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    Feed The Liberian Dialogue http://theliberiandialogue.org Serving you since 2002. Credible. Compelling. Consistent. Provocative. Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:41:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians? http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/08/10/what-is-july-26-celebration-to-americo-liberians-indigenous-liberians/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/08/10/what-is-july-26-celebration-to-americo-liberians-indigenous-liberians/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:41:18 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4992 By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.  

       

    Seal proposed by J Patrick Flomo to the Dunn Commission in 2016.

     

    I was born on July 22nd (1947), four days short of being born on Independence Day, July 26th. It is a “Big Holiday” second to Christmas celebration in Liberia. Had I been born on Independence Day, I would have been named by my Bassa side of the family as “Twenty-six”. But that did not stop some of my Bassa relatives from referring to me as “Centene” (Centennial); because I was born on the 100 Anniversary of the independence of Liberia. My sister Jugbeh Menia Nyanseor almost suffered a similar fate. She was born on December 1st, a day established to honor Matilda Newport. If it was not for our mother’s intervention,     her name would have been MATILDA, that’s how many of us got these Kwii (civilized) names.

    Liberia, my country of birth is fond of replacing tribal names of places and persons with names like Compounds Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3 in Grand Bassa County; including traditional leaders names such as: Bassa King Kadasie (Bob Gray); Bassa King Zolu Duma (King Peter); Mandingo King Sao Boso (Chief Boatswain), etc.

    July 26 is celebrated by Liberians at home and throughout the world with picnic-like feasts, formal programs with guest speakers, fundraising activities, and dinner climaxed with a “Grand March” (dance). The celebration featured ‘who’s who’ in these communities.

    While writing this article, I came across several Liberians who professed to know Liberian History. However, to my surprise I found out they know very little about African History; and for that matter, world history. Some of them blamed the current problems of Liberia on the Progressives who advocated for democracy, human rights and social justice in the 70s and the 80s. I find their arguments quite interesting! Their line of argument is similar to the Jewish High Priests of the Sanhedrin’s accusation brought against Jesus and his Twelve Disciples of causing trouble for speaking the truth that changed the corrupt world of the day. The French aristocrats accused the Black Jacobins led by Toussaint L’Ouverture of Haiti for freeing the slaves from the French oppressors. This is a classic case of blaming the victim!

    Critical Thinking
    This July 26 holiday, I would like to know if Liberians who celebrate the Independence Day truly understand the purpose of the celebration. I did so by conducting a survey that included ‘one-on-one conversations along with questions. The respondents were Liberians from all backgrounds who were asked to explain their understanding of the purpose or historical significance of the July 26 Independence Day holiday. My topic for this exercise is: “What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians?” In order to truly arrive at the proper understanding by both groups, I decided to ask them the following questions:

    1. From what country or organization did Liberia receive independence?
    2. With whom did the Settlers’ fight to gain their independence?
    a) Was it America, the American Colonization Society (ACS)?
    b) Or was it the Indigenous tribes?
    3. Were the Indigenous tribes included in the Declaration of Independence written by Hilary Teage; if not, why were they not included?
    4. What does July 26th mean to the tribal people?

    A question like ‘Question Number 4’ was addressed by Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in his speech titled: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

    “…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

    “Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as a hart.”

    “But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were an inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin!…

    I similarly ask the question, as Frederick Douglass queried, “What is the July 26th
    Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians” to find out what Liberians think about the holiday. The general response, to my surprise, left me with the feeling that ‘ignorance of history’ is an illness that can be cured only with an education based on the true history. If not, individuals or groups will continue to pass on false narratives like mechanical robots.

    Respondents’ Answers
    Here are some of the answers provided by the respondents from my one-on-one conversations. A few of them said: “My man, why are you asking such a question about 26 when you know very well that is our country’s Independence Day? Even babies born today know the answer!” Another said to me, “Nyanseor, what are you going to do with the answer?” To which I said I only want to know your opinion about the day! In summary, the majority of the respondents felt it is a holiday that patriotic Liberians celebrate. What really surprised me was most of them did not see anything wrong with celebrating the holiday. In fact, no one saw the July 26 celebration as only for the Settlers.

    Myths and History
    From here on, let me make it indisputably clear that those of us who advocate correcting wrongs done in the past, and even today; do so NOT to change history; rather it is to correct injustices done to a group of people by those who held power and where those injustices violated the human and civil rights of others. However, due to continued advocacy throughout the world for justice, we are witnessing, for example, the amending of unjust laws such as removing Confederate flags, statues and renaming parks in the United States. Another case in point is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League (NFL), who started a protest which was joined by other players to take a knee when the U.S. National Anthem is being played — a protest due to extrajudicial lynching and other injustices against African-Americans and other racial minorities.

    According to historian Richard Poe, (World) “History was designed to justify European domination;” and a similar case can be made that Liberian history (Settlers) was written to promote antebellum southern plantation culture and religious heritage without regards to the indigenous population (natives) who first occupied the land.

    As is evident, Liberia’s social and political systems are carbon copies of America. The sad thing about it is that subsequent governments continue to maintain these divisive practices that make it difficult or impossible for Liberians to unite due to the European racist Christian origin upon which country was established. The so-called ‘Father of the Nation,” Hilary Teage and leaders of the infant colony are responsible for this divide. How could one who suffered indignities of exclusion under the Constitution of the United States write a Declaration of Independence for Liberia which then excludes the country’s indigenous people? The document reads:

    “We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally the inhabitants of the United States of America. In some parts of that country, we were debarred by law from all the rights and privileges of men in other parts, a public sentiment more powerful than law frowned us down.

    We were everywhere shut out from all civil office. We were excluded from all participation in the government. We were taxed without our consent. We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection. We were made a separate and distinct class and against us, every avenue to improvement was officially closed.

    Strangers from all lands of a different color from ours were preferred before us. We uttered our complaints but they were unattended to or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country. All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety abroad for some asylum from the deep degradation.

    The West coast of Africa was the place selected by American benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond those influences, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges and exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind”.

    A more inclusive ‘Declaration of Independence’ could have been written to unite both groups. Instead, the Settlers copied the racist practices of their former slave masters to the exclusion of the Indigenous tribes in the Declaration of Independence written by Teage. Yet, they are portrayed by Liberian (Settlers) historians as Christians and humanitarians.

    Falsehood and myth played a misleading role in recording and passing on history. According to Arthur R. Thompson: “History is not only ‘written by the victors,’ but by ‘the ignorant,’ ‘the biased,’ and ‘the devious.’ …To the Victor Go the Myths and Monuments.”

    In the book, To the Victor Go the Myths & Monuments: The History; of the First 100 Years of the War Against God and the Constitution, 1776-1876, and Its Modern Impact, Thompson stated further:
    “History can also be restricted to selected portions of the true story because of an author’s bias, his agenda, or because he is serving the agenda of others. A history in which facts are deliberately ignored or in which the author creates “facts” distorts the true picture of past events. Such distortions, built up over time, can have deadly effects on a people and on nations. As George Orwell (whom the author quotes on the title page) put it many years ago, “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    I intend to prove how Thompson’s statement applied to the history written from the perspective of the Settlers of Liberia. To support my point, I draw from eminent historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s description of history. To him:
    “History is the clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography…history tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most importantly, an understanding of history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.”

    That being the case, we in Liberia were taught FALSE history (one-sided). The history we were taught in Liberia promoted ONLY the Settlers’ activities. They did so as if the TRIBES were invisible or never existed. Let me cite here an account of an outsider.

    An Outsider’s View
    David Lamb, author of The Africans in his description the early history of Liberia. He writes:
    “The new settlers adopted the only desirable lifestyle they knew – that of the antebellum whites who had ruled them – and they turned the sixteen indigenous tribes into an underprivileged majority, referring to them until the 1950s as ‘aborigines’. The pioneers and their ‘Americo-Liberian’ descendants became a black colonial aristocracy. They controlled the commerce, ran the government and sent their sons abroad to be educated. The men wore morning coats and top hats, drank bourbon, joined the Masons… They passed on to their children their American names such as Christian Maxwell, George Browne, and Barton Bliss – army’s chief of staff in the late 1960s was General George Washington – and a member of their True Whig Party was as conservative as any Southern Republican back in the United States.

    “Even today, urban Liberia seems more like William Faulkner’s South than Africa. The official currency is the U.S. dollar bills used in New York or Chicago – though they are faded and wrinkled and long were taken out of circulation by American banks. Policemen wear summer uniforms discarded by New York City Police Department, and townships have names such as Louisiana, New Georgia and Maryland. On Sundays, when the strip joints on Broad Street and Gurley streets in Monrovia are closed, American gospel music fills the radio stations, and the accents in the packed Baptist Church on Center Street are distinctly Deep South.

    “For a long time, Africans poked fun at Liberia, disparaging it for adopting attitudes and importing values, not in keeping with African tradition.” (David Lamb, The Africans, New York: Vintage Books, 1987, pp. 124-125).
    Mr. Ossie Davis, an African-American who was assigned to the all-black 25th Station Hospital stationed in Liberia at Robertsfield during World War II, made the following observation:

    “The Americo-Liberians, black though they were, tended to live like Europeans or Americans, and that surprised me. They had new cars; they regularly sent their children off to Europe or America to college, and they fraternized with their peers at Firestone. They seldom mixed with the natives, with whom I had already bonded, who were authentic Africans and much more fun. I was not only uneasy with the class conflict I felt was brewing in Liberia, I was disturbed by it. But most of the soldiers on the post were not. They, too, quite easily, took to treating all the natives, not as brothers and comrades, but like servants, in much the same way white folks treated black folks down in Georgia.

    “This arrogance disturbed me, too, and I began to entertain a horrible suspicion. For most of my life, I had believed that black folks were in many ways morally superior to white folks, especially in our dealings with each other. I was profoundly disappointed that the Americo-Liberians, the children of slaves themselves, would come to Africa and behave as if they themselves were the slaveholders now” (Davis, Ossie & Dee, Ruby (2000). With Ossie And Ruby In This Life Together). New York, U.S.A.

    There is this account by a noted Liberian historian, Abayomi Karnga. In 1923, he classified the status divisions among Liberians into four distinct caste systems. “At the top were the Americo-Liberian officials, consisting largely of light-complexioned people of mixed Black and White ancestry. They were followed by darker skinned Americo-Liberians, consisting mostly of laborers and small farmers. Then the recaptives, Africans who had been rescued by the U.S. Navy while aboard U.S.-bound slave ships and brought to Liberia (referred to as Congoes). The indigenous African Liberians were at the bottom of the hierarchy. These divisions led to de facto segregation amongst the various groups, specifically affected were the indigenous population.” (Donald A Ranard, editor, Liberians: An Introduction to their History and Culture, Culture Profile No. 19, April 2005).

    President Arthur Barclay’s Native Plan
    President Arthur Barclay had a ‘Native Plan’ with certain requirements and qualifications that an indigenous person had to meet before he or she could be accepted as a citizen of Liberia. These requirements were:
    “The willingness of applicants to qualify for Liberian citizen by adopting the Christian faith, Western living conditions, and Western standards of conduct, dress, and general appearance. An African, in effect, would have to detach himself from his own customs by completely accepting the Americo-Liberian set of values. Citizenship and voting rights might then follow.” (Gershoni, Yekutiel (1985) Black Colonialism: The Americo-Liberian Scramble for the Hinterland, 1985, pp. 37-38).

    It was based on these requirements and conditions the indigenous population was allowed to become citizens in their own land. Citizenship was extended to them in 1904; 57 years after independence.

    Liberia Had False Start
    Someone once said ‘anything that had a false start has the tendency to remain in a false state’. Perhaps, this is the curse that is haunting Liberia. The history of Liberia had a false start and, I find, a painful similarity between Lord Macaulay, an Englishman, and Hilary Teage who wrote Liberia’s Declaration of Independence.
    On February 2, 1835, Lord Macaulay addressed the British Parliament on how to deal with African people.

    Find below excerpts of his address:
    “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

    I cannot help but conclude that Hilary Teage might have gotten some of the racist divides from Lord Macaulay’s address to the British Parliament which served as the basis of the Settlers’ treatment of the Indigenous people of Liberia.

    It was in 1835 that Lord Macaulay came up with the ‘racist proposal’ on how to treat Africans. In the same 1835, Teage became secretary for the colony. Four years (1839) later, “he became clerk of the convention that presented the settlers’ positions to the American Colonization Society (ACS) regarding constitutional reforms …He was later an instrumental figure at the Constitutional Convention of 1847 – representing Montserrado County – in both debating and ratifying Liberia’s constitution, and wrote the country’s Declaration of Independence. Although Teage, in 1853, was the country’s first Secretary of State after Liberia declared independence, he served as attorney general as well.”

    He established the nation’s first newspaper known as Liberia Herald. He used the newspaper as a platform to advocate for independence. Teage knew what he was doing when he wrote the Declaration of Independence that excluded the Indigenous population. I believe, he was a segregationist like Abraham Lincoln!
    It was based on a philosophy of segregation, the Settlers referred to themselves as Americo-Liberians; took on the behavior of their slave masters; ran the country as their personal property. Everything in the country was named to honor them. For example, a mountain was named Finley; rivers, cities, counties, national symbols, honors, monuments, etc. How then can the celebration of July 26 Independence Day be meaningful to the tribal people?

    Failure to form a more perfect union
    For a moment, let us take a look at Hilary Teage within a historical context as it relates to his role in establishing the nation of Liberia. Teage and the leadership of the Settlers missed a golden opportunity to have established a united nation. Instead, they chose the racist European colonial approach, Master-Servant: subjugating the Indigenous population to the position of servants in their own native land.

    I agree Hilary Teage made tremendous contributions to the Republic of Liberia, but his contributions benefited to the larger extent the Settlers and not the Indigenous people. Until this missed opportunity is accepted, I find it difficult to celebrate and even glorify Teage’s contributions. Teage and leaders of the colony had the opportunity to ‘form a perfect union’, but failed.

    On this 171st anniversary of ‘Liberia’s Independence’, instead of Liberians of diverse backgrounds coming together to find solutions to the reason(s) we are still divided or questioning the philosophy of Hilary Teage’s who is credited with the divide, his colonial legacy is being promoted. There is something wrong with this picture. Although, there have been some improvements between the Settlers and the Natives’ relationship, much has not been done in these 171 years. The little that has been achieved is not enough to warrant the continued glorifying of the Settlers’ contributions when those of Clan Chief Madame Suakoko (Suacoco), Chief ‘Wonderful’ Juah Seyon Nimene (Nimley), or Didwho Welleh Twe (D. Twe), and others roles are assigned to the dustbin of history.

    In the stage play titled, “Citizen Teage: A Historical Drama,” Mr. Owusu Dahnsaw, the actor who plays Hilary Teage states: Every Liberian has a lot to learn from Hilary Teage. It is outstanding and outclasses all stage performances I have ever acted in. It is in a class of its own totally …It is intriguing, informative, emotionally enticing and renewing. Hilary Teage was a great example of what it means to be a citizen. He was a servant-leader.”
    Really???
    There is the tendency to accuse those of us who speak of the pregnant problems of Liberians with passion as practicing tribalism or ‘pushing up fire’. I honestly believe by presenting and discussing these issues in the open will free our people from historical amnesia.

    Efforts Made In The Past To Unite Liberians Were Not Genuine
    I believe efforts made in the past were not genuine. Leaders of the country did not make fundamental changes to resolve the age-old conflict between the two major groups; the Americo-Liberians and the “Natives.” Yet, succeeding governments of Liberia continue to repeat similar mistakes by enacting policies that benefit those who trace their ancestral roots to North America, some through receptive Africans, emigrants from the Caribbean, and other African countries — specifically, West Africa — at the expense of the vast majority— indigenous African Liberians.

    For example, William V.S. Tubman’s policy of “Unification and Integration” was nothing more than an extension of the cult of the presidency and Monrovia rule and dominance over the hinterland. No real changes were made after the death of Tubman. William R. Tolbert continues Tubman’s policy but added his, such as “Total Involvement for Higher Heights” or “Mat-to-Mattress”, which were mere window dressing, immersed more in rhetoric than in reality. Under Tolbert, the socio-economic gap widened. While he preached “Total Involvement”, the country’s wealth and power remained concentrated in the hands of a few families, friends, and the Americo-Liberian elite. Since the system did not undergo any major change, Samuel K. Doe came up with his version of the rhetoric, “In the cause of the people” by providing for his ethnic Krahn members with positions and power; while Taylor and Bryant followed the path of what in Liberian parlance, we refer to as “What Monkey see, Monkey do”; a tradition of accumulating power and wealth for personal use. As for Ellen, she did more harm than all the presidents “put together.” . . . and if Weah does not cut his ties from Ellen and company, his downfall will come soon.

    History makes strange bedfellows! With the passage of time, the elites – many of whom are indigenous Liberians have failed to depart from Liberia’s ugly tradition – the master-servant relationship brought over from the antebellum south. As the result, several opportunities have been missed to change the system. The failures which eventually led to 1980 overthrowing of the True Whig Party oligarchy, and subsequently brought about the civil wars, are still intact. “It is new wine in old bottles.”

    This brings me to ask the question: What is the purpose of July 26 Independence Day National Orations when these orators’ recommendations are not given serious consideration? These orators can be classified into two categories: the first group consists of speakers who regurgitate the same old one-sided scripted history without making any meaningful recommendations; whereas, the second group engages in indisputable evaluation of Liberian history, leadership, and government policies as they impact the people, and go on to suggest ways they can be improved. Yet, nothing is done about the recommendations offered. As a result, the entire exercise is useless and a waste of resources.

    National Awards
    Other areas of concern are Liberia’s National Awards and the Liberian National Anthem. The awards are named only in honor of the Pioneers! None are named in honor of the Indigenous tribes. For example, the highest award, “The Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers with the Grade of Grand Cordon”, etc., is awarded each year. Descendants of Indigenous Liberians cannot continue to celebrate July 26 Independence Day each year accepting awards that do not recognize the Indigenous people’s contributions. The National Anthem is another area of concern. The tribal people cannot continue to sing the National Anthem that makes reference only to the struggle of the Settlers. But every July 26 Independence Day, National Orator takes “good for nothing pride” in repeating so-called achievements such as:

    “We were at the founding of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, now African Union, and hosted its annual meeting in 1979. We were at the founding of the African Development Bank. We inspired the formation of the Mano River Union and the Economic Community of West African States. It was President William V. S. Tubman who proposed an Economic Union of West Africa.

    “A beacon of black self-government, we did battle alongside with black brothers in South Africa to dismantle the gargoyle of Apartheid. We were a haven for peoples all over Africa: Sudanese, Ethiopians, Gambians, Ghanaians and many more even long before they opened their doors to our people fleeing the collapse of our nation-state…” (Tweah)
    How can most of the orators continue to mention what Liberia has done for others when at home there is a practice of black apartheid — the division between the Settlers and the Indigenous population? Yet, we pretend it is not a serious problem! What is more disturbing is that the political and economic systems continue to give
    exclusive rights and privileges to a few at the expense of the rest of the society. This practice has undermined economic growth, replaced it with never-ending poverty, social injustice, discrimination, oppression ridden by greed, and corruption for the sole attainment of ill-gotten material wealth for a select few.

    Correctly so, we have had national indigenous leaders, including presidents. Currently, we have an indigenous president who is from Grand Kru County. Nothing, however, has changed significantly in terms of the political system and structure. Fundamental change is not possible if the system that creates the problems remains in place; it becomes like “putting new wine in old bottle”.

    This brings us to the troublesome issue of our country’s National Motto: “The Love Of Liberty Brought Us Here”. J. Patrick Flomo makes a good argument why the symbols should be revisited. According to him, “A motto is considered an apothegm, adopted as a guiding principle or the summarization of the general conviction or purpose of an organized entity, whether it is a society, corporation, or social organization. Every nation has a motto; each nation’s motto defines the conscience of its people.

    The motto expresses, defines, and intertwines the collective sense of oneness and direction. Moreover, a motto seems to project an intellectual soul and conscience. For example, the American motto is, “E Pluribus Unum,” or “Out of Many, One;” the French motto is, “Liberté’, Egalite’, Fraternité’,” or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity;” the Ghana Motto is “Freedom and Justice.” These three examples express a sense of oneness and purpose for each country. Liberia’s motto seems to lack soul, conscience, or the spirit of intellectualism. Moreover, the motto expresses no sense of oneness or a collective purpose. In fact, it continues to express a divided people: the descendants of former American slaves (Americo-Liberians) and the indigenous population (natives).” (J. Patrick Flomo, “The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here” published on August 23, 2013 edition of TheLiberianJournal).

    The Civil Wars
    If history is any guide to understanding the genesis of a country’s vexed-palaver and how such major national concerns as ethnicity, reconciliation and national unity have been addressed, the Liberian experience leaves much to be desired or appreciated.

    The Civil wars have left deep scars on all of us due to the indiscriminate and ruthless nature of the perpetrators. Therefore, to find lasting solutions to the many problems we are faced with, we must do so by bringing the perpetrators to justice. Even former President Johnson Sirleaf is on record: “Our nation cannot afford to evade justice and protection of human rights throughout…That myth, mysteries, and the individualized arrogation of truth will serve no useful purpose; rather, it will reinforce divisions, suspicions, and smoldering anger.”

    The greatest challenge confronting us today is to face the truth in order to do the right thing; failure to do so will continue to haunt us into the future. As Liberians, the right thing is to correct the wrongs in the society that continue to divide us. The place to start is with our national symbols and awards. They remain roadblocks to the belief we profess: “One people under God, with Liberty and Justice for All.”

    Conclusion & Recommendations
    Today, there are calls being made in Liberia and the Diaspora to forget the past so as to reconcile our differences. There are those who go as far as to say we should forgive those that committed these heinous crimes against the Liberian people in the name of peace. Also, there are others who feel the Weah administration should concentrate on present issues and “let a sleeping dog lie”. This position brought back memories of what we were told in the late 50s and the 60s by our parents and older folks to mind our business and to “leave the people’s thing alone.”
    But I am convinced it was the culture of “leave the people’s thing alone” that led our country into the present deplorable state. This culture of a mere expression of concern about a social, economic or political issue was like committing a cardinal sin. And those that had the guts to question the ills that exist in the society were dismissed as being Cranky – a Liberian expression, which means –crazy.

    I honestly believe the past cannot be forgotten because the past gave birth to the future. To reconcile our differences, those who commit wrongs against others must confess and repent because reconciliation without confession and repentance is meaningless. In fact, reconciliation is good, but confession and repentance for doing wrong to others are better. It is regarding this approach, history serves as a constant reminder of a people’s past and present events, and without finding resolutions to our national divides such as INJUSTICE and INEQUALITY; we will not be able to achieve UNITY. Based on all of these concerns and issues, I call upon the Almighty God to touch our hearts and direct our path to do what is pleasing to Him, alone and beneficial to His people.
    Recommendations: Previous governments realized the Matilda Newport story was a myth laced with lies; therefore, the holiday (December 1st) in her honor was discontinued, including Pioneer Day; a day set aside to celebrate the arrival of Settlers.

