Weah’s Proposal to Remove Citizenship Restrictions Draws Heated Debate

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Ordinary Liberians weigh in on President Weah's intent to grant citizenship and land ownership to people of all races

A constitutional amendment that could eventually allow people of non-Negro descent to become citizens and allow them to own land in the country, as proposed by President George Weah in his state of the nation address on Monday, has not been favorably received by many Liberians interviewed yesterday in Monrovia.

“I don’t agree,” a young man who would not identify himself said. “Many non-Negroes or white people are rich and the chance that they will take advantage over our poor people to buy their lands cannot be ruled out.”

He agreed that while the situation that caused the founding fathers in 1847 to put in a clause denying citizenship to non-negroes does not exist, the huge numbers of people who are poor make the proposed amendment unwelcome.

In an opposing view, Anthony M. Jones said he supports President Weah’s announcement that restrictions and citizenship for non-Negroes have outlived their usefulness.
“Many Liberians have large tracts of lands that they don’t develop,” Jones said. “So if the laws are changed and White people become citizens and own lands, it will mean development for the country,” Jones said, adding that the main problem may not be the non-Negroes but Liberian policies that may not be implemented to benefit Liberians.

Jacob Y. Willie said, “I don’t agree with President Weah on that one and my reason is that because people of non-Negro descent traditionally have money, there will be too much disadvantage over Liberians.”

He explained a recent experience with someone he described as a ‘foreigner’ that he helped to get some crushed rocks. “When we got there he decided to do things on his own and when I tried to get involved he ended up slapping me. I could do nothing because I could not have the law on my side.”

When he was reminded that the issues under discussion have to do with fairness where many Liberians are allowed to become citizens and own properties in foreign countries. He said while that could be true, he still holds on to his position that those who are rich are fond of taking advantage over those who are poor.

On the other hand, Morris W. Cole said he agreed with President Weah because he is aware that others are built by the sweat of all those who are allowed to become part of those countries.

“We are talking about development,” he said. “I think allowing non-Negro descents to become citizens and own properties can be a good thing for the country. If we want development, then of course, we must accept them. After all, they are already living with us, building our economy and doing their best to raise their families.”

Among others interviewed, yesterday were two brothers Dominic  and James Fayiah. Dominic agreed with President Weah but James did not.
Dominic said, “The world is for all of us – White, Black, and Yellow and so when they have that opportunity they will develop the country so we should agree with the President.”
He added “It is like in the United States and Europe. There are Liberians who are citizens there so it makes sense that we offer those from there the same privilege to become citizens and own properties.”

James on the hand said, “I disagree with the President because such people will have another citizenship somewhere they may be able to take our resources and we will be the loser.”

Though the discussion, many admitted, was interesting and while the majority did not agree with President Weah’s position, they nevertheless said it will be up to the Liberian people to collectively make decisions that will benefit the country.

“Since Liberia is part of the comity of nations,” one said, “we should be prepared to change and be prepared to work for the development of our country.”

It may be recalled that President Weah in his state of the Nation Address at the Capitol building said since the founding of the country in 1847, there have been restrictions on citizenship and property ownership that – in his view – have become serious impediments to the development and progress of the country.

“These restrictions include the limitation of citizenship only to black people, the limitation of property ownership exclusively to citizens, and the non-allowance of dual citizenship. The framers of the 1847 Constitution may have had every reason and justification to include these restrictions in that historic document. They, as freed slaves, were fleeing from the oppressive yoke of slavery imposed upon them by white slave owners. They, therefore, wanted Liberia to be a safe refuge and a haven for free men of color, and so they restricted citizenship only to black people,” he said.

President Weah expressed his willingness to grant non-Negros citizenship through a referendum that will be submitted as an additional proposal to the seven accepted among the propositions that were submitted to the Constitution Review Committee last year.

There are Liberians in the Diaspora who have been campaigning for such restrictions to be removed to allow them the opportunity to enjoy dual citizenship status so that they can feel accepted to return home and to benefit from investment provisions that are mainly allocated to Liberian citizens.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. “It will bring development.” But that development will come at a cost, which is becoming second-class citizens in your own country.

