Rep. Morris Detests Non-Negro Citizenship

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Rep. Morris addresses some of his constituents

-Speaks against Land Ownership Bill

Members of the House of Representatives of the 54th Legislature are giving contrary opinions since the submission of laws amending certain provisions of the Liberian Constitution, including the granting of Liberian citizenship to people of non-Negro descent, who will also be allowed to own land in Liberia.

The bills were submitted to the Lower House on February 6 of this year, following calls by President George Weah to revisit laws on citizenship and property ownership as contained in his first Annual Address on January 29.

Henceforth, Montserrado County District 1 Representative Lawrence Morris has vowed not to support the citizenship of non-Negro descent (White men), but to rather maintain the dual citizenship of Liberians or Negro as spelt out in Article 27 of the 1986 Constitution, which says: “All persons who, on the coming into force of this Constitution were lawfully citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian citizens. In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.”

Rep. Morris registered his protest against granting citizenship to people of non-Negro descent when he spoke in an interview with journalists yesterday in his Capitol Building office in Monrovia.

A former Mano River Union (MRU) Ambassador to Liberia, Morris has also promised to support laws that would enable Liberians who lost their citizenship by becoming citizens of another country, as well as their children (paternal) who were born in another country, to become citizens of Liberia.

Before his election last year to the legislature, Morris served as Mano River Union Ambassador to Liberia. He replaced Representative Josephine G. Francis, who lost the October 11, 2017 legislative election.

As for the Land Ownership bill, Rep. Morris expressed his absolute opposition to it, “because there are several unresolved land disputes across the country.

“There are land disputes in every part of the country, and even in my district, where currently we have land issues between the former Public Works Minister and some citizens. Our focus should be to solve all the land-related disputes before given lands to whosoever,” Rep. Morris warned.

However, some lawmakers, including Representative Fonati Koffa, is supporting the idea of making white people citizens of Liberia; but some of his colleagues, who were seen supporting a white person’s citizenship, disagreed with the proposal to give white people rights to own property (land).

It may be recalled that during the president’s first address, he stated that the great objective of forming these colonies was to provide a home for the dispersed and oppressed children of Africa; and to regenerate and enlighten this benighted continent, none but persons of color shall be admitted to citizenship in this Republic.

“I am of the view that these threats no longer exist, and that these conditions have changed,” President Weah declared in his address.

He added, “In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a clause in our constitution is unnecessary, racist, and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations.”

President Weah argued that the law contradicts the very definition of Liberia, which is derived from the Latin word “liber,” meaning “Liberty.”

He continued, “I believe that we should have nothing to fear from people of any other race becoming citizens of Liberia, once they conform to the requirements of our Immigration and Naturalization Laws as may be appropriately amended to address this new situation.

“In fact, we have everything to gain.

“If we look in our region among the other member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), especially our neighbors in La Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, it will soon be observed that permitting people of other races to become citizens has not marginalized their indigenous.

“I believe that this is an anomaly that should not have found its way into the 1986 Constitution [Chapter 4, Article 27]. I therefore strongly recommend and propose, respectfully, that consideration should be given to removing it by appropriate measures provided for in our laws for amending the Constitution,” the President declared.

However from the look of things, passage of the proposed change in the Constitution by way of a referendum appears more likely than not  to fall on hard times and fail the test. It can be recalled that similar proposals to have the Constitution amended to grant citizenship to individuals of non Negro descent have been rejected in previous referenda.

17 COMMENTS

  1. What ever devil that is in any Liberian head to make people of non Negro decent citizen in this country shouldn’t waste their time because we will make to campaign against that we will move villages to villages informing our people about devil that is about to give birth in this country.

  2. Rep. Morris is saying exactly what’s on his mind. If the gentleman does not feel that non-blacks should be given an opportunity to become citizens of Liberia, so be it. Also, the fact that Weah the president, suggested that the nation’s constitution should be looked at for changes that could be made does not mean that the lawmakers are under any obligation to immediately abrogate or anmend the constitution overnight. What should be understood in this context is that a good debate is educationally healthy for the Liberian people. So let the debate go on.

    Area of concern:
    Rep. Morris and other lawmakers who detest granting citizenship to non blacks should stand their ground “only” if their constituents urge them to do so. The reason is that the act of representing a constituency is based on shared values. In other words, Rep. Morris was elected by the people. Morris is obligated to express the sentiments of his constituents. In this scenario, if an overwhelming majority of his constituents feel that citizenship should not be granted to non-blacks, Morris should proudly say so. However, the decision to refuse granting citizenship to non blacks should not made on his own.

  3. Lawrence Morris is a confused man!!

    How can he explain the fact that the largest economy in the MRU Mano River Union where he works which is Cote D’Ivoire or the Ivory Coast which allows for property rights of MRU citizens and buusinesses will optimise opportunities for White Ivorians who seek to do business in Liberia?

