‘We Are Still in Crisis’

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One of the panelists of the War Memorial Lecture Series (WMLS), Att’y Vulate Hage, has observed that looking at past situations that led to the 14-year civil crisis, Liberians are still in crisis.  As one of the contributing factors to this, she mentioned the unfair distribution of natural resources. 

The WMLS brought together five speakers: Cllr. Taiwon Gongloe, Att’y Hage, Mr. Kenneth Y. Best of the Daily Observer, Att’y Jerome Kolleh and Rev. Emmanuel Bowier. These speakers provided “surgical” explanations to the genesis of the civil crisis in Liberia and the continuing problems that plague the country and threaten its peace and stability.

Addressing the WMLS, which was held at the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Sinkor last Wednesday, Madam Hage explained that many of the actions that contributed to the brutal civil crisis continue to exist in the current regime headed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The government has failed the people of Liberia, Att’y Hage declared, stating that she was worried about what older people will tell their children after electing former war lords to lead them. Liberia, she said, is the only country that elects leaders who made pre-election promises but have nothing to show after serving many years in power.

“What will we tell our children, especially the younger ones, after we elected former warlords as leaders? What is the example that we as older ones are setting for the young generation, when those we elected are doing the same old things that contributed to the 14-year civil crisis in this country?

 “We have to find a way to bring about the change we want as people and citizens of Liberia. It is time for each of us, most especially our young people, to get the education we need that will empower us to bring about the change we desire and deserve in Liberia,” she declared.

Also speaking, Cllr. Taiwon Gongloe observed that for a long time we heard that this country was a God-fearing one, but it has not materialized because we have all suffered the deadly consequences of our leaders’ failure to deliver good effective and results-oriented governance to the people.

According to him, the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is one of those institutions which suffered most from the civil crisis that resulted from the perennial problem of poor governance in Liberia

Cllr. Gongloe was referring to the massacre of over 600 people inside that church at Tubman Boulevard and 14th Street in Sinkor on the fateful night of June 29, 1990.   Hundreds of Liberians had sought refuge in that church from the murderous death squads that paraded the country, especially Monrovia in 1990. But the death squad, allegedly led by President Samuel K. Doe himself, entered St. Peter’s that night and butchered over 600 men, women and children.  Among those killed that night, Cllr. Gongloe said, were a former classmate who duxed his high school graduating class.  His name was Charles Saye Dianyee, who was brutally murdered along with his younger brother Nyan and their sister Yei, and their two children.

During that reign of terror under the Doe regime, pastors were editing their Sermons to be on the safe side despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech.  Yet, even though the regime had staged a coup d’etat on April 12, 1980 to “redeem” Liberians, there were things that pastors couldn’t have said to their congregations. This was a clear indication that the redeeming mission of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) had failed.

Reflecting on the historical perspective, Counselor Gongloe said there was another promise that had been betrayed.   The settlers from the United States of America that landed on these shores in 1822 said they had come to ‘Christianize and civilize the country, yet ended up allocating to themselves all of the power, leaving the indigenous majority out of the political mainstream.  This lasted for over a century until the 1980 coup d’etat.

Cllr. Gongloe stressed that it was time for Liberia to look back and learn from their history in order to avoid the mistakes of yesterday and today. He further called on Liberia’s young people to continue serving God and strive for education, as the time will come for them.

He called on the government to ensure that chiefs and clan chiefs be elected as the constitution requires that these people be elected by the people.  The government must stop violating the rights of our people.

Counselor Gongloe said he had observed that the Daily Observer newspaper in the beginning of the regime of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was “regime friendly.”  But he said he had equally observed that the Observer had distanced itself from the regime and had now become critical of many of its policies that tend to lead the country astray.

Rev. Emmanuel Bowier, the note historical commentator, also emphasized that all the factors that contributed to the long crisis in the country are still occurring in the current regime and it was important that the older folks begin advising the leaders of the country to change the direction in which they are leading the country.

He said it was unfortunate that leaders continue to repeat the identical things that fully contributed to the 14 years of civil crisis in Liberia, adding that such mistakes would lead to additional crises if not arrested immediately by the current regime.

“Liberians have suffered from this national crisis for too long and it is now time that we stop those things that have caused the deaths of so many of our people.  We need to speak out to our leaders to ensure that the right things are put into place.”

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