    The situation that caused the founding fathers to put the clause in still DOES exist but only in a different form. The founding fathers placed the clause in so that the black man could not be oppressed. Because the non-blacks in Liberia control the economy, Liberians are very likely to be oppressed if such a law is passed.

  2. so why don’t Liberians develop their own country instead of blaming the white man. Because Liberians are lazy and only like good time. What stopping you all from developing your land. Where will the white man take the land? Can land move? What make you think that white man running to be citizen of Liberia? More senators and Nigerians and guineans already own the country so most of you just talking nonsense. Liberians will always remain poor because their heart is truly black.

    • You spoke like a real good person. That is exactly my point. A land can not move, what ever development that would be carried on by foreigners, would remain right here with us. At the end of the day, the world will say, Liberia is developed, and not who developed it or why. I will continue to say that, we Liberians are not selfish people but we do behave selfish. The white man will allow us to become citizens in their country but when it comes to us, we start to differentiate. Even the idea of dual citizenship, our own brothers and sisters left this country because of the conflict but when they choose to come back home to live, we reject them saying they have dual citizenship.

    • Well said ..Bob Marley said Emancipate YOUR selves from mental slavery only we ourselves can free our mind
      after 170 years not a dam thing to show for the age its a shame.
      85percent of Liberia is covered with bush what’s the fuss.. sell what u own at least its not been taken for free …whats about government official stealing from the poor .

    • This is not really about the white man. Quite frankly, there are not that many white people that are looking to become citizens in Liberia. The concern here is mostly the Lebanese and Indians. You see how they exploit the Liberian people when they are not even citizens and cannot own land.

      Now imagine giving them citizenship and allowing them to own land. Because our people are in no position to compete right now, the Lebanese and Indians will purchase everything in Liberia and our children children will have to purchase land from them. There will also be many segregated areas in Liberia because the Lebanese like to be segregated and see themselves as better than Liberians. This is a very bad idea for right now.

  3. Look how these ones sitting down, like they drunk. Da de white man stopping them from looking for job, da de white man telling them not to support their women, da de white man make them drink club beer , da de white man making them not to go home to their wives when they come from their girlfriends, da de white man making them sleep whole day and then get up to walk about. Let us hear.

  4. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan of Weah but since he took over, I’m a big fan of every policy he had proposed. President Weah had discovered the main problem of Liberia and he’s ready to solve those problems. This proposal of naturalizing none negro descent is a good idea and I do think by so doing, this will bring in investments and jobs. One lesson Liberian should learn is that, United States that everyone want to live in wasn’t built only by Caucasians but by every race of all nations and that’s why they’re the best country in the world.

  5. The issue of land should be separately discussed or dealt with from that of dual citizenship, giving the prevailing condition of land issues in our country. Land is an asset and if it should be open to non-negro descendant, I suggest that it should be done through restricting the quantity of land own by individual or individuals and this must be done with rigid policies and mechanism that will punish foul play or double standard activities.

  6. What is the definition of “Negro Descent” ?

    Lets say a Liberian (“Negro”?) man has a child with a white woman, their child will invariably be mulato / ½ caste / light skinned, but it is still of “Negro Descent” (from its “negro” father). Right ?!

    And if, say, it’s a boy child (who then grows into man), and he then also has a child with a white woman, then his child too is also very obviously of “Negro Descent” (from his father & grandfather), but that child is now an even lighter skin colour than its father, and a very much lighter skin colour than its “negro” grandfather.

    And let’s say that that child is also a boy child (who grows into a man) and he repeats the process, i.e. to have a child with yet another white woman. That baby is, yet again, a lighter skin colour than its father, or grandfather, or its “negro” great-grandfather.

    And let’s allow that breeding cycle to keep on repeating and eventually the process goes so far that, for all intents and purposes, the subsequent children end up looking white / caucasian, which they will do.

    However, if any of those children look back through their family-tree, at what point would these children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great-grandchildren, etc.) find that they ceased to be of “Negro Descent” and against what criteria is that being made?… a child’s skin colour? or their external features? or their DNA ?