    Will Morris not be violating the property rights of White Ivorians?

    Based upon this discrimination were the Ivorian government to deny all Liberians property rights in Côte D’Ivoire as a retaliatory measure how would the land rights and electricity which Liberians exploit from these White companies in Ivory Coast impact Business in Nimba and Grand Geddeh?

    Myopic political posturing from Lawrence Morris and others like him must be terminated as such perspectives have the potential to disrupt and destabilise the cordial economic benefits Liberia accrues from the MRU.

  4. Morris is not an individualist. He is doing the job for which he was elected. His constituents’ wishes are his top priority. I will defend Morris if he’s driving in the right lane and obeying the speed limit. Let it be known that I do not know Morris. I’ve never met Morris in my life. I am a top to bottom Maryland county Liberian who follows the news almost everyday. In this particular case, I agree with Morris.

    The proposal to abrogate, amend or re-write the Liberian constitution was presented by Mr. Weah. Weah has done no wrong. However, it’s the lawmakers who have an axe to grind. As the debate rages on in the well of the Lower House, the question is “should all lawmakers agree to change a particular language that forbids non-blacks from being granted citizenship in Liberia”? The answer to the foregoing question is no! For sure, there are some lawmakers whose constituents will influence their vote. That’s okay and that’s how things ought to be. Secondly, the fact that a proposal has been presented by the president does not mean that the language will definitely change. Guess what? It needs to be debated. The people of Liberia will decide through their duly elected Representatives. That’s how it should be.

    Economic cooperation between two neighboring countries is fantastic. Throughout history, the issue of economic cooperation between countries whether neighbors or not had been productive than the use of weapons especially in third world countries. The West African Power Pull (WAPP) reinforces my point. Electrical power from the Ivory Coast into Liberia is great. That’s progress. It simply means that during this 21st century, my county of Maryland which has always been the very best on the hill, will not live in darkness. Let it be known that the WAPP is not a free gift to Liberia neither should we Liberians be exploited by the French or the Ivorians and because of electricity just because of electricity.
    The digging of gold or diamond or both in Morris’s constituency does not mean that because WAPP originates from the Ivory Coast, so therefore non-blacks should be considered for citizenship. These are two different issues.

  5. The process is democratic, we should respect others view about issues. Let’s make our points respectfully; at the end of the day, its up to us to make the best possible decision for the country. If I was on capitol hill like Lawrence and others I will not pass a law in favor of Non-Negro at this stage of our country democracy and justice system. Research shows that Non-Negro currently is the highest that invades our government at every level with their so-called cash violence method!!! And don’t get this twisted, I know a lot of really good Non-Negros whose helping to make Liberia a better nation but until we can drain the swamp making Liberia a nation of laws and not men, my advice is “don’t open the flood gate” Lets fix the justice system and let the culture of impunity ends; at that point I can approve a Non-Negro bill.

  6. No, Mr. Morris is the only smart man in my opinion. Tell me this, is a black man/African allow to buy or become citizen in any part of the Middle East, China, South Korea or North korea, France or maybe German? Where have you read or heard, where the citizens of these countries appeal to their law makers, to please change their constitution, to please white people by allowing them to be able to own land or become citizen?

  7. Time will tell if you can eat the bait of electricity from White Ivorians and not liberalize your laws.

    You cannot have your cake and eat it.

  8. The pro poor governing members of the legislatures many have tainted characters for corruptions or so call rubber stamp members of the house who may debate over amending the law for citizenship infavor of non-negro decent owning land property.They understand the nature and the motives over the issue that determined the faith of Liberia is ready for sales to white people in the name of development purpose because as a failed state out of corruptions and lack vision by passed government.Non-negro become citizen could not help Liberia economics situation but to create future conflicts.Liberians must believe in the pholosophy of do it for yourself or ourselves rather than someone do it for you it is sign of weakness or liability on foreign handout supports.Let this government take the bull by the horn in strategy picking up the broken pieces to fight corruptions,go after Mdn.Sirleaf’s family members, cronies and every corruption cases who made away tax payers billions of dollars not go free becomes embrassement and failure of this government could be come as worst as Mdm.Sirleaf and Charles Taylor reigm.

  9. Liberia must remain that beacon of light for all black people. We are not changing our constitution to please those of you who want to enslave our people again. THIS GLORIOUS LAND OF LIBERITY SHALL AND MUST FOREVER BE OURS.

