By Nvasekie N. Konneh (October 31st 2005)
|...What is more troubling from the both sides of the campaign is the level of fanaticism being demonstrated...
We have cried and died for democracy. We have been taken for ride for democracy. We have been bamboozled by some con-artists for democracy. For all Samuel Doe and his gangs did in the name of “liberating” us the natives from the minority rulership of the Congons and for all the hell Charles Taylor put us through, we have been promised democracy. Before we even talk of the present, the foundation of our country was supposedly laid on democracy. That was way before PPP and Moja started the street demonstrations, demanding equal right and justice for all. And it was way before the April 12, Revolution and Taylor’s “killeration.” All along we have not seen or experienced real democracy until the election of 2005. Unlike Tubman era when there was only a single candidate to vote for, unlike 1985 when military dictator was in total control, and unlike 1997 when Charles Taylor and other warlords were lording over divided territories, this time we have a lame duck president who does not influence who the voters should vote for. So for the first time in Liberia’s history, we are having what can be called the freest election.
After running campaigns without intimidation, after standing in long lines to cast their votes, after being pat on the back by the rest of the world for conducting one of the freest elections in Africa, it seems like the second round is generating more heat. There are lot of grumbling around about what the final outcome may be.
Having talked to people while in Monrovia, and back here in the states, it seems as if every body was expecting nothing like less than total victory and is not willing to accept the final result that may come out at the end of the day. Against this background, Liberians have been expressing their views on radio airwaves in Monrovia, urging the candidates to accept the results. The twenty defeated candidates might have been paying close attention to what the people have been expressing. Now that there are only two candidates left in the race, the heat wave of the political grumbling is rising, making one to think whether any of the two candidates will be humble and gracious enough to call and congratulate the winning candidate.
Now that there are only two candidates, there have been a lot of incendiary remarks by members of both camps. The campaign is getting little more uglier as we approach the date set for the second round. Talk to the supporters of Ellen “the Harvard-educated-but-trouble-maker” Johnson-Sirleaf, they would like to convince you that the sky will fall and the world will come to a sudden stop if Weah becomes president. On the other hand, talk to the George “the-high-school-dropout-know-thing-but-super-rich-and very popular” Weah, they would like to convince us that Liberia will continue to swim in the sea of instability if Ellen becomes president because they say she’s is best known for undermining other regimes. Some of them want us to believe that for the first time in Liberia’s history, a raw country boy has the financial means to match that of the Congons who think they are the only ones fit to rule the country. Having experienced dictatorship and oppression from both the congon and native rulers, it’s not fair to reduce the race to the congon-native factors. That is very much so because we have seen the worst of both.
What is more troubling from the both sides of the campaign is the level of fanaticism being demonstrated. Where do I stand on the whole matter, many people have asked me since I am just back from Liberia, having witnessed the first round on the 11th of October. My answer is that the sky will not come falling down if Weah becomes president and that Liberia will not turn into an over-night paradise with the manna dropping from the sky like it was the case with the Israelites in Egypt. Two things are certain to happen: the winning candidate, whether Ellen or Weah, will succeed only if we put aside our partisan rhetoric and rally behind her or him. On the other hand, we could be heading for another trouble if we adopt the sit-on-the-fence attitude and expect nothing good if our supported candidate does not win. We must understand that democracy does not always bring out the results we want, but our willingness to accept the result and work together for the common good of the country can make the difference. All we must ask for is that the process be transparent and fair to all.
So my people, in the name of peace, let’s cool down the temper, and hopefully on the inauguration day, we can either play the Zack and Geebah’s “Sweet Liberia,” or Alpha Blondy’s “Peace In Liberia.” By then we can party all day and all night long, celebrating our oneness as a nation.
Peace out! If you want to hit back with any comment on this piece, feel free to do so. You can reach me at KonnLove @ aol.com or NvasKonn @ netscape.net.
Nvasekie N. Konneh is a Liberian writer, and nine year veteran of the United States Navy, with his last years in the navy 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.