P e r s p e c t I v e s Public Policy . Economics . Democratic Politics . Political/Economic Decentralization . Public Dishonesty . Dual Citizenship With Bai M. Gbala, Sr. March 9, 2015

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“Dual Citizenship: Look Up and Forward . . .” – Daily Observer: A Response

In its Editorial (Daily Observer, March 5, 2015) on “Dual Citizenship”, the Daily Observer decided, apparently, that it is better to take the Krahn Nation to task. Among other issues, the Editors wrote that:

“During the civil war, many of the indigenous officials government – except for those who were Krahns – narrated stories of how they were chased and hunted down to be killed – not by Charles Taylor but by the very government they served. The ruling ethnic group, the Krahns, at that point considered everybody else the enemy, especially those who were educated. These were linked to the most hated group, the settler descendents and were all now considered as part of that group. And so if you were found, no matter where you came from, you were killed. You did not have to be Gio or Mano. No. Once you were not Krahn, you were now considered an enemy. We recall the story of one higher up Minister of the Bassa ethnic group saying he had to jump over his fence to save his life! People, especially those who were educated, were forced to flee for only one reason: to save their lives and those of their spouses, children and other close relatives they could carry along”.

Not only that this characterization of the Krahn Nation and people is a blatant lie, but also, that the narrative and conclusion defy logic, deadly and ethnically-divisive and dangerous.

Our Response

Back in the early days of the Military Government of Liberia of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), we served as Executive Assistant to the Chairman of the PRC, the Late (then M/Sergeant) Samuel K. Doe.  In our reaction to decisions made by the PRC Government  against the Daily Observer for the article, “Monrovia Stinks” and related others published by the paper, we penned an advisory memorandum to our superiors, thus:

“An independent, truthful, fair, objective newspaper is indispensable to a functioning democracy; it is a friendly adversary to political power and authority. Friendly, because the newspaper will extol, eulogize political power/authority for noble acts; adversary, because the independent newspaper will tear into political power/authority for acts deemed unfavorable and condemned by the people. A newspaper is, in fact, the eyes and ears of the political power/authority to ‘see and hear’ and report the shenanigans taking place in the offices of ministers, managing directors and board rooms of state enterprises. That ‘Monrovia Stinks’ is a fact of the sanitary condition of our capital city, inherited by the PRC; reporting that fact publicly is, indeed, a plus for the government, PRC. Therefore, punitive actions against the paper should and must be lifted. To carry out this awesome but necessary responsibility”, we wrote, “The independent newspaper depends, among others, upon experienced writers, analysts and columnists knowledgeable of and about the socio-economic and political order. The views expressed are, in fact, their own, but must be consistent with newspapers’ public policy”.

Now back to the editorial. We argue that the part of the editorial which states explicitly or by implication that the Krahn Nation “chased and hunted down non-Krahn citizens to be and were killed” is blatant lie.

Let us agree momentarily, for the sake of the editorial argument, that “during the civil war, many of the indigenous officials of (the PRC) government – except for those who were Krahn – narrated stories of how they were chased and hunted down to be killed . . . by the very government that they served. The ruling ethnic group, the Krahns, at this point, considered everybody else the enemy, especially those that were educated . . . And so if you were found, no matter where you came from, you were killed. You do not have to be Gio or Mano. No. Once you not Krahn you were now considered an enemy. People, especially those who were educated, were forced to flee for only one reason: to save their lives . . .”

The purpose of our reaction is not a defense of the government, but the false and fallacious conclusion of the editorial, high-lighted (black and italic).

Firstly, are Samuel K. Doe, though an ethnic Krahn and Chairman of the PRC, and the PRC Government, itself, on the one hand and the Krahn Nation on the other, one and the same?  Of course not, because they were and are not the same.  

Secondly, did the “Krahn ethnic group consider everybody else (non-Krahn) to be an enemy, especially those who were educated to kill” and, in fact, were killed by the Krahn Nation? Of course not, because the editorial provided no validated evidence.

Indeed, these statements are not only falsehoods, but also dangerous and divisive “hear-says” based on our traditional ethnic/tribal bigotry grounded in fear, suspicion, jealousy, rivalry, discrimination/segregation, myths/superstitions, you-say, they-say, I think and  antagonism bordering on hate, that plunged our nation into the nightmare (of the civil war tragedy) of mind-boggling looting, thievery, maiming, rapes, human suffering and death, visited upon our nation – spared no village, town and city – and sent hundreds of thousands into neighboring and distant lands as refugees.

We had hoped and expected the Daily Observer to “inform and educate” on the critical issues of the day and at hand, expand analysis, pro & con, for example, on the on-going debate  on Dual Citizenship, with arguments by proponents (who are already citizens of foreign countries   and others who are applicants-in-waiting) couched in and based on “what’s in it for me”, with one foot in Liberia (where they “earn” fabulous, corruption incomes) and the other foot, with wives and children, in their foreign country of citizenship. Forget the issue of nationalism – loyalty, allegiance and patriotism, because these virtues been, already, mortgaged, exclusively, to the foreign countries. 

But “Liberia’s first independent Daily” newspaper continues to wallow in deadly, ethnically-divisive, rhetorical, falsehood adventure. Meanwhile, the overwhelming majority of our small nation’s population of less than 4 million, un-informed and relatively illiterate, lives in abject poverty, hunger and disease, while the very few, including dual citizens, live in unbelievable splendor.

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