By Hoover Alwehlee Dennis, Jr
My fellow Liberians, citizens of Africa’s first independent republic, “yor hello ooh.”
My people, I do not intend boring “yor” with escalating rhetoric or “for nothing talk” that has often resulted to unseen, scanty or unrealistic development in this country. Neither am I appealing to you to form another political party in addition to the dozens we have, nor am I suggesting to you to form a warring faction to rage havoc on our people, but I want to say something very important about our beloved Country, Liberia.
What I want to say is this; we have a compound complex problem on hand. All true patriotic and farsighted Liberians can see their Country’s situation and position far beyond the runoff election and the elected Government. At least, the election saga between the Liberty Party/Unity Party and National Election Commission involving the Supreme Court finally came to an end in Part One on Thursday, December 7, 2017.
As you may know, after discovering fraud and irregularities in the October 2017 Election, Liberty Party filed a prohibition to the Supreme Court against the announcement of Election results by NEC. However, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling for a runoff election between the Unity Party and Coalition for Democratic Change with a dissenting opinion expressed by Associate Justice Kabineh J’aneh. Then on December 12, 2017, Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah, Chairman of the NEC in a very brief press conference disclosed that the runoff election will be held on Tuesday, December 26, 2017, a day after Christmas. There are speculations about the election.
However, Liberians anxiously waited for Part Two: The runoff election, its outcome and paraphernalia (“small small things”). Whether our government is led by CDC or UP in 2018, or whatever, one thing is certain. Our country, Liberia, stands at a crossroad at a very critical juncture of its existence.
One fork of the road leads to ethnicity, disunity, indifference and hostilities among the people of Liberia, while the other leads to the intervention of our continental neighbors and traditional friends in our situation due to obvious reasons. The present trend of development in our state of affairs will certainly lead us to the two directions, if we remain insensitive to the plight of our country.
During our recent controversial October 10, 2017, Representative and Presidential Elections, some Liberians based their campaign messages on ethnic rhetoric and sentiments. But these tribal divisive messages seek to undermine the existence of unity among the Liberian people instead of uniting them. Yet others believe that by creating an ethnically divided nation, our problem as a nation and people will be solved.
Lest we forget, tribalism was an undisputed and indisputable factor that spiked, ignited and inflamed our civil war. It caused us untold suffering and misery in which at least a quarter of a million people died, while thousands of people were internally and externally displaced in Liberia and in other parts of the world.
Actually, the power struggle that some believe exists between Native Liberians and Americo-Liberians is unsubstantial. It is unlikely for Americo-Liberians to reassert themselves on the people, and equally so no tribal group can do likewise in this Country. Lest we also forget this fact, let me remind us. Naturalized Liberians have appeared massively on the Liberian scene, while Caucasians (white people) the would-be Liberians are watching and waiting for their turn.
In 2011, Naturalized Liberians voted for the first time en mass in the General and Presidential Elections. In October, 2017, Representative and Presidential Elections, they did not only vote overwhelmingly, but they also contested as representative candidates as well. Since Naturalized Liberians can vote, they can also be voted for.
Meanwhile, the Would-be Liberians (the Caucasians), our partners in progress are also on the verge of becoming citizens of this Country. It will happen sooner or later.
Not only is Liberia is at a crossroad, our country is also on a time bomb. And this time bomb is slowly ticking away. We can either diffuse or detonate it depending on our words and actions. Patriotism and unity coupled with creativity, competition and productivity on the part of the people will diffuse this bomb. While on the other hand, disunity, corruption, flagrant disrespect for justice and the rule of law, national ineptitude, individualism, tribalism and greed will see our Country being controlled perpetually by foreigners. Again, lest we forget, the bulk of our Economy is in the hands of foreigners, who were not even born in Liberia. They are capitalizing on our frivolities and weakness as a people, while we are bunking.
Complacency and non-involvement in the cause and process of nation building will witness a consequential detonation of Liberians into indentured servitude (house boys and girls) for others in our own home. The fact remains clear, we Liberians are “spectating”, while others are acting. Besides being complacent with our lot, we are rapidly selling out to those who control our economy. In fact, contemporary Liberians are feeling the pinch of poverty, while future generations of Liberians will bear the brunt of misery due to our insensitivity and shortsightedness.
We are looking but not seeing the BIG HAND WRITING in the sky. Our porous borders and weak immigration system are allowing the influx of people into our country, who are engaging in illicit and illegal businesses contaminating the minds of our youths. These unwholesome activities pose dire consequences for Liberia’s future leaders. With a population of less than 5 million (4.5 million), Liberia’s population is small as compared to Nigeria’s (186 million), Ghana’s (28 million), Ivory Coast (23.7 million), Mali’s (17.99 million), Guinea’s (12.4 million) and Sierra Leone’s (7.396 million). These figures are World Bank 2016 population estimates.