    I recommend the following to be amended or changed:
    1. The Seal and the motto: “The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here” to be replaced by the Seal *J. Patrick Flomo presented to the D. Elwood Dunn Commission; and the motto to read: “Ku Ka Tonor”- ‘We are One’ in Kpelle.
    2. When the Liberian National Anthem was written, the Natives were not citizens, therefore, the phrase that reads: “In Union Strong, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Fail” was about the Settlers and not the Natives. It should be replaced with: “In Unity, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Fail”.
    3. Construct monuments to honor indigenous Clan Chief like Madam Suakoko, and Paramount Juah Nimely Senyon, etc.
    4. There are twelve persons who signed the Declaration of Independence, not eleven as it stated in Liberian History. It should be corrected.
    5. The name Kru should be changed in Liberian History; evidence shows that the three ethnic groups, Klao (Kru), Bassa and Grebo worked with European traders as far as 1793. They were employed as crews (laborers) on these European ships. The name KROO or KRU is derived from the word CREW. (Coombs (1993), The Black Experience in America –p. 26).
    6. Based on a story written by Rodney D. Sieh, published in FrontPage Africa on July 19, 2017:
    …In April 2008, police forcibly disbursed students of Kendeja high school, which had been demolished to make room for the hotel.

    The Kendeja Culture Center was established in the early 1960’s as a means of showcasing Liberia’s rich cultural heritage through performing arts. For years, it was the home of the Liberian National Cultural Troupe (LNCT) till 2008 when the RLJ & Companies demolished the shrine to build a hotel resort there. A year earlier, in early 2007, Johnson visited Liberia, and Johnson Sirleaf asked him to consider building a hotel.
    “Given the long historical relationship between our two countries,” Johnson was quoted by the Post, “I believe passionately that African Americans have a responsibility to support Liberia much like Jewish Americans back Israel.”

    The Sirleaf administration was instrumental in finding the site at Kendeja which was greeted by a fiery storm.
    The government through Andrew Tehmeh, an Assistant Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism(MICAT) during a 2009 visit to US, defended the move at the time by stating that the “RLJ & Companies” owner of Kendeja Hotel Resort would pay an annual fee of “US$800.000 to the government of Liberia” for a period of 50 years, beginning the year 2008, meaning the first contract is expected to end 2057, with a possibility for renewal just like the case with Liberia and the Firestone Rubber Plantation Company in Margibi.

    It is unclear whether the new management will follow through on the deal as the reported sale has been conducted under a cloud of secrecy. But in 2015, several artists from Liberia residing in the U.S. threatened to begin a legal process aimed at recovering the country’s National Cultural Shrine – Kendeja, sold to the US billionaire.
    The hotel was reportedly sold previously to a South African company a few years ago, also under a cloud of secrecy, although FrontPageAfrica has been unable to verify as management and the government has remained tight-lipped.
    The Concordia Academy based in Roseville, Minnesota has been trying to start the process by filing a petition against Johnson-Sirleaf’s government.

    James Fasuekoi, one of the advocates for the suit told FrontPageAfrica Wednesday that organizers are waiting to get the group’s next festival underway and put things together. Fasuekoi says a lot of former artists who were brought up at Kendeja including Fatu Gayflor and Tarloh Quiwonkpa have expressed their support.
    As part of an arrangement, the government agreed to build a new cultural center but that project in Boys’ Town has reportedly been abandoned…

    While the Pioneers’ Providence Island is preserved, the Indigenous people’s National Cultural Shrine was demolished in other to build a hotel resort. This is a total disregard to Indigenous Liberians by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the National Legislature. ‘The palava is NOT OVER yet’! We will soon renew our efforts by initiating a lawsuit against the Liberian government to restore our National Cultural Shrine.
    Furthermore, efforts to pursue and bring to justice perpetrators of war and economic crimes will continue until every one of them is persecuted. They have not shown any remorse whatsoever for their barbaric acts against innocent civilians; instead, they want Liberians to ignore them while they occupied decision making positions in the government and go on enjoying the wealth of the nation.

    Finally, all of us should speak with one voice to fight INJUSTICE and have the leaders of our country to make the right decisions that will benefit the entire population. I believe it can be done through the collective efforts of the citizenry. With a united front, leaders of our country will bow to our wishes; and will not ignore or deny the will of the people.

    Until these issues are fully addressed, we cannot see ourselves as part of the: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. On this note, let me close with a poem titled, Liberia, the Beautiful:
    Liberia the Beautiful
    I
    In search of freedom and liberty
    The Settlers returned
    United with their brethren
    At Cape Montserrado
    This glorious reunion
    Gave birth to Liberia
    The land of diverse people
    Like its natural resources
    So when we think of home
    We think of Liberia
    The beautiful.
    II
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    III
    In spite of the many problems
    That has hurt our national pride
    We have finally resolved
    Never again to fight one another
    Also, agreed to live together
    Under the Lone Star forever
    United in purpose
    To protect the land
    That is God given
    So when we talk about home
    We talk about Liberia
    The beautiful.
    IV
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    V
    Oh God Almighty
    Please forgive us
    For our many misgivings
    And restore our native land
    To its intended grace and beauty
    To let freedom ring
    From Cape Mount to Cape Palmas
    And throughout Cape Montserrado
    For the land so sacred
    And dear to us
    To be at peace forever
    And remain a national monument
    For us to love, cherish
    And protect.
    VI
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    Copyright © August 19, 1985, Siahyonkron Nyanseor – All Rights Reserved.
    Gweh Feh Kpeh (the Struggle Continues!). 

    I remain a Progressive today, tomorrow and forever!
    Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr. is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 45 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially, the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Mr. Nyanseor is the Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine that was established in June 1996. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his current book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is on the market. He can be reached at siah1947@gmail.com

    Recommended Readings to Acquaint Readers with Liberia’s Insurmountable Issues:
    1. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The Liberian Flag, Designed or Copied?”
    ThePerspective, September 4, 2015
    2. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Putting the Matilda Newport Myth to Rest, Parts I & II”
    ThePerspective, December 1, 2003
    3. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Peace Was In Heaven Until Kru People Got There”:
    ThePerspective, February 12, 2018
    4. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The African Slave Trade: Driven By Racism, Greed and
    Economics”, Parts I & II: February 20 & 28, 2004
    5. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Colonialism is the Same Anywhere, No Matter its Many
    Disguises” ThePerspective July 3, 2018
    6. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Americo-Liberians: The 17th Tribe of Liberia, Parts I & II”
    The Liberian Dialogue, May 22, 2013
    7. Johnson, Joseph: “Liberia’s 170th Independence Day Oration, ‘Sustaining the
    Peace’” by Herman Brown, ThePerspective August 14, 2017
    8. Twe, Didwho (“D. Twe”) July 26, 1944, National Independence Day Oration at the
    Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia – Nyanseor’s Archive
    9. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Elements of Permanent Influence” Discourse
    Delivered in the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.,
    February 16, 1890 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    10. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “Liberia as She is; and the Present Duty of her Citizens”,
    An Independence Day Address given in Monrovia, July 27, 1857 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    11. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Three Needs of Liberia”, Lecture Delivered in
    Grand Bassa County, January 26, 1908 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    12. Karnga, Abayomi Wilfrid (1926). History of Liberia. Virginia: Publisher D. H. Tyte
    13. Taryor, Sr., Nya Kwiawon (1985). Justice, Justice: A Cry of My People. Chicago, ILL,
    U.S.A.: Strugglers’ Community Press
    14. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Liberian Supreme Court And Legislature: ‘Bulldogs
    With No Teeth’, Globe Afrique, December 23, 2017
    15. Lindberg, Tod (2007). The Political Teachings of Jesus. New York, NY: HarperCollins
    Publishers
    16. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Continuing Liberia’s Ugly Past”, ThePerspective September 14,
    2017
    17. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron (2014). TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut. Providence, RI:
    Kiiton Press
    18. Tipoteh, Togba-Nah (1981). Democracy, the Call of the Liberian People: The Struggle for
    Economic Progress and Social Justice in Liberia During the 1970s. Monrovia, Liberia:
    Publisher, Susukuu Corporation
    19. Fahnbulleh, H. Boima (2004). Voices of Protest: Liberia on the Edge, 1974 – 1980.
    United Kingdom: Universal-Publisher, Inc.

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    President George Weah’s Uncommunicative and Unaccountable Style is Not Leadership. It is Arrogance http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/09/president-george-weahs-uncommunicative-and-unaccountable-style-is-not-leadership-it-is-arrogance/ Mon, 09 Jul 2018 17:45:56 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4988 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh               

     

    The story is the same about hardship in Liberia.

    It is not getting better in Liberia, and it doesn’t matter who is President of that country, either.

    When you think there is hope because of a new administration, you are deceiving yourself to have that overwhelming sense of optimism of a better and prosperous life in Liberia.

    Truth is, it is not worth living or even raising a child or owning a dog in Liberia, because it is too difficult to live in Liberia.

    See, when a new administration comes in (like the Weah administration), there is hope that the new administration will surpass the good deeds of the last administration, to make life and living conditions better for the citizens.

    Since the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration failed miserably to lift the Liberian people out of poverty in twelve years, and left the Liberian people with a heinous legacy of evil and massive corruption, and did not improve their living conditions, does that mean that Mr. Weah cannot do better through competent, effective and compassionate leadership to prove to his critics that he is not Madam Sirleaf? 

    However, from one administration to the other, we’ve heard the same sad stories about the country’s bad, corrupt and ineffective leaders, about the lack of jobs, about abject poverty, about hopelessness, about rampant and uncontrollable public-sector corruption, about hunger, and underdevelopment.

    With these chronic historical issues starring incessantly at the citizenry, members of society or individuals of voting age can decide how to vote for a particular candidate based on those issues.

    During the last presidential election that brought George Weah to power, however, most voters did not vote on pocketbook and survival issues and care less about what the next president will do for them and their country.

    Instead, voters romanticized George Weah former football exploits – his dribbling and scoring abilities, not governance – so much that they didn’t bother to ask him questions, and he did not care to answer serious questions about the country’s problems and how he intended to tackle those problems when he’s elected President of Liberia.

    Weah traveled around the country and the world awaiting the presidency to be given to him as if it was an inheritance from his parents.

    At least, had voters and the press asked Mr. Weah tough questions about his plans for Liberia during the campaign, we all would have known his positions on these issues.

    As it is now, Liberians are stuck with Weah’s trademark reticence on key national issues.

    The national issues that Weah failed to address are enormous. And there is a need for this President (Weah) and other Liberian Presidents to be accountable to the Liberian people.

    Why will a government think about borrowing money when its own house is not in order – when there is no accountability, and when public-sector corruption is high as it is in Liberia?

    Any lesson learned from the NOCAL experience?

    Even before the crippling high inflation issue became a national topic, Liberians were required to use the so-called Liberian currency to transact business, while government officials were using U.S. dollars to travel out of the country and do their own business transactions.

    Why will a national government not have confidence in its own currency but expects its citizens to use it to transact business?

    High inflation and the nation’s worthless currency issue deserves a policy speech from the President to the nation. Healthcare, coastal erosion, education, students failing the recent national exam on a massive scale, and the recent mass demonstration by university students, also deserves the president’s attention and a policy speech with a roadmap that spells out how his administration will solve these issues.

    A policy speech from President Weah to the nation to also address the loan, war crimes court in Liberia, Woewiyu’s indictment and conviction, and many other national issues, will be uplifting.

    Mr. Weah’s uncommunicative style is not leadership. It is arrogance.

    Mr. Weah, please say something!

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    Woewiyu’s (War) Crimes – But Is He Alone? http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/05/woewiyus-war-crimes-but-is-he-alone/ Thu, 05 Jul 2018 13:38:53 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4983 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh      

     

    Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, the once flamboyant spokesman of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), was found guilty on 11 charges including criminal immigration fraud and war crimes and could be spending the rest of his life in a federal prison in the United States.

    Even though he hasn’t been sentenced yet, Woewiyu faces up to 110 years in prison and a fine of $4m. And when he is sentenced in October on those 11 counts, at age 72, Woewiyu will be one of many seniors who will call home a U. S. federal prison.

    See, during the heyday of the civil war to ‘liberate’ Liberia and Liberians from the brutal hands of dictator Samuel Kanyon Doe, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu was unmatched during his tenure for his flair for the ridiculous.

    Woewiyu’s shameless utterances and unrestrained globetrotting to promote himself and his chief patron, Charles Taylor, exposed his senseless bloodletting campaign for state power, even as Liberians were murdered, maimed and raped in the name of liberation.

    Woewiyu’s self-indulging exercise did not only expose his countrymen and women to the worst form of senseless violence ever perpetrated against human beings on the Liberian soil, it left Liberians – those that are alive poor, hopeless and homeless and in perpetual pain, and took away the pride and dignity of countless other Liberians who became beggars in their own country.

    Did Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu commit these war crimes by himself?

    No.

    While it is so true that Charles Taylor, Chucky Taylor, Mohammed Jabbateh, and George Boley were put on trial in the United States, convicted, and either jailed or deported to Liberia for their roles in the Liberian civil war, a key co-conspirator, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who rode to fame for her fierce opposition to Samuel Kanyon Doe and her involvement in the civil war, is untouchable.

    Woewiyu’s 2005 “Open Letter to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf,” which is a treasure of information is available on this website for anyone wishing to know Madam Sirleaf’s deep role in the Liberian civil war.

    However, Woewiyu’s 2005 letter showed that Madam Sirleaf wasn’t an innocent bystander or an angel who was praying for the war to end so that Liberians will not be raped, maimed and die. The letter chronicled Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s full involvement in the planning, financing, recruiting and implementing stages of the civil war.

    Woewiyu writes: (an excerpt).

    “Preparation for Invasion”
    “ My first trip to the Ivory Coast to meet with Charles Taylor, Harry Yuan, Moses Duopu and others to assess the level of military plan of action for the purpose of removing Doe was sponsored by you and others in the wake of the failed Quinwonkpa coupe in which you played a major role. At the time, you were personally supporting Harry Yuan in the rapid re-recruitment of his fellow Nimbaians and Clarence Simpson was supporting Moses Duopu, the late Counselor Gbaydiah and others in the Ivory Coast to launch another armed attack on the Doe Regime following the botched Quinwonkpa coupe.”

    Only Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, a key participant in the planning of the civil war, could have known details as thorough as he wrote in this breathtaking open letter to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    This is the kind of letter or testimony you get in court from a witness or a co-conspirator who is so unhappy with his or her partner that the individual wants to say it all to get a minimized break from prosecution.

    To prosecute Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her role in the civil war, Woewiyu’s Open (and detailed) Letter to Madam Sirleaf must be corroborated and be a key source for prosecutors, who must take on this woman to not be seen as scapegoating Woewiyu and being selective in the prosecution of Liberian war criminals.

    Liberians are thankful to the United States and the Europeans for prosecuting these war criminals, a feat George Weah has been aimlessly dribbling around like a football since he became President of Liberia.

    Woewiyu did not commit these war crimes all by himself. Other co-conspirators including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf must be arrested and put on trial, to give credence to having a war crimes court in Liberia.

    There is a need for a war crimes court in Liberia to prosecute these criminals on Liberian soil.

    Good leaders are those individuals who will listen to the wishes and aspirations of their people, and act on them.

    Mr. George Weah, the ball is in your corner.

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    When Loyalty is paid back with Disloyalty – The Harsh Reality of Neglect: A Eulogy To Comrade Adu Dorley http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/01/when-loyalty-is-paid-back-with-disloyalty-the-harsh-reality-of-neglect-a-eulogy-to-comrade-adu-dorley/ Sun, 01 Jul 2018 12:48:48 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4971 By Martin K. N. Kollie     

     

    Greet comrade James Gray for us, another firebrand young soldier who was axed by death as a result of utter neglect. As we share our sentiments over your passing, say hi to Brother Gray and all conscious fighters who have been down this tragic lane. Like James who cried out for help, you too did the same during your last hours on earth.

    Neither could our poor health system save you nor those you stood up for. Your hope to remain alive was let down even by those you became so loyal to and served with utmost diligence. It is all over now. Like James Gray, your loyalty was paid back with disloyalty. This is the harsh reality of neglect. It bleeds one’s soul with anguish and grief. Weep no more and sleep on, young Adu. Your pains are over.

    Even our country’s largest referral hospital failed you. The faith you had in JFK and SOS was let down. I know you could recover if timely intervention was made to fly you out. But neglect became your closest companion in your final days. Bidding you goodbye could have been avoided. Yes, I know it could!

    But blame not your enemies, but those you considered your ‘allies’. For they too were invisible and insensitive to give you hope and reason(s) to stay alive. Even while you wrestled with death, your cry for foreign medical aid seemed immaterial to them. Probably your loyalty didn’t worth it in the opinion of your ‘allies’.

    The story would had been different if you were flown without any further delay to Ghana, South Africa, India, Kenya or USA for advanced medical care. They knew that your medical problem could not be resolved in Liberia. They knew that JFK and SOS had no answer or solution. Yet, you were taken there for treatment.

    When they were sick, they used tax-dollars to seek foreign medical care. But they were unable to do the same for you. This is the hypocrisy of those political elites you defended with every fiber of your being. It is all about them and their families. It is all about their wellbeing, and not yours. It is not about the peasants and proletarians.

    You once sought their interest, but they could not seek yours even when you needed them the most. You risked your life, image, and integrity for them but they could not risk their cash to fly you out even when you were on your dying bed in dire need.

    That’s just who they are – The hypocrites and betrayals of this dispensation and generation! They only become your true allies when you are dead and gone. They only become your allies when they need you to protect their parochial interest. But what good is it for them to post RIP on Facebook when they had every opportunity in their reach to avoid posting RIP. We give no credence to such hypocrisy and midday deception.

    Weep no more Adu. For your pains are over. When no one could come to your rescue, I know you felt betrayed like James Gray and Julius Caesar who was betrayed by Cassius and Brutus– you felt isolated, dejected and grieved. You didn’t deserve to be abandoned – not even by an establishment you fearlessly fought to create.

    Maybe your loyalty didn’t worth foreign medical care in your allies’ opinion. But it is all over now. Your loyalty has been paid back with disloyalty. Like James Gray, you too were abandoned on the lonely and harsh shores of NEGLECT. Until your demise, I learn that you kept on calling for help but no one could come to your aid.

    We cannot hide from these facts and realities. We cannot continue to march in the shadows of pretense. Because even when all of us are gone, history will still remember these harsh realities. Like James, Adu built trust in his ‘allies’ but his trust was paid back with distrust – his allegiance was paid back with abandonment – his devotion was paid back with dejection. These are the harsh realities of NEGLECT, not politics.

    Yes, Adu’s allies erred in my opinion! They had everything in their reach, including resources, to save his life. They have become unsettled by their collective guilt. But who am I to judge the living. But who am I to question the power or authority of the Deity. In his loving arms, we seek solace and comfort. Let his grace and mercy overflow.

    Young Adu has finally laid down his baton. As a fallen young soldier in arm, his voice won’t be heard anymore. The energy he had to defend his belief, ideology and allies is no more. No number of ‘RIP’, even from his ‘allies’, can bring him back.

    Weep no more because your pains are over. Sleep on comrade Adu. The time you shared with us on Carey Street specifically at CEIO will remain memorable. Often, we didn’t agree on issues but tolerance was our guiding principle upon which we cross-pollinated our thoughts and ideas.

    We’ve learned 3 basic lessons from your demise:

    1. Liberia’s ruining health sector is undependable, and offers no real hope

    2. Loyalty is paid back with disloyalty not necessarily by our enemies, but by those we usually consider our allies and friends

    3. Neglect becomes our final end when we are more loyal to people who are more disloyal to our welfare.

    Heather Brewer was scrupulously concise when she said “The worst pain in the world goes beyond physical. Even further beyond any other emotional pain one can feel. It is in the betrayal of our friends and the disloyalty of our allies.”

    As we bid you farewell, seek vengeance not against your adversaries. With lamentation, we mourn with your family, friends and love ones. Our condolences to them for this loss!

    May I now console all of us with these words “Death is our final end. Whenever it comes, we bow down powerless, choiceless, and voiceless. It ends our dream and leaves behind sad memories. Sometimes, we tend to find answer(s) for our NEGLECT even by our closest allies while traveling down this tragic lane.”

    So it is with comrade Adu Dorley – So it was with comrade James Gray. It is finally over – Your pains are now over. Sleep on in peace, young Adu. When loyalty is paid back with disloyalty, then the harsh reality of neglect sets in.

    In Swahili, I am sympathetically bidding you goodbye “Mpaka tukutane tena, usingie kwenye Adu mdogo” meaning in English “Until we meet again, sleep on young Adu.”

    Martin is a Liberian youth and student activist studying Economics at the University of Liberia. He is a columnist and an emerging Economist. He currently serves as Secretary General of the Student Unification Party.

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    CDC’s Pro-Poor Government Hut Tax Historical Amnesia http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/06/19/cdcs-pro-poor-government-hut-tax-historical-amnesia/ Tue, 19 Jun 2018 20:29:12 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4967 By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.    

     

     

    Pro-Poor Policy of a government usually targets directly poor people’s economic plight, which is due to the poverty they experienced in society. The goal of this policy is to improve their living standard. However, the Hut Tax re-introduced by the traditional Chiefs and Elders in Liberia resembles a reversed ‘Robin Hood’ – intended to TAKE (Steal) from the POOR. Whereas, the Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest took from the abusive and corrupt leaders what they stole from the poor and had it returned.

    My article titled “CDC Pro-Poor Government Hut Tax’s Historical Amnesia” intents to prove that the reintroduction of the notorious and abusive hut tax system of yester year was proposed either out of ignorance of history by the traditional Chiefs and Elders, or out of pure self interest.

    According to the Daily Observer’s Nimba County Correspondent, Ishmael Menkor, the “…15 chiefs representing the Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia have agreed to the reintroduction of HUT TAX to support the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government’s “Pro-poor Agenda. …The elders maintained that the hut tax will enhance their participation in the promotion of government’s agenda and development initiatives. They accordingly argued that government cannot be dependent forever, ‘relying on donor support or begging all around the world for help, so in their view, it is good to bring back the collection of hut tax to back up the economy.”

    My question to these Chiefs and Elders is – how will the reintroduction of the hut tax benefit most of the poor people in rural areas; especially, when most of them live on US$1.50 a day? Or is their “…time to eat” as Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor espoused? Perhaps, the “This is our time to eat” comment is

    directed at CDiCians to get ready to receive their share of the BIG ELEPHANT MEAT as Ellen’s Unity Party government, her family and associates had their share.

    Let’s review the history and enforcement of the notorious Hut Tax that Chief Zanzan Kawor and Elders of the Liberian Council of Chiefs failed to acknowledge; either out of ignorance or were seeking favor from President Weah and his CDC Pro-Poor government.

