An article published in the April 17, 2018 edition of the Daily Observer made a quite interesting read about how international bodies and countries’ support the EXCLUSIONARY CLAUSE of the Liberian Constitution, contrary to views by President George Weah and some of his lawmakers and supporters who maintain that the Constitution is racist and should, therefore, be amended.
In a well-penned article titled, “The Liberian Constitution: What We Didn’t Know,” the author, Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Vansiea, provided synchronized analyses as to why restriction of citizenship to people of Negro descent was necessary and how the United Nations (UN) and some countries, including Great Britain, support this idea.
Article 27 of the Liberian Constitution talks about citizenship in the following ways: (a) All persons who, on the coming into force of this Constitution were lawful citizens of Liberia shall continue to be Liberian citizens. (b) In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values, and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.
A few Liberians, including the current president, have described this clause as “Racist.” In his research, Rev. Dr. Vansiea related the “Exclusionary clause” to provision in the United Nations Convention on Human Rights which states that “People who are oppressed and marginalized, in order to secure their enjoyment, cultural values, dignity, and advancement, have the right to special protection, and preferential treatment and they should be respected as equals.”
He further quoted article 1 paragraph 2 of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination that says, “This convention shall not apply to distinctions, exclusions, restrictions or preferences made by a State Party to this Convention between citizens and non-citizens.”
The Baptist Minister’s researched article went further to quote other parts of the Convention, which says that “Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as affecting in any way the legal provision of states parties concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization.”
Article 2 paragraph 3 of the same Convention states: “Developing countries, with due regard to human rights and their national economy, may determine to what extent they would guarantee the economic rights recognized in the present Covenant to non-nationals.”
It is predicated upon these provisions that other countries, including Ghana and Ivory Coast, have laws that forbid foreigners from doing certain businesses and owning lands therein. The pro non-Negro citizenship group in their quest to see citizenship granted white men contend that the Constitution is discriminatory in terms of race.
But what is racism? The American Dictionary defines Racism as “The prejudice that members of one race are intrinsically superior to members of other races; discriminatory or abusive behavior towards members of another race.” Considering the definitions, who is racist?
Lebanese are here without citizenship, yet their men are bearing children by Liberian women and in total control of the economy. Some treat Liberians here with gross indignity; assault, sexual abuse, insult, unfair wages being among the agonies that Liberians suffer at the hands of Lebanese.
Do Lebanese and Indians allow blacks to have citizenship in their countries? In recent times we have heard how Liberians working at the Farmington Hotel are maltreated and paid low salaries for the same work they and Lebanese are doing equally.
History tells us that during the days of colonization, citizens of colonized countries were in virtual slavery working for the colonists. They were suppressed and made to generate wealth for the British, French, Germans, Spanish and Portuguese until they fought and gained independence before acquiring the right to manage their own resources.
What does the Government of Liberia really hope to achieve from giving citizenship to Lebanese, Indians, and others under its “Pro-poor Agenda”? Is the government seeking colonization for Liberia since it did not experience what other African countries experienced under colonialism?
We see it expedient to reinforce Rev. Dr. Samuel E. Vansiea’s points about the exclusionary clause in the Liberian Constitution because the clause protects Liberians from becoming slaves in their own homeland. Aside from protecting Liberians, it is also in consonance with other international conventions that are considered best practices.
We believe the Liberian Government is cognizant of the many social challenges confronting the country; ethnic division, injustice, corruption, poverty, food insecurity, etc. being among the many problems. It would be considered most appropriate for President Weah and his government to address those many critical problems rather than seeking to confer citizenship on foreigners of non-Negro descent.
Most Liberians believe that it is not in their best interest to confer citizenship on people of non-Negro descent.
The Daily Observer lauds Rev. Dr. Vansiea for his enlightening article, and we hope other Liberian intellectuals and writers will follow suit to educate those wishing to re-colonize the country.