In 2017, Liberians once again will be going to election to elect their President and Members of the House of Representatives. The 2017 elections indeed will be unique principally for three reasons: the exit of a two-termed president through a peaceful democratic process, the test of the maturity of the Liberian democratic process and the assurance not only to Liberians but to the world that Liberia can peacefully handle its own internal affairs. A number of Liberians are expected to contest but the contest seems to be questioned by some of our own, especially the younger generation, who continue to propagate the negation of the older generation in the electoral process.
In other words, the younger generation is clamoring for a generational change; forcefully making the claim that 2017 is for the younger generation. Such a claim by the younger generation is divisive and undemocratic. This article will argue against the younger generation’s premise of alienation instead; the article will argue for the coordination, collaboration and cooperation of both the younger and older generations in building a solid socio-political climate where respect, trust, unity and cohesion will be the order of the day. For a better and peaceful Liberia, we must build a bridge between the two generations, a bridge that will not alienate rather but unite Liberians regardless of age, ethnicity, tribe, religion and social status.
Whatever we do or say, oneness among Liberians should be our ultimate goal. There is no Liberian more Liberian than the others. When people of a nation begin to draw line on tribal, ethnic and religious lines as means to legitimize being ‘more Liberian’ it is a recipe for chaos. Similarly, when a generation begins to discriminate against another, it is equally so undemocratic. What has been the sole crime committed by the older generation that warrants its negation in pursuit of a political leadership? Does the proposed negation of the older generation an insinuation of incompetence? I am always wary when a generation or politicians begin to malign opponents for irregularities and claiming to be able to do better than the accused. Historically, what our country has witnessed over the years, stemming from allegations of rampant corruption against the True Whig Party’s administration which, resulted in the bloody overthrow of a sitting democratic government and events that led us to where we are today, should serve as lessons. There were once claims of corruption and nepotism against the Tolbert administration.
These claims, among others, eventually brought down the government and ushered in the People’s Redemption Council. During the People’s Redemption Council’s reign, can one safely conclude that Liberians were really redeemed as the name depicted? Was the People’s Redemption Council government incorruptible and void of the same sins which it held against the previous administration? Liberians are very good at critizing others but given the opportunity, they become worse than the accused. Many Liberian politicians criticize one another and even a regime to find their way to power but when the power is given, do they really deliver on their promises? Similarly, what evidence have we seen that the younger generation would deliver better than the older generation; or, is it another clever attempt to come to power just like George Orwell’s “ANIMAL FARM”?
If the older generation were also to discriminate against the younger generation, how would the younger generation have found its way into government? If the younger generation were exclusively to be in power, what would happen to the older generation? How would a younger generation government look like? Was it wrong for the Government of Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf to incorporate young men and women in the government since President Sirleaf by age is of the older generation? How would the older generation government look like without incorporating the younger generation? Would it be wrong and criminal for both the younger and older generations to intertwine for the betterment of our country?
We need a Bridge
Here again, I maintain that Liberia is for Liberians and no one Liberian is more Liberian than the others. We must build a bridge that will unite Liberians and the two generations. The issue of compelling importance at hand should not be the advocacy for the negation or promotion of a particular generation. What is at stake is the duplicity and insincerity of our political leaders. Our political leaders preach against nepotism and corruption but do not practice what they preach. If a politician becomes inconsistent and popular political promises promised are denied and not delivered, citizens become uneasy and therefore begin to develop different perspectives which, in many instances, leads to yearning for true political messiahs. Should it be then that the Older Generation has failed and the only hope is the renaissance of a new political order where members of the Younger Generation are the political messiahs? Here again, one must ask, in the eyes of the Younger Generation, what disqualifies the Older Generation from continuing in political leadership?
My fellow compatriots, our country has come a long way with many missteps and miseducations along the way. Consider the brutal political turmoil in the 80s and 90s where Liberians butchered one another on ethnic lines. What good did we gain from such brutalities? And yet, up to date, we haven’t learned lessons from our past but continue to separate ourselves on ethnic, social and generational lines? What in my opinion we need to yearn for amounts to these: who among us that can truly deliver our country from the culture of corruption, incompetence, political vindictiveness and all forms of “cultural miseducations” which found itself in the hearts and minds of Liberians that led us to a civil conflict? Who is it among us that will empower Liberians so that the gap between the rich and the poor is minimized if not totally eliminated? Who is it among us that will truly open educational opportunities for citizens and disengage the politicization of the educational sector at the detriment of the poor? These are some of the concerns I am pleading we should not do anything to divide us. In the absence of these concerns and answers, an exclusive younger generation control of government is the renaissance of an incompetent society? The admonition of Paulo Frère, a Brazilian philosopher and educationist, is instructive for us: “All forms of discrimination are immoral and it is a duty to fight against them.” You decide!
About the author: Kadiker Rex Dahn holds a PhD in Education and is a lecturer in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Liberia.