    HUT TAX
    The Hut Tax was first instituted following the administrative reform of 1904 both as a means, on part of the central government, of imposing its writ over “hinterlanders” and “coastal indigenes,” and also as an important revenue source to sustain the newly established auxiliary interior bureaucracy. Initial, it appears, there was a tax of $1.00 per annum on each indigene domicile (hut). In the 1980’s the tax had reached $6.00 per annum per the district commissioner. Each chief received a percentage of the tax collected as his commission. The hut tax is widely viewed as one of the areas of repressive government during the first republic, for the manner in which agents of the state went about collecting constitutes flagrant violations of people’s rights. Tax collectors often accompanied by soldier of the LFF moved into villages, at times terrorizing the inhabitants in order to secure not only the taxes but to requisition food and other local products. Several months following the 1980 coup, the hut tax was abolished by the PRC, but then reportedly reinstituted the following year in modified form. [See TAX MISSION, 1970: 89; Handbook, 325] / [African Historical Dictionaries, p. 91]

    In addition, based on the Area Handbook for Liberia, “Direct money taxes known as hut, health and development taxes are collected annually from the tribal people. Levied on households on the basis of a hut rather than a head count, the taxes totaled $5 per household in the early 1960’s. Tribal communities are also officially required by the government to make annual contributions of rice that may amount to a higher value than money taxes. Informal requisitions of food by agents of the central government and members of the armed forces are common occurrences in some areas of the interior and constitute an indirect form of taxation impossible to measure.” (Area Handbook, p. 325)
    I was told of similar practices by my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. It was a common practice for District Commissioners (DC) and members of the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF) to engage in when they traveled in the hinterland (now counties) to collect taxes and recruit laborers for government projects; such displayed brute behaviors were not unusual.
    Initially, the Armed Forces, known then as the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF) collected Hut taxes, and enforced labor policies against the “native” (indigenous) masses. On many occasions, these natives (African Liberians) were forced to carry loads for government officials for days, while their farms were left unattended and their livestock used to feed the soldiers; their wives and female daughters used as sex objects for the pleasure of these officials and soldiers.
    The novel, Red Dust on the Green Leaves by John Gay, epitomizes this reality:
    “The soldiers had come again every year to get taxes and men to work at Firestone. Flumo (Flomo) still was not sure what Firestone was, even though he knew that men who went there had to clear the ground and plant rubber trees. He also knew that when Saki went to Firestone, he did not make farm but would come back after six months or a year with little other than new clothes and gifts from the coast”.
    President Arthur Barclay too, alluded to this culture of impunity in his Inaugural Address of 1904:
    “…The militia, largely lower-class Americo-Liberians and tribal people drawn from areas other than those in which they were serving was ‘tending to become a greater danger to the loyal citizens, and his property, which it ought to protect”.
    This repressive and humiliating treatment was abolished after the coup of 1980 when the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) repealed the Hut Tax Law. This was one benefit of the PRC that the poor indigenous people considered an achievement at the time. However, the reintroduction of the Hut Tax by the chiefs and elders raised more questions than answers.
    October 15, 2016, I wrote an article which was published in The Perspective. The title of the article is: “Home, Sweet Home and The Significance of the Red Cap”. In the article I narrated a story about a Kpelle Paramount Chief called Zamgba. He was very wicked to his own people. This paramount chief was a very powerful dictator. With the support of the Government, he exercised brute power over his people. Those of you who were around in the late 50s into the early 60s might have heard the popular Santa Clause song regarding his abusive behavior towards the Kpelle people. The chorus of the song goes like this: “Zamgba die, Kpelle people put on shoes; Zamgba die, Kpelle people put on shoes.” Legend has it that because he wore shoes, he did not allow his people to do the same.
    Paramount Chief Zamgba had a partner who possessed similar characters like him. This partner of his was commonly referred to by officials of the Government as Chief Buzzy. Buzzy was chief of the Lorma tribe from Lofa Country. Chief Buzzy joined with the Liberian Government to ‘put down the rebellion and resistance from the coastal tribes’. He too, was powerful and dictatorial. These two chiefs joined forces with the Government to collect Hut Tax by whatever means they deemed necessary, including fighting alongside government forces to put down the so-called rebellious natives – the Klaos (Krus), Grebos and Bassas along the Atlantic Coast. Find below their method of enforcement.

    Compulsory Voluntary Recruitment Practice
    In 1926, the Government ‘picked palava’ with the hinterland tribes; specifically the Kpelles and the Lormas. This palava was not only exploitative; it was abusive to the tribal people. During this year, Industrialist Harvey Firestone of Ohio, USA, established the Firestone Plantation in Liberia. The Firestone Plantation needed workers, Paramount Chief Zamgba and Chief Buzzy were identified by the Government as the source that could be used to provide the needed laborers to plant and tap the rubber trees. Both Chiefs and the LFF got involved in what is known in Liberian history as “compulsory voluntary recruitment practice.” The Kpelles and Lormas were forcibly recruited, sometimes at gunpoint and with threats to work on the Firestone Plantations. This heartless procedure of recruiting these people to work on the Firestone Plantations provided no meaningful compensation to the people who left their own farms’ work unattended to. They were made to abandon their livelihood – their farms, to work like slaves for below minimum wages; living under poor and unacceptable working conditions.

    Due to the brute power that Chief Buzzy exercised over his people, the Government authorities inaccurately referred to the Lorma Tribe as “Buzzy people”. In fact an area in Monrovia is named as “Buzzy Quarter” in honor of Chief Buzzy. This area is located at the intersection of Camp Johnson Road, not far from Bassa Community and Capitol Hill. Today, the Lorma people resent being called Buzzy people; a vivid reminder of Chief Buzzy’s treatment of them.

    Red Cap
    These LFF soldiers wore a Red Cap that was introduced by the British Colonial authorities in Africa. The Igbo tribe of Nigeria adopted it as a symbol of authority. Also, the Red Cap is worn by the Eze (king) or Igwe and his council members and Titled Men. However, in Liberia the Red Cap was part of the official uniform of the LFF and Constables also organized by the British. It was a sign of power and authority. The LFF served as the military of the Liberian Government.

    They collected hut and head taxes from the poor native people in the interior who hardly benefited from their resources and labor. Also, they pay head tax – for having heads on their shoulders. What a dehumanizing way to treat one’s fellow human beings!
    In the book: The Mask Of Anarchy written by Stephen Ellis, he provides example of the historical, political and cultural factors of Liberia’s brutal unlawful practices against the native people. According to him:
    “In the many parts of the country, throughout its history the Liberian system of indirect rule bore the stamp of military means used to establish it in the early twentieth century. It was first established in the Liberian Army, which had a reputation of brutality and for looting, since troops largely lived off the land. In 1910 some chiefs (King Gyude and other Grebo chiefs), in the south-east of the country complained of the activities of the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF), which they termed ‘this execrable force’, and was ‘entirely mobilized’ and wherever they had been sent throughout the country – whether to Rivercess or in the hinterland – their custom has been to plunder the towns through which they pass and rape the women.”
    Liberian authorities and their Western enablers should use cautionary measures and be aware of the fact that politics does not “always” reward the best and brightest, it has the tendency to elevate the most dishonest of men who will lie and cheat without compunction; excellent example of it was found during the Tubman Administration, which was referred to as “Growth Without Development”.

    Growth Without Development
    Sanford J. Ungar, made reference to this underdevelopment in the book titled: Africa, The People and Politics of an Emerging Continent. It reads:

    “…[William V.S. Tubman] established an ‘Open door policy,’ attracting foreign capital to Liberia under unusually favorable conditions. Investors could obtain eighty-year leases for tracts of undeveloped land, and the flow of profits and dividends out of the country was not restricted. Machinery imported for industrial use was exempt from customs duty, and other taxes were low. This did little for the improvement of agriculture, and while the policy did have some beneficial effects
    in the countryside, overall it intensified the contrast between the industrialized coast and the backward Hinterland. In the long run, the open door policy produced what outside analysts (Robert W. Clower et al, Growth Without Development: An Economic Survey, 1966) called ‘growth without development’”.

    CONCLUSION
    Current events in Liberia suggests that we are heading in the wrong direction once more; a direction in which citizens do not have the right to question or challenge their elected officials to behave in accordance to the laws of the land. Groups are found everywhere, especially on ‘Face Book’ who do not have any knowledge of Liberia’s UGLY PAST, and are resuscitating the UGLY days gone by – when RESOLUTIONS to show support for the President and elected officials was the order of the day; and an accused person was considered guilty before his/her case made it to court. Are our memories failing us? If not, why we do not speak against these existing evils? Instead, we are falling back into the practice that almost brought about our demise. Why can’t we learn from our recent history?

    “The truth shall set you free” has been proven by history over and over, and no matter what the power that be attempt to do in restricting telling the truth – truth being a universal principle will remain the same today and tomorrow. Yet, there are always individuals who by choice or influence will tamper with the truth to advance their own individual interests or for those they are loyal to. They need to be told that there is nothing abstract about the truth; in the end, truth with stand the test of time.

    To be frank, Liberia does not require us to be perfect; rather it requires us to be honest with ourselves. As imperfect humans living in these perilous times, we are not immune to the wind of adversity; we have the ability to reverse the course of the wind. To do so, we must acknowledge that there is something morally wrong with us as a people. Having admitted our general fault, we are able to set-up the means by which our fault can be addressed and have our solutions become the way of life to which we are committed and never to be compromised for political favors or government positions.

    This challenge has to be met with our collective efforts in order to bring to an end the practice that have prevented our development with what we have in common as Liberians regardless of class, religion and ethnicity. This is the place to start! Seeking Truth seems to be our best option, though Truth also has consequences. For example, King Darius of Babylon enacted a new law stipulating “Whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days except (the) king should be
    thrown to the lions’ pit” (Daniel 6:7-9). The law was intended to eliminate the King’s real or perceived enemies, notably Daniel. Daniel did not compromise his belief; as a result, he was thrown into the lion’s den for not obeying the new law. But Daniel’s God set him free.

    While we cannot compare ourselves to Daniel in wisdom and statute, we certainly can pursue Truth no matter how corrupt elites and their supporters might fight against our efforts; Truth, being a universal principle, will sustain us to the end. More important, we should bear in mind the fact that there will always be individuals who by choice or influence will tamper with the Truth to advance their own individual interests or the interests of those they are loyal to, not realizing that there is nothing abstract about the Truth, and that those who subscribed to corrupt practices will certainly be caught up with time.

    In addition, I am reminded of the statement by the famous English Dictionary publisher, Dr. Samuel Johnson that reads, “There is no crime more infamous than the violation of truth. It is apparent that men can be social beings no longer than they believe each other. When speech is employed only as the vehicle of falsehood, every man must disunite himself from others.” It means those who engage in deceit and telling lies to please their supporters are operating from what former Senator Joe Lieberman described as “value vacuum.” A place “…where traditional ideas of right and wrong have been gradually worn away.”

    In fact, this phenomenon has redefined what was once held to be universal Truth. Today, Truth is now widely viewed on the basis of an individual’s point of view (or talking points) – even if the facts are overwhelming, like embezzlement, human rights abuse, the denial of free speech, violation of civil and constitutional rights, kangaroo court system, excessive use of force, framed-up charges and incarceration of unarmed civilians by the governments, including Liberia.

    The popular phrase: “If one does not stand for something, he/she will fall for everything”; here lays the dilemma facing many of our people. What Liberia lacks in short supply are principled individuals. In other words, many Liberians are not firm believers in the “principle of right and justice”. They are forever ready to sell their souls for positions or for mere crumbs.

    Finally, as a firm believer in the fact that there is nothing wrong with Liberians, that cannot be cured with what is right; I believe, we have an essential role to play in deciding our present as well as our future. The fact that we have a choice shows that God has given us a measure of control over our lives. The coward who makes
    excuses for not taking a position come Judgment Day will have some explaining to do. As Liberians, if we earnestly want genuine peace and democracy, we will have to earn it the old fashion way, work for it. It means we will have to take positions that are not always popular.

    And for what it’s worth, let’s take the advice by General Colin Powell; it reads: “Where discrimination still exists or where the scars of past discrimination still contaminate and disfigure the present, we must not close our eyes to it, declare a level playing field, and hope it will go away by itself. It did not in the past. It will not in the future.”

    In closing, let me share with you the poem titled: “I Will Not Tote That Hammock Anymore!”

    I
    I am not going to tote that hammock anymore!
    If my great grandparents and relatives did it
    That doesn’t mean I should do the same

    II
    So you better find someone else
    To do your plotor work ‘cause this time for sure
    I am not going to tote you in that hammock!

    III
    Big hellova man like you if you can’t walk by yourself
    Then that’s your own kinja you will have to bear
    You don’t expect me to tote you on my shoulder
    Instead of toting you, I could be attending
    To my rice farm, cassava farm and doing small, small thing
    So let me tell you Joe Blow, this time
    I am not going to tote you in that hammock!

    IV
    Although, I was a small pekin when
    The District Commissioner came to our town
    He humiliated my grandparents and relatives
    In front of their wives and children
    I can still feel pains and sufferings they endured
    Toting Government officials from village to village
    And through thick and thin
    So, let me tell you once and for all, that job is not for me
    You cannot force me this time, I know my rights
    So, you better take your hot sun trouble from here!

    V
    My friend, this time you really juke-o!
    You will kill me dead
    Even then, I will still refuse to tote the hammock.

    VI
    You see, I made up my mind long, long time ago
    Not to tote anybody’s hammock, even the President, self
    ‘Cause the same way God gave you hands, head and feet
    That’s the same way He gave me mine
    And since there’s nothing wrong with yours
    I don’t see why I or my people should be the
    One to do your toting for you.

    VII
    So, Mr. Big Shot or whatever your name is
    You’re really juke this time
    You better try hard!
    Carry your trouble some place else!
    Because if you make me vex, it will be HELL
    To tell the Captain
    ‘Cause I’ll not tote Big Hellova man like you ANYMORE!

    (TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut, from the book of poems by Siahyonkron Nyanseor, published 2014.

    Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr., is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 45 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Mr. Nyanseor is the Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine founded in June 1996. In 2012, he co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology. His current book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is on the market. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com

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    Now we know why Minister Nathaniel McGill took a whopping US$200,000 loan to purchase a luxurious palace http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/05/13/now-we-know-why-minister-nathaniel-mcgill-took-a-whopping-us200000-loan-to-purchase-a-luxurious-palace/ Sun, 13 May 2018 05:00:45 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4959 By Martin K. N. Kollie      

     

    The 2018-2019 budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has increased from US$18,689,116 to US$21,539,211. This accounts for a whopping 13.2 percent increment US$2,850,095) even though the government is still struggling to generate an uncollected revenue of US$332 million from fiscal year 2017-2018.

    The nation remains aid-dependent and loan-reliant while the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has budgeted over US$21.5 million just in a period of 12 months. Now we know why Minister McGill secured a loan of US$200,000 to purchase a luxurious home after becoming a Minister just in 3 months. When did Minister McGill get so interested in securing a US$200,000 loan? Is it after becoming Minister for just 90-days?

    Is Hon. McGill a pro-poor Minister or a pro-rich Minister? So coming to power was all about self-enrichment at the expense of the ordinary masses? Now we know why Minister McGill secured a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home. This is the pitiless pay-back our people get when indigenous vampires are in charge of state resources.

    According to the projection of FY2017-2018, this fiscal year’s budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs should actually be US$14.4 million due to investor aversion, global macroeconomic shocks, decrease in prices of iron ore and rubber, ebola and election aftershocks, etc. Why then budget over US$21.5 million just for Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs alone.

    What is the rationale of even spending US$580,000 on consultancy and US$180,000 on food and catering services when there is no public high school in Liberia with access to internet, library or science laboratory. This pro-poor mantra seems to be a cliché of charade and contradiction.

    While 48,000 inhabitants of Clara Town live in slum with access to only 6 latrines, this Minister is buying a home costing US$200,000 in just 90-days of this pro-poor government. Is Nathaniel McGill a pro-poor Minister or a pro-rich Minister? Now we know why Minister McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home in the World’s fourth poorest country.

    Even though we will be spending more than half a million just on consultancy, but US$91,814 has also been budgeted for Advisory Board. So, why can’t the advisory board provide consultancy? This ‘pro-poor’ government under President Weah needs to refrain from overspending, wastage, fiscal indiscipline and economic sabotage.

    While 16 percent of Liberian households are food insecure according to FAO and WFP, US$582,592 has been budgeted for Celebration, Commemoration and State Visit, US$100,000 for Residential Property Lease and US$1,395,000 for Special Operation Services.

    Now we know why Minister Nat McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home. As the masses remain hopeless and vulnerable to economic peril, the CDC-led government is spending over 86 percent of our nation’s 2018-2019 budget on recurrent expenditure alone. I wonder what then goes to capital investment.

    The wage bill under former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was US$295m. Unfortunately, it has increased under President George M. Weah to US$303.4m. What difference can this pro-poor government make when the people’s interest has been swept under the carpet so soon?

    There is a huge rush for wealth accumulation. Minister Nat McGill is set to own his first luxurious home by lavishly spending THE PEOPLE’S RESOURCES without any remorse. Now we know why Minister McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home.

    While the nominal wage of civil servants remains very low with real wage being heavily impacted due to inflation, Minister McGill will now have an opportunity to live in a palace. Why have they even budgeted US$13 million again to renovate the Executive Mansion when over US$25 million has already been spent to renovate this same mansion?

    Our ultimate interest is to ensure that our government does what is RIGHT and RIGHTEOUS in the best interest of our PEOPLE. We have a national duty never to economize with THE FACTS but to demonstrate a sense of PATRIOTISM. We have made a solemn pledge to remain loyal to Liberia, and no one else.

    From the largest slum of West Point and the top of Ducor, I see a NEW LIBERIA rising above the African Continent. HOPE is blooming – Change is in sight – Liberia will rise.

     Martin K. N. Kollie is a student studying Economics at the University of Liberia, a youth and student activist, and a global columnist. He is a stalwart of the Student Unification Party. He can be reached via martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

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    Transforming The Liberian Lone Star Into A Winning Team: An Opinion http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/05/13/transforming-the-liberian-lone-star-into-a-winning-team-an-opinion/ Sun, 13 May 2018 04:54:03 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4956 By Paul J. Albert         

     

    The Liberian Junior Lone Star soccer team was defeated by their Gambian national counter-part on May 6, 2018 at the SKD Sports Complex.

    Nevertheless, it did not come as a total surprise as the episode only re-affirmed the case of another de javu when Liberians have become used to being willing spectators to the defeat of their national teams on their own home grounds.

    And as the nation go through a period of emotional catharsis, the Lone Star coaches and team officials will among other things conduct its old ritual as usual. That is, revisiting the team’s history of wins and losses, and re-examining its tactical approaches with the aim of finding out what went wrong.

    In addition, the team might receive some compliments from well-wishers despite its dismal record of performance. Such gestures may help somewhat to boost morale, but on the other hand they are relegated to a band aid, or just temporary fixes.

    As emotions begins to wear out and the memories of the sport planners begin to fade away, the Lone Star will again recede to its same old state just like a habitual criminal recidivist whose relapses often cause him to repeat the same criminal offenses and make him to suffer even more stiffer penalties.

    To develop the Lone Star into a formidable force within the international sporting arena, calls for a carefully crafted, well planned, and coordinated training program. This program must be persistent and consistent. Training goals and objectives must be set with the aim of statistically analyzing the team’s weaknesses, strengths and identifying avenues for improvement. By this I mean that trainers and coaches do not wait for the eve of a soccer tournament to emphasize training and exercise, eating well, resting well and avoiding counterproductive activities.

    It is a fatal mistake if Liberian soccer team managers continue to accept the status quo as the ultimate way to spur motivation and develop a superior team; if this trend continues, the Liberian soccer spectators and sport enthusiasts will always share more tearful moments as they will always stand to see more mournful defeats of their own beloved team on the home turf.

    To build a superior performing soccer team, the leaders of Liberia’s national teams should consider the fact that the factors that kindle motivation and drive within the team members are not only intrinsic.

    Intrinsic values occur when individuals join a team out of a feeling of self-gratification; nationalism; dedication or patriotism to one’s country; or a desire to promote the country’s self-image. Intrinsic values account for the spontaneous excitement in players that make them want to play and die for their country especially after hearing the sounds of the national anthem of their countries.

    Even though intrinsic values are laudable, however they do not suffice and things do not always work that way. Why? Many individuals who join sporting groups do so with the goal of benefitting from some extrinsic values. Extrinsic values occur when team members are given some benefits as stimuli to boost their performance; morale; self-worth, and a sense that they belong to a special cause.

    One misconception that many leaders of groups often make is to waste their time and energy trying to motivate people. Nobody can motivate another person. One of the better ways of achieving motivation is to create an environment where it can thrive. This objective can be realized by introducing extrinsic values. By this I mean providing incentives to team members.

    Incentives are not the cure-all to solving a team’s under-performance, because studies have shown that sometimes they can become a Pandora box as the morale of certain individuals who are self-driven team members goes through the roof in the short run only. However, in the long run their morale begins to dip because they have become accustomed to associating performance with incentives.

    In spite of this shortcoming studies have revealed that overall, incentives do drive up performance because the players who come to the team always have some critical needs besides scoring goals, creating a sense of nationalism, and promoting Liberia’s self-image. Incentives should include but not limited to: food security, health care benefits, educational scholarships, employment security as some players may have families to take care of, and so forth.

    An argument can be made that a soccer team may be provided with all these benefits and yet lose in the tournament. This is true but notwithstanding, the nature of the game of soccer is unpredictability, and not how well equipped a team might be. Citing a good paradigm in recent memory that re-enforces this point was the 2-1 stunning defeat of the US Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) by the Ghana Black Stars on June 22, 2006 in Nuremberg, Germany.

    In contrast to the Ghana Black Stars, the USMNT possesses every unimaginable benefit that a soccer team may have; nevertheless, and to the surprise of the world soccer fans, the Ghana Black Stars defeated them.
    No matter what the circumstances are, unpredictability should not override the importance of being proactive and having our national soccer squad well-prepared to represent us. To build a superior team, team managers must consider both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, because they are equally important.

    Sporting officials and coaches must learn to draw a fine line between players who truly love the game and are willing to get out there and represent Liberia with their fullest potential and those who only sign up for the incentives but show a less-than- stellar performance.
    Liberia can do better.

    Paul J. Albert writes for the Liberian Dialogue. He lives in Spencer, NC, and can be reached at 704-636-7868. Email: albrtpaul@aol.com

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    ‘Peace Was In Heaven Until Kru People Got There’ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/04/21/peace-was-in-heaven-until-kru-people-got-there/ Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:53:50 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4951 By Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor        

    The Meaning of Peace was in Heaven Until Kru People Got There.
    Liberian history is replete with accounts of heroism on the part of Americo-Liberians (Settlers), and the so-called accounts of cowardice on the part of Native-Liberians (aborigines). It is this slanted view of Settlers’ history, and false sense of heroism and cowardice that have been the main source of conflict amongst generations of Liberians on either side of the political and social divide. This portrayal of both groups has undermined true patriotism and nationalism in Liberia. A classic example is the phrase: “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there”. Similarly, it can be said that – “peace was on earth unit JESUS got here”.

    The phrase “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” is intended to portray the stance taken by the Kru (Klao) ethnic group in dealing with everyone they come in contact with. Within Biblical and historical context, it can be explained as what was meant as NEGATIVE reference to the Klao tribe of Liberia became promotion about the people Europeans referred to as “Africa’s Sailors”; the tribal people who rather die than be captured and made slaves.

    It is recorded in European history that prior to the arrival of the freed-slaves from North America to West Africa, the people known as Krus (Klaos) were involved in trading and had developed mutual relationship with European Merchants and Explores. It is from this relationship the Klao ethnic group in this area was named by Europeans as Kroo or Kru. The name Kru is derived from the word ‘crew’. This name was given to them as the result of their profession. The groups that are referred to as KRU were the Klao, Bassa and the Grebo.

