As the nation awaits the final outcome of the ongoing NEC probe into complaints of irregularities and fraud in the October 10 elections, we urge all and sundry to refrain from inflaming the situation any further by throwing taunts, using inciting language or engaging in acts that provoke confrontation. One such act which has claimed this newspaper’s attention is the “that which depicts one group as the so- called “book people” and the “dey ain’t know book people.”
Not surprisingly, this has engendered wide debate about the relevance of education to development and the advancement of the nation and its people. As a result, both presidential candidates have been drawn into a kind of proxy war, with George Weah on one side and Joseph Boakai on the other. Weighing in on the debate, Education Minister George Werner recently remarked, “Da book we will eat?” subtly inferring that education is irrelevant to anyone’s quest for national leadership and equally irrelevant to a nation’s forward march to progress.
What all of this shows is the dismal lack of Critical Consciousness on the part of our political class, which not only renders them blind to the historical realities of the politics of exclusion. This has, over so many years, characterized the nature of our social, political and economic development agenda. But it renders them also incapable of changing those historical realities for the betterment of the nation.
This can probably explain why the contest for national leadership is so intense. On the one hand, you have an entrenched plundering bureaucratic elite that has for over a decade overseen the development of growing inequality, which is resulting in the emergence of a two-class society composed, on the one hand, of a handful of millionaires living off the fat of the land and, on the other hand, the mass of the people at the very bottom scrounging for daily sustenance.
This contest is being played out at the level of the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Supreme Court. As it appears, this entrenched bureaucratic elite, blinded by their own frenzy to acquire more wealth and fame, is unconsciously creating the very circumstances of their own downfall wherein, ever growing numbers of people are falling even further below the poverty line. Such would create a situation where people of all religious persuasions, gender and ethnicity will get to perceive that their common enemy is the bureaucratic corporate-based plunderer class – people who have no concern for the suffering of the people.
And it is within this context that we urge Liberians, especially our political class, to develop a critical consciousness that will enable them to move away from ego gratification and the use of violence to attain political ends. We must concentrate our efforts on the fight against the loss of our democratic traditions, however weak they may be, and this modern-day form of illiteracy, which happens when our people allow themselves to believe everything they read, see on television or hear on radio. Why? Because in such situations, false values, half-truths and lies soon become identified as the truth.
A case in point is the chorus of voices the nation is beginning to hear from various quarters portraying the complaining parties as a sorry bunch of losers who are seeking to use the courts as a way of attaining state power. Some have even gone as far as suggesting the intervention of zoes and bodios to resolve the current imbroglio. And as though to ensure that such falsehoods do become the truth, they threaten to resort to violence because for them it is either “duck or no dinner,” meaning either they have it their way, or else.
On the other hand, we strongly urge those who have been fortunate to have had the benefit of a sound Western education to STOP demeaning or belittling others who have not been so fortunate because of the circumstances of their birth and upbringing. ALL of us Liberians should realize that regardless of our circumstances, WE ARE ONE PEOPLE and each of us should be ACTIVELY concerned about one another’s welfare and ALWAYS strive to reach out to those who may be less fortunate than we.
And that is why it is important to refrain from name calling and references to circumstances of anyone’s birth and upbringing as defects which disqualify one from achieving his or her fullest potential.