Instead of establishing industries, companies, cooperatives, joint ventures, and other economic enterprises on a significant scale, Liberians have turned their backs and ignored these economic ventures. Multitude of them usually scramble, fuss and fight over a single elected post. The multitude usually confuse the electorates and jam the legislative and presidential corridors with their huge presence and numbers. What do these Liberians see in a political competition vying for a single elected post that is unseen in an economic competition, establishing economic ventures?
Apparently, Liberians are listening but not hearing that economic might makes political right. Let’s remember this old saying: “He who pays the piper calls the tune.” In other words, if a group gains economic power, political power will follow. In 1927, the naturalized Liberian Thomas R. Faulkner contested the presidency against Charles D. B. King. Even though he did not become president, Faulkner was economically empowered and sought to reform the economy. Ten years earlier in 1917, President Daniel E. Howard may not have foreseen the naturalized Faulkner contesting in the 1927 election. Neither could President Howard foresee 100 years into the future (2017), Liberia having a female President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, nor do contemporary Liberians foresee in 2117 (if Christ tarries), Liberia’s president being black or white.
But what all well-meaning, sensitive, industrious and farsighted Liberians can see is this (our socio-economic and political) arrangement is precarious now and will be disastrous for posterity. Because we have a compound complex problem to solve in order to obtain genuine peace, national reconciliation and unity among ourselves and economic recovery, strong growth and sustainable development for our country.
Meanwhile, we have an emergency on hand regarding our country’s existence and development. After 170 years, Liberia is like an independent dwarf stunted and retarded by years of social uncertainty, economic latency and political insecurity. The facts are seen, the picture is clear and the records are there. Liberia, Africa’s oldest Republic is among the poorest and unhappiest nations in the world.
Considering her age, ill health and feebleness, the time has come for Mama Liberia to be removed from her “usual old folks home” where she is kept and often neglected and mistreated by us, her children. Let us admit her in an emergency ward within an intensive care unit and place her into an incubator. Inside this incubator, she will grow and develop to be nurtured by her Three (3) Groups of People.
The three groups of Liberians will emerge from patriotism and nationalism and not from individualism and tribalism. Significantly, their emergence will be based on the colors of our flag: red, white and blue.
On August 28, 2012, I published a letter in the Daily Observer Newspaper entitled- “Choose A National Color: Make A Difference.” That letter was a stimulus creating the awareness of the importance for integrating our people beyond ethnic lines for reconciliation and development. Since then, the socio-economic and political landscape is still precarious. However, Liberians are enthusiastic about forming this national movement for the greater good of Liberia.
My people, we cannot carry this socio-economic and political disarrangement into the future for posterity to handle. It is full of uncertainties and confusion. We must be custodians of our national endowments (Caretakers of Liberia) and rearrange the course of our country’s destiny. We must be economic actors instead of economic spectators to seize the mantle of ownership and authority in this land.
The concept of changing one’s mentality positively would thoroughly germinate and yield abundance when persons of like minds work together to support one another in a cause. An individual by himself or herself cannot effect any substantial change unless he or she interacts with others in a movement. So let’s begin the process of national unity and development by identifying with a color: Red, White or Blue.
“Liberia’s three (3) groups of people: An Integrated Movement to Rejuvenate and Rebuild Africa’s oldest Republic,” is an ideal workable solution for our country’s problem. This envisaged national movement will not automatically make Liberia a utopian state, but this national endeavor will change the image and status of Mama Liberia. The adverse effect of tribalism will be dispelled, a systematic functioning order will be established, and the rule of law will be respected and upheld, check and balance affirmed, transparency and accountability will be ensured, honesty and integrity will be reaffirmed, while time consciousness will be effective, among others. The Liberian people will truly see and know who’s who in Liberia.
This national “Talk and Do” movement will also result to Africa’s first born to regain her birthright in Africa and claim her legitimate status among the nations of the world.
Participants in this movement will include the Liberian people: Native Liberians, Americo-Liberians, Naturalized Liberians and Would-be Liberians- our Caucasian partners in progress. Categorically, from age 10 to 110, the movement will be formed based on ethnic groups from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas. No well-meaning Liberian will be left out of this movement. For example, the Kpelle tribal group will be in the Red, White and Blue, there will be three groups of Kpelle people, likewise the other ethnic groups. Within the Three Groups, Colors or Custodians, there be will be the children’s group (10 – 17), Children And Little Leaders (CALL), and the young people and adults’ group, Custodians And Leading Minds (CALM). Symbolically, there would be the Flag bearers and Flag poles (staff). From the length and breadth of Liberia, there would be Three Groups of People.
There seems to be a charming, attractive and seductive fence within Liberia causing Liberians to be indecisive, contented, non-involved and unconcerned about their Country’s plight. This fence must be broken down and trampled upon by the Liberian people. When it is removed from our midst, then every Liberian will be proactively inside not passively outside. And no one will be left sitting there doing nothing but watching others do. To alleviate our problem, we must remove this fence (of complacency and non-achievement) that has held us backward in a downward trend. Then we will bridge the gap, close ranks and work shoulder to shoulder to realize the Liberian Dream in us in order to build a greater nation. Its removal can only be done by the people in an affirmation action movement such as “Liberia’s Three Groups of Liberia…”
Let us build on a solid foundation, while awaiting the rising Sun to disperse darkness and destroy wickedness that retards Liberia’s growth and development. For rebuilding on hollow foundation will not only shatter Liberians but others as well.
