We “Feel the Hand of Esau, but Hear the Voice of Jacob”

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Many Liberians know the story of how Jacob, rather than his brother his elder brother Esau, came to receive the blessing from their father Isaac, who lay dying.

It was their mother, Rebekah, who did the trick. Knowing that her husband Isaac had instructed Esau to go and prepare the father a gift so that he could bless Esau, the mother moved fast. Supposing their younger son, Jacob, to be possessing more talent and leadership ability, she instructed him to go before his older brother and prepare a gift for Father Isaac. The gift was excellently prepared and Isaac graciously accepted it. But he remarked, “I feel the hand of Esau, but I hear the voice of Jacob.”

By the time Esau returned with his gift, it was too late! Esau had to settle for something else, but not Isaac’s blessing, which followed Jacob throughout his life, and led him to produce the 12 tribes of Israel. The rest indeed is history.

Why do we go Biblical to begin this Editorial? Because we need Biblical introspection (reflection) to attempt to understand what is going on today in Liberian politics. How, for example, does Harrison Karnwea, Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority and a key member of the ruling Unity Party, suddenly switch to Charles Brumskine’s opposition Liberty Party?

But that is not all. More besides, Brumskine, anxious to appease vote-rich Nimba County, immediately anoints Harrison Karnwea as Brumskine’s presidential running mate!

One question that immediately arises: How does Karnwea – having bolted (run away from) the ruling UP of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – a UP deserter, still keep his high profile job in Ellen’s UP government?

In normal politics Karnwea would have been out of his FDA job the minute it was even rumored that he had bolted UP. No, this is no rumor. Karnwea is now Liberty Party’s Vice Standard Bearer.

The startling questions are, how did that happen? And why does he still keep his job in the UP government?

Only one person can answer that question—President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

There are three quick follow-up questions: First, did Ellen send Karnwea to LP’s Charles Brumskine?

Second, Did Ellen tell Brumskine, “Take Harrison as your running mate; he is Gio, from Nimba County’s largest ethnic segment.”

The third is identical to that asked in our February 1 Editorial—What is Ellen up to?

Is she attempting to anoint Brumskine as her successor—or has she already done so?

If so, is that not the proverbial hand of Esau and voice of Jacob?

We would have thought that her anointing would have been of Joe Boakai, her Vice President, whose humility, gentleness and unflinching loyalty to Ellen caused her to choose him twice as her running mate.

Why, then, has she—or so it seems—chosen Brumskine?

If these scenarios are true—remember we are only asking questions—the fundamental question is, what did Unity Party do to Ellen, to the extent that she seems determined to destroy UP by ditching her own VP, Joe Boakai, in favor of Charles Brumskine as her successor?

Who can answer this US$64,000 question?

We pose only two last questions: First, what are Ellen’s devotees to do now? We mean the masses of UP’s rank and file, whom Willis Knuckles, the “awesome strategist”—to quote Ellen at his funeral—twice brought to the streets of Monrovia in their tens of thousands to demonstrate their support for Ellen’s first and second terms.

Our last questions have to do with vote-rich Nimba County. Where is Prince Johnson in all this?

Remember, he has been, in the past two elections, Nimba’s kingmaker, having twice delivered Nimba to Ellen in 2005 and 2011. Can Harrison Karnwea out-match (prove superior to) Senator Prince Johnson as Nimba’s kingmaker? A more fundamental question: What is now Nimbaians’ perception of Ellen?

Will they view her as a savior whom they twice overwhelmingly followed and helped put her into office?

Or will they consider her as a betrayer of their trust? The answers to these two questions will determine how Nimbaians will react when it’s campaign time, as Harrison Karnwea comes calling home with Charles Brumskine at his side.

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