By: Moses Blonkanjay Jackson; MsEd, EdM
Education Advocate/Social Action Commentator
I reflected during my thinking thoughts how recently there has been a wave of campaign launches intended to convey messages of the strengths and electability of candidates in the 2017 elections. While the winners will be determined by number of votes, there is a current race about which presidential candidate possesses popularity enough to pull the largest crowd into the streets behind them, “lock down Monrovia” and bring the wheels of the staggering economy of this nation to a grinding halt. When these launches are held, there are usually huge numbers of almost similar sizes making one to wonder where these people come from. Are they true supporters or trucked agents cajoled to participate in a scheme making up the number as fake saints marching in a parade? I intuit this is why there are always debates in circles regarding who actually pulled the largest crowd as they supposedly triumphantly enter the former Christopolis, now Monrovia.
Locking Down Monrovia Constructs
Fellow Liberians, each time a campaign is launched there appears to be an outpouring of support for the candidate as his followers go marching with all and sundry show of support. The common phrase in these elections “Lock down Monrovia” has taken on diverse constructs based on the perceptions of the proponents. Each time a political leader and his followers march through the streets of this tight and congested Monrovia and block traffic for a few hours, they declare to the world that they have “locked down Monrovia.” Sadly, partisans forget that Monrovia is not hard to lock down for it is usually locked down by the regular traffic jams on Tubman Boulevard, Broad, Carey and Benson streets. The point is any number of supporters that reaches 25 can lock down Monrovia. What remains to be determined from these so-called lock downs is the extent to which the city was locked down, and whether by mischievous agents or genuine supporters.
As a tradition, before the launches, spokespersons usually caution that activities in the city would be snail paced or halted the day of the event. After the launch, whether it was successful or not, they re-surface on self gratifying platforms provided by the Fourth Estate to preach unrealistic exegesis of the triumphant entries of their presidential candidates and the extent of the lock down making comparisons to previous launches.
Whatever the constructs and debates regarding locking down Monrovia, the attendance at various launches has been tremendously impressive; however, if these gatherings were all generated by honest voters there would be a break-even or “draw game” among aspirants.
Now, one of the launches which rekindled my childhood memory in a reflective manner was a group that sang an old patriotic school day marching band song: “When the Saints, go marching in, Lord I want to be in the number.” As they went marching in on that sunny Saturday, I wondered if they were genuine saints or greedy hyenas deceiving the candidates? Were they referring to themselves as saints or the candidates for which they were marching and singing so passionately to lock down Monrovia?
When real Saints went Marching In
Back in the 1970s when we were 9th graders at the W. V. S. Tubman High School and compelled to attend national parades such as Flag Day, we would sing, “When the Saints, Go Marching in, O Lord I want to be in the number, when the saints go marching in”
Mind you, if we 9th graders had a choice, in spite of the hot sun or rain as it sometimes rained, in spite of the fact that we were Freshman students with no blood, placed at the tail of the line to march without band music, and low prestige, we would still select to march for Tubman High School, our dear alma mater. Oh, how we craved for the time we too would be sophisticated sophomores to be marching closer to the band. The school’s population was so large that during parades, we had Platoons from ‘A’ to ‘L’ according to grade levels. Because we were 9th graders we were always in ‘L’, the “pupu (feces) platoon.”
In the feces platoon or pupu platoon, we did not hear the band, we did not receive any applauses from onlookers lining the streets, we were jeered at and called names, “pupu platoon, pupu platoon yor make haste and pass” indicating they were tired with the long Tubman High lines and waiting to see other schools. By that time, the band was all the way in the Executive Mansion yard while our pupu platoon was just leaving Camp Johnson road. To satisfy our miserable position of no band music, no attention, and public ridicule, one of us would raise a song to keep our rhythm and cadence. “When the Saints go marching, O Lord I want to be in the number” was our favorite.
While we were proud to be exemplary students donning the maroon and white colors of Liberia’s foremost public school and appearing to be happy, we were actually in pain and compelled to march. In addition to worrying that the coal tar street was eating up your last pair of black school shoes, hunger, thirst, and looming punishment for cutting the parade were all factors to our painful situations; howbeit, we marched and sang with all our souls, “When the Saints go marching in, O Lord I want to be in the number.” In spite of the pain, we knew we had obligation as Cardinals, to be faithful to our dear alma mater, Tubman High, the nation’s pride, each time duty called.