My development concept, the “Available Hand,” the people’s thing or “our own self thing” will be the motivational concept of the movement. At least the idea and structure of the American two party political systems and the rule of law, which have led the American people and nation to greatness, will be enhanced to mainstream our political system significantly. The Chinese exemplary concept of National Rejuvenation and Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation will be beneficial in giving the Liberian society a Renaissance (Rebirth). Besides reconciling and uniting Liberians, the objective for this National Exercise is to reform the social fabric of our society and regain or recover our economy.
If patriotism and nationalism are tenets of democracy, then the American Nathan Hale who said, “I regret that I have but one life to give to my Country”, would not outdo Liberians who often patriotically say, ‘Let’s put Liberia first above self-interest.”
Hence, at this critical juncture in our nation’s history, we must find the path, blaze the trail, lay and then build upon a solid foundation for future generations. Or else, we will be huge remises of our time, forlorn hope of our forebears’ dream, squanderers of our resources and opportunities, enslavers and betrayals of posterity and the most desirable derision (laughing stock) for others. Our ‘blunder’ will be louder than the voice of a thunder for the entire world to hear. To cut it short in our Liberian way, “we’ll just be good for nothing people dem in the eyes of posterity.”
If we have never put Liberia first before, now is the time to do so before it is too late. Our forward march that have often led us almost in the same position, (one step forward and two steps backward), an untiring vicious cycle of a reverse trend must be halted. Now is the time to reverse the course of Africa’s legitimate first born to reclaim her birth right and status in Africa.
Frankly, both politicians and electorates have pledged their allegiance to our Flag and Country, so beating Hale’s patriotic heroism is our ‘everyday talk’. We must learn from our circumstances and present situation, condition and status.
Lest we forget, when former United States President George W. Bush, Jr., visited our country on February 21, 2008, he promised a million books to augment our educational status, process and system. His gifts of books to us, unlike other countries he visited, speak volumes to the well-meaning Liberian. Does his gift suggest that we should learn and be educated to know better?
Our situation is like we are playing a losing game with all odds against us. The only way we can win this match is to technically and tactically change our strategies and exert more efforts. Other than this rejuvenated strategic formation, considering our aggregate, the leading team will give us “plenty to zero”.
Even though some Liberians are seeing the writing in the sky, yet they are not reading and comprehending it. In our simple Liberian English the writing is saying: “Yor please look around and see for yorself. If yor don’t watch out and change yor ways and put yor house in order, yor will be like slaves dem (house boys and girls) for other people dem in yor own home. If yor can’t hear, yor will feel.”
So, my people our present arrangement is not good for us and future generations of Liberians. Let us rearrange Liberia for our own good.
In fact, all well-meaning Liberians are ready and waiting to be a part of CONE, (Caretakers of Liberia). This National “Talk and Do” Movement, which will integrate, reconcile and unite Liberians and rebuild our Country, is gaining momentum in the hearts and minds of the Liberian people.
I believe when during the course of a democratic process, if the representative government is blundering or inadequately seeking the interest and welfare of the governed (the people), then it becomes imperative and incumbent on the part of the people to help government ensure corrective measures aimed at reforming the society. Or else, the government of the people… will become irrelevant and non-essential for the people and perishable in the land.
I also believe there is no universal democratic template to subscribe or ascribe to other than the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therefore, the movement is intended to assist the new government as it strives to reconcile and unite Liberians and develop the Country. This will be the first ever integrated and unified movement that Africa and the world will see.
This Inclusive Participatory Democratic Socio-Economic Movement will benefit the Liberian people. Being custodians of our national endowments/ colors, let us do it differently to make a difference and change our country.
The concept, formation and policy of “Liberia’s Three Groups of People…” in my unpublished book that bears the above title will be submitted to our continental neighbors, such as the MRU, ECOWAS, AU as well as the EU, UN and the Liberian people.
Hence, I am calling on all peace loving countries, philanthropist and humanitarian institutions/organizations and individuals to help us (people of Liberia) foster peace, reconciliation and unity among ourselves to achieve strong growth and sustainable development for our Country by forming these groups.
May God bless us in this national endeavor.
About the author: Mr. Hoover Alwehlee Dennis, Jr., the Vision Director of CONE is a Social Entrepreneur. He grew up in Gbarnga, Bong County, and went to St. Martin’s Catholic High School and studied Economics at Cuttington University. He has worked with NGOs/INGOs as well as SMARTConsortium, UNICEF, UNOMIL, UNFPA & EU and implemented social works projects. Besides other achievements, the letter writer is a critical thinker who wishes well for his fellow Liberians and for this Country, Liberia. He can be reached via email: [email protected] or via phone: +231880336399 or +231770503355.