    The phrase: “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” was used by grown-ups as well as my peers in Monrovia. Many of those who are of my age might have heard this statement used in the 50s and 60s in reference to us. I heard it too many times! Some of them said it as a joke. However, there is this Liberian saying, “Facts come through jokes”. Therefore, I did not take it as a joke. The statement was meant to make mockery of my people without known the true story about the Klao people’s struggle under the Settlers’ government.

    As a young boy in Rocktown, Monrovia – the unpaved side of Clay Street I got into fights with anyone who used the phrase in my presence. That’s how much I resented it. It was not until Sergeant Moore, my cousin under whom I studied and served as Griot (storyteller) told me to accept it with dignity. Here is what he told me! “Jglay Kpa-kay, have you forgotten our (Klao) mottos – Never trouble, trouble until trouble, troubles you” and “Too much of gentility leads to brutality?” Sergeant Moore’s explanation made it crystal clear to me. His advice motivated me to take keen interest in becoming passionate in researching, studying, writing and telling the truth about African Liberians and African Historian in general. First, I owed this interest to the Almighty God, and second to Sergeant Moore, my teacher who taught me the true history about the Klao people. As a matter fact, I give God the glory to have created me as a “Countryman” and a “Troublemaker” who speaks both the Klao and Bassa languages of Liberia.

    As a Christian, I am reminded of Genesis 50:20 NIV “…you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive”. Wow, what a revelation!
    You see, what was intended as a put down, God turned it all for our good. He brought us to the position of advocacy, so we could fight injustice to save our people and humanity. GOD is so good; He made the enemies our footstool. That’s how He works for those who worship and praise him!

    The Klaos (Krus) History & Struggles in Liberia
    There is an African proverb that says, “Until lion have their own historians, the story of the hunt will be told by the hunter.” This is the reason we need to tell our own history.
    The history of the Kroo/Kru (Klao) people, can be traced from their activities with Europeans, such as the Normans who visited the Liberian shores in 1364; Pedro de Cintra in 1461, the English in 1551, 1556, 1562, 1564 and 1567; a German-Swiss by the name of Samuel Braun in 1611, the Dutch in 1626 and 1668, and the French in 1725. During this period, some of the natives were literate; they traded and interacted with the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Germans. Common sense tells us that for the length of time African-Liberians carried out these activities and transactions with Europeans they had to speak their languages. Therefore, to suggest that “The cannon went off (Matilda Newport Story) the sound was so loud; it frightened the attackers who had never seen such a discharge of firing power before.” This is not only a blatant lie but a ridiculous portrayal of African-Liberians.

    More important, earliest reference to Kru (Klao) offshore employment relates to a Spanish vessel that stopped at Elmina on the Gold Coast in February 1645. In the eighteen century, Klao migrated to Freetown and from there they were employed on vessels owned by the Sierra Leone Company. By the end of the 1790s, more than 50 Klao were employed as deckhands and in other jobs on British colonial vessels. Klao participated in contract work in the nineteenth century which was almost always voluntary (Amos C. Sawyer, The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia, Tragedy and Challenge, 1992).

    The Kroo (Klao) Mark of Distinction

    During this period, there was a blue mark on the noses of the Kroos to set them apart from the other tribes. The blue mark was a mark of distinction. During the time when the slave trade was flourishing, the Kroos were ‘useful watermen’. The slavers would, therefore, never purchase one, or only did so to set him at liberty, fearing to incur the hostility of the tribe, and the Kroos adopted the blue mark as a sign of their nationality, which always protected them from purchase by the white men. (Sylomun Weah, Liberia History and Culture).

     
    American Military Intervention
    Due to the apartheid system the Settlers developed in Liberia, it caused serious conflict between them and the indigenous people. This system isolated the indigenous people who first inhibited the land from the Settlers. The Settlers illegally acquired more land through the issuance of bogus treaties, which led to a series of battles. However, during some of these conflicts, the United States military intervened on the side of the Settlers.

    For example:
    In 1843, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, the man credited with opening up Japan to the West a few years later, descended on Kru Coast and Cape Palmas with over 700 American marines, in the vessels, MACEDONIAN, SARATOGA, and DECATUR, to punish the Kru and Grebo people for their alleged attacks on American shipping, and to assist Liberia and Cape Palmas in their struggle against the indigenous people in Kru Coast and Cape Palmas. The series of battles was sanctioned by Governors J.J. Roberts of Liberia and John Russwurm of Cape Palmas.

    In 1875, the U.S.S. Alaska was dispatched by President Ulysses S. Grant to Liberia, after Liberian troops lost a series of battles to Grebo warriors; in 1910, President Howard H. Taft of the United States dispatched the U.S.S. Birmingham to Liberia, when another major war began between Liberian and the Grebo people; and in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, sent the U.S.S Chester with 500 rifles and 250,000 rounds, to assist the Liberian Government when war with the Kru people began over the hut tax, and the forced recruitment of indigenous-Kru labor by the Liberian Government.
    Again in 1915, the United States came to the aid of the Settlers; confronted by a revolt of the Krus:

    The Monrovia government implored the United States to provide it with munitions and to send a cruiser to assist in the suppression of the revolt and to forestall foreign intervention. The United States agreed to do so, and the war Department sent over five hundred Krag carbines and two hundred and fifty thousand rounds of ammunition upon an American cruiser, the Chester. These munitions were sold to Liberia at half-price upon delivery! Thus supplied, the American-organized Frontier Force almost decimated the Kru resistance force (The Liberian Paradox, Raymond, Leslie Buell, March 31, 2010).

    Imposition of Custom Duties
    During the period between 1850 to1860, the government experienced serious difficulty in asserting its sovereignty over some of the coastal tribes, particularly the Kru [Klao] and the Grebo, who resented the government’s attempt to put an end to their continued trade in human beings and the practice of trading directly with passing ships, as they have done for centuries, by bypassing the customs agents. These tribes staged a series of uprisings and raids on Americo-Liberian settlements which are referred to in Liberian history as tribal wars… The Kru [Klao] people along the Southeastern coast continued with lessening intensity until the early 1930’s (Area Handbook for Liberia, 1971, p. 17).

    Land Grab and Custom Duties
    Land Grab and Custom Duties were some of the factors that led the Klao People to earn status of “Troublemaker”. In the “Settlers’ History” written and taught as Liberian History, the Klao (Kru) people were portrayed as “troublemakers”, “war-like”, “hardheaded”, “fussy” people, etc., without first explaining the underlying factors that contributed to their fights for their civil, human and economic rights in Liberia. This article highlights some of the reasons which caused the Klao people to acquire such reputation and inaccurate portrayal their struggles.
    To begin with, we need to know who are the people known in Liberia as Kru (Kroo). Secondly, do they refer to themselves in their language as Krus? If not, how do they refer to themselves?

    Before the Elizabeth and the Alligator, ships that brought the Settlers from North America, the Kwa linguistic speaking group that consisted of Bassa, Dei, Klao, Belle and Krahn were referred to in Liberian history books as KROO or KROOMEN. As noted, this group did not only consist of the Klao (Kru) ethnic group. The KROO referred to by Europeans, consisted of the three ethnic groups who lived along the Atlantic Ocean: Klao (Kru), Bassau or Bassaw (Bassa), and Grebo. There is evidence of their working relationship with European traders, especially Portuguese explorers as far as 1461.
    Within three centuries a flourishing trade developed between the coastal Africans and European Merchants. The Klao (Kru), Bassau (Bassa), and Grebo were employed as crews (laborers) on European ships. It is believed that the name KROO or KRU derived from the English word, CREW. This group served as crews on these ships.

    The so-called Kru people in Liberian History referred to themselves as KLAO, which is also spelled KRAO. The name Kru stuck on them in the same manner that African Liberian leaders were referred to in Liberian (Settlers’) History as: King George, King Freeman, Chief Boatswain, Joe Harris, King Governor, King Peter, and Long Peter. I wonder whether there was a Short Peter! Others references to African Liberian leaders are: King Jimmy, King Jack Ben, and worst of all, a Klao (Kru) man was referred to as “Bottle Beer” (Guannu, Joseph Saye, Liberian History Before 1857, p. 25).

    The Bassa, Kru (Klao) and Grebo lived in permanent settlements along the coast. The Kru people which consisted of the three ethnic groups worked as seamen on European ships. They were so successful that the name Kru became synonymous with sailor among the traders and shipowners (Yekutiel Gershoni, Black Colonialism – 1985, p. 4).
    In the book titled: The Black Republic – Liberia: Its Political and Social Conditions To-Day written in the 1920s by Henry Fenwick Reeve, a British Colonial Secretary in The Gambia made the reference below:
    ‘The Love of Liberty’ which brought the American Negroes to Africa has not worn well in latter years and has never been fully extended to the peoples under their control. The ‘Bush Niggers,’ as the Liberians term their fellow citizens of the Interior, still fight among themselves without interference on the part of Government, while the spoil of battle in prisoners, men, women or children, is still bartered among themselves, and even sold to the Liberians under the euphemism of ‘Boys’ (Wards).
    The term “Boy” is a derogatory reference, which regard people of African origin as child-like. The Americo-Liberian Settlers used it in relation to the African Liberians in the same manner; “boy” was used in reference to them in North America.

    According to Reeve:
    Liberians (Settlers) never liked work since the establishment of the colony; agriculture even has had but slight attraction for the people. It is not strange, all things considered. The ancestors of these people used to work hard in the fields before they went over there; one reason they went was that they wanted to escape field labour. They had always been accustomed to see their masters live in ease, without soiling their hands with toil; when they became their own masters they naturally wanted to be like the men to whom they had been accustomed to look up to with respect. Trade has always been in high repute. It was easy for the new-comers to trade with the natives of the country and rapidly acquired a competence. So far as work was concerned there were plenty of ‘Bush Niggers’ to be had cheaply. There is, however, another way of escape from manual labour besides trade-that is professional life. Everywhere people do not wish to work with their hands may seek a profession; it is so here with us – it is so there with them. The Liberians would rather be ‘reverends’ or doctors or lawyers than work with their hands.

    Of all the professions, however, law seems to be the favourite. The number of lawyers in Liberia is unnecessarily large, and lawyers naturally drift into politics; they aim to become members of Congress (the Legislature) or judges of the Supreme Court, or members of the Cabinet, or President of the Republic. It is unfortunate that so many of them are anxious for that kind of life, but they are skilled in it, and we have nothing to teach them when it comes to politics. (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 69-70).

     
    Reeve went on to say:
    The hiring of the Kroo-boys by the Government of Liberia is a matter of common knowledge on the West African coast, and perhaps in the circumstances there is little fault to be found with the principle, as the gentle Kroo-boy is far and away the best labourer to be found, and is especially good in the working of ships and boats, for which purpose our own (Britain) nation has been party to the custom, both in naval and merchant ships. Where a Government is consistently face to face with an empty Treasury it may be forced into hiring out of some of its subjects, even while its own territory requires the labour of every able-bodied man for its industrial development.

    (IBID)
    However, the methods the Settlers adopted in Liberia to raise revenue from this lucrative source, was ruinous to the seagoing Kroo laborers. Rather than adequate measures to regulate the movements of one of the backbones of the economy by allowing emigration in districts where labor was plentiful while disallowing it where minimal, hence ensuring help for home industries, the authorities contracted alien firms which charged the shipping companies high “Head Money” it split with the Government. In this equation, the more men shipped the more money went to the contractor and the Treasury. And were it not for the loyalty of these men for what they call “We Country” which lured them back once yearly, coupled with a desire to adhere to tribal laws, the Kroo coast would have been depopulated.

    The Treasury also benefitted by a condition in the contract with the employer at other ports on the coast under which part of the wages for the yearly service of the Kroo laborer was paid in merchandise. Thus, import duties were levied on his goods in the Colony where he worked, and by the government of Liberia on his return. In the end, returning laborers recouped little profit on the one-half of his year’s work. That’s the baboon work monkey draw syndrome; it’s been an albatross on the powerless in our country forever.

    Formerly, “Boys” could be taken off from their own beach, under a contract with the chief of their tribe, but the embarkation and re-embarkation was made at one of the several ports of the customers on the Liberian coast under heavy penalties on shipmasters. However, for amphibian Kroo laborers, the mile or two of sea separating a ship’s deck from their native village was a trifle, and they occasionally took French leave in those circumstances, pushing their trade boxes while swimming until picked up by canoes. Relatives would then meet them on the beaches, and in accordance with native custom elders would help themselves to a goodly share of their merchandise. This meant that, in the final analysis, the Kroo laborer gained little either way by his love of community and country, so often decided to make his home elsewhere, especially when such migrations were sweetened by incentives from the shipping companies and the colonial administrations in the later Kroo enclaves of Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Liverpool, England (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 118-120).
    Another case was reported in the Government Gazette published in Monrovia, January, 1916. It is interest to note the racial enmity existing between the Liberians and the Kru/Klao people, as well as the lack of firm government on the part of the rulers of the Republic:
    Executive Mansion, Monrovia, December 18th, 1915
    To the Citizens of the St. Paul River in general, and Caldwell, Clay Ashland, Virginia, White Plains, and Crozierville in particular.
    Fellow Citizens,
    I regret to inform you that I have heard very unpleasant reports of the actions of certain of my fellow-citizens towards that portion of our citizenship in your midst composed of Kroo people.
    They have complained to me of threats having been made on their lives by citizens in Caldwell, whose names were given to me, that if they were found out after six o’clock p.m. they would be shot; also, that violence has been done to their property in the settlements specifically named, all of which is said to be done in retaliation for the alleged killing in Virginia, supposed to have been done by the Kroos.
    I have to remind you that the Kroos who were accused of the killing in Virginia were tried and acquitted in our own court by a jury composed mostly, if not entirely, of persons from the River.

    I am already overburdened with the responsibility of dealing with the acts of unthinking and irresponsible persons, and have to warn you one and all, good loyal citizens, to raise your voice and lend your aid against any and everything that savours of lawlessness. By so doing you avert the bringing of trouble and frown of God upon you (sic) country, which every citizen is, by his lone actions, capable of doing.

    It is worse than hypocrisy to pray in our churches for God to bring in the native people and deny them the benefit of the law of the land for which we contend so strongly.
    The law, of course, will be rigidly enforced upon violators (sic) without partiality, but I feel that all good and law-abiding citizens should be sufficiently interested in the good name of their townships to see that it is not defamed by reckless persons, and I take this method of calling upon such persons to maintain the dignity of the State and the Constitution which guarantees to all men the right to enjoy life, liberty, and to defend his property.
    Your obedient servant,
    D. E. Howard
    President, R.L.
    (IBID, pp. 74-75).
    From the so-called founding of the Republic of Liberia,
    The natives have never been considered the equals of the emigrants, nor treated as brothers … utilized as house servants. “It is convenient to fill one’s house with (‘Bush Niggers’) servants and the settlers have done so from the early days of settlement”, wrote Professor Starr. He and Reeve noted that the driver of the trouble between the rulers and ruled was because the former arrogated to themselves “the position of white man in Africa yet lacking any sense of right and justice or the power to enforce decisions was a travesty, which the natives recognized as bluster on the part of the Americo-Liberians”. (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 58-59)
    These are some of the factors that led to the Kru (Klao) and Grebo revolts against the Settlers that are inaccurately reported in ‘Liberian History’.

    Kangaroo Court System
    Reeve provided a strange example of how the court dispensed justice. He wrote:
    Liberians are not much given to independent speaking. One man spoke out and the Government put him in jail without bail, and a woman was held without bail for ‘talking too much.’ In each case it was an ‘ally’ who got caught. No wonder everybody shut up like clam.

    Another incident Reeve mentioned involved a District Commissioner (DC) who rendered the following decision:
    A. you are in the right to a certain degree, but you are in the wrong also because you took up arms without authority of the Government, you are therefore fined two hundred dollars. B. you were wrong in attacking A. without first reporting the matter to the Government, so you must find the same amount as A.
    The miscarriage of justice was so rampant in Liberia that Graham Greene wrote what he observed in his book titled, Journey Without Map. It reads:
    A case was also reported to me from several sources of a man who had been wounded close to Sasstown (during the Sasstown War) and wished to surrender. Although unarmed and pleading for mercy he was shot down in cold blood by soldiers in the presence of Captain Cole.

    In another case:
    The soldiers crept into the banana plantations, which surround all native villages, and poured volleys into huts. One woman who had that day been delivered of twins was shot in bed, and the infants perished in the flames when the village was fired by the troops. In one village the charred remains of six children were found after the departure of the troops. In this connection, it may be mentioned that a man who had been a political prisoner at New Sasstown stated that he heard soldiers boasting of having cut children down with cutlasses and thrown them into the burning huts.

    Similar incident occurred in 1916, which involved the Klao (Kru) leader known as Juah Nimene (Seyon Juah Nimene – 1869 – 1937). Due to the inhumane treatment Juah Nimene and his people received from the Liberian authorities, he complained in a letter addressed to Lord Cecil of the League of Nations’ Liberia Committee stating that “It is most certain that we will be arrested like Nana Kru Chiefs who are now in custody at Sinoe, and in the end we may be killed like the seventy-five chiefs who were invited to a ‘peace conference’ at Sinoe but who were seized and executed in 1916”.

    Juah Seyon Nimene (Nimely)
    By August 1936, Juah Nimene had defied the government for five years. Two months later, he was taken to Monrovia as a prisoner. Barclay interviewed the popular chief known as “Wonderful Nimene”. He believed that Nimene had been led astray by educated Kru Liberians; he singled out, Didhwo [Didwho] Twe as the “evil genius” behind the resistance. Chief Nimene was then exiled to Gbarnga for several months and in 1937, when he was set free and allowed to return to Sasstown, he died shortly after.

    Didwho Welleh Twe
    In 1950, Twe and others organized a political party called the Reformation Party of which he was selected as its standard bearer. During the 1951 Presidential Campaign, one political commentator wrote, “Didhwo [Didwho] Twe, a Kru running against Tubman for the presidency, used an old distinction to rally his followers, and Tubman found it necessary to deny the implications of the distinction in an election eve broadcast.”
    Find below what Tubman said about Twe:
    …Mr. Twe refers in his acceptance speech to Americo-Liberians and aborigines. Who are or ever were Americo-Liberians? Certainly not that band of stout-hearted men who gave us, under God, this goodly heritage, its name, style, and title! If any set of people were ever full-blooded Liberians and nothing else but Liberians without any other qualifying word or antecedent, it was they.
    Mr. Twe and his adherents complain that for hundred and four years of the independence of this country, no aboriginee had had the honor of being
    President of the Nation. Whom does he call aboriginees, he and his dangling group of a fifth of the Kru Tribe (emphasis are mine)? I protest! I contest his supercilious misconceived notion. H. R. W. Johnson, Daniel Edward Howard, Charles Dunbar Burgess King, Edwin Barclay and William V. S. Tubman are all aboriginees and indigenous people of this country, for we were all born, bred and reared here” (Area Handbook of Liberia, 1972 – 48).

    Cllr. Tuan Wreh wrote in his book: The Love of Liberty the statement below about Twe:
    In the course of his flight, Twe barricaded himself on his rubber estate as Tubman’s security forces combed the territory. The Krus (Klaos) in Monrovia, Twe’s staunch supporters, circulated the tale that during the period when he was being sought, he magically transformed himself into a white cat at his farmhouse and serenely looked on while the security forces searched in vain. After his escape, Twe told the American press that he had literally taken to the woods and remained there for four months, his protectors being ‘two beautiful and trustworthy maidens, whom the friendly African chiefs had provided for me’. The final stage of his flight into British territory was by canoe. (Tuan Wreh, The Love of Liberty: The Rule of President William V.S. Tubman in Liberia, pp. 56-57).

    Jacob Cummings, one of Tubman’s chief informer, and a Deputy Police Director named William Tecumbla Thompson used to conduct searches without warrants, whenever they felt like it. In the process, they would harass, physically and psychologically intimidate and abuse family members, relatives and friends of Twe and Tor, which at times resulted into imprisonment. Victims of Tubman’s Gestapo tactics were, Edwin J. Barclay, S. David Coleman, Paul Dunbar, S. Raymond Horace, Nete-Sie Brownell, J. Gbaflen Davies, Booker T. Bracewell, Thomas Nimene Botoe, S. Othello Coleman, etc. Later on in the 1960s, former Army Chief of Staff, General George Toe Washington, a law student named Frederick Gibson, Henry Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr., and scores of others were his new victims.
    Such Gestapo tactics along with the PRO network was Liberia’s McCarthyism. It was used to destroy the reputations, livelihoods of prominent Liberians such as Didwho Twe, Nete Sie Brownell, Tuan Wreh, S. Raymond Horace, and Henry Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr.
    D. Twe (Didwho Twe) was a progressive. Elected member of the House of Representatives in 1927, Twe introduced several legislations that were considered controversial by the ruling elite. For example, he introduced legislation to abolish the force labor activities, the pawn and porter systems practiced by the government and the ruling class. Twe was expelled from the House of Representatives for sedition, when in fact; he was expelled for his advocacy on behalf of African Liberians’ human and civil rights.
    Journalism Tuan Wreh suffered similar calamity and abuse.
    Tuan Wreh’s Fate
    Mr. Tuan Wreh, who became dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School, Commissioner of Immigration and Senator from Grand Kru County in post-Tubman years, then a 26-year-old journalism graduate from Boston University in Massachusetts, was made to clean Tubman’s toilet bowl with his bare hands and subjected to other forms of brutal human degradation. His crime was in 1955, he had written an article against Tubman’s manipulation of the constitution to perpetuate himself in office.
    These inhumane and illegal practices by the Liberian authorities against African Liberians led to the various revolts between the Settlers, Klao (Kru) and Grebo people in Liberia.

    Unlike other tribes, the Klao and the Grebo fought for justice like the American Patriot Patrick Henry, who when the American colony was being attack chose to act while others were waiting for consensus.
    Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Patrick Henry’s Speech: “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”, March 23, 1775 speech in Richmond, Virginia by way of a resolution to the Congress).
    The same is true with Abolitionist Frederick Douglass who said:
    …Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
    …There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman (my emphasis) in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave.
    …This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle (Frederick Douglass’ August 3, 1857 Speech: Power concedes nothing without a demand, delivered to a ‘West India Emancipation’ group in Canandaigua, New York).
    The (Kru/Klao) people in Liberia fought for freedom and justice like Patrick Henry and Frederick Douglas did in their days.

    Train Up A Child in the Way He Should Go…
    At an early age, Klao children were taught to always speak truth and never allow anyone to take advantage of them. They believed freedom and justice were given them by no one other than Sno-Nyesoa (Heavenly Father GOD); and that they should protect others who are abused and taken advantage of; a kind of ‘brothers’ keeper, like the Bible says. This belief is part of our DNA and nothing anyone can do about it!

