Pastor Kortu Brown, as an ecclesiastical prelate, must know about a country called Israel. He also must know about the 12 tribes of Israel, among which there were and still are numerous divisions that, among other things, led to all kinds of separations. The separation was so intense that the Israelites were, the learned pastor must also know, led to the four corners of the earth. That is how come you find Jews everywhere in the world.
When the modern State of Israel was established in 1948 Jews started re-gathering from everywhere. The State welcomed them and because of its heavy dependence on its Diaspora, which comprised highly educated, talented and enterprising people, they were granted dual citizenship. This has led Israel, Pastor Brown also must know, to become the most advanced country in the Middle East. It surpasses its oil-rich neighbors in every facet of development except oil, which is a natural resource. But Israel has something far superior to any material resource—its people scattered all over the globe.
So when the pastor talks about all the ethnic divides found in Liberia, he must realize that a whole lot has changed. The people he names after America are no longer just the descendents of the settlers from America. They are now all Liberians—from Cape Mount to Cape Palmas, from Lofa to Sinoe and River Cess—and their children, grand and great grandchildren settled abroad, especially in the United States, where they were educated and earned their money and other resources.
During the civil war, many of the indigenous officials of government—except for those who were Krahn—narrated stories of how they were chased and hunted down to be killed—not by Charles Taylor but by the very government they served. The ruling ethnic group, the Krahns, at that point considered everybody else the enemy, especially those who were educated. These were linked to the most hated group, the settler descendents and were all now considered as part of that group. And so if you were found, no matter where you came from, you were killed. You did not have to be Gio or Mano. No. Once you were not Krahn, you were now considered an enemy. We recall the story of one higher up Minister of the Bassa ethnic group saying he had to jump over his fence to save his life!
People, especially those who were educated, were forced to flee for only one reason: to save their lives and those of their spouses, children and other close relatives they could carry along.
We are saying all of this to admonish Pastor Brown to STOP playing the ethnic card. There are people from every ethnic group in the Diaspora. They all love Liberia and want to do something to help their country and people. That is why they send tens of millions of dollars here each year, to ensure the sustenance of those relatives they left behind.
We do ourselves a great disservice—we shoot ourselves in the foot—when we reject them and say they can no longer be citizens in the land of their nativity.
Whom are we hurting—surely not them, but ourselves, because by rejecting them we deny ourselves their knowledge, experiences and contacts, having been educated and employed in some of the world’s most advanced countries. We deny ourselves their pensions and other retirement benefits that they could freely expend here, once they feel welcomed back home!
But negative vibes such as Pastor Brown’s will keep them. They will ask themselves, “Who needs all that? We are comfortable here in America or Europe, more comfortable than we can ever be in Liberia. So we and our children will stay.” But one thing they will NOT say: that they will ever forget about Liberia.
And now it turns out that the pastor got most of his facts wrong. Why, for example, did he say that Sierra Leone did not have dual citizenship when they amended their Citizenship Act in 2006, unanimously passing dual citizenship into law?
We hope that after reading this editorial and the many comments which immediately followed our online publication of his story, published on today’s letter page, Pastor Brown—and all who think like him—will change their minds.