By Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (MsEd, EdM) – Civil Society Advocate/Education Expert
In my thinking thoughts I reflected the trend of events in the current 2017 Presidential and Representative elections, and the obscurity and cacophony wrought in the perspectives and minds of both laymen and pundits in various circles. So far in spite of the accolades for managing a “peaceful process,” there is a diluting litany of accusations, claims and counter-claims leaving the layman to wonder if we have a play-play elections commission, play-play elections process, or will produce a play-play new government. Either one or all could be true considering the issues of the recent process and how the November 7 process could unfold leading to an unanticipated inauguration on January 16, 2018.
Construct of play-play things
Fellow citizens, most Liberians who grew up in Liberia in the 60s and 70s would remember a construct called “play-play things.” As children, when we completed our chores like toting water or sweeping the yard and Mama allowed us to go play with our friends, we would go do “play-play things.” By “play-play things” we would mimic or pretend like we were doing things in real life situations. For example, one of us would pretend to be a play-play doctor and the other children as patients; one person pretended to be the play-play teacher and the rest of us the play-play students as we mimicked the situations.
For the sake of the layman, to mimic is to imitate or impersonate as somebody doing something that is real but you are actually fake and the event is not real but simply a show for fun; a ‘play-play thing’.
One of the play-play things I hated was the play-play ma and play-play pa event; I hated this event because my friend Jimmy, of the same age group never allowed me to play the part of being the play-play pa but always selected me as the play-play son. Jimmy liked being the play-play pa so that he could hug and hold the hands of the girls who were the play-play mamas. Without notice, he would announce that it was time to go to bed and we would all cuddle in some corner, either an unfinished house or an isolated place, on play-play beds. Jimmy would say, “Children yor close yor eyes and sleep” and he would start behaving like he was snoring, making some kind of silly noise with his flat nose.
Now, my role was to crow like a rooster to announce the break of day, but each time I crowed, Jimmy would shout back, “That is first chicken crowing, it is still dark outside.” In my jealousy I myself would announce, “Last chicken” and crow again. Jimmy would reply, “The moon is still shining so it is fooling the rooster oh, let us sleep,” as he hugged little beautiful Mardea closer, who was playing play-play mama. If I continued to harass Jimmy with the frequent crowing, he would threaten, “If you don’t stop, we will not play with you.” I would shut my mouth until Jimmy said, “Junior, crow now,” and I would reluctantly crow for the whole play-play family to wake up. Actually, we all were not sexually active, including Jimmy. Mind you, nothing happened as all of this was fake and simply pretense, mimic and playing ‘play-play’ family, husband, wife and children.
One day Jimmy and I had a fist fight over who should be the play-play pa. By some luck during the fight, as Jimmy locked my head under his arms and consistently pushed his knee in my chest almost suffocating me, I jerked my head and it mistakenly hit his nose and it started to bleed. The whole group went into confusion, “Junior take blood from Jimmy nose, Junior beat Jimmy.” I was scared to death as I later stood before my and Jimmy’s parents to explain to them that Jimmy and I were fighting over who should be play-play pa and I mistakenly ‘took blood’ from his nose. Although the bloody nose portion of the story was an issue, the “play-play” ma and pa portion is what really gave me and Jimmy the whipping. When Jimmy was still alive before the war, each time we met, Jimmy would cry out “Play-play pa” and I would respond, “Play-play ma” and we would hug and just laugh out loud as passersby looked on confused.
Alas, may my play-play pa Jimmy’s soul rest in peace.
Play-play Elections Commission
NEC is functioning metaphorically as a serious fake play-play agency, based on the trend of events in the way it is conducting these elections. This has left the layman wonder it is a real commission or play-play.
In addition to ANC Cummings accusing the NEC for mediocrity, and LP Brumskine’s lawsuit threat, chairman Korkoya stands accused of being in possession of an American passport; NEC takes decisions that are overruled by logic and nuances; poll workers’ gross lack of capacity to manage crowds at precincts; ballot boxes are delivered under poor security in canoes, while election observers sit in shops on elections Tuesday and get drunk with alcohol as confusion brews over truncated voters lists; voters are turned away although they hold legitimate registration cards in their hands. In spite of a so-called robust Civic Voters Education campaign which cost thousands of dollars, thousands of invalid votes are produced as half-illiterate poll workers including inept girlfriends and deputy wives are recruited under obscured and dubious circumstances as supervisors.