Now, the questions that came to my mind on the day campaigners sang that song and went marching were whether they felt the same loyalty and patriotism we felt within our souls as enduring freshman students of the revered Tubman High school. Were they simply deceitful gravy seekers, conscienceless rogues, and less busy lot which join any campaign that gives out t-shirts and money? On launching days these characters parade with the candidates as if they will never betray them whereby during the day of voting, they would go and cast votes for their real choices like Jesus was ushered into Jerusalem one day triumphantly and few days later, crucified.
Fake Triumphant Entries
The recent wave of campaign intended to woo voters and to “lock down Monrovia” is metaphoric of the triumphant entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem and the unpleasant aftermath as recorded by the fourfold Gospels. In Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19, Jesus descends from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem riding on a donkey, and the crowds lay their clothes on the ground to welcome him as he triumphantly enters Jerusalem. The following week the same crowd deceives Jesus, their previous hero, and cry “Crucify him, crucify!” He is subsequently hanged on a cross and killed after crying to His Father in heaven, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani (meaning My God my God why have you forsaken me?).
During the launches, presidential candidates are placed high on top of fabulously decorated floats and made to wave to their so-called supporters as they shout, “yor leave us ay da so-so and so we want, etc.,” waving back with palm branches as they presumably “triumphantly enter” Monrovia. One wonders if on October 10, the candidates would not be crying “My supporters, my supporters why have you deceived me?”
Politicians and party stalwarts should not be remiss by the so-called stage managed triumphant entries of their candidates because there is a number of fake saints poised to go marching, whose presence does not mean a doggone thing but deceit.
Fake Candidates, Fake Supporters, Fake Votes
After it’s all said and done, there is an adage, “What goes around comes around.” Some politicians are chronic liars and rogues and some voters are equally serious schemers.
There were politicians who promised things they could deliver but refused. When they got voted, some ate, got fat and turned their fat asses (excuse my Sunday school language) to the very people who voted for them to kiss. Remember, teachers have always been the biggest ass kissers. But mind you politicians, the voters are already stereotyped that you too will lie to them when you win, they believe you will steal all their money and misuse their resources while they continue to wobble in abject poverty and excruciating painful living conditions and tell them to “kiss your asses.” You will bring your unqualified relatives and placed them at lucrative jobs to milk the economy and you will lie saying it is a global issue. Because of this stereotype, the voters will have no remorse when they deceive you on October 10, because you to are a deceiver.
Some of you are fake con men looking for votes, and the voters are fake 419 people singing “When the Saints go Marching in” just to “eat their own.” The votes they cast will be fake because they promised to give them to you by joining your parades and helping you to enter Monrovia triumphantly and lock it down, but would instead vote for somebody else. All of you would be just a bunch of fake actors and schemers come October 10.
It is to those ends that I have resolved that “When Fake Saints go Marching in to herald a fake and staged triumphant entry, I will not be in the number,” so help me God.
Like our days in the 70’s as freshman students at Tubman High, I enjoin supporters to passionately sing and parade but only with honestly. Politicians themselves need to step back and reflect that the consequence of raising false hopes is a curse of disappointment. Let us therefore sing the marching song with fervor and truth like Tubman High freshmen who in spite of their situations, coined their own version of “When the Saints, go marching in” and sang it with all their might soul as shown below:.
When the Saints, (O when the saints) go marching in (Go marching in)
When the sings go marching in, O Lord I want to be in the number, when the saints go marching in
(one two, one two, half step, half step, right cadence, left cadence, your ma cadence, your pa cadence, you sonafabitch, march!!!!)
When the Saints, go marching in, when the sings go marching in,
O Lord I want to be in the number, when the saints go marching in.
I am simply thinking thoughts.
About the author
The Rivercess man, Mwalimu-Mku (Veteran educator) Moses 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/BEP/World Bank Project Consultant, and as Assistant Minister for Teacher Education and returned to private practice as consultant, advocate and researcher. The Rivercess man can be contacted at +231 886 681 315/+231 770 206 645.