Siakon Nagbe (July 21th 2005)
"...In one voice, Cllr. Gongloe acknowledges Cllr. Brumskine’s opposition to the conduct of the nation’s affairs by President Taylor resulting in his departure from the government but yet in another voice accuses Cllr. Brumskine of condoning or aiding and abetting by silence. Here Cllr. Gongloe recklessly accuses not only Cllr. Brumskine, but all Liberians who served in government. His argument for their guilt – “by being a part of government”...."
The political commentaries which continue to dominate this transition period in our nation’s history must be read with caution. The advent of the internet has provided the opportunity to disseminate information with such efficiency – a factor which perhaps has been greatly instrumental in enhancing press freedom as an alternative to African restricted press; but has also open a flood gate for writers historically deprived of a listening audience. No longer must be the perception that ‘what you see in print is the truth’, especially so when individuals, corrupted by their individual political agenda, use such mediums to masquerade personal opinions and fallacies.
Case in point is the recent personal attacks launched at presidential aspirant Cllr. Charles Brumskine by Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe’s in an article carried by The Perspective: “Standing for Liberian people or blowing his own trumpet”. Here Cllr. Gongloe not only failed to address any substantive issue but accuses Brumskine of ‘blowing his own trumpet’, in a reckless disregard for the truth, with selective memory and irrational statements.
He (Cllr. Gongloe) attributes the following quote to Brumskine’s discussion of the number of candidates:
“ I have heard that there are fifty candidates…I stopped counting after ten. But I am happy I took Taylor on at a time when no other candidate would….and now the door has been opened for forty-nine others….If I had not had the courage to stand up for Liberians then, I would not have the moral strength to face Liberians today….”
Cllr. Gongloe goes on to write a four-page article ridiculing the presidential aspirant for making such a statement. But not once did he admit to taking the time to substantiate whether the statement was infact made by Brumskine. It would seem that if the Liberian political debate must be elevated to substance, a learned lawyer, as versed as Cllr. Gongloe is, should know better than to accuse and convict without the decency of substantiating the charges, especially so when by Cllr. Gongloe’s own admission he got the quote in a Liberian internet chatroom allegedly posted by someone else. Here Cllr. Gongloe, the esteemed lawyer is convicting a colleague on third-hand hearsay information.
But what if Cllr. Brumskine did make the statement? Unless my education fails me, I fail to see any semblance of dishonesty and gross disregard for the truth in that statement that Cllr. Gongloe vehemently accuses the aspirant off. Instead I see in Cllr. Gongloe’s writing a gross attempt at ‘reaching to pull needle from a haystack from where there was none.
Whether or not one supports the candidacy of Cllr. Charles Brumskine, one has to admit in all honesty that his entrance into the political realm against former President Charles Taylor, was a well orchestrated political challenge that succeeded in raising the awareness of the plight of Liberians and elevating the Liberian political debate on the international scene. It was certainly not our now ‘fifty’ other presidential candidates who were engaging Members of Congress and the U.S. State Department, discussing with leaders of the European Union and touring the West African Sub-region back in 2003 to garner support for cessation of hostilities and war in Liberian and calling for international intervention. Yet, Cllr. Gongloe says, Cllr. Brumkine has done nothing for Liberia or Liberians.
He goes on further to accuse Cllr. Brumskine for the evils of Charles Taylor reign, saying:
“ I (Gongloe) lived in Liberia throughout the war and under the reign of the worst government……..what did Brumskine say or do when all those things occurred in Liberia?”
Perhaps Cllr. Gongloe’s memory is short-lived because when he was illegally imprisoned and allegedly toutured by the regime of former President Taylor, it was the same Brumskine’s effective U.S based Friends of Brumskine organization (FOB) that orchestrated a national effort to elevate his cause through public releases, letters, mass emails; providing Liberians with telephone numbers for the White House, State Department, Representative Ed Royce and Senator Biden, encouraging them to call to have him released ( see, Fear Nothing But Fear itself – an FOB release published on The Perspective, April, 2002 - http://www.theperspective.org/fearnothingbutfear.html )
Long before Cllr. Brumskine had an interest in the Liberian Presidency, as a successful lawyer, he was supporting numerous students at the University of Liberia through his Student Service Corp Program which he personally financed, in exchange for the students to return to their villages during the vacations and help with adult literacy programs. In 1997 Cllr. Brumskine established a micro-credit program that benefited Liberian women traders since our banks could not provide them traditional credit for their businesses. These were not presidential campaign give-aways which surface only during campaign seasons, but a demonstration of an individual Liberian who saw himself as being successful by the Grace of God and extended his hands to uplift others. What has Cllr. Gongloe done for Liberians? I would suspect his answer would be he should not since he is not running for president.
In one voice, Cllr. Gongloe acknowledges Cllr. Brumskine’s opposition to the conduct of the nation’s affairs by President Taylor resulting in his departure from the government but yet in another voice accuses Cllr. Brumskine of condoning or aiding and abetting by silence. Here Cllr. Gongloe recklessly accuses not only Cllr. Brumskine, but all Liberians who served in government. His argument for their guilt – “by being a part of government”.
Since when did serving in a bad and corrupt government automatically implied that an individual was bad and corrupt. We Liberians have much more sense then Cllr. Gongloe would care to give us credit for because we believe that each Liberian is accountable for his/her own actions - that is the measure by which Cllr. Gongloe needs to judge Cllr. Brumskine’s service to the Liberian people. Although Cllr. Gongloe does not use this measure to judge Cllr. Brumskine, I am sure he would want us as Liberians to use that measure to judge him since he too served under the corrupt and poor governance performance of Interim President Amos Sawyer. Gongloe held the position of Assistant to the President of the Interim Government of Liberia. In this capacity he provided legal advice and assistance to Dr. Sawyer. Is Gongloe willing to accept the responsibility for the corruption, misappropriations, ills and malfeasance for the Sawyer Government?
Cllr. Gongloe further reckless alleges that:
“Brumskine used Taylor’s action against him to raise his political profile by his claim that Taylor wanted to kill him, although he ‘escaped’ the country via Roberts International Airport, where Taylor’s most trusted security men and women were assigned.”
Didn’t he Cllr. Gongloe also ‘escape’ the claws of Charles Taylor via the same RIA where Taylor henchmen were? Are we to recklessly conclude that because he left via RIA meant his life was not in danger while in Liberia? If we Liberians were to draw such irresponsible conclusions then we too would assume that Cllr. Gongloe used his claim that Taylor wanted to kill him as a means of benefiting from the luxuries that the U.S.A has to offer. Isn’t he Cllr. Gongloe now benefiting from a Harvard University Fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Kennedy School of Government? Is he willing to similarly accept that he is using Taylor to raise his academic profile?
Cllr. Gongloe disappointingly has relegated himself to the minority of Liberians who think that the internet is a medium where Liberians can be fed any kind of nonsense. It is time that those of us who have been privileged to ‘democracy at work’ here in the United States elevate the Liberian political debate to substantive issues and critical analysis of what our candidates have to offer and the issues which are relevant for the Liberian people
About the Author:
The author is a Liberian Sr. Computer Programmer with Intellicon and lives with his family in Newport News, Virginia, U.S.A.