    Yet, the people who have had extensive interaction with Europeans prior to the arrival of the Settlers (Americo-Liberians) are portrayed as “troublemaker”, “war-like”, “hardheaded”, “fussy”, “savage”, “primitive”, and “belligerent people”! The Settlers did this because the so-called “hardheaded” people resisted them by ‘any means necessary’ to protect their civil, human and economic rights. The portrayal of Klao people in “Liberian history” written by their so-called “historians” and their contemporary “scholars” resembles comic scripts out of Hollywood that depicts Native Americans as dumb and savages, while Cowboys and Scouts are portrayed as smart and intelligent; and always victorious in battles against Native Americans. Similar lies were told in Settlers’ history about African Liberians; a classic example is the Matilda Newport (Matilda Spencer, her name at the time she performed the so-called historic task).
    What a contradiction! The same people the Settlers portrayed as ‘fussy’ are referred to as:
    Morally as well as physically the Krumen are one of the most remarkable races in Africa. They are honest, brave, proud, so passionately fond of freedom that they will starve or drown themselves to escape capture and have never trafficked in slaves. Politically the Krus are divided into small commonwealths, each with a hereditary chief whose duty is simply to represent the people in their dealings with strangers. The real government is vested in the elders, who wear as insignia iron rings on their legs. Their president, the head fetish-man, guards the national symbols, and his house is sanctuary for offenders till their guilt is proved. Personal property is held in common by each family. Land also is communal, but the rights of the actual cultivator cease only when he fails to farm it. (An extraction from the 1911 encyclopedia: KRUMEN (KROOMEN, KROOBOYS, KRUS, or CRoos)
    Professor V. R. Ruggiero states in his book: The Art of Thinking that “If everyone makes his own Truth, then no person’s idea can be better than another’s”. This is the belief system upon which the Settlers ‘founded’ Liberia.

    The Kraos (Krus) are the most persecuted people by the Liberian authorities and their allies; because they will fight for their rights no matter the consequence. As the result, the Liberian government authorities considered them disruptive, and to the point of disrupting peace in heaven when we got there. The heaven they referred to is not the heaven where God resides; it is Liberia, the piece of land loan them in which the excluded the original owners.

    The phrase “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” resembles the accusation the Sanhedrin (a ruling body composed of both Sadducees and Pharisees) leveled against Christ for preaching the WORD of His Father on earth. His accusers felt that peace was on earth until He (Jesus Christ) came on earth to save mankind from sins.

    The Truth Shall Set You Free
    Each time issues concerning the injustices done to African Liberians are being discussed, benefactors of the system go on the defense, and will accuse African Liberians of practicing tribalism or ‘pushing up fire’. If any group in Liberia is tribalistic, the Americo-Liberian tribe is the architect; because for 133 (up to 1980) years, they were the ones who held to power by tribalistic means.
    We do not seek vengeance; that belongs to the Lord; we do not take matters into our own hands, we simply look to God to vindicate us in His own time and in His own way; praying this way affirms our confidence in God’s ultimate justice. Whether now or later, the truth will win out and hidden evils will be exposed. David prayed many such prayers against his enemies (Psalms 35 and 109).

    Conclusion
    In the Foreword to Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, President Barack Obama wrote: [Mandela’s] “example helped awaken me to the wider world, and the obligation that we all have to stand up for what is right. Through his choices, Mandala made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – this we could do our part to seek the world as it should be”.
    So as a youth, I too was awaken by the injustices I saw and experienced in Liberia and I promised the Almighty God that up to my last breath, I will seek justice for those who are denied it, especially, the Liberian people by their leaders since the founding of the country. Therefore, no one will ever persuade me from doing that which is RIGHT.

    Cultural Explanation of Word Kwii
    The word Kwii which is used to describe a so-called civilized person is derived from the Klao (Kru), Grebo and the Bassa languages. The original meaning for Kwii – is “spirit”. The word Kwii was later corrupted as a result of African Liberians’ interaction with the Settlers and European missionaries. Today, it is used to refer to a white person or a so-called civilized person. Kwii is plural, while KU is singular. KU means DEAD in Klao; add “Menmen” to Ku, becomes DEAD PERSON in the Klao (Kru) Language. It is a general belief held by the Klao, Grebo, and the Bassa ethnic groups that “White People” are our dead ancestors who had been reincarnated. According to our oral history, when our people die, they go behind the sea to live, and they remained there under the sea. And by living too long under the sea, their skin turned white.
    This Klao/Kru, Grebo, and Bassa live along the Atlantic Ocean; made their living as fishermen and some of them worked as stevedores on European ships. Legend has it that their ancestors who live under the sea provided them protection. So, when they encountered the first white people, they thought their dead ancestors had reincarnated.

     

     Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is a founding member the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Inc., and its 11th President (1986-1988). He is the historian of the organization; former vice chair & chair of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. Elder Nyanseor is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Also, he is a poet, Griot, journalist, a cultural, social and political activist. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is now on the market. His upcoming book: WROH: The Heart of the Matter consists of selected articles, stories and poems will soon be published. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com. 

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    Jonathan Paye-Layleh’s Legitimate Fears http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/04/15/jonathan-paye-laylehs-legitimate-fears/ Sun, 15 Apr 2018 16:29:02 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4947 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh           

     

    There are historical precedents of intimidation, verbal abuse, physical abuse of journalists and the death of a journalist who was killed on the job in Liberia.

    One of the fatal stories of a journalist who was assassinated as he was doing his job occurred in the 1980s when Charles Gbeyon was allegedly ordered killed by President Samuel Kanyon Doe, for asking the dictator a question. 

    As it was in the Gbeyon case in 1985, Paye-Layleh in 2018 also asked a sitting president a question. And as it turned out, Paye-Layleh was met with a barrage of unexpected pushback from a very sensitive and intolerant President Weah, who did not hesitate to intimidate him.

    However, in Mr. Doe’s cowardly mind, it was unwise and even contemptuous for this working young journalist to ask the very powerful Liberian president a question, which meant public execution. 

    The intimidation, imprisonment, harassment, and death of Liberian journalists did not stop with President Samuel Kanyon Doe; but continued with government officials who will not hesitate to use their muscular authority to silence journalists. 

    Remember the legendary Albert Porte and the incomparable Tuan Wreh? Both men had their own run-in with Presidents William V. S. Tubman and William R. Tolbert, Jr. 

    Tuan Wreh’s groundbreaking book, “The Love of Liberty” chronicled Tubman’s repressive 27-year rule; and was openly opposed to Mr. Tubman’s grip on power for which he was tortured and jailed without trial for 131 days. 

    The energizer Albert Porte was fearless, and his legendary activism is forever etched into our collective consciousness.
    We are forever grateful to Albert Porte and Tuan Wreh and other men and women who followed in their footsteps to bring Liberia to where it is today in its rocky journey to democracy and the rule of law. 

    However, as far as I can remember – from the days of the autocratic William V. S. Tubman to the days of Tolbert, Doe, Taylor, and even Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian journalists have never been safe, and they better know what they write or say, else, there will be harsh consequences for doing their job.

    In 2002, journalist Hassan Bility of the Analyst, a frequent critic of the government, was arrested and jailed for months on trump-up charges of attempting to assassinate President Charles Taylor.

    In 2007, the late Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis threatened to imprison journalists for committing such “infractions” for misspelling his name, and giving him wrong and inappropriate titles, and “attaching his photos to stories that have nothing to do with him in their papers”

    In 2011 Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa was arrested on contempt of court charges when his newspaper published a reader’s letter to the editor accusing then-Supreme Court Justice Gladys Johnson of bias in a criminal case.

    In 2016, journalist Philipbert Brown was arrested and jailed for libel on the orders of a civil law court when his paper published an interview about a teenage girl who was allegedly raped in 2013 by lawmaker Prince Moye.

    In 2016, journalist Festus Poquie was arrested by plainclothes officers for republishing a story in the New Democrat’s that quoted a political opponent of Equatorial Guinea’s dictatorial president Teodoro Obiang as alleging the president is a cannibal.

    Also, in 2016, journalist Wremongar Joe of radio station Prime FM was beaten by three unknown men, after he refused their request that he delete a video of a brawl between a lawmaker and spectators during a football match.

    These are some of the unfortunate stories (there are many, many more stories) of Liberian journalists who were either intimidated and imprisoned for doing their job, a reminder that in Liberia, the wages of daring to be a journalist is dangerous.

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh committed a ‘crime’ in Liberia against President George Weah when he asked the powerful and undisputed Liberian leader a question that (I guess) embarrassed him so much that he had to vent his displeasure publicly.

    According to Paye-Layley’s open letter, he asked President Weah whether he (Weah) was willing to do what Human Rights Watch had asked him to do – that is to create a space for victims of the civil war to face their alleged perpetrators.

    This is a legitimate question, especially at a time when the Liberian people are demanding that President Weah put his weight and skyrocketing influence behind the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia, to seek justice for the dead and their countless living relatives who are still in excruciating pains over the senseless deaths of their friends and relatives.

    Knowing the chilling history between journalists and government officials in Liberia, it is not insane for Jonathan Paye-Layley, who is BBC and AP Monrovia Correspondent, to raise the specter that his life is in danger after President George Weah said publicly that Paye-Layleh depicted a ‘positive image of the carnage of the war’ and “was one person against him” during his (Weah’s) days as a human rights advocate.

    First of all (1), I am unaware of George Weah ever being a Human Rights advocate, and (2) with all the problems in Liberia facing his fledgling administration, is this issue with Paye-Layley serious enough that it requires his attention?

    Really, Weah?

    This is as petty as it gets.

    And instead of Weah dabbling in such profound pettiness, all he needed to do was to answer the question before him. Instead, he fumes like a child and brings back the past to intimidate this journalist and other journalists.

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh did the right thing when he took his complaint or concerns about Weah to a global audience. Paye-Layleh also did the right thing when he decided to leave the country fearing for his life.

    Liberia is a country where impunity reigns, and there is no rule of law.

    The public execution of journalist Charles Gbeyon allegedly by President Doe, and the mysterious and unsolved death of Harry A. Greaves, Jr., during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, is a constant reminder of our own vulnerabilities as activists, opinion writers, and journalists.

    By intimidating a journalist publicly, and shutting down or threatening to shut down the office of FrontPage Africa, President Weah shows that his administration is just as intolerant and undemocratic as his predecessors.

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    konnte nicht geladen werden!/feed The Liberian Dialogue http://theliberiandialogue.org Serving you since 2002. Credible. Compelling. Consistent. Provocative. Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:41:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians? http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/08/10/what-is-july-26-celebration-to-americo-liberians-indigenous-liberians/ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/08/10/what-is-july-26-celebration-to-americo-liberians-indigenous-liberians/#respond Fri, 10 Aug 2018 22:41:18 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4992 By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.  

       

    Seal proposed by J Patrick Flomo to the Dunn Commission in 2016.

     

    I was born on July 22nd (1947), four days short of being born on Independence Day, July 26th. It is a “Big Holiday” second to Christmas celebration in Liberia. Had I been born on Independence Day, I would have been named by my Bassa side of the family as “Twenty-six”. But that did not stop some of my Bassa relatives from referring to me as “Centene” (Centennial); because I was born on the 100 Anniversary of the independence of Liberia. My sister Jugbeh Menia Nyanseor almost suffered a similar fate. She was born on December 1st, a day established to honor Matilda Newport. If it was not for our mother’s intervention,     her name would have been MATILDA, that’s how many of us got these Kwii (civilized) names.

    Liberia, my country of birth is fond of replacing tribal names of places and persons with names like Compounds Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3 in Grand Bassa County; including traditional leaders names such as: Bassa King Kadasie (Bob Gray); Bassa King Zolu Duma (King Peter); Mandingo King Sao Boso (Chief Boatswain), etc.

    July 26 is celebrated by Liberians at home and throughout the world with picnic-like feasts, formal programs with guest speakers, fundraising activities, and dinner climaxed with a “Grand March” (dance). The celebration featured ‘who’s who’ in these communities.

    While writing this article, I came across several Liberians who professed to know Liberian History. However, to my surprise I found out they know very little about African History; and for that matter, world history. Some of them blamed the current problems of Liberia on the Progressives who advocated for democracy, human rights and social justice in the 70s and the 80s. I find their arguments quite interesting! Their line of argument is similar to the Jewish High Priests of the Sanhedrin’s accusation brought against Jesus and his Twelve Disciples of causing trouble for speaking the truth that changed the corrupt world of the day. The French aristocrats accused the Black Jacobins led by Toussaint L’Ouverture of Haiti for freeing the slaves from the French oppressors. This is a classic case of blaming the victim!

    Critical Thinking
    This July 26 holiday, I would like to know if Liberians who celebrate the Independence Day truly understand the purpose of the celebration. I did so by conducting a survey that included ‘one-on-one conversations along with questions. The respondents were Liberians from all backgrounds who were asked to explain their understanding of the purpose or historical significance of the July 26 Independence Day holiday. My topic for this exercise is: “What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians?” In order to truly arrive at the proper understanding by both groups, I decided to ask them the following questions:

    1. From what country or organization did Liberia receive independence?
    2. With whom did the Settlers’ fight to gain their independence?
    a) Was it America, the American Colonization Society (ACS)?
    b) Or was it the Indigenous tribes?
    3. Were the Indigenous tribes included in the Declaration of Independence written by Hilary Teage; if not, why were they not included?
    4. What does July 26th mean to the tribal people?

    A question like ‘Question Number 4’ was addressed by Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in his speech titled: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

    “…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

    “Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as a hart.”

    “But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity, and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were an inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin!…

    I similarly ask the question, as Frederick Douglass queried, “What is the July 26th
    Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians” to find out what Liberians think about the holiday. The general response, to my surprise, left me with the feeling that ‘ignorance of history’ is an illness that can be cured only with an education based on the true history. If not, individuals or groups will continue to pass on false narratives like mechanical robots.

    Respondents’ Answers
    Here are some of the answers provided by the respondents from my one-on-one conversations. A few of them said: “My man, why are you asking such a question about 26 when you know very well that is our country’s Independence Day? Even babies born today know the answer!” Another said to me, “Nyanseor, what are you going to do with the answer?” To which I said I only want to know your opinion about the day! In summary, the majority of the respondents felt it is a holiday that patriotic Liberians celebrate. What really surprised me was most of them did not see anything wrong with celebrating the holiday. In fact, no one saw the July 26 celebration as only for the Settlers.

    Myths and History
    From here on, let me make it indisputably clear that those of us who advocate correcting wrongs done in the past, and even today; do so NOT to change history; rather it is to correct injustices done to a group of people by those who held power and where those injustices violated the human and civil rights of others. However, due to continued advocacy throughout the world for justice, we are witnessing, for example, the amending of unjust laws such as removing Confederate flags, statues and renaming parks in the United States. Another case in point is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League (NFL), who started a protest which was joined by other players to take a knee when the U.S. National Anthem is being played — a protest due to extrajudicial lynching and other injustices against African-Americans and other racial minorities.

    According to historian Richard Poe, (World) “History was designed to justify European domination;” and a similar case can be made that Liberian history (Settlers) was written to promote antebellum southern plantation culture and religious heritage without regards to the indigenous population (natives) who first occupied the land.

    As is evident, Liberia’s social and political systems are carbon copies of America. The sad thing about it is that subsequent governments continue to maintain these divisive practices that make it difficult or impossible for Liberians to unite due to the European racist Christian origin upon which country was established. The so-called ‘Father of the Nation,” Hilary Teage and leaders of the infant colony are responsible for this divide. How could one who suffered indignities of exclusion under the Constitution of the United States write a Declaration of Independence for Liberia which then excludes the country’s indigenous people? The document reads:

    “We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally the inhabitants of the United States of America. In some parts of that country, we were debarred by law from all the rights and privileges of men in other parts, a public sentiment more powerful than law frowned us down.

    We were everywhere shut out from all civil office. We were excluded from all participation in the government. We were taxed without our consent. We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection. We were made a separate and distinct class and against us, every avenue to improvement was officially closed.

    Strangers from all lands of a different color from ours were preferred before us. We uttered our complaints but they were unattended to or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country. All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety abroad for some asylum from the deep degradation.

    The West coast of Africa was the place selected by American benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond those influences, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges and exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind”.

    A more inclusive ‘Declaration of Independence’ could have been written to unite both groups. Instead, the Settlers copied the racist practices of their former slave masters to the exclusion of the Indigenous tribes in the Declaration of Independence written by Teage. Yet, they are portrayed by Liberian (Settlers) historians as Christians and humanitarians.

    Falsehood and myth played a misleading role in recording and passing on history. According to Arthur R. Thompson: “History is not only ‘written by the victors,’ but by ‘the ignorant,’ ‘the biased,’ and ‘the devious.’ …To the Victor Go the Myths and Monuments.”

    In the book, To the Victor Go the Myths & Monuments: The History; of the First 100 Years of the War Against God and the Constitution, 1776-1876, and Its Modern Impact, Thompson stated further:
    “History can also be restricted to selected portions of the true story because of an author’s bias, his agenda, or because he is serving the agenda of others. A history in which facts are deliberately ignored or in which the author creates “facts” distorts the true picture of past events. Such distortions, built up over time, can have deadly effects on a people and on nations. As George Orwell (whom the author quotes on the title page) put it many years ago, “The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

    I intend to prove how Thompson’s statement applied to the history written from the perspective of the Settlers of Liberia. To support my point, I draw from eminent historian Dr. John Henrik Clarke’s description of history. To him:
    “History is the clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography…history tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most importantly, an understanding of history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.”

    That being the case, we in Liberia were taught FALSE history (one-sided). The history we were taught in Liberia promoted ONLY the Settlers’ activities. They did so as if the TRIBES were invisible or never existed. Let me cite here an account of an outsider.

    An Outsider’s View
    David Lamb, author of The Africans in his description the early history of Liberia. He writes:
    “The new settlers adopted the only desirable lifestyle they knew – that of the antebellum whites who had ruled them – and they turned the sixteen indigenous tribes into an underprivileged majority, referring to them until the 1950s as ‘aborigines’. The pioneers and their ‘Americo-Liberian’ descendants became a black colonial aristocracy. They controlled the commerce, ran the government and sent their sons abroad to be educated. The men wore morning coats and top hats, drank bourbon, joined the Masons… They passed on to their children their American names such as Christian Maxwell, George Browne, and Barton Bliss – army’s chief of staff in the late 1960s was General George Washington – and a member of their True Whig Party was as conservative as any Southern Republican back in the United States.

    “Even today, urban Liberia seems more like William Faulkner’s South than Africa. The official currency is the U.S. dollar bills used in New York or Chicago – though they are faded and wrinkled and long were taken out of circulation by American banks. Policemen wear summer uniforms discarded by New York City Police Department, and townships have names such as Louisiana, New Georgia and Maryland. On Sundays, when the strip joints on Broad Street and Gurley streets in Monrovia are closed, American gospel music fills the radio stations, and the accents in the packed Baptist Church on Center Street are distinctly Deep South.

    “For a long time, Africans poked fun at Liberia, disparaging it for adopting attitudes and importing values, not in keeping with African tradition.” (David Lamb, The Africans, New York: Vintage Books, 1987, pp. 124-125).
    Mr. Ossie Davis, an African-American who was assigned to the all-black 25th Station Hospital stationed in Liberia at Robertsfield during World War II, made the following observation:

    “The Americo-Liberians, black though they were, tended to live like Europeans or Americans, and that surprised me. They had new cars; they regularly sent their children off to Europe or America to college, and they fraternized with their peers at Firestone. They seldom mixed with the natives, with whom I had already bonded, who were authentic Africans and much more fun. I was not only uneasy with the class conflict I felt was brewing in Liberia, I was disturbed by it. But most of the soldiers on the post were not. They, too, quite easily, took to treating all the natives, not as brothers and comrades, but like servants, in much the same way white folks treated black folks down in Georgia.

    “This arrogance disturbed me, too, and I began to entertain a horrible suspicion. For most of my life, I had believed that black folks were in many ways morally superior to white folks, especially in our dealings with each other. I was profoundly disappointed that the Americo-Liberians, the children of slaves themselves, would come to Africa and behave as if they themselves were the slaveholders now” (Davis, Ossie & Dee, Ruby (2000). With Ossie And Ruby In This Life Together). New York, U.S.A.

    There is this account by a noted Liberian historian, Abayomi Karnga. In 1923, he classified the status divisions among Liberians into four distinct caste systems. “At the top were the Americo-Liberian officials, consisting largely of light-complexioned people of mixed Black and White ancestry. They were followed by darker skinned Americo-Liberians, consisting mostly of laborers and small farmers. Then the recaptives, Africans who had been rescued by the U.S. Navy while aboard U.S.-bound slave ships and brought to Liberia (referred to as Congoes). The indigenous African Liberians were at the bottom of the hierarchy. These divisions led to de facto segregation amongst the various groups, specifically affected were the indigenous population.” (Donald A Ranard, editor, Liberians: An Introduction to their History and Culture, Culture Profile No. 19, April 2005).

    President Arthur Barclay’s Native Plan
    President Arthur Barclay had a ‘Native Plan’ with certain requirements and qualifications that an indigenous person had to meet before he or she could be accepted as a citizen of Liberia. These requirements were:
    “The willingness of applicants to qualify for Liberian citizen by adopting the Christian faith, Western living conditions, and Western standards of conduct, dress, and general appearance. An African, in effect, would have to detach himself from his own customs by completely accepting the Americo-Liberian set of values. Citizenship and voting rights might then follow.” (Gershoni, Yekutiel (1985) Black Colonialism: The Americo-Liberian Scramble for the Hinterland, 1985, pp. 37-38).

    It was based on these requirements and conditions the indigenous population was allowed to become citizens in their own land. Citizenship was extended to them in 1904; 57 years after independence.

    Liberia Had False Start
    Someone once said ‘anything that had a false start has the tendency to remain in a false state’. Perhaps, this is the curse that is haunting Liberia. The history of Liberia had a false start and, I find, a painful similarity between Lord Macaulay, an Englishman, and Hilary Teage who wrote Liberia’s Declaration of Independence.
    On February 2, 1835, Lord Macaulay addressed the British Parliament on how to deal with African people.

    Find below excerpts of his address:
    “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

    I cannot help but conclude that Hilary Teage might have gotten some of the racist divides from Lord Macaulay’s address to the British Parliament which served as the basis of the Settlers’ treatment of the Indigenous people of Liberia.

    It was in 1835 that Lord Macaulay came up with the ‘racist proposal’ on how to treat Africans. In the same 1835, Teage became secretary for the colony. Four years (1839) later, “he became clerk of the convention that presented the settlers’ positions to the American Colonization Society (ACS) regarding constitutional reforms …He was later an instrumental figure at the Constitutional Convention of 1847 – representing Montserrado County – in both debating and ratifying Liberia’s constitution, and wrote the country’s Declaration of Independence. Although Teage, in 1853, was the country’s first Secretary of State after Liberia declared independence, he served as attorney general as well.”

    He established the nation’s first newspaper known as Liberia Herald. He used the newspaper as a platform to advocate for independence. Teage knew what he was doing when he wrote the Declaration of Independence that excluded the Indigenous population. I believe, he was a segregationist like Abraham Lincoln!
    It was based on a philosophy of segregation, the Settlers referred to themselves as Americo-Liberians; took on the behavior of their slave masters; ran the country as their personal property. Everything in the country was named to honor them. For example, a mountain was named Finley; rivers, cities, counties, national symbols, honors, monuments, etc. How then can the celebration of July 26 Independence Day be meaningful to the tribal people?

