By Thomas Kai Toteh ~ April 4 2006
The parade begins from Greenville, Sinoe County from the old Administrative building; Gabriel Gbolleh from Bong County heads the parade. Greenville, Sinoe County was chosen because it falls at the end of Liberia, from where the major highway begins. The marchers supposed people from Lofa, Grand Bassa, and the rest of the country will line in route from Sinoe through Monrovia to Grand cape Mount to Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The parade is divided into three sections: Section “A” falls on the right with Fred J. Blay at the head. Section “A” represents “slain government officials.” Section “B” comes next from the right with Wuo G. Tarpiah at the head. Section “B” represents “slain students and student activists.” Section “C” falls on the left of the line with Jackson F. Doe at the head. Section “C” represents slain Opposition leaders.
At the front of the parade are Tecumseh Roberts who represents slain Liberian artists, followed by Black Baby who represents slain ordinary Liberians. Gabriel Gbolleh stands at the top of the line of the parade. There are eight banners, and each bears the name and symbol of an armed faction:
In the front of the parade is NATIONAL PATROITIC FRON OF LIBERIA (NPFL) of Charles Ghankay McArthur Taylor. Next in line is Prince Y. Johnson’s INDEPENDENT NATIONAL PATROITIC FRONT OF LIBERIA (INPFL). Third in line is UNITED LIBERATION MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY-KROMAH, ULIMO-K, followed by UNITED LIBERATION MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY-Johnson, ULIMO-J. The banners continue the line with LIBERIA PEACE COUNCIL (LPC) OF George Boley, closely followed by Francois Massaquoi LOFA DEFESE FORCE (LDF). Down the line at the end are Sekou Konneh’s LIBERIANS UNITED FOR RECONCIALITION AND DEMOCRACY (LURD) and Charles Julu’s MOVEMENT FOR DEMOCRACY IN LIBERIA (MODEL).
News of the parade has hit every corner of the country already. The roads from Lofa are crowded with Lofans, old and young, able and disable. Grand Bassa, Margibi, and all the villagers and town people from Bong and Nimba are hurrying to the main highway from Sinoe. People who left Sinoe earlier speak of how colorful the parade is; “Their band plays music in every tribe. The rhythms from their drums are thrilling and alluring well wishers along the highway to form Part of the parade. So the parade is swelling along the way. It could be Liberia’s largest parade in history,” travelers from Sinoe threw words at waiting well wishers along the way as they drove by in their patchy pick-up trucks.
The marchers have not let any word out as to the motive of their parade, but speculations have it that they are going to Freetown to see Charles Taylor off to Europe and also present their petition to the UN war crimes tribunal. The nature of their petition not disclosed, but soothsayers from Nimba, Grand Geedeh, and Sinoe Counties are predicting that the marchers have two petitions; one to the administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the other to the UN war crime tribunal in Freetown.
Their parade is blessed with a perfect whether condition with a clear sky and a fair temperature. The parade had reached to Pyne Town, a district town half way from Greenville and Zwedru. The people of Pyne Town stormed the road with a white carpet welcome to the parade and waving white handkerchiefs in the air as they dance to the music, “Chicken crows for the day.” The people of Pyne Town were pryingly stretching their necks to spot the son from that town, Thomas Weh-Sen, but no luck. The people in Zwedru received the parade enthusiastically, but did not see Nelson Toe and others slay members from Grand Geedeh in the crowd.
The parade proceeded onward to Nimba County drawing a record crowd with various songs from Nimba artists. Villagers and town people lined the route from Sanniquille as they stretched their necks to see Thomas G. Quinwonkpa, Samuel Dokie and others in the crowd, but no luck. Gbanga, Bong County is jammed packed with people from Lofa, Grand Bassa, River Gee, and Margibi Counties and other villages and towns. The well wishers from those various regions lined the route from Gbanga all the way to Monrovia. Cape Mount and Bomi Counties people lined the route to Bo Waterside all the way to Freetown. The parade’s band unit thrilled well wishers along the route to Monrovia with a variety of Liberian traditional songs.
As the parade approaches Monrovia, the petition to the administration of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was released to the press. The release is not yet published, but unconfirmed reports from media circle suggest the petition is calling on Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to live by all her promises made during and after the elections as the way of wiping the blood from the land. The petition calls on the president to know that those who survived the civil war are no better than those who died. For this reason, the president, as a mother of the land must honor and appease the agony of the dead by leading a government that respects the rule of law, justice, fair distribution of the country wealth and respect and adhere to all norms of Liberia.
The petition to the UN backed war crimes tribunal is calling for the careful examinations of the war records of ALL THE Armed FACTIONS LEADERS AND THEIR MEMBERS. In the petition are clauses that urge those in charge of war crimes at the UN to double check and carefully scrutinize the records of the various arm groups that participated in the Liberian civil war. The petition is also calling for the investigation of the heads of all Diamond companies around the world who dealt businesses with deposed Charles Taylor. The parade says it saw an American religious leader, turned businessman, Pat Robertson in the diamond and gold business with Charles Taylor. The petition has a long list of individuals and companies from America, Asia, Europe, and other parts of the world that must be investigated if the UN is sincere to put an end to the violation of embargoes on illegal arms and diamonds trading and trafficking.
The parade left an unforgettable day in Monrovia with its colorful outward show dominated by red, white, and blue. The Red Light marketers and abandoned their markets to get a gist of the most talked about parade. Traffic came to a complete stop. Everyone was eager to see his or her slain relatives and loved ones, but it takes a hard luck to see one’s relatives. The parade broke into two from the Red Light market to reduce traffic jam. One section marched through Gardnerville to Free Port while another section marched through Sinkor to Central Monrovia. The two sections will merge at Free port to head to Duala Market where thousands of well wishers are anxious to meet the parade.
But news from Bo Waterside says thousands of people; mostly amputees are marching towards the parade from the Sierra Leone-Liberia’s border. Villagers from Bomi, Cape Mount, and Boporlu and Lower Lofa began emerging on the main high way to the Sierra Leonean border. Because of the sizable number of the parade, the Sierra Leonean and Liberian internal affairs ministers are gearing up to preempt the parade before it reaches the UN war crimes office.
At the borders there were moments of sorrow, joy, and feelings of solidarity as the sweet sound from the rumba echoed the hearts of the sons and daughters of the two sister- countries. Businesses in Freetown were temporarily closed for the day as people headed to the border to see for themselves. UN war crime tribunal representative was there to grace the occasion and also receive the petition.