Master the Tempest is Raging: Cacophony of Liberia’s “Pro-Poor” Mantra

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By: Moses Blonkanjay Jackson (The Mwalimu-Mkoh)

Simply Thinking Thoughts

In my ‘Thinking Thoughts’ this morning I was consumed by a solemn sense of sympathy for the vulnerable people of Liberia. Since I was born in the late 50s, this is my first time hearing so much outcry and overt complaints about poverty, agony and suffering. In reminisce, I pondered the current trend of events in Liberia regarding the impressions people appear to be carrying about President Weah’s leadership. The high US dollar rate, increase in gas price, hiking of transportation fares, cut in civil servant salaries, and the continuous creation of bi-elections situations amidst overwhelming challenges in monetary and fiscal affairs. Even during the war, Liberian people suffered and agonized but that was war, of course. But in such serenity, everywhere you turn people are literally crying overtly and appearing resigned.

In all sincerity, President Weah took a gallant step when he declared that his leadership would be “Pro -Poor” In my mind, it meant he and his lieutenants would address the livelihoods of poor people as priority over the next six or twelve years. Unfortunately, the trend of events indicates a gross cacophony about the priority promised via the “pro poor” mantra.

Surprisingly, instead of embracing the “pro-poor” mantra as a genuine road map to remove Liberia from its current state of abject poverty, degradation and economic morass, almost everybody, including government officials and the President’s close friends are  making fun of the “pro-poor” mantra. One usually hears pro poor rubber slippers, pro poor chicken dinner, pro poor car, pro poor toilet house, pro poor garbage, pro poor expensive shoes, pro poor new house, etc.

Constructs of mantra and cacophony

For the sake of the layman, a mantra is supposed to be a song; a repetition; a phrase; a chorus to be sung by a group of  people to unite them in their pursuit of certain goals. If you hear a Seed Sowing Prosperity Church Pastor declaring “This is our year of abundant reaping”, that is the mantra for the  whole church for the whole year, for all of its seed sowing miracle seeking members. In the case of President Weah, his declaration or mantra for Liberian people was “Pro-Poor Government”, meaning a government that would care for the poor, as priority.

Cacophony for its part means noise; disharmony; discord; unmusicality, and unmelodiousness. The way people use the mantra  “pro poor” in all and sundry fashion is sometimes annoying and makes it to become noise or cacophony. In Liberian parlance, one would say “no head, no tail about this whole pro-poor talk”  

Devil’s advocacies

In my thinking thoughts two assumptions came to my mind as devil’s advocacies or conspiracy theories. Firstly, maybe this whole issue about people grossly misusing the “pro poor” mantra is a calculated attempt of the “The Opposition Block”, “The Enemies of the State”, or “Noisy Minority” to give President Weah’s leadership a bad image. Maybe it is a ploy to make those who voted for President Weah to regret why they voted for him, and to prove he was not the right choice in the first place. Maybe disgruntled detractors want to make his government unpopular so that his next bid would be daunting and be voted out of office.

Now, if all of this kind of thinking is true, then the so-called “Enemies of the State” could be doing a damn good job because of the way “pro poor “ is being misconstrued. They could be doing a goddamn good job because instead of President Weah’s Government officials taking professional steps to quell the perceived ploy, they are still in campaign victory mode; they are basking in opulence and affluence, taking expensive useless trips and not being keen to details. Lord have mercy!

Secondly, for the sake of playing devil’s advocate, let us say the way people are crying over the pro poor mantra is genuine and from their hearts. Suppose the “Opposition Block” has no hand in this and Liberian people are really suffering? Suppose the resentment, angst and agony Liberians are expressing are not catalyzed by any invisible hand but are genuine. Suppose it is true that Government Officials are not paying any attention to the people’s plight but are truly basking, supping, wining, frolicking and gamboling as the poor people are wailing, gnashing teeth in pain, and wallowing in abject poverty? Suppose all this is true?

Tempest is raging

If the answer to all this is “Yes”, then a tempest is raging in Liberia. The Gospel of Matthew narrates a story where Jesus and His disciples were in a boat when a nasty storm rose and tried to overturn it. After the followers had tried everything and failed, they turn to Jesus who was asleep all the while and asked, “Master, don’t you care that we perish” With all this storm blowing and trying to consume us, you are sleeping and not doing anything? Jesus in His divine majesty rose up and rebuked the storm and calmed the waves, “Peace be still”

The charge

Who will calm our storm? When? How? As common Liberians continue to make fun of the “pro poor “ mantra and as Government Officials continue to water it down and pay no mind to the people’s misconception about the President’s well-intentioned mantra, who will calm the tempest or storm that is raging in Liberia?

In addressing this concern during my thinking thoughts, my human agency suddenly escalated to a level that the words of the 19th Century Hymn writer Dr. R. H. Palmer, as penned in his “Master the Tempest is Raging” overtook my humanity and ushered my divinity.

Would you join me as we reminisce and sing the mantra, Master, the Tempest Is Raging? Please do.
Note the second stanza keenly.

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadowed with blackness.
No shelter or help is nigh.
Carest thou not that we perish?
How canst thou lie asleep
When each moment so madly is threat’ning
A grave in the angry deep?

(Chorus)
The winds and the waves shall obey thy will:
Peace, be still.
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still; peace, be still.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, peace, be still. 

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today.
The depths of my sad heart are troubled.
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul,
And I perish! I perish! dear Master.
Oh, hasten and take control!

(Chorus)

Master, the terror is over.
The elements sweetly rest.
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast.
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.
(Chorus)

Simply Thinking Thoughts (with my pro-poor article)

About the author 
The Ivy League Protégé and Rivercess Village Man, Mwalimu-Mkoh Moses Blonkanjay Jackson served the Liberian Government for 4 years and retired to private practice as a college lecturer, Education Engineer and researcher. He can be reached @ +231 206 645/ +231 886 681.

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