Teeko Yorlay, former Assistant Superintendent for Development of Nimba County and Assistant Youth and Sport Minister in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, has challenged upcoming college students leaving high schools to make the society better and cohesive for all by choosing a path of social behavior that enhances togetherness and consciousness for nation building but shuns divisiveness and selfishness.
Mr. Yorlay, a vocal talker whom most members of the 53rd Nimba Legislative Caucus could not agree with because of his stance on issues, told graduating students of the Geolanda School in Ganta, Nimba County that where selfishness, greed, and tribalism reign, such a society will linger at the mercy of others and will never be independent.
In his keynote address, Mr. Yorlay categorized society members into three, quoting from the philosopher, Dr. Kethoser Kevichusa of Nagaland, India, who also lectured his audience on the Greek categorization of society members.
Distinguishing people in reference to Kevichusa and the Greek philosophy, Mr. Yorlay name the first group of people as idiots, who he says are not just people with mental depression but who are totally private, selfish and self-centered persons in any community, society and country who are very interested and totally concerned about their personal gains and interests, even at the expense or detriment of the others.
“Idiots are men or women, girls or boys, old or young, bright or black, short or tall, blind or with sight, clever or dull, beautiful or ugly, handsome or not handsome, etc. who have no character and cares less about doing that which is right and correct. Idiots are those persons who put the interest of themselves far above and beyond the community, society or country’s interest,” Yorlay said.
According to him as long as idiots are happy, whether others are happy or not, it does not bother them or they do not care at all, adding, “For those idiots, life concerns personal treasures and personal pleasure.”
“My fellow Nimbaians and Liberians, I want to submit to you at this occasion also that those men or women or boys or girls who sadly see our county or country as farmland for money-making for their personal satisfaction are not and can never be considered citizens but idiots of Nimba County and Liberia. Furthermore, those who worship the religion of money and power and heartlessly enjoy milking their county and country very dry for their comforts are idiots. So, I have come to call on you, my fellow Nimabaians and Liberians, to refuse to fall in the category of people called idiots as Nimba County and Liberia deserve better than the best,” Yorlay emphasized.
The second category, the Tribe people, is a group Mr. Yorlay quoting his sources say contains people who cling onto their small tribe and believe in it so much so that they become tribalistic. He said being of a tribe is not in any way a bad thing because no one is responsible for being in the group he or she is.
“What is wrong is being tribal and having tribalistic mentality in anything and everything you do. Tribespeople are those who refuse to think or reason beyond their small tribal groupings. These tribespeople worship the religion of tribalism and their tribes as gods. They use intimidation, force and violence to push their selfish agenda. These tribespeople are shamefully suspicious, afraid, and fearful of others who do not belong to their tribal groups,” said Yorlay.
Tribalism has in recent times been entrenched in the Liberian society, with Nimba County, the home county of Mr. Yorlay, being one area where this society vice dominates political decision-making.
Even though Chapter 5 © of the Liberian Constitution states that the Republic shall take steps by appropriate legislation and executive orders to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power as the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other corrupt practices, this constitutional provision is yet to take effect as the two largest tribes of Nimba, Gio (Dan) and Mano, have become divided to the extent that some are calling for dividing the county into two on a demographic basis to separate the two tribes.
The Dans have boasted over the years that they have the population and therefore they can uphold the two seats in the Senate that a Mano man or woman, regardless of competence and qualification cannot get there, and because of what the Manos see as tribal loyalty, some are pushing for the separation of the two tribes by county creation.
“For me, I think it is people without consciousness who get baptized in and live in the ugly belly of tribalism. It is impotent people without substance to contribute to bettering any society that refuse to disarm themselves of tribalism. Tribalism is a dangerous sickness that is an enemy of competence and qualification because people with tribalistic mentality care only about their tribes and are blind to the reality beyond their tribes,” Yorlay said.
Mr. Yorlay told his academic audience that tribalism is a dangerous sickness that is an enemy of competence and qualification because people with tribalistic mentality care only about their tribes and are blind to the reality beyond their tribes.
The last group, the Citizens, the graduation speaker said refers to people with the knowledge and skills of living a public life of civility as a conscious member of a society or country who strives for the common good of the community, society, nation, or country.
“In this sense, citizens are those who know their rights and responsibilities to the society and themselves and remain respecters and protectors of the rights and responsibilities of everybody and anybody, including but not limited to the smallest of the minorities in any society and even their enemies,” he added.
Referencing Nimba specifically where he spoke and hails from, Mr. Yorlay threw the challenge to people of the county who are divided on tribal lines to develop citizen consciousness to eschew dishonest, insincere and treacherous behavior to cleave onto what society appreciates and is beneficial for the welfare of all.
“Let me get on my bended knees and ask all of you under my tone of voice not to compromise your good citizenship on idiotic and tribalistic altars that have advanced no society anywhere. Please be citizens! Please know that we are all Nimbaians and Liberians who need to be citizens of Nimba and Liberia as we are the ones we have all been waiting for to make Nimba and Liberia better than ever. Let your education and work be placed at the service of our county, country and continent and contribute to the betterment of our society,” said the keynote speaker.