    Failure to form a more perfect union
    For a moment, let us take a look at Hilary Teage within a historical context as it relates to his role in establishing the nation of Liberia. Teage and the leadership of the Settlers missed a golden opportunity to have established a united nation. Instead, they chose the racist European colonial approach, Master-Servant: subjugating the Indigenous population to the position of servants in their own native land.

    I agree Hilary Teage made tremendous contributions to the Republic of Liberia, but his contributions benefited to the larger extent the Settlers and not the Indigenous people. Until this missed opportunity is accepted, I find it difficult to celebrate and even glorify Teage’s contributions. Teage and leaders of the colony had the opportunity to ‘form a perfect union’, but failed.

    On this 171st anniversary of ‘Liberia’s Independence’, instead of Liberians of diverse backgrounds coming together to find solutions to the reason(s) we are still divided or questioning the philosophy of Hilary Teage’s who is credited with the divide, his colonial legacy is being promoted. There is something wrong with this picture. Although, there have been some improvements between the Settlers and the Natives’ relationship, much has not been done in these 171 years. The little that has been achieved is not enough to warrant the continued glorifying of the Settlers’ contributions when those of Clan Chief Madame Suakoko (Suacoco), Chief ‘Wonderful’ Juah Seyon Nimene (Nimley), or Didwho Welleh Twe (D. Twe), and others roles are assigned to the dustbin of history.

    In the stage play titled, “Citizen Teage: A Historical Drama,” Mr. Owusu Dahnsaw, the actor who plays Hilary Teage states: Every Liberian has a lot to learn from Hilary Teage. It is outstanding and outclasses all stage performances I have ever acted in. It is in a class of its own totally …It is intriguing, informative, emotionally enticing and renewing. Hilary Teage was a great example of what it means to be a citizen. He was a servant-leader.”
    Really???
    There is the tendency to accuse those of us who speak of the pregnant problems of Liberians with passion as practicing tribalism or ‘pushing up fire’. I honestly believe by presenting and discussing these issues in the open will free our people from historical amnesia.

    Efforts Made In The Past To Unite Liberians Were Not Genuine
    I believe efforts made in the past were not genuine. Leaders of the country did not make fundamental changes to resolve the age-old conflict between the two major groups; the Americo-Liberians and the “Natives.” Yet, succeeding governments of Liberia continue to repeat similar mistakes by enacting policies that benefit those who trace their ancestral roots to North America, some through receptive Africans, emigrants from the Caribbean, and other African countries — specifically, West Africa — at the expense of the vast majority— indigenous African Liberians.

    For example, William V.S. Tubman’s policy of “Unification and Integration” was nothing more than an extension of the cult of the presidency and Monrovia rule and dominance over the hinterland. No real changes were made after the death of Tubman. William R. Tolbert continues Tubman’s policy but added his, such as “Total Involvement for Higher Heights” or “Mat-to-Mattress”, which were mere window dressing, immersed more in rhetoric than in reality. Under Tolbert, the socio-economic gap widened. While he preached “Total Involvement”, the country’s wealth and power remained concentrated in the hands of a few families, friends, and the Americo-Liberian elite. Since the system did not undergo any major change, Samuel K. Doe came up with his version of the rhetoric, “In the cause of the people” by providing for his ethnic Krahn members with positions and power; while Taylor and Bryant followed the path of what in Liberian parlance, we refer to as “What Monkey see, Monkey do”; a tradition of accumulating power and wealth for personal use. As for Ellen, she did more harm than all the presidents “put together.” . . . and if Weah does not cut his ties from Ellen and company, his downfall will come soon.

    History makes strange bedfellows! With the passage of time, the elites – many of whom are indigenous Liberians have failed to depart from Liberia’s ugly tradition – the master-servant relationship brought over from the antebellum south. As the result, several opportunities have been missed to change the system. The failures which eventually led to 1980 overthrowing of the True Whig Party oligarchy, and subsequently brought about the civil wars, are still intact. “It is new wine in old bottles.”

    This brings me to ask the question: What is the purpose of July 26 Independence Day National Orations when these orators’ recommendations are not given serious consideration? These orators can be classified into two categories: the first group consists of speakers who regurgitate the same old one-sided scripted history without making any meaningful recommendations; whereas, the second group engages in indisputable evaluation of Liberian history, leadership, and government policies as they impact the people, and go on to suggest ways they can be improved. Yet, nothing is done about the recommendations offered. As a result, the entire exercise is useless and a waste of resources.

    National Awards
    Other areas of concern are Liberia’s National Awards and the Liberian National Anthem. The awards are named only in honor of the Pioneers! None are named in honor of the Indigenous tribes. For example, the highest award, “The Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers with the Grade of Grand Cordon”, etc., is awarded each year. Descendants of Indigenous Liberians cannot continue to celebrate July 26 Independence Day each year accepting awards that do not recognize the Indigenous people’s contributions. The National Anthem is another area of concern. The tribal people cannot continue to sing the National Anthem that makes reference only to the struggle of the Settlers. But every July 26 Independence Day, National Orator takes “good for nothing pride” in repeating so-called achievements such as:

    “We were at the founding of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, now African Union, and hosted its annual meeting in 1979. We were at the founding of the African Development Bank. We inspired the formation of the Mano River Union and the Economic Community of West African States. It was President William V. S. Tubman who proposed an Economic Union of West Africa.

    “A beacon of black self-government, we did battle alongside with black brothers in South Africa to dismantle the gargoyle of Apartheid. We were a haven for peoples all over Africa: Sudanese, Ethiopians, Gambians, Ghanaians and many more even long before they opened their doors to our people fleeing the collapse of our nation-state…” (Tweah)
    How can most of the orators continue to mention what Liberia has done for others when at home there is a practice of black apartheid — the division between the Settlers and the Indigenous population? Yet, we pretend it is not a serious problem! What is more disturbing is that the political and economic systems continue to give
    exclusive rights and privileges to a few at the expense of the rest of the society. This practice has undermined economic growth, replaced it with never-ending poverty, social injustice, discrimination, oppression ridden by greed, and corruption for the sole attainment of ill-gotten material wealth for a select few.

    Correctly so, we have had national indigenous leaders, including presidents. Currently, we have an indigenous president who is from Grand Kru County. Nothing, however, has changed significantly in terms of the political system and structure. Fundamental change is not possible if the system that creates the problems remains in place; it becomes like “putting new wine in old bottle”.

    This brings us to the troublesome issue of our country’s National Motto: “The Love Of Liberty Brought Us Here”. J. Patrick Flomo makes a good argument why the symbols should be revisited. According to him, “A motto is considered an apothegm, adopted as a guiding principle or the summarization of the general conviction or purpose of an organized entity, whether it is a society, corporation, or social organization. Every nation has a motto; each nation’s motto defines the conscience of its people.

    The motto expresses, defines, and intertwines the collective sense of oneness and direction. Moreover, a motto seems to project an intellectual soul and conscience. For example, the American motto is, “E Pluribus Unum,” or “Out of Many, One;” the French motto is, “Liberté’, Egalite’, Fraternité’,” or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity;” the Ghana Motto is “Freedom and Justice.” These three examples express a sense of oneness and purpose for each country. Liberia’s motto seems to lack soul, conscience, or the spirit of intellectualism. Moreover, the motto expresses no sense of oneness or a collective purpose. In fact, it continues to express a divided people: the descendants of former American slaves (Americo-Liberians) and the indigenous population (natives).” (J. Patrick Flomo, “The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here” published on August 23, 2013 edition of TheLiberianJournal).

    The Civil Wars
    If history is any guide to understanding the genesis of a country’s vexed-palaver and how such major national concerns as ethnicity, reconciliation and national unity have been addressed, the Liberian experience leaves much to be desired or appreciated.

    The Civil wars have left deep scars on all of us due to the indiscriminate and ruthless nature of the perpetrators. Therefore, to find lasting solutions to the many problems we are faced with, we must do so by bringing the perpetrators to justice. Even former President Johnson Sirleaf is on record: “Our nation cannot afford to evade justice and protection of human rights throughout…That myth, mysteries, and the individualized arrogation of truth will serve no useful purpose; rather, it will reinforce divisions, suspicions, and smoldering anger.”

    The greatest challenge confronting us today is to face the truth in order to do the right thing; failure to do so will continue to haunt us into the future. As Liberians, the right thing is to correct the wrongs in the society that continue to divide us. The place to start is with our national symbols and awards. They remain roadblocks to the belief we profess: “One people under God, with Liberty and Justice for All.”

    Conclusion & Recommendations
    Today, there are calls being made in Liberia and the Diaspora to forget the past so as to reconcile our differences. There are those who go as far as to say we should forgive those that committed these heinous crimes against the Liberian people in the name of peace. Also, there are others who feel the Weah administration should concentrate on present issues and “let a sleeping dog lie”. This position brought back memories of what we were told in the late 50s and the 60s by our parents and older folks to mind our business and to “leave the people’s thing alone.”
    But I am convinced it was the culture of “leave the people’s thing alone” that led our country into the present deplorable state. This culture of a mere expression of concern about a social, economic or political issue was like committing a cardinal sin. And those that had the guts to question the ills that exist in the society were dismissed as being Cranky – a Liberian expression, which means –crazy.

    I honestly believe the past cannot be forgotten because the past gave birth to the future. To reconcile our differences, those who commit wrongs against others must confess and repent because reconciliation without confession and repentance is meaningless. In fact, reconciliation is good, but confession and repentance for doing wrong to others are better. It is regarding this approach, history serves as a constant reminder of a people’s past and present events, and without finding resolutions to our national divides such as INJUSTICE and INEQUALITY; we will not be able to achieve UNITY. Based on all of these concerns and issues, I call upon the Almighty God to touch our hearts and direct our path to do what is pleasing to Him, alone and beneficial to His people.
    Recommendations: Previous governments realized the Matilda Newport story was a myth laced with lies; therefore, the holiday (December 1st) in her honor was discontinued, including Pioneer Day; a day set aside to celebrate the arrival of Settlers.

    I recommend the following to be amended or changed:
    1. The Seal and the motto: “The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here” to be replaced by the Seal *J. Patrick Flomo presented to the D. Elwood Dunn Commission; and the motto to read: “Ku Ka Tonor”- ‘We are One’ in Kpelle.
    2. When the Liberian National Anthem was written, the Natives were not citizens, therefore, the phrase that reads: “In Union Strong, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Fail” was about the Settlers and not the Natives. It should be replaced with: “In Unity, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Fail”.
    3. Construct monuments to honor indigenous Clan Chief like Madam Suakoko, and Paramount Juah Nimely Senyon, etc.
    4. There are twelve persons who signed the Declaration of Independence, not eleven as it stated in Liberian History. It should be corrected.
    5. The name Kru should be changed in Liberian History; evidence shows that the three ethnic groups, Klao (Kru), Bassa and Grebo worked with European traders as far as 1793. They were employed as crews (laborers) on these European ships. The name KROO or KRU is derived from the word CREW. (Coombs (1993), The Black Experience in America –p. 26).
    6. Based on a story written by Rodney D. Sieh, published in FrontPage Africa on July 19, 2017:
    …In April 2008, police forcibly disbursed students of Kendeja high school, which had been demolished to make room for the hotel.

    The Kendeja Culture Center was established in the early 1960’s as a means of showcasing Liberia’s rich cultural heritage through performing arts. For years, it was the home of the Liberian National Cultural Troupe (LNCT) till 2008 when the RLJ & Companies demolished the shrine to build a hotel resort there. A year earlier, in early 2007, Johnson visited Liberia, and Johnson Sirleaf asked him to consider building a hotel.
    “Given the long historical relationship between our two countries,” Johnson was quoted by the Post, “I believe passionately that African Americans have a responsibility to support Liberia much like Jewish Americans back Israel.”

    The Sirleaf administration was instrumental in finding the site at Kendeja which was greeted by a fiery storm.
    The government through Andrew Tehmeh, an Assistant Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism(MICAT) during a 2009 visit to US, defended the move at the time by stating that the “RLJ & Companies” owner of Kendeja Hotel Resort would pay an annual fee of “US$800.000 to the government of Liberia” for a period of 50 years, beginning the year 2008, meaning the first contract is expected to end 2057, with a possibility for renewal just like the case with Liberia and the Firestone Rubber Plantation Company in Margibi.

    It is unclear whether the new management will follow through on the deal as the reported sale has been conducted under a cloud of secrecy. But in 2015, several artists from Liberia residing in the U.S. threatened to begin a legal process aimed at recovering the country’s National Cultural Shrine – Kendeja, sold to the US billionaire.
    The hotel was reportedly sold previously to a South African company a few years ago, also under a cloud of secrecy, although FrontPageAfrica has been unable to verify as management and the government has remained tight-lipped.
    The Concordia Academy based in Roseville, Minnesota has been trying to start the process by filing a petition against Johnson-Sirleaf’s government.

    James Fasuekoi, one of the advocates for the suit told FrontPageAfrica Wednesday that organizers are waiting to get the group’s next festival underway and put things together. Fasuekoi says a lot of former artists who were brought up at Kendeja including Fatu Gayflor and Tarloh Quiwonkpa have expressed their support.
    As part of an arrangement, the government agreed to build a new cultural center but that project in Boys’ Town has reportedly been abandoned…

    While the Pioneers’ Providence Island is preserved, the Indigenous people’s National Cultural Shrine was demolished in other to build a hotel resort. This is a total disregard to Indigenous Liberians by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the National Legislature. ‘The palava is NOT OVER yet’! We will soon renew our efforts by initiating a lawsuit against the Liberian government to restore our National Cultural Shrine.
    Furthermore, efforts to pursue and bring to justice perpetrators of war and economic crimes will continue until every one of them is persecuted. They have not shown any remorse whatsoever for their barbaric acts against innocent civilians; instead, they want Liberians to ignore them while they occupied decision making positions in the government and go on enjoying the wealth of the nation.

    Finally, all of us should speak with one voice to fight INJUSTICE and have the leaders of our country to make the right decisions that will benefit the entire population. I believe it can be done through the collective efforts of the citizenry. With a united front, leaders of our country will bow to our wishes; and will not ignore or deny the will of the people.

    Until these issues are fully addressed, we cannot see ourselves as part of the: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. On this note, let me close with a poem titled, Liberia, the Beautiful:
    Liberia the Beautiful
    I
    In search of freedom and liberty
    The Settlers returned
    United with their brethren
    At Cape Montserrado
    This glorious reunion
    Gave birth to Liberia
    The land of diverse people
    Like its natural resources
    So when we think of home
    We think of Liberia
    The beautiful.
    II
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    III
    In spite of the many problems
    That has hurt our national pride
    We have finally resolved
    Never again to fight one another
    Also, agreed to live together
    Under the Lone Star forever
    United in purpose
    To protect the land
    That is God given
    So when we talk about home
    We talk about Liberia
    The beautiful.
    IV
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    V
    Oh God Almighty
    Please forgive us
    For our many misgivings
    And restore our native land
    To its intended grace and beauty
    To let freedom ring
    From Cape Mount to Cape Palmas
    And throughout Cape Montserrado
    For the land so sacred
    And dear to us
    To be at peace forever
    And remain a national monument
    For us to love, cherish
    And protect.
    VI
    Oh home, sweet home
    Of thee, we sing these praises!
    To the land both old and young
    But yet indivisible
    Where the love of liberty
    Will unite all of our people
    For in complete unity
    Our progress is assured
    For our land of beauty
    And pride for which we long
    Long live Liberia, the beautiful
    Forever and ever!
    Copyright © August 19, 1985, Siahyonkron Nyanseor – All Rights Reserved.
    Gweh Feh Kpeh (the Struggle Continues!). 

    I remain a Progressive today, tomorrow and forever!
    Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr. is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 45 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially, the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Mr. Nyanseor is the Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine that was established in June 1996. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his current book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is on the market. He can be reached at siah1947@gmail.com

    Recommended Readings to Acquaint Readers with Liberia’s Insurmountable Issues:
    1. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The Liberian Flag, Designed or Copied?”
    ThePerspective, September 4, 2015
    2. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Putting the Matilda Newport Myth to Rest, Parts I & II”
    ThePerspective, December 1, 2003
    3. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Peace Was In Heaven Until Kru People Got There”:
    ThePerspective, February 12, 2018
    4. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The African Slave Trade: Driven By Racism, Greed and
    Economics”, Parts I & II: February 20 & 28, 2004
    5. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Colonialism is the Same Anywhere, No Matter its Many
    Disguises” ThePerspective July 3, 2018
    6. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Americo-Liberians: The 17th Tribe of Liberia, Parts I & II”
    The Liberian Dialogue, May 22, 2013
    7. Johnson, Joseph: “Liberia’s 170th Independence Day Oration, ‘Sustaining the
    Peace’” by Herman Brown, ThePerspective August 14, 2017
    8. Twe, Didwho (“D. Twe”) July 26, 1944, National Independence Day Oration at the
    Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia – Nyanseor’s Archive
    9. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Elements of Permanent Influence” Discourse
    Delivered in the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.,
    February 16, 1890 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    10. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “Liberia as She is; and the Present Duty of her Citizens”,
    An Independence Day Address given in Monrovia, July 27, 1857 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    11. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Three Needs of Liberia”, Lecture Delivered in
    Grand Bassa County, January 26, 1908 – Nyanseor’s Archive
    12. Karnga, Abayomi Wilfrid (1926). History of Liberia. Virginia: Publisher D. H. Tyte
    13. Taryor, Sr., Nya Kwiawon (1985). Justice, Justice: A Cry of My People. Chicago, ILL,
    U.S.A.: Strugglers’ Community Press
    14. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Liberian Supreme Court And Legislature: ‘Bulldogs
    With No Teeth’, Globe Afrique, December 23, 2017
    15. Lindberg, Tod (2007). The Political Teachings of Jesus. New York, NY: HarperCollins
    Publishers
    16. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Continuing Liberia’s Ugly Past”, ThePerspective September 14,
    2017
    17. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron (2014). TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut. Providence, RI:
    Kiiton Press
    18. Tipoteh, Togba-Nah (1981). Democracy, the Call of the Liberian People: The Struggle for
    Economic Progress and Social Justice in Liberia During the 1970s. Monrovia, Liberia:
    Publisher, Susukuu Corporation
    19. Fahnbulleh, H. Boima (2004). Voices of Protest: Liberia on the Edge, 1974 – 1980.
    United Kingdom: Universal-Publisher, Inc.

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    President George Weah’s Uncommunicative and Unaccountable Style is Not Leadership. It is Arrogance http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/09/president-george-weahs-uncommunicative-and-unaccountable-style-is-not-leadership-it-is-arrogance/ Mon, 09 Jul 2018 17:45:56 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4988 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh               

     

    The story is the same about hardship in Liberia.

    It is not getting better in Liberia, and it doesn’t matter who is President of that country, either.

    When you think there is hope because of a new administration, you are deceiving yourself to have that overwhelming sense of optimism of a better and prosperous life in Liberia.

    Truth is, it is not worth living or even raising a child or owning a dog in Liberia, because it is too difficult to live in Liberia.

    See, when a new administration comes in (like the Weah administration), there is hope that the new administration will surpass the good deeds of the last administration, to make life and living conditions better for the citizens.

    Since the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration failed miserably to lift the Liberian people out of poverty in twelve years, and left the Liberian people with a heinous legacy of evil and massive corruption, and did not improve their living conditions, does that mean that Mr. Weah cannot do better through competent, effective and compassionate leadership to prove to his critics that he is not Madam Sirleaf? 

    However, from one administration to the other, we’ve heard the same sad stories about the country’s bad, corrupt and ineffective leaders, about the lack of jobs, about abject poverty, about hopelessness, about rampant and uncontrollable public-sector corruption, about hunger, and underdevelopment.

    With these chronic historical issues starring incessantly at the citizenry, members of society or individuals of voting age can decide how to vote for a particular candidate based on those issues.

    During the last presidential election that brought George Weah to power, however, most voters did not vote on pocketbook and survival issues and care less about what the next president will do for them and their country.

    Instead, voters romanticized George Weah former football exploits – his dribbling and scoring abilities, not governance – so much that they didn’t bother to ask him questions, and he did not care to answer serious questions about the country’s problems and how he intended to tackle those problems when he’s elected President of Liberia.

    Weah traveled around the country and the world awaiting the presidency to be given to him as if it was an inheritance from his parents.

    At least, had voters and the press asked Mr. Weah tough questions about his plans for Liberia during the campaign, we all would have known his positions on these issues.

    As it is now, Liberians are stuck with Weah’s trademark reticence on key national issues.

    The national issues that Weah failed to address are enormous. And there is a need for this President (Weah) and other Liberian Presidents to be accountable to the Liberian people.

    Why will a government think about borrowing money when its own house is not in order – when there is no accountability, and when public-sector corruption is high as it is in Liberia?

    Any lesson learned from the NOCAL experience?

    Even before the crippling high inflation issue became a national topic, Liberians were required to use the so-called Liberian currency to transact business, while government officials were using U.S. dollars to travel out of the country and do their own business transactions.

    Why will a national government not have confidence in its own currency but expects its citizens to use it to transact business?

    High inflation and the nation’s worthless currency issue deserves a policy speech from the President to the nation. Healthcare, coastal erosion, education, students failing the recent national exam on a massive scale, and the recent mass demonstration by university students, also deserves the president’s attention and a policy speech with a roadmap that spells out how his administration will solve these issues.

    A policy speech from President Weah to the nation to also address the loan, war crimes court in Liberia, Woewiyu’s indictment and conviction, and many other national issues, will be uplifting.

    Mr. Weah’s uncommunicative style is not leadership. It is arrogance.

    Mr. Weah, please say something!

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    Woewiyu’s (War) Crimes – But Is He Alone? http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/05/woewiyus-war-crimes-but-is-he-alone/ Thu, 05 Jul 2018 13:38:53 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4983 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh      

     

    Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, the once flamboyant spokesman of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), was found guilty on 11 charges including criminal immigration fraud and war crimes and could be spending the rest of his life in a federal prison in the United States.

    Even though he hasn’t been sentenced yet, Woewiyu faces up to 110 years in prison and a fine of $4m. And when he is sentenced in October on those 11 counts, at age 72, Woewiyu will be one of many seniors who will call home a U. S. federal prison.

    See, during the heyday of the civil war to ‘liberate’ Liberia and Liberians from the brutal hands of dictator Samuel Kanyon Doe, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu was unmatched during his tenure for his flair for the ridiculous.

    Woewiyu’s shameless utterances and unrestrained globetrotting to promote himself and his chief patron, Charles Taylor, exposed his senseless bloodletting campaign for state power, even as Liberians were murdered, maimed and raped in the name of liberation.

    Woewiyu’s self-indulging exercise did not only expose his countrymen and women to the worst form of senseless violence ever perpetrated against human beings on the Liberian soil, it left Liberians – those that are alive poor, hopeless and homeless and in perpetual pain, and took away the pride and dignity of countless other Liberians who became beggars in their own country.

    Did Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu commit these war crimes by himself?

    No.

    While it is so true that Charles Taylor, Chucky Taylor, Mohammed Jabbateh, and George Boley were put on trial in the United States, convicted, and either jailed or deported to Liberia for their roles in the Liberian civil war, a key co-conspirator, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who rode to fame for her fierce opposition to Samuel Kanyon Doe and her involvement in the civil war, is untouchable.

