poetry, “Going To War For America .” He’s working on his second book, “So Far Away On The Distant Sea .” He is also the Future Editor of the Limany Web Publication, www.limany.org . He can be reached at KonnLove@aol.com ; Konnehnn@eisenhower.navy.mil , or Nvaskonn@netscape.net .