Liberia: Cavorting With Tribalism

Mathu H. Gibson

There is a rising tide of rabid Tribalism that has surfaced in Liberia over the past fifteen years which needs to be checkmated before it leads us down that ugly rabbit hole of chaos. It is widespread even amongst Congoes (descendants of Americo-Liberians).

Politicians toy with this lethal kryptonite as a way to gin up support from their base and also win-over other elements within the society who are inclined to support such divisive rhetoric.

Tribalism is on the upswing in our national politics, stoked by political actors of all persuasions who promote ethnic division.

The practice has become so deeply entrenched and widely accepted that during the 2017 Presidential election, several candidates were overtly tribalistic in their actions and utterances ... shamelessly planting seeds of discord and division while campaigning.

This poisoned the election process, and the result has been extreme hardship and suffering for the Liberian people, not to mention the diminishing status of the Republic.

Even coded language is rife in the discourse nowadays, which usually is used by those who are not bold enough to speak such undiluted tribal diatribes in public. We must all reject these practices and refuse to accept them as the “new normal” in our discourse, actions and lifestyle.

To do anything less would be surrendering our destiny to the purveyors of hate, discord and divisiveness. These destructive acts of an anomaly are unacceptable, intolerable and must be rejected — forthwith.

The complexities and myriad issues we currently face as a people cannot countenance the growth of yet another toxic element. A country struggling to recover from a devastating 14-year civil war must be mindful of carcinogenic discourse and utterances of politicians intended to curry favor with their constituents for the sole purpose of attracting votes.

Architects of this debilitating culture have continued to prey on the brazen credulity of the Liberian people as they spew harmful sectarian messages. Let us not be deceived or misled.

Liberia lacks homogeneity in our communal setting, largely due to the impartation of toxic and divisive rhetoric. Policymakers who should be at the forefront of ensuring that these negative vices are discouraged and purged, are often the principal fomenters of such toxicity. In most instances it is not the unenlightened and unexposed that peddle this menu of separation and hate; rather, it’s the so-called educated amongst us, particularly those who pride themselves on the moniker, “Intellectual”.

Having failed miserably to implement sound recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), it is high time we set up a Blue Ribbon Commission with a momentous charge: To assess where the country is in terms of its sense of unity, the negative effects of Tribalism on association, assimilation, national development, peace, stability, and the overall National Security architecture. 

The Bible says, in the Book of Amos 3:3, “CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER, EXCEPT THEY AGREE?" This is a very powerful message even for those who don’t subscribe to any book. It has a unifying theme that is relevant to today’s Liberia. 

In conclusion, Policymakers and those in positions of authority must take seriously the issue of tribalism in Liberia and zero in on finding viable solutions before it’s too late.


Mr. Mathu H. Gibson is a National Security Consultant and Intelligence Professional who lives in Washington, DC. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Directors — ULAA; Past President of the Liberian Community Association of the Piedmont, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1997, He served as National Chairman of the TQ Harris Presidential Campaign. Mr. Gibson is the Dux and Honor Graduate Military Police School - J. H. Tubman Military Academy, Todee, Liberia. He can be reached at: