Emmanuel H. Payne jr ~ (February 28 2006)
"...I swear , if my offenders and the perpetrators of those diabolical and nefarious acts(regardless of their current statuses as 'honorable honorables' , 'honorable excellencies' , 'honorable sheiks' , 'honorable evangelists' , 'honorable businessmen , 'honorable directors' , 'honorable taxi drivers' , 'honorable petty-traders' , 'honorable shoe-shine boys', etc) would come forth and admit their guilt and seek forgiveness , I shall walk to them one by one ; hug them one by one ; kiss each one on the cheek and reconcile with them all...”
Tomorrow I shall face the Truth and Reconciliation Panel. I shall hold the holy books in one hand and the constitution in the other.And I shall swear by them all to tell the truth . I shall say nothing else but the whole truth.The truth of how I came to bear the name Innocent Poor Victim in my short life-span which witnessed the bloody political upheavals that raged across the landscape and ravaged the nation. I shall bring along the stone containing the following epitaph written with my own blood , by hungry and terrified mourners , who placed it on top of the shallow grave into which my stinking corpse was banished from the face of the earth :
HEREIN LIES THE REMAINS OF INNOCENT POOR VICTIM
BORNED 1979 ; DIED 2003
And upon that grave-stone , I shall make myself a podium , and declare to the hearing of every man and woman , boy and girl , writers and book-makers , nothing but the truth.
Tomorrow when I face the panel , I shall show them the scars on my back; those scars are the testimonies of the multiple wounds inflicted on my tender body way back in 1979. And what was my offence then ? that my voice -– the babyish voice of a suckling child, added to the voices of protest over the high price of rice .I shall show them the stitches on my head too. Those old stitches that cover the deep cuts in my head testify to the flogging I received on April 12, 1980. I shall still show them the bruises in my eyes where several gun-butts pounded and blinded me in the Nimba raid of 1983.I shall further display the photos of my three little friends—Kou , Sekou and Tarlue --- who were all slaughtered in the coup and counter coup of 1985.
Tomorrow when I face the panel , I shall wear my old blood-stained garment – an evidence of how my blood gushed out, when a drugged child soldier stabbed me in July of 1990 on the false allegation of me being a 'conapper' with the enemy. I used that old worn-out garment to tie the wound , and hold back my entrails, until help came from a fellow victim with less severe wounds.
I shall read to the panel a list of some other victims who were also butchered by blood thirsty men. Victims whose lives were dedicated to serving their communities ,but whose death no media ever reported . I shall first read out the name of the Dutch lady who worked with her Kru husband in providing education to the illiterate and poverty-stricken children of Barnersville for over twenty years.Mrs Minikie Weah was an intelligent and devoted teacher.But her services were rewarded by a gruesome death ! I shall read out the names of Mr. Kumeh Trueh ,Rev. Jacob Blie and Mr. Samuel Kumeh. Those were committed educators who had nothing to do with power politics, but were yet murdered cold-bloodedly! I shall also read out the names of very ordinary men too. Ordinary men like : Pa Menjoe ( the Kissi merchant who was killed and his body decayed openly and provided meat for the dogs) ; Fayiah Bald-Head (an ordinary grass cleaner butchered while he went to cut mortar pestle) , and Oldman Morris or Pa Railroad ( a very jovial and energetic 'cane juice' seller shot dead , along with his only son , on the Bong Mines train track near Louisiana).
I SHALL SEEK TO KNOW WHO KILLED THEM AND WHY !!
After I read the list – a list of those innocent and countless number of other victims – I shall not end there , but continue to narrate my own tragic experiences .I shall show the empty space where my ear once stood --- the very ear that was chopped off in the so-called 'OPERATION OCTOPUS'. I shall show them the marks of the 'tie-bay rope' made deep in the flesh of my arms in the Monrovia bloodbath of 1996.
I know they would have noticed already my half leg amputated just below my knee.But despite the conspicuity of my deformity , I shall still point to it , and tell them the sad story of how the other part of it was hacked off by evil men in the chaos of 1998.
Before I sit down , I shall show to them the marks on my bullets-riddled belly. Those were the red hot bullets that finally exited me and my seven-months-old unborn baby from this world , and recorded our names too in the archive of the dead under the section titled 'victims of violence'.The poor child , whose father was one of several gang-rapists , never saw even the light of this cruel world, but was formed and destroyed out of the abundance of the cruelty from it.The deafening echo of her perishing shriek was the last sound I ever heard.
I shall then take my seat and await an admission of guilt and a plead for forgiveness from those responsible for committing those atrocious crimes. I would not expect an applause for my lengthy and dramatic oration , but sincere and open apologies from those responsible for those atrocities I suffered , and witnessed during my short life-span
I swear I shall say nothing but the truth tomorrow. I shall not be intimidated by people's high status or persuaded by cash to withhold the truth of my miserable life and encounter here on earth; neither shall I be frightened by threats of torture or death – for I have tasted them all. At tomorrow's truth and reconciliation hearing , I shall not hesitate to expose those who attempt to pretend to be innocent and bury the truth by their silence , or those who will endeavor to becloud the facts by their lies , pretenses or fabricated justification for the crimes meted out against us.For those, if they do surface ,I shall pursue the course of justice to the very end !!
Tomorrow when I face the truth panel , I shall seek to reconcile every man with his conscience . I shall seek to reconcile them with the ugly reality of their past , and also seek to reconcile the living with the innocent dead victims.And lastly , I shall seek to reconcile the living with the living.But in achieving these , I shall pour out the burden of the agony , pains , fear , grief , hatred , doubts , suspicions and frustrations that I have been forced to live and die with .
I swear , if my offenders and the perpetrators of those diabolical and nefarious acts(regardless of their current statuses as 'honorable honorables' , 'honorable excellencies' , 'honorable sheiks' , 'honorable evangelists' , 'honorable businessmen , 'honorable directors' , 'honorable taxi drivers' , 'honorable petty-traders' , 'honorable shoe-shine boys', etc) would come forth and admit their guilt and seek forgiveness , I shall walk to them one by one ; hug them one by one ; kiss each one on the cheek and reconcile with them all.
I shall purify the land with the oil of peace ,and return to the world of the dead ,and rest in peace forever !!
About the author:
Emmanuel H. Payne jr. is
a Liberian writer and advocate.