    Woewiyu’s 2005 “Open Letter to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf,” which is a treasure of information is available on this website for anyone wishing to know Madam Sirleaf’s deep role in the Liberian civil war.

    However, Woewiyu’s 2005 letter showed that Madam Sirleaf wasn’t an innocent bystander or an angel who was praying for the war to end so that Liberians will not be raped, maimed and die. The letter chronicled Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s full involvement in the planning, financing, recruiting and implementing stages of the civil war.

    Woewiyu writes: (an excerpt).

    “Preparation for Invasion”
    “ My first trip to the Ivory Coast to meet with Charles Taylor, Harry Yuan, Moses Duopu and others to assess the level of military plan of action for the purpose of removing Doe was sponsored by you and others in the wake of the failed Quinwonkpa coupe in which you played a major role. At the time, you were personally supporting Harry Yuan in the rapid re-recruitment of his fellow Nimbaians and Clarence Simpson was supporting Moses Duopu, the late Counselor Gbaydiah and others in the Ivory Coast to launch another armed attack on the Doe Regime following the botched Quinwonkpa coupe.”

    Only Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, a key participant in the planning of the civil war, could have known details as thorough as he wrote in this breathtaking open letter to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

    This is the kind of letter or testimony you get in court from a witness or a co-conspirator who is so unhappy with his or her partner that the individual wants to say it all to get a minimized break from prosecution.

    To prosecute Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her role in the civil war, Woewiyu’s Open (and detailed) Letter to Madam Sirleaf must be corroborated and be a key source for prosecutors, who must take on this woman to not be seen as scapegoating Woewiyu and being selective in the prosecution of Liberian war criminals.

    Liberians are thankful to the United States and the Europeans for prosecuting these war criminals, a feat George Weah has been aimlessly dribbling around like a football since he became President of Liberia.

    Woewiyu did not commit these war crimes all by himself. Other co-conspirators including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf must be arrested and put on trial, to give credence to having a war crimes court in Liberia.

    There is a need for a war crimes court in Liberia to prosecute these criminals on Liberian soil.

    Good leaders are those individuals who will listen to the wishes and aspirations of their people, and act on them.

    Mr. George Weah, the ball is in your corner.

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    When Loyalty is paid back with Disloyalty – The Harsh Reality of Neglect: A Eulogy To Comrade Adu Dorley http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/07/01/when-loyalty-is-paid-back-with-disloyalty-the-harsh-reality-of-neglect-a-eulogy-to-comrade-adu-dorley/ Sun, 01 Jul 2018 12:48:48 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4971 By Martin K. N. Kollie     

     

    Greet comrade James Gray for us, another firebrand young soldier who was axed by death as a result of utter neglect. As we share our sentiments over your passing, say hi to Brother Gray and all conscious fighters who have been down this tragic lane. Like James who cried out for help, you too did the same during your last hours on earth.

    Neither could our poor health system save you nor those you stood up for. Your hope to remain alive was let down even by those you became so loyal to and served with utmost diligence. It is all over now. Like James Gray, your loyalty was paid back with disloyalty. This is the harsh reality of neglect. It bleeds one’s soul with anguish and grief. Weep no more and sleep on, young Adu. Your pains are over.

    Even our country’s largest referral hospital failed you. The faith you had in JFK and SOS was let down. I know you could recover if timely intervention was made to fly you out. But neglect became your closest companion in your final days. Bidding you goodbye could have been avoided. Yes, I know it could!

    But blame not your enemies, but those you considered your ‘allies’. For they too were invisible and insensitive to give you hope and reason(s) to stay alive. Even while you wrestled with death, your cry for foreign medical aid seemed immaterial to them. Probably your loyalty didn’t worth it in the opinion of your ‘allies’.

    The story would had been different if you were flown without any further delay to Ghana, South Africa, India, Kenya or USA for advanced medical care. They knew that your medical problem could not be resolved in Liberia. They knew that JFK and SOS had no answer or solution. Yet, you were taken there for treatment.

    When they were sick, they used tax-dollars to seek foreign medical care. But they were unable to do the same for you. This is the hypocrisy of those political elites you defended with every fiber of your being. It is all about them and their families. It is all about their wellbeing, and not yours. It is not about the peasants and proletarians.

    You once sought their interest, but they could not seek yours even when you needed them the most. You risked your life, image, and integrity for them but they could not risk their cash to fly you out even when you were on your dying bed in dire need.

    That’s just who they are – The hypocrites and betrayals of this dispensation and generation! They only become your true allies when you are dead and gone. They only become your allies when they need you to protect their parochial interest. But what good is it for them to post RIP on Facebook when they had every opportunity in their reach to avoid posting RIP. We give no credence to such hypocrisy and midday deception.

    Weep no more Adu. For your pains are over. When no one could come to your rescue, I know you felt betrayed like James Gray and Julius Caesar who was betrayed by Cassius and Brutus– you felt isolated, dejected and grieved. You didn’t deserve to be abandoned – not even by an establishment you fearlessly fought to create.

    Maybe your loyalty didn’t worth foreign medical care in your allies’ opinion. But it is all over now. Your loyalty has been paid back with disloyalty. Like James Gray, you too were abandoned on the lonely and harsh shores of NEGLECT. Until your demise, I learn that you kept on calling for help but no one could come to your aid.

    We cannot hide from these facts and realities. We cannot continue to march in the shadows of pretense. Because even when all of us are gone, history will still remember these harsh realities. Like James, Adu built trust in his ‘allies’ but his trust was paid back with distrust – his allegiance was paid back with abandonment – his devotion was paid back with dejection. These are the harsh realities of NEGLECT, not politics.

    Yes, Adu’s allies erred in my opinion! They had everything in their reach, including resources, to save his life. They have become unsettled by their collective guilt. But who am I to judge the living. But who am I to question the power or authority of the Deity. In his loving arms, we seek solace and comfort. Let his grace and mercy overflow.

    Young Adu has finally laid down his baton. As a fallen young soldier in arm, his voice won’t be heard anymore. The energy he had to defend his belief, ideology and allies is no more. No number of ‘RIP’, even from his ‘allies’, can bring him back.

    Weep no more because your pains are over. Sleep on comrade Adu. The time you shared with us on Carey Street specifically at CEIO will remain memorable. Often, we didn’t agree on issues but tolerance was our guiding principle upon which we cross-pollinated our thoughts and ideas.

    We’ve learned 3 basic lessons from your demise:

    1. Liberia’s ruining health sector is undependable, and offers no real hope

    2. Loyalty is paid back with disloyalty not necessarily by our enemies, but by those we usually consider our allies and friends

    3. Neglect becomes our final end when we are more loyal to people who are more disloyal to our welfare.

    Heather Brewer was scrupulously concise when she said “The worst pain in the world goes beyond physical. Even further beyond any other emotional pain one can feel. It is in the betrayal of our friends and the disloyalty of our allies.”

    As we bid you farewell, seek vengeance not against your adversaries. With lamentation, we mourn with your family, friends and love ones. Our condolences to them for this loss!

    May I now console all of us with these words “Death is our final end. Whenever it comes, we bow down powerless, choiceless, and voiceless. It ends our dream and leaves behind sad memories. Sometimes, we tend to find answer(s) for our NEGLECT even by our closest allies while traveling down this tragic lane.”

    So it is with comrade Adu Dorley – So it was with comrade James Gray. It is finally over – Your pains are now over. Sleep on in peace, young Adu. When loyalty is paid back with disloyalty, then the harsh reality of neglect sets in.

    In Swahili, I am sympathetically bidding you goodbye “Mpaka tukutane tena, usingie kwenye Adu mdogo” meaning in English “Until we meet again, sleep on young Adu.”

    Martin is a Liberian youth and student activist studying Economics at the University of Liberia. He is a columnist and an emerging Economist. He currently serves as Secretary General of the Student Unification Party.

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    CDC’s Pro-Poor Government Hut Tax Historical Amnesia http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/06/19/cdcs-pro-poor-government-hut-tax-historical-amnesia/ Tue, 19 Jun 2018 20:29:12 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4967 By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.    

     

     

    Pro-Poor Policy of a government usually targets directly poor people’s economic plight, which is due to the poverty they experienced in society. The goal of this policy is to improve their living standard. However, the Hut Tax re-introduced by the traditional Chiefs and Elders in Liberia resembles a reversed ‘Robin Hood’ – intended to TAKE (Steal) from the POOR. Whereas, the Robin Hood and his Merry Men of Sherwood Forest took from the abusive and corrupt leaders what they stole from the poor and had it returned.

    My article titled “CDC Pro-Poor Government Hut Tax’s Historical Amnesia” intents to prove that the reintroduction of the notorious and abusive hut tax system of yester year was proposed either out of ignorance of history by the traditional Chiefs and Elders, or out of pure self interest.

    According to the Daily Observer’s Nimba County Correspondent, Ishmael Menkor, the “…15 chiefs representing the Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia have agreed to the reintroduction of HUT TAX to support the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led Government’s “Pro-poor Agenda. …The elders maintained that the hut tax will enhance their participation in the promotion of government’s agenda and development initiatives. They accordingly argued that government cannot be dependent forever, ‘relying on donor support or begging all around the world for help, so in their view, it is good to bring back the collection of hut tax to back up the economy.”

    My question to these Chiefs and Elders is – how will the reintroduction of the hut tax benefit most of the poor people in rural areas; especially, when most of them live on US$1.50 a day? Or is their “…time to eat” as Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor espoused? Perhaps, the “This is our time to eat” comment is

    directed at CDiCians to get ready to receive their share of the BIG ELEPHANT MEAT as Ellen’s Unity Party government, her family and associates had their share.

    Let’s review the history and enforcement of the notorious Hut Tax that Chief Zanzan Kawor and Elders of the Liberian Council of Chiefs failed to acknowledge; either out of ignorance or were seeking favor from President Weah and his CDC Pro-Poor government.

    HUT TAX
    The Hut Tax was first instituted following the administrative reform of 1904 both as a means, on part of the central government, of imposing its writ over “hinterlanders” and “coastal indigenes,” and also as an important revenue source to sustain the newly established auxiliary interior bureaucracy. Initial, it appears, there was a tax of $1.00 per annum on each indigene domicile (hut). In the 1980’s the tax had reached $6.00 per annum per the district commissioner. Each chief received a percentage of the tax collected as his commission. The hut tax is widely viewed as one of the areas of repressive government during the first republic, for the manner in which agents of the state went about collecting constitutes flagrant violations of people’s rights. Tax collectors often accompanied by soldier of the LFF moved into villages, at times terrorizing the inhabitants in order to secure not only the taxes but to requisition food and other local products. Several months following the 1980 coup, the hut tax was abolished by the PRC, but then reportedly reinstituted the following year in modified form. [See TAX MISSION, 1970: 89; Handbook, 325] / [African Historical Dictionaries, p. 91]

    In addition, based on the Area Handbook for Liberia, “Direct money taxes known as hut, health and development taxes are collected annually from the tribal people. Levied on households on the basis of a hut rather than a head count, the taxes totaled $5 per household in the early 1960’s. Tribal communities are also officially required by the government to make annual contributions of rice that may amount to a higher value than money taxes. Informal requisitions of food by agents of the central government and members of the armed forces are common occurrences in some areas of the interior and constitute an indirect form of taxation impossible to measure.” (Area Handbook, p. 325)
    I was told of similar practices by my parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. It was a common practice for District Commissioners (DC) and members of the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF) to engage in when they traveled in the hinterland (now counties) to collect taxes and recruit laborers for government projects; such displayed brute behaviors were not unusual.
    Initially, the Armed Forces, known then as the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF) collected Hut taxes, and enforced labor policies against the “native” (indigenous) masses. On many occasions, these natives (African Liberians) were forced to carry loads for government officials for days, while their farms were left unattended and their livestock used to feed the soldiers; their wives and female daughters used as sex objects for the pleasure of these officials and soldiers.
    The novel, Red Dust on the Green Leaves by John Gay, epitomizes this reality:
    “The soldiers had come again every year to get taxes and men to work at Firestone. Flumo (Flomo) still was not sure what Firestone was, even though he knew that men who went there had to clear the ground and plant rubber trees. He also knew that when Saki went to Firestone, he did not make farm but would come back after six months or a year with little other than new clothes and gifts from the coast”.
    President Arthur Barclay too, alluded to this culture of impunity in his Inaugural Address of 1904:
    “…The militia, largely lower-class Americo-Liberians and tribal people drawn from areas other than those in which they were serving was ‘tending to become a greater danger to the loyal citizens, and his property, which it ought to protect”.
    This repressive and humiliating treatment was abolished after the coup of 1980 when the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) repealed the Hut Tax Law. This was one benefit of the PRC that the poor indigenous people considered an achievement at the time. However, the reintroduction of the Hut Tax by the chiefs and elders raised more questions than answers.
    October 15, 2016, I wrote an article which was published in The Perspective. The title of the article is: “Home, Sweet Home and The Significance of the Red Cap”. In the article I narrated a story about a Kpelle Paramount Chief called Zamgba. He was very wicked to his own people. This paramount chief was a very powerful dictator. With the support of the Government, he exercised brute power over his people. Those of you who were around in the late 50s into the early 60s might have heard the popular Santa Clause song regarding his abusive behavior towards the Kpelle people. The chorus of the song goes like this: “Zamgba die, Kpelle people put on shoes; Zamgba die, Kpelle people put on shoes.” Legend has it that because he wore shoes, he did not allow his people to do the same.
    Paramount Chief Zamgba had a partner who possessed similar characters like him. This partner of his was commonly referred to by officials of the Government as Chief Buzzy. Buzzy was chief of the Lorma tribe from Lofa Country. Chief Buzzy joined with the Liberian Government to ‘put down the rebellion and resistance from the coastal tribes’. He too, was powerful and dictatorial. These two chiefs joined forces with the Government to collect Hut Tax by whatever means they deemed necessary, including fighting alongside government forces to put down the so-called rebellious natives – the Klaos (Krus), Grebos and Bassas along the Atlantic Coast. Find below their method of enforcement.

    Compulsory Voluntary Recruitment Practice
    In 1926, the Government ‘picked palava’ with the hinterland tribes; specifically the Kpelles and the Lormas. This palava was not only exploitative; it was abusive to the tribal people. During this year, Industrialist Harvey Firestone of Ohio, USA, established the Firestone Plantation in Liberia. The Firestone Plantation needed workers, Paramount Chief Zamgba and Chief Buzzy were identified by the Government as the source that could be used to provide the needed laborers to plant and tap the rubber trees. Both Chiefs and the LFF got involved in what is known in Liberian history as “compulsory voluntary recruitment practice.” The Kpelles and Lormas were forcibly recruited, sometimes at gunpoint and with threats to work on the Firestone Plantations. This heartless procedure of recruiting these people to work on the Firestone Plantations provided no meaningful compensation to the people who left their own farms’ work unattended to. They were made to abandon their livelihood – their farms, to work like slaves for below minimum wages; living under poor and unacceptable working conditions.

    Due to the brute power that Chief Buzzy exercised over his people, the Government authorities inaccurately referred to the Lorma Tribe as “Buzzy people”. In fact an area in Monrovia is named as “Buzzy Quarter” in honor of Chief Buzzy. This area is located at the intersection of Camp Johnson Road, not far from Bassa Community and Capitol Hill. Today, the Lorma people resent being called Buzzy people; a vivid reminder of Chief Buzzy’s treatment of them.

    Red Cap
    These LFF soldiers wore a Red Cap that was introduced by the British Colonial authorities in Africa. The Igbo tribe of Nigeria adopted it as a symbol of authority. Also, the Red Cap is worn by the Eze (king) or Igwe and his council members and Titled Men. However, in Liberia the Red Cap was part of the official uniform of the LFF and Constables also organized by the British. It was a sign of power and authority. The LFF served as the military of the Liberian Government.

    They collected hut and head taxes from the poor native people in the interior who hardly benefited from their resources and labor. Also, they pay head tax – for having heads on their shoulders. What a dehumanizing way to treat one’s fellow human beings!
    In the book: The Mask Of Anarchy written by Stephen Ellis, he provides example of the historical, political and cultural factors of Liberia’s brutal unlawful practices against the native people. According to him:
    “In the many parts of the country, throughout its history the Liberian system of indirect rule bore the stamp of military means used to establish it in the early twentieth century. It was first established in the Liberian Army, which had a reputation of brutality and for looting, since troops largely lived off the land. In 1910 some chiefs (King Gyude and other Grebo chiefs), in the south-east of the country complained of the activities of the Liberian Frontier Force (LFF), which they termed ‘this execrable force’, and was ‘entirely mobilized’ and wherever they had been sent throughout the country – whether to Rivercess or in the hinterland – their custom has been to plunder the towns through which they pass and rape the women.”
    Liberian authorities and their Western enablers should use cautionary measures and be aware of the fact that politics does not “always” reward the best and brightest, it has the tendency to elevate the most dishonest of men who will lie and cheat without compunction; excellent example of it was found during the Tubman Administration, which was referred to as “Growth Without Development”.

    Growth Without Development
    Sanford J. Ungar, made reference to this underdevelopment in the book titled: Africa, The People and Politics of an Emerging Continent. It reads:

    “…[William V.S. Tubman] established an ‘Open door policy,’ attracting foreign capital to Liberia under unusually favorable conditions. Investors could obtain eighty-year leases for tracts of undeveloped land, and the flow of profits and dividends out of the country was not restricted. Machinery imported for industrial use was exempt from customs duty, and other taxes were low. This did little for the improvement of agriculture, and while the policy did have some beneficial effects
    in the countryside, overall it intensified the contrast between the industrialized coast and the backward Hinterland. In the long run, the open door policy produced what outside analysts (Robert W. Clower et al, Growth Without Development: An Economic Survey, 1966) called ‘growth without development’”.

    CONCLUSION
    Current events in Liberia suggests that we are heading in the wrong direction once more; a direction in which citizens do not have the right to question or challenge their elected officials to behave in accordance to the laws of the land. Groups are found everywhere, especially on ‘Face Book’ who do not have any knowledge of Liberia’s UGLY PAST, and are resuscitating the UGLY days gone by – when RESOLUTIONS to show support for the President and elected officials was the order of the day; and an accused person was considered guilty before his/her case made it to court. Are our memories failing us? If not, why we do not speak against these existing evils? Instead, we are falling back into the practice that almost brought about our demise. Why can’t we learn from our recent history?

    “The truth shall set you free” has been proven by history over and over, and no matter what the power that be attempt to do in restricting telling the truth – truth being a universal principle will remain the same today and tomorrow. Yet, there are always individuals who by choice or influence will tamper with the truth to advance their own individual interests or for those they are loyal to. They need to be told that there is nothing abstract about the truth; in the end, truth with stand the test of time.

    To be frank, Liberia does not require us to be perfect; rather it requires us to be honest with ourselves. As imperfect humans living in these perilous times, we are not immune to the wind of adversity; we have the ability to reverse the course of the wind. To do so, we must acknowledge that there is something morally wrong with us as a people. Having admitted our general fault, we are able to set-up the means by which our fault can be addressed and have our solutions become the way of life to which we are committed and never to be compromised for political favors or government positions.

    This challenge has to be met with our collective efforts in order to bring to an end the practice that have prevented our development with what we have in common as Liberians regardless of class, religion and ethnicity. This is the place to start! Seeking Truth seems to be our best option, though Truth also has consequences. For example, King Darius of Babylon enacted a new law stipulating “Whoever makes a petition to any god or man for thirty days except (the) king should be
    thrown to the lions’ pit” (Daniel 6:7-9). The law was intended to eliminate the King’s real or perceived enemies, notably Daniel. Daniel did not compromise his belief; as a result, he was thrown into the lion’s den for not obeying the new law. But Daniel’s God set him free.

    While we cannot compare ourselves to Daniel in wisdom and statute, we certainly can pursue Truth no matter how corrupt elites and their supporters might fight against our efforts; Truth, being a universal principle, will sustain us to the end. More important, we should bear in mind the fact that there will always be individuals who by choice or influence will tamper with the Truth to advance their own individual interests or the interests of those they are loyal to, not realizing that there is nothing abstract about the Truth, and that those who subscribed to corrupt practices will certainly be caught up with time.

    In addition, I am reminded of the statement by the famous English Dictionary publisher, Dr. Samuel Johnson that reads, “There is no crime more infamous than the violation of truth. It is apparent that men can be social beings no longer than they believe each other. When speech is employed only as the vehicle of falsehood, every man must disunite himself from others.” It means those who engage in deceit and telling lies to please their supporters are operating from what former Senator Joe Lieberman described as “value vacuum.” A place “…where traditional ideas of right and wrong have been gradually worn away.”

    In fact, this phenomenon has redefined what was once held to be universal Truth. Today, Truth is now widely viewed on the basis of an individual’s point of view (or talking points) – even if the facts are overwhelming, like embezzlement, human rights abuse, the denial of free speech, violation of civil and constitutional rights, kangaroo court system, excessive use of force, framed-up charges and incarceration of unarmed civilians by the governments, including Liberia.

    The popular phrase: “If one does not stand for something, he/she will fall for everything”; here lays the dilemma facing many of our people. What Liberia lacks in short supply are principled individuals. In other words, many Liberians are not firm believers in the “principle of right and justice”. They are forever ready to sell their souls for positions or for mere crumbs.

    Finally, as a firm believer in the fact that there is nothing wrong with Liberians, that cannot be cured with what is right; I believe, we have an essential role to play in deciding our present as well as our future. The fact that we have a choice shows that God has given us a measure of control over our lives. The coward who makes
    excuses for not taking a position come Judgment Day will have some explaining to do. As Liberians, if we earnestly want genuine peace and democracy, we will have to earn it the old fashion way, work for it. It means we will have to take positions that are not always popular.

    And for what it’s worth, let’s take the advice by General Colin Powell; it reads: “Where discrimination still exists or where the scars of past discrimination still contaminate and disfigure the present, we must not close our eyes to it, declare a level playing field, and hope it will go away by itself. It did not in the past. It will not in the future.”

    In closing, let me share with you the poem titled: “I Will Not Tote That Hammock Anymore!”

    I
    I am not going to tote that hammock anymore!
    If my great grandparents and relatives did it
    That doesn’t mean I should do the same

    II
    So you better find someone else
    To do your plotor work ‘cause this time for sure
    I am not going to tote you in that hammock!

    III
    Big hellova man like you if you can’t walk by yourself
    Then that’s your own kinja you will have to bear
    You don’t expect me to tote you on my shoulder
    Instead of toting you, I could be attending
    To my rice farm, cassava farm and doing small, small thing
    So let me tell you Joe Blow, this time
    I am not going to tote you in that hammock!

    IV
    Although, I was a small pekin when
    The District Commissioner came to our town
    He humiliated my grandparents and relatives
    In front of their wives and children
    I can still feel pains and sufferings they endured
    Toting Government officials from village to village
    And through thick and thin
    So, let me tell you once and for all, that job is not for me
    You cannot force me this time, I know my rights
    So, you better take your hot sun trouble from here!

    V
    My friend, this time you really juke-o!
    You will kill me dead
    Even then, I will still refuse to tote the hammock.

    VI
    You see, I made up my mind long, long time ago
    Not to tote anybody’s hammock, even the President, self
    ‘Cause the same way God gave you hands, head and feet
    That’s the same way He gave me mine
    And since there’s nothing wrong with yours
    I don’t see why I or my people should be the
    One to do your toting for you.

