By Alfred P. B. Kiadii
As one keen observer stated, footballers are the modern equivalents of the gladiators of antiquity. Like the gladiators, they entertain people — that helps to ease out stress and distress. In this craft—most often—lumpen elements are the ones who permanently find solace in venturing into it to attain material salvation.
Long ago in Europe and America, those societies faced problems from the lumpen. They needed a way out of the crisis and where they could offload these wretched of the earth. Thus, individuals and groups went to work and invented soccer, basketball, Rugby, etc. They became the dumping ground for persons in the society unsuited for intellectual work, but who could do sports and become successful?
Which brings me to George Weah and the explosive situation back home: illusions—like fads—are usually short-lived. They last for a moment but don’t sustain themselves to the end. When the masses are drunk with them, the beneficiary of their lack of consciousness makes a person to be on high horse. Not that long when people see through the latter. This is a book sealed with seven seals for Weah. Perhaps it is the reason his reply to the revolutionary outbursts of the people has been very ridiculous.
Few times back, all of the sycophants in his orbit preached the theory of years; they were so fond of it. Some dabbled 20 years; others trotted out 60. There were no shortage of years to churn out. They spoke about years very loosely. It became a standing joke that members of the opposition will ask a CDCIAN when they meet, how many years Weah will govern the homeland.
Today, they have eaten their words. Today, they can no longer say it. Social contradictions engendered very explosive events that have falsified their theory, thus trashing it into the dustbin. All odds are against the Weah administration. Most oppressed masses in the country are drawing revolutionary conclusions. Some have broken at the scene of history and doing battle.
These events have pushed the administration into dictatorship. Since it cannot reverse the economic crisis; since it cannot solve the inflation problem; since it cannot deliver social progress since it is barren — the regime resorts to violence to extend its life. It is on its last legs. The Liberian masses are fearless and can never retreat from the front line — the war years erased all fears in them and the people can’t cow into silence. This reality escapes the regime. It is its undoing!
It is a point of fact that the masses are constant, relative to their material aspirations. They yearn for free education, health care, nutrition, and an opportunity to excel, thus flourishing as human beings. It is to achieve these aspirations they vote a government — sometimes blindly other times rightfully. They awaken to a radical consciousness when their existential welfare plunges into question.
Sadly, governments in these neo-colonies tag themselves to the imperialists’ robe. Most are running dogs of imperialism; most open their country to multinationals for crude exploitation while accepting crumbs, with nothing for the people. As a result, poverty, mystery, and socioeconomic dislocation have become the standard lot of the masses.
In Liberia – and it has also become an African problem – the easiest place to get wealth without effort is the public sector. Check around and see nobodies who could barely afford a meal a day are putting up high-rise buildings. The tragedy here is that most of these people, neither had a bank account nor starting capital to make the kinds of investment they make when they enter the public sector.
These are the nouveau riches or comprador bourgeoisie who are far more loyal to imperialist capital (transnationals or multinationals), but less committed to the interests of the people. These are also uncritical adherents to the dictates of the IMF or World Bank, but less likely to implement the views of their peoples. They have an interest in how the Financial Times, Washington Post, Forbes Magazine, the Economist grade them, but less worried about how the people see them.
We must nip in the bud such abominations. We must correct these anomalies to deal with imbalances in society because it is a sin of unimaginable proportions to have plenty of resources while our people live like they are in the Stone Age. And it is what we want to change. It begs the question about how we can correct these forms of dispossession. It means the only option is to engage in a class struggle.
It brings us to the class question. Class opens the door to too many puzzling issues. First, it means we organize and tailor our political preference on broad themes. It means we dissect the material motivations of individuals for elective offices while accessing the agendas they want to move in leading society. It means we get rid of tribal biases, knowing being poor doesn’t mean you will be a great leader when elected. It is not banal. It goes beyond that. We need to use rationality to unpack the issues.
For starters, class origin differs from a class position. For example, Acarous Gray, Thomas Fallah, George Weah and Solomon George come from humble beginnings. Are they in the interest of the poor? A man who emerges from a poor background could become the worst reactionary to the agenda of the poor. This tells you material interests are what motivate people, not tribe or humble beginnings. Of course, I am aware during elections some people refuse to show the class colour because they want the votes of the poor.
And it’s why we are the first to admit the crisis in Liberia. It is not a Weah problem. Probably Weah has exposed these contradictions at the heart of our society because of his indiscipline and greed. His conduct should spark debate around these matters. We cannot deceive ourselves that when Weah leaves, prosperity will flow to every home in Liberia. That is a fat lie. Not that automatic.
In a nutshell, we are not ignorant of the sufferings of our people. It is high time they adjust their mind-set about voting and leadership. And it became with the realization that affluence doesn’t connote leadership. Or to put it the other way: holding a senior managerial position at the highest echelons of a monopoly is not the baptism one needs to go through to govern a third world country with its dastardly peculiarities.
Going forward, our people should use struggle credentials and integrity as key evaluation mechanisms for leadership. Isn’t it amazing that a person has spent over 50 years of his existence, yet throughout such a person was anonymous in struggles to concern the welfare of the masses? If you didn’t defend us while not elected into public office, how could you justly serve us when we give you leadership? That way we can avoid these kinds of catastrophes like the Weah one.
If dignity and freedom are our demands, then the struggle is our school!
The Fatherland or death—the choice is clear!
Kiadii writes from Accra, Ghana and can be contacted at [email protected]