According to the allegations, the whole elections process managed by the play-play NEC itself appears to be play-play. Play-play supporters wore t-shirts, join every parade to “lock down Monrovia” but voted for one candidate. One candidate, Edwin Snowe, was sitting as representative in one district and vied for a seat in another district as if we are just playing. Some lawmakers who pledged support to Joe Boakai could not deliver their counties, because instead of going out to campaign for the Pappy, they took time off with their concubines using the resources positioned with them; exactly 20 people, some of whom are still renting rooms in other people’s homes want to be president for this thriving nation including prelates, soccer stars, lawyers, bankers; even disc jockeys, illicit drug dealers, and comedians, mayonnaise and butter people were also audaciously vying for seats in parliament; lawmakers who were said to be drug addicts and some who are nuisance to society were re-elected to return to business as usual.
The office of ombudsman is wide open and fully funded but its role remains ambiguous since all complaints are currently taken to the NEC and the Supreme Court. It is alleged that Internal Affairs Minister Togba was fired by President Sirleaf for refusing to join the CDC party while the former superintendent of Bong joined CDC and canvassing religiously to get re-appointed; it still remains a misery why UP people up to press time maintain President Sirleaf is not supporting her own UP but crossed carpet with Aunty Janet to the same CDC that beat her son, Montserrado Senatorial aspirant Robert Sirleaf so badly that he “bled like Ebola.” It is alleged that some people left a party because they did not want to work with ‘faggy people’ (homosexuals), while others ran to the homosexual party for jobs. These allegations may not all be true but all this simply unfolds as if the elections is just ‘play-play.’
Obscurity about the play-play process
Dear readers, you would agree that the current trend in these elections is obscure, dim or hard to understand. For the sake of the layman, when something is obscure, it is unclear, vague, and doubtful; it is intelligible, incoherent, and makes no sense.
Some candidates were rejected based on a particular law while some were cleared based on the same law; Minister Ngafuan resigned two years before the elections according to law while Karnwea and Sulunteh resigned at least one month before their bid and got cleared by the NEC because “they did not have intentions” hence ameliorating the fear about Mill Jones’ eligibility. Abu Kamara was rejected because he did not resign; he resigned and got rejected by the NEC while Norris Tweh, Kadiker Dahn, Michael Slawon of the University of Liberia and the NCHE were granted “leave of absence” to go do politics and return to their jobs if they did not win; what an obscurity.
Cacophony about the play-play transition
Cacophony is an unpleasant combination of loud, often jarring sounds. Recently, the crux of President Sirleaf’s entire message is that there should be peace and people should vote under non-violent situations. The reason, as we are all aware, is for us to have a peaceful transition without cacophony or noise.
You see fellow Liberians this nation has heard enough noise or cacophony. In addition to the noise from the barrel of the guns during the 14 year civil war, and the noise from the wailing and grieving caused the Ebola epidemic, there has been persistent noise from the so-called “noisy minority.”
As if the cacophony from the noisy minority has not been adequate to orientate us, the cacophony of the chronic abject poverty among our citizens, the uncontrollable high US dollar rate, high unemployment rates, and arson attacks on journalists are all threats to the craved peaceful transition.
As we approach November 7, 2017 and anticipate January 16, 2018 there needs to be a sober reflection and re-positioning of the cards. In order to avoid the obscurity and cacophony which have bridled the first rounds of elections, and re-branded Jerome Korkoya’s NEC allegedly incapable of delivering the good so far, there needs to be an NEC with demonstrable efficacy henceforth.
Currently what appears to be on hand is a “play-play NEC” with inadequate capacity, no clout and spine to take decisions; an NEC accused of mediocrity and ineptitude with clear signs of its inability to manage credible elections; on hand is a play-play elections with all of its rules broken with all and sundry climbing and jumping on board bandwagons of confusion. Suffice it to say all of these negative attributes, accusations, gross show of inefficacy continue, and nothing happens and the results were endorsed whether by the court or the electorates, thank God.
But do you know what we would inherit on January 16, 2018? We would inherit a doggone play-play government for six more years with business as usual managing a noisy minority. God forbid.
I am simply thinking thoughts
About the author
The Rivercess man, Mwalimu-Mku Blonkanjay Jackson was trained at Harvard, St. Joe’s, Yale and UPENN as an educator, mathematician and physicist. The Mwalimu-Mku, previously served the Government of Liberia for four years as GPE/World Bank Project Consultant, and as Assistant Minister for Teacher Education: Mwalimu-Mku returned to private practice in 2015 as consultant, civil society advocate and researcher. The Rivercess man can be contacted at +231 886 681 315/+231 770 206 645.