    So I repeat the question: What is the definition of “Negro descent” ?

  7. In view of the statement made by H.E. President George M. Weah,president of the Republic of Liberia is a clear indication that he vowed to fight corruption in high places of government. I highly applauded him for taking a bold step by reducing his salary and other benefits. Mr. president, congratulations. You are a real patriot. I suggest that if you have time, sir, please read the Civil service Agency Standing Order on benefits and allowances. Allowances are discretional NOT a right. Salary is provided by law. You can decide on benefits and allowances for members of the House and other government officials on allowances to support you endeavors. Thanks!

  8. Why will many Liberians want to accept this, it is true that this will bring development according to many Liberians but we should mindful that we Liberians don’t have the finance that those people we wanting to be Liberian have. Today we are we pushing this went these people start to ill treat our people we will be the same Liberians to complain on them i who here is a victim of this i use to work for an Indian group in bong mines peer and one day i got hurt on the job and 25USD was subtracted from my salary to treat me.Laws are good to made went we think it will favor today’s generation but we should mindful for feature generation.

  9. Weah, please leave the Liberian people in their poverty. The people will get all their bad ways to teach them lesson. The war that we fought for 14 years, which Lebanese man took up arms. But Liberian people need to learn another lesson. So please leave them. Soon as poverty kick them, they crying out for help. Which senator even has a hospital or a school. You will never satisfy human being.

  10. Why! Liberians please be careful and keep your eyes open don’t let development take over your freedom. Please be mindful of what you asking for because it will come back and hunt you in the future. yes, development is such a beautiful ideas, but maybe another strategy for developing Liberia instead of granting citizenship to white man will be the best for all Liberians. It’s truth that black man is allow citizenship in a white man country, but we are stay enslaved to the white man, we are limited to citing things such as not having equal opportunity as the white man it’s another form of slaver and giving them room to come into Liberia will take away your freedom which is happening right now in Liberia. be careful my fellow Liberians another form of slaver is at our door.

  11. African American have been in America for over four hundred years if I’m right and they continue to b e marginalized by white people. White people love to live in exclusion. And for this reason they will purchase land exclusively, only to build their houses with Hugh fence around them, with dogs gaurding their property.As a result of these massive expansion, we local people will be left no space for farming. Liberia is a small country of 43 thousand sq miles. Please leave our shit hole with us.

    • please learn to spell. the word is HUGE not HUGH (somebody’s name). Jay Z, and Samuel Jackson and Denzel living in the white area so what are you talking about? Who stopping you from buying land in the white area? How much farm you got Liberia still importing rice from China. How many Liberians farm?

  12. Dear Mr. President and Leaders of Governance,

    We the people take the mercy of God to beg you not to sell our country. There are many more effective approaches/options that could be taken to ensure the development of our country, and still remain true to our core as a people. This approach that you are proposing idealistically would work in a fair and perfect global society; this is not the case. Our people will be undermined and eventually, our land would be swept right from under our feet, but don’t worry you’ll be long gone by then. Was it not foreign interest that led to internal conflict and years of bloodshed, instability and underdevelopment? Being from the people and for the people, this should not be a part of your legacy, unless we’ve been lied to yet again.

    We cannot continue to compare ourselves to the big U-S-A, they are world powered – we are the 3rd poorest country in the world according to their standards; we will be swallowed if we keep trying! Let’s look at other developed/developing West African countries and see what they are doing right and where they went wrong and learn from them. No one country in Africa should be an island, the time is now more than ever that African nations need to come together and uplift our continent.

    May Thomas Sankara live forever, God bless the Republic!

  13. This is not the time for such a topic. Rich now our country needs investors that will create job for our people especially, the young men and women. Secondly, and most importantly, the first thing on the agenda of our president should be a major crack down on CORRUOPTION, WHICH IS VERY, VERY, HIGH.
    In my view to the topic above, I disagree. Our people are already suffering in the hands of the wealthy people. It will be too much and will end up in another kind OF slavery for our people and country. My fellow LIERIANS LET US THING TWICE ON THIS MATTER.

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