    VII
    So, Mr. Big Shot or whatever your name is
    You’re really juke this time
    You better try hard!
    Carry your trouble some place else!
    Because if you make me vex, it will be HELL
    To tell the Captain
    ‘Cause I’ll not tote Big Hellova man like you ANYMORE!

    (TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut, from the book of poems by Siahyonkron Nyanseor, published 2014.

    Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr., is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 45 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Mr. Nyanseor is the Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine founded in June 1996. In 2012, he co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology. His current book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is on the market. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com

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    Now we know why Minister Nathaniel McGill took a whopping US$200,000 loan to purchase a luxurious palace http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/05/13/now-we-know-why-minister-nathaniel-mcgill-took-a-whopping-us200000-loan-to-purchase-a-luxurious-palace/ Sun, 13 May 2018 05:00:45 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4959 By Martin K. N. Kollie      

     

    The 2018-2019 budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has increased from US$18,689,116 to US$21,539,211. This accounts for a whopping 13.2 percent increment US$2,850,095) even though the government is still struggling to generate an uncollected revenue of US$332 million from fiscal year 2017-2018.

    The nation remains aid-dependent and loan-reliant while the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs has budgeted over US$21.5 million just in a period of 12 months. Now we know why Minister McGill secured a loan of US$200,000 to purchase a luxurious home after becoming a Minister just in 3 months. When did Minister McGill get so interested in securing a US$200,000 loan? Is it after becoming Minister for just 90-days?

    Is Hon. McGill a pro-poor Minister or a pro-rich Minister? So coming to power was all about self-enrichment at the expense of the ordinary masses? Now we know why Minister McGill secured a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home. This is the pitiless pay-back our people get when indigenous vampires are in charge of state resources.

    According to the projection of FY2017-2018, this fiscal year’s budget of the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs should actually be US$14.4 million due to investor aversion, global macroeconomic shocks, decrease in prices of iron ore and rubber, ebola and election aftershocks, etc. Why then budget over US$21.5 million just for Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs alone.

    What is the rationale of even spending US$580,000 on consultancy and US$180,000 on food and catering services when there is no public high school in Liberia with access to internet, library or science laboratory. This pro-poor mantra seems to be a cliché of charade and contradiction.

    While 48,000 inhabitants of Clara Town live in slum with access to only 6 latrines, this Minister is buying a home costing US$200,000 in just 90-days of this pro-poor government. Is Nathaniel McGill a pro-poor Minister or a pro-rich Minister? Now we know why Minister McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home in the World’s fourth poorest country.

    Even though we will be spending more than half a million just on consultancy, but US$91,814 has also been budgeted for Advisory Board. So, why can’t the advisory board provide consultancy? This ‘pro-poor’ government under President Weah needs to refrain from overspending, wastage, fiscal indiscipline and economic sabotage.

    While 16 percent of Liberian households are food insecure according to FAO and WFP, US$582,592 has been budgeted for Celebration, Commemoration and State Visit, US$100,000 for Residential Property Lease and US$1,395,000 for Special Operation Services.

    Now we know why Minister Nat McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home. As the masses remain hopeless and vulnerable to economic peril, the CDC-led government is spending over 86 percent of our nation’s 2018-2019 budget on recurrent expenditure alone. I wonder what then goes to capital investment.

    The wage bill under former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was US$295m. Unfortunately, it has increased under President George M. Weah to US$303.4m. What difference can this pro-poor government make when the people’s interest has been swept under the carpet so soon?

    There is a huge rush for wealth accumulation. Minister Nat McGill is set to own his first luxurious home by lavishly spending THE PEOPLE’S RESOURCES without any remorse. Now we know why Minister McGill took a loan of US$200,000 to purchase an expensive home.

    While the nominal wage of civil servants remains very low with real wage being heavily impacted due to inflation, Minister McGill will now have an opportunity to live in a palace. Why have they even budgeted US$13 million again to renovate the Executive Mansion when over US$25 million has already been spent to renovate this same mansion?

    Our ultimate interest is to ensure that our government does what is RIGHT and RIGHTEOUS in the best interest of our PEOPLE. We have a national duty never to economize with THE FACTS but to demonstrate a sense of PATRIOTISM. We have made a solemn pledge to remain loyal to Liberia, and no one else.

    From the largest slum of West Point and the top of Ducor, I see a NEW LIBERIA rising above the African Continent. HOPE is blooming – Change is in sight – Liberia will rise.

     Martin K. N. Kollie is a student studying Economics at the University of Liberia, a youth and student activist, and a global columnist. He is a stalwart of the Student Unification Party. He can be reached via martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

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    Transforming The Liberian Lone Star Into A Winning Team: An Opinion http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/05/13/transforming-the-liberian-lone-star-into-a-winning-team-an-opinion/ Sun, 13 May 2018 04:54:03 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4956 By Paul J. Albert         

     

    The Liberian Junior Lone Star soccer team was defeated by their Gambian national counter-part on May 6, 2018 at the SKD Sports Complex.

    Nevertheless, it did not come as a total surprise as the episode only re-affirmed the case of another de javu when Liberians have become used to being willing spectators to the defeat of their national teams on their own home grounds.

    And as the nation go through a period of emotional catharsis, the Lone Star coaches and team officials will among other things conduct its old ritual as usual. That is, revisiting the team’s history of wins and losses, and re-examining its tactical approaches with the aim of finding out what went wrong.

    In addition, the team might receive some compliments from well-wishers despite its dismal record of performance. Such gestures may help somewhat to boost morale, but on the other hand they are relegated to a band aid, or just temporary fixes.

    As emotions begins to wear out and the memories of the sport planners begin to fade away, the Lone Star will again recede to its same old state just like a habitual criminal recidivist whose relapses often cause him to repeat the same criminal offenses and make him to suffer even more stiffer penalties.

    To develop the Lone Star into a formidable force within the international sporting arena, calls for a carefully crafted, well planned, and coordinated training program. This program must be persistent and consistent. Training goals and objectives must be set with the aim of statistically analyzing the team’s weaknesses, strengths and identifying avenues for improvement. By this I mean that trainers and coaches do not wait for the eve of a soccer tournament to emphasize training and exercise, eating well, resting well and avoiding counterproductive activities.

    It is a fatal mistake if Liberian soccer team managers continue to accept the status quo as the ultimate way to spur motivation and develop a superior team; if this trend continues, the Liberian soccer spectators and sport enthusiasts will always share more tearful moments as they will always stand to see more mournful defeats of their own beloved team on the home turf.

    To build a superior performing soccer team, the leaders of Liberia’s national teams should consider the fact that the factors that kindle motivation and drive within the team members are not only intrinsic.

    Intrinsic values occur when individuals join a team out of a feeling of self-gratification; nationalism; dedication or patriotism to one’s country; or a desire to promote the country’s self-image. Intrinsic values account for the spontaneous excitement in players that make them want to play and die for their country especially after hearing the sounds of the national anthem of their countries.

    Even though intrinsic values are laudable, however they do not suffice and things do not always work that way. Why? Many individuals who join sporting groups do so with the goal of benefitting from some extrinsic values. Extrinsic values occur when team members are given some benefits as stimuli to boost their performance; morale; self-worth, and a sense that they belong to a special cause.

    One misconception that many leaders of groups often make is to waste their time and energy trying to motivate people. Nobody can motivate another person. One of the better ways of achieving motivation is to create an environment where it can thrive. This objective can be realized by introducing extrinsic values. By this I mean providing incentives to team members.

    Incentives are not the cure-all to solving a team’s under-performance, because studies have shown that sometimes they can become a Pandora box as the morale of certain individuals who are self-driven team members goes through the roof in the short run only. However, in the long run their morale begins to dip because they have become accustomed to associating performance with incentives.

    In spite of this shortcoming studies have revealed that overall, incentives do drive up performance because the players who come to the team always have some critical needs besides scoring goals, creating a sense of nationalism, and promoting Liberia’s self-image. Incentives should include but not limited to: food security, health care benefits, educational scholarships, employment security as some players may have families to take care of, and so forth.

    An argument can be made that a soccer team may be provided with all these benefits and yet lose in the tournament. This is true but notwithstanding, the nature of the game of soccer is unpredictability, and not how well equipped a team might be. Citing a good paradigm in recent memory that re-enforces this point was the 2-1 stunning defeat of the US Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) by the Ghana Black Stars on June 22, 2006 in Nuremberg, Germany.

    In contrast to the Ghana Black Stars, the USMNT possesses every unimaginable benefit that a soccer team may have; nevertheless, and to the surprise of the world soccer fans, the Ghana Black Stars defeated them.
    No matter what the circumstances are, unpredictability should not override the importance of being proactive and having our national soccer squad well-prepared to represent us. To build a superior team, team managers must consider both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, because they are equally important.

    Sporting officials and coaches must learn to draw a fine line between players who truly love the game and are willing to get out there and represent Liberia with their fullest potential and those who only sign up for the incentives but show a less-than- stellar performance.
    Liberia can do better.

    Paul J. Albert writes for the Liberian Dialogue. He lives in Spencer, NC, and can be reached at 704-636-7868. Email: albrtpaul@aol.com

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    ‘Peace Was In Heaven Until Kru People Got There’ http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/04/21/peace-was-in-heaven-until-kru-people-got-there/ Sat, 21 Apr 2018 04:53:50 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4951 By Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor        

    The Meaning of Peace was in Heaven Until Kru People Got There.
    Liberian history is replete with accounts of heroism on the part of Americo-Liberians (Settlers), and the so-called accounts of cowardice on the part of Native-Liberians (aborigines). It is this slanted view of Settlers’ history, and false sense of heroism and cowardice that have been the main source of conflict amongst generations of Liberians on either side of the political and social divide. This portrayal of both groups has undermined true patriotism and nationalism in Liberia. A classic example is the phrase: “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there”. Similarly, it can be said that – “peace was on earth unit JESUS got here”.

    The phrase “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” is intended to portray the stance taken by the Kru (Klao) ethnic group in dealing with everyone they come in contact with. Within Biblical and historical context, it can be explained as what was meant as NEGATIVE reference to the Klao tribe of Liberia became promotion about the people Europeans referred to as “Africa’s Sailors”; the tribal people who rather die than be captured and made slaves.

    It is recorded in European history that prior to the arrival of the freed-slaves from North America to West Africa, the people known as Krus (Klaos) were involved in trading and had developed mutual relationship with European Merchants and Explores. It is from this relationship the Klao ethnic group in this area was named by Europeans as Kroo or Kru. The name Kru is derived from the word ‘crew’. This name was given to them as the result of their profession. The groups that are referred to as KRU were the Klao, Bassa and the Grebo.

    The phrase: “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” was used by grown-ups as well as my peers in Monrovia. Many of those who are of my age might have heard this statement used in the 50s and 60s in reference to us. I heard it too many times! Some of them said it as a joke. However, there is this Liberian saying, “Facts come through jokes”. Therefore, I did not take it as a joke. The statement was meant to make mockery of my people without known the true story about the Klao people’s struggle under the Settlers’ government.

    As a young boy in Rocktown, Monrovia – the unpaved side of Clay Street I got into fights with anyone who used the phrase in my presence. That’s how much I resented it. It was not until Sergeant Moore, my cousin under whom I studied and served as Griot (storyteller) told me to accept it with dignity. Here is what he told me! “Jglay Kpa-kay, have you forgotten our (Klao) mottos – Never trouble, trouble until trouble, troubles you” and “Too much of gentility leads to brutality?” Sergeant Moore’s explanation made it crystal clear to me. His advice motivated me to take keen interest in becoming passionate in researching, studying, writing and telling the truth about African Liberians and African Historian in general. First, I owed this interest to the Almighty God, and second to Sergeant Moore, my teacher who taught me the true history about the Klao people. As a matter fact, I give God the glory to have created me as a “Countryman” and a “Troublemaker” who speaks both the Klao and Bassa languages of Liberia.

    As a Christian, I am reminded of Genesis 50:20 NIV “…you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive”. Wow, what a revelation!
    You see, what was intended as a put down, God turned it all for our good. He brought us to the position of advocacy, so we could fight injustice to save our people and humanity. GOD is so good; He made the enemies our footstool. That’s how He works for those who worship and praise him!

    The Klaos (Krus) History & Struggles in Liberia
    There is an African proverb that says, “Until lion have their own historians, the story of the hunt will be told by the hunter.” This is the reason we need to tell our own history.
    The history of the Kroo/Kru (Klao) people, can be traced from their activities with Europeans, such as the Normans who visited the Liberian shores in 1364; Pedro de Cintra in 1461, the English in 1551, 1556, 1562, 1564 and 1567; a German-Swiss by the name of Samuel Braun in 1611, the Dutch in 1626 and 1668, and the French in 1725. During this period, some of the natives were literate; they traded and interacted with the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Germans. Common sense tells us that for the length of time African-Liberians carried out these activities and transactions with Europeans they had to speak their languages. Therefore, to suggest that “The cannon went off (Matilda Newport Story) the sound was so loud; it frightened the attackers who had never seen such a discharge of firing power before.” This is not only a blatant lie but a ridiculous portrayal of African-Liberians.

    More important, earliest reference to Kru (Klao) offshore employment relates to a Spanish vessel that stopped at Elmina on the Gold Coast in February 1645. In the eighteen century, Klao migrated to Freetown and from there they were employed on vessels owned by the Sierra Leone Company. By the end of the 1790s, more than 50 Klao were employed as deckhands and in other jobs on British colonial vessels. Klao participated in contract work in the nineteenth century which was almost always voluntary (Amos C. Sawyer, The Emergence of Autocracy in Liberia, Tragedy and Challenge, 1992).

    The Kroo (Klao) Mark of Distinction

    During this period, there was a blue mark on the noses of the Kroos to set them apart from the other tribes. The blue mark was a mark of distinction. During the time when the slave trade was flourishing, the Kroos were ‘useful watermen’. The slavers would, therefore, never purchase one, or only did so to set him at liberty, fearing to incur the hostility of the tribe, and the Kroos adopted the blue mark as a sign of their nationality, which always protected them from purchase by the white men. (Sylomun Weah, Liberia History and Culture).

     
    American Military Intervention
    Due to the apartheid system the Settlers developed in Liberia, it caused serious conflict between them and the indigenous people. This system isolated the indigenous people who first inhibited the land from the Settlers. The Settlers illegally acquired more land through the issuance of bogus treaties, which led to a series of battles. However, during some of these conflicts, the United States military intervened on the side of the Settlers.

    For example:
    In 1843, Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry, the man credited with opening up Japan to the West a few years later, descended on Kru Coast and Cape Palmas with over 700 American marines, in the vessels, MACEDONIAN, SARATOGA, and DECATUR, to punish the Kru and Grebo people for their alleged attacks on American shipping, and to assist Liberia and Cape Palmas in their struggle against the indigenous people in Kru Coast and Cape Palmas. The series of battles was sanctioned by Governors J.J. Roberts of Liberia and John Russwurm of Cape Palmas.

    In 1875, the U.S.S. Alaska was dispatched by President Ulysses S. Grant to Liberia, after Liberian troops lost a series of battles to Grebo warriors; in 1910, President Howard H. Taft of the United States dispatched the U.S.S. Birmingham to Liberia, when another major war began between Liberian and the Grebo people; and in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson, sent the U.S.S Chester with 500 rifles and 250,000 rounds, to assist the Liberian Government when war with the Kru people began over the hut tax, and the forced recruitment of indigenous-Kru labor by the Liberian Government.
    Again in 1915, the United States came to the aid of the Settlers; confronted by a revolt of the Krus:

    The Monrovia government implored the United States to provide it with munitions and to send a cruiser to assist in the suppression of the revolt and to forestall foreign intervention. The United States agreed to do so, and the war Department sent over five hundred Krag carbines and two hundred and fifty thousand rounds of ammunition upon an American cruiser, the Chester. These munitions were sold to Liberia at half-price upon delivery! Thus supplied, the American-organized Frontier Force almost decimated the Kru resistance force (The Liberian Paradox, Raymond, Leslie Buell, March 31, 2010).

    Imposition of Custom Duties
    During the period between 1850 to1860, the government experienced serious difficulty in asserting its sovereignty over some of the coastal tribes, particularly the Kru [Klao] and the Grebo, who resented the government’s attempt to put an end to their continued trade in human beings and the practice of trading directly with passing ships, as they have done for centuries, by bypassing the customs agents. These tribes staged a series of uprisings and raids on Americo-Liberian settlements which are referred to in Liberian history as tribal wars… The Kru [Klao] people along the Southeastern coast continued with lessening intensity until the early 1930’s (Area Handbook for Liberia, 1971, p. 17).

    Land Grab and Custom Duties
    Land Grab and Custom Duties were some of the factors that led the Klao People to earn status of “Troublemaker”. In the “Settlers’ History” written and taught as Liberian History, the Klao (Kru) people were portrayed as “troublemakers”, “war-like”, “hardheaded”, “fussy” people, etc., without first explaining the underlying factors that contributed to their fights for their civil, human and economic rights in Liberia. This article highlights some of the reasons which caused the Klao people to acquire such reputation and inaccurate portrayal their struggles.
    To begin with, we need to know who are the people known in Liberia as Kru (Kroo). Secondly, do they refer to themselves in their language as Krus? If not, how do they refer to themselves?

    Before the Elizabeth and the Alligator, ships that brought the Settlers from North America, the Kwa linguistic speaking group that consisted of Bassa, Dei, Klao, Belle and Krahn were referred to in Liberian history books as KROO or KROOMEN. As noted, this group did not only consist of the Klao (Kru) ethnic group. The KROO referred to by Europeans, consisted of the three ethnic groups who lived along the Atlantic Ocean: Klao (Kru), Bassau or Bassaw (Bassa), and Grebo. There is evidence of their working relationship with European traders, especially Portuguese explorers as far as 1461.
    Within three centuries a flourishing trade developed between the coastal Africans and European Merchants. The Klao (Kru), Bassau (Bassa), and Grebo were employed as crews (laborers) on European ships. It is believed that the name KROO or KRU derived from the English word, CREW. This group served as crews on these ships.

    The so-called Kru people in Liberian History referred to themselves as KLAO, which is also spelled KRAO. The name Kru stuck on them in the same manner that African Liberian leaders were referred to in Liberian (Settlers’) History as: King George, King Freeman, Chief Boatswain, Joe Harris, King Governor, King Peter, and Long Peter. I wonder whether there was a Short Peter! Others references to African Liberian leaders are: King Jimmy, King Jack Ben, and worst of all, a Klao (Kru) man was referred to as “Bottle Beer” (Guannu, Joseph Saye, Liberian History Before 1857, p. 25).

    The Bassa, Kru (Klao) and Grebo lived in permanent settlements along the coast. The Kru people which consisted of the three ethnic groups worked as seamen on European ships. They were so successful that the name Kru became synonymous with sailor among the traders and shipowners (Yekutiel Gershoni, Black Colonialism – 1985, p. 4).
    In the book titled: The Black Republic – Liberia: Its Political and Social Conditions To-Day written in the 1920s by Henry Fenwick Reeve, a British Colonial Secretary in The Gambia made the reference below:
    ‘The Love of Liberty’ which brought the American Negroes to Africa has not worn well in latter years and has never been fully extended to the peoples under their control. The ‘Bush Niggers,’ as the Liberians term their fellow citizens of the Interior, still fight among themselves without interference on the part of Government, while the spoil of battle in prisoners, men, women or children, is still bartered among themselves, and even sold to the Liberians under the euphemism of ‘Boys’ (Wards).
    The term “Boy” is a derogatory reference, which regard people of African origin as child-like. The Americo-Liberian Settlers used it in relation to the African Liberians in the same manner; “boy” was used in reference to them in North America.

    According to Reeve:
    Liberians (Settlers) never liked work since the establishment of the colony; agriculture even has had but slight attraction for the people. It is not strange, all things considered. The ancestors of these people used to work hard in the fields before they went over there; one reason they went was that they wanted to escape field labour. They had always been accustomed to see their masters live in ease, without soiling their hands with toil; when they became their own masters they naturally wanted to be like the men to whom they had been accustomed to look up to with respect. Trade has always been in high repute. It was easy for the new-comers to trade with the natives of the country and rapidly acquired a competence. So far as work was concerned there were plenty of ‘Bush Niggers’ to be had cheaply. There is, however, another way of escape from manual labour besides trade-that is professional life. Everywhere people do not wish to work with their hands may seek a profession; it is so here with us – it is so there with them. The Liberians would rather be ‘reverends’ or doctors or lawyers than work with their hands.

    Of all the professions, however, law seems to be the favourite. The number of lawyers in Liberia is unnecessarily large, and lawyers naturally drift into politics; they aim to become members of Congress (the Legislature) or judges of the Supreme Court, or members of the Cabinet, or President of the Republic. It is unfortunate that so many of them are anxious for that kind of life, but they are skilled in it, and we have nothing to teach them when it comes to politics. (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 69-70).

     
    Reeve went on to say:
    The hiring of the Kroo-boys by the Government of Liberia is a matter of common knowledge on the West African coast, and perhaps in the circumstances there is little fault to be found with the principle, as the gentle Kroo-boy is far and away the best labourer to be found, and is especially good in the working of ships and boats, for which purpose our own (Britain) nation has been party to the custom, both in naval and merchant ships. Where a Government is consistently face to face with an empty Treasury it may be forced into hiring out of some of its subjects, even while its own territory requires the labour of every able-bodied man for its industrial development.

    (IBID)
    However, the methods the Settlers adopted in Liberia to raise revenue from this lucrative source, was ruinous to the seagoing Kroo laborers. Rather than adequate measures to regulate the movements of one of the backbones of the economy by allowing emigration in districts where labor was plentiful while disallowing it where minimal, hence ensuring help for home industries, the authorities contracted alien firms which charged the shipping companies high “Head Money” it split with the Government. In this equation, the more men shipped the more money went to the contractor and the Treasury. And were it not for the loyalty of these men for what they call “We Country” which lured them back once yearly, coupled with a desire to adhere to tribal laws, the Kroo coast would have been depopulated.

    The Treasury also benefitted by a condition in the contract with the employer at other ports on the coast under which part of the wages for the yearly service of the Kroo laborer was paid in merchandise. Thus, import duties were levied on his goods in the Colony where he worked, and by the government of Liberia on his return. In the end, returning laborers recouped little profit on the one-half of his year’s work. That’s the baboon work monkey draw syndrome; it’s been an albatross on the powerless in our country forever.

    Formerly, “Boys” could be taken off from their own beach, under a contract with the chief of their tribe, but the embarkation and re-embarkation was made at one of the several ports of the customers on the Liberian coast under heavy penalties on shipmasters. However, for amphibian Kroo laborers, the mile or two of sea separating a ship’s deck from their native village was a trifle, and they occasionally took French leave in those circumstances, pushing their trade boxes while swimming until picked up by canoes. Relatives would then meet them on the beaches, and in accordance with native custom elders would help themselves to a goodly share of their merchandise. This meant that, in the final analysis, the Kroo laborer gained little either way by his love of community and country, so often decided to make his home elsewhere, especially when such migrations were sweetened by incentives from the shipping companies and the colonial administrations in the