  10. I am confused about granting citizenship to white people vs. people of non-negro origin. The constitution clearly stated that “only people of negro origin or descend shall become citizens of Liberia”. Non-negro has various people. To those who are for this change; are you sure you want to grant citizenship to people from the middle east? I mean Lebanese, Iraqi, Syrians, Iranians and people from Turkey? And on the other side, Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese and the likes? These group of people are already living better lives in Liberia than the ordinary Liberians. Do we really want to give them more liberty? Do you consider Middle Easterners as white? What meaningful projects and or developments have these people undertaken to benefit a large group of Liberians since they held about 60% of the business economy of the country pre-war time? Or are they saying that until they become citizens of Liberia, they cannot contribute meaningfully? The things I remembered about the middle easterners in Liberia growing up are bribing government officials whenever their businesses are threatened, making babies with Liberian young girls and going back to their country and marrying one of their kind.
    I would appreciate a debate for Non-negro from the US, France, Germany,Great Britain and Sweden etc. to become citizens. Remember the missionary days. Most missionaries from these countries help educate most of the poor people of Liberia in the ’60s, ’70s and part of the ’80s. Most of the institutions they built broke down after the military take over in 1980. Have you heard about a Middle Eastern mission school in Liberia?
    My argument is about distinction between who the non-negro we want to grant citizenship. Let’s take Morocco for an example; they are a country on the continent of Africa but have on many occasions refused to accept that they are from Africa. When they represented Africa in one of the World cups, they said they were not representing Africa but themselves. They even refused the African cup to be held in their country recently because of the Ebola crisis. They consider themselves Middle Easterners.
    Representative Morris, I am with you but a little twist about who to consider to become citizens of Liberia.

  11. So, it is ok for Liberians to gain citizenship in other countries, sometimes without the ways and means of attaining meaningful education and employment, while (white, green, orange, blue) people living in Liberia cannot become Liberians. How many of those Lebanese and American children were born here and need to call Liberia home? Granted, it is probably only a few but the racism in this country must be addressed. People are people. Those planes fly both ways…people migrate for whatever reasons they need to. Grow up Liberians, what are you afraid of?

  12. Camai B,
    In the Liberian constitution, an unintentional racist language is written in it. The language of depriving non-blacks of an opportunity to apply for citizenship needs to be modified. But because the language is somehow hostile, it doesn’t mean that citizenship ought to be granted to non-blacks after its modification.

    Nigerians grant citizenship to non-blacks. I believe the Ivorians do, but I am not 100% certain. Guess what? It’s in the best interest of the Nigerians and Ivorians to do what they do. Just because it’s good for the Nigerians and Ivorians does not mean that Liberians must do the same.

    The debate to abrogate the unintentional racist language in our constitution is healthy. Sure, the racist language has got to change. But, we Liberians should not immediately conclude that because the language is about to change so therefore it is time to grant citizenship status to non-blacks. No, let’s not think like that. Looka….Monrovia has lots of businesses. About 99.9% of all grocery stores (Super Markets) in Monrovia are foreign owned. I know of none that’s owned by a Liberian. Just wait until the foreigners are granted a citizenship status. Your grandfather’s land which he’s held for so long, could be sold by a Liberian mope for dimes and nickels without your acknowledgement. God forbid! Never should that happen to you.

    Camai B, you have to keep tabs on our lawmakers. Sometimes they make decisions that could easily make a man cry out loud like a black bear. Or sometimes the lawmakers do not make laws at all. For instance, there’s not a “minimum wage law” in Liberia nor is there a need to do something about bringing coins in our country. So, when the Asians hire Liberians, the Asian employers pay their Liberian employees whatever they wish.
    Do you blame the businessmen? Camai B, let’s be careful!

    By the way, do we need non-blacks in order to develop our country?

    I urge all readers to Google “the Siddi tribe” of India! This request is a must. For over 1400 years, an African tribe called “Siddis” have lived in India and very destitute! If the people of India do not consider these Africans as normal human beings, then wait until they become citizens of Liberia.

    At least a permanent resident status could be good for some time. May up to 10 years. After those ten years, the permanent resident alien can apply for his or her citizenship. How’s that?

  13. No way, no how, Liberia must remain that beacon on earth for all non-negroes. Any legislator who votes to alter this inherent constitutional right, will meet the full force of the LIBERIAN voters. Liberia must remain a place for Liberians. It is now the time that we start to develop our country from within.ONE COUNTRY-ONE PEOPLE. WARNING: Liberia is NOT for sale. We don’t need other people to develop our country. All we need are hard working, dedicated and loyal citizens. WE CAN DO IT, WE CAN DEVELOP OUR COUNTRY ONE VILLAGE AT A TIME.

  14. I support the dual citizenship in Liberia. I’m not happy seeing Lebanese/Indian/Chinese, having any citizenship in Liberia. I’m not racist, just right now it’s not the time. When Liberia has transformed to a medium country where poverty level has reduced to a better living condition of all it’s citizens, than maybe 10-15yrs from now, it’s possible. Just not right now!

  15. Those who placed the negro clause in the constitution were the very same people who maginalized my indigenous ancestors and mistreated the just as the slave masters did. To uphold and defend this monstrosity is to dishonor the memories of my forebears who were used in forced labor schemes for public works.

    As a strong and confident black man, I find no noble cause in finding any good in a concept that criminalizes and excludes people on account of their race.

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