House Divided Cannot Stand: Discrimination Against Gbi and Doru in Nimba County

Courtesy of

By Jerry Barcon, Contributing Writer

Nimba County like other counties in Liberia, does have prevailing ethnic issues acted as a trigger for conflicts.

Most often, land and property have acted as a trigger for conflicts in the region, but the core conflict issues relate to a broader series of socio-political and economic concerns.

According to research and reports from international observers, the overall three areas of concern have been identified as follow: 1. “Field research on root causes of conflict, visioning workshops with key actors, and reconciliation conferences in conjunction with the Liberian government (implemented by Interpeace/Joint Programmed Unit); 2. Research into customary law practices that will contribute to the identification of local resources for conflict resolution that can then be integrated into a legal framework for the resolution of present and future property disputes (implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs); and 3. Construction of drainage to the roads being expanded in the city of Ganta will provide employment opportunities to disaffected youth and demobilized ex-combatants (implemented by the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Training of the thirteen-member conflict research and dialogue facilitation team was completed in February and March and the team has now deployed to Nimba County to commence activities. Why are some groups dominant and others subordinate?

The basic reason is power – Power derived from superior numbers, technology. Weapons, property, or economic resources. Those holding superior power in a society, the dominant group establishes a system of inequality by dominating less powerful group. This system of inequality is then maintained by power.

The terms dominant group and minority group describe power differences regardless of the size of the group. Determining who is a minority is largely a matter of history, polities, and judgment- both social and political Population characteristics other than race and ethnicity such as age, gender or religious preference are sometimes used to designate minority status.

However, race and ethnicity are the characteristics used most often to define the minority and majority population in contemporary societies. Many explanations of discrimination subordination centers on group-specific culture traits handed down from generation to generation.

Thus, institutions and individual discrimination generate privilege for Mano and Gio Tribes in Nimba County. Discrimination provides the privileged with disproportionate advantages in the social-economic and political spheres. Discrimination generates hatred, stereotyped conception or prejudgment attitudes Institutional discrimination is reinforced because institutions are interrelated.

Launch of ethnic reconciliation in Nimba County to support government of Liberia and the UN, December 30, 2007.

The exclusion of minorities from the upper levels of education, for example, is likely to affect their opportunities in other institutions (type of job, level remuneration) poor children education, be propertyless, suffer from bad health, and be treated unjustly by the criminal justice system. These inequities are cumulative.

Institutional derogation occurs when minority groups and their members are made to seem interior or to possess negative stereotypes through legitimate means by the powerful in society.

The portrayal of minority group members in the media (newspapers, radio, and magazines) is often derogatory. For example, many Gbi and Doru men and women describe disproportionately as lazy, under education in Nimba County.

The treatment of Gbi and Doru has been disgraceful trough out Nimba County history. Through public policies and everyday practices, they have been denied the opportunities that should be open to all people.

By the close of the twentieth century, many well-educated people of Gbi and Doru had climbed to the middle class.

Launch of ethnic reconciliation in Nimba County to support the government of Liberia and the UN, December 30, 2007 (s Substantial growth of the minority (Gbi and Doru middle class) has not erased their problem of segregation, many more unsuccessful ones have been marginalized.

Launch of ethnic reconciliation in Nimba County to support government of Liberia and the UN, December 30, 2007

To suu much progress is evident in some areas. But in others, there are signs of retrenchment. All these explanations leave a substantial amount of inequality unexplained. Gbi and Duru at all levels of employment and education still at a disadvantage. All these disparities translate into economic inequalities. Yet education alone is not the answer.

This is compounded by the reality that education does not pay equally, regardless of the level of education. Gbi and Doru have always been an important component of Nimba County labor force.

However, their job prospects and different from those at other people in Nimba County (Leondar wright at 911 2005.9) Sociological research shows that race is related to workplace recruitment, hiring, firing job levels pay scales, promotion, and degree of autonomy on the job.

Seemingly neutral practices can advantage the same groups and adversely affect others. American Sociological Association, Shulman 2007.

The Author: 

Jerry Barcon, Contributing Writer, BSc Law Enforcement, Roger Williams University, Bristol Rhode Island, Master of Science: Homeland Security and Administration of Justice in Cyber and U.S. Intelligence, Master of Science: Homeland Security and Administration of Justice in Leadership. Former President, The Association of Liberian Law Enforcement Officers in the Americas and Cananda, (AFLLEO) E-mail: [email protected]


  1. Mr. Barcon,
    Thanks for lifting such sensitive issues in Nimba County. I’m very disturbed by your narratives and would be incline to learn more and contribute However, I find it difficult following your trend of thoughts, especially given that you cited so many sources without making compelling reasons for your citations, and why you think sources cited relate to your narratives.

    I will also be interested in hearing or reading specific policy proposals for solutions to each of those sensitive issues raised. I’m also not sure as to steps that has been taken to mitigate those issues raised in the past. Maybe, it will be useful to provide background information regarding what has really transpired in the past that might have contributed to issues enumerated. Again, thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you.

  2. Mr. Barcon

    You have said it all respectfully, thank you. The world largest body organization: the United Nations, has realized the fact that no amount of developments done for a particular group of people in a given region will meaningfully sustain and benefit them, in the absence of social justice, equality and peace which is the bedrock for a peaceful co-existence. This is why the UN is spending millions of dollars around the world in peace keeping activities.

    The POWERS and STATE ACTORS that control the affairs of Nimba County must understand this teaching from the UN and begin the distribution of wealth: (employment opportunities in and out of the county, education, infrastructure development, social economic and justice) with sincerity within every Administrative District of the County equally, irrespective of tribe.

    Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and grow rich once said “ It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping other to succeed.” Until we all can realize this and shift our mindset from individual success that serve as appetizer to discriminate, we will lose the core values of POWER and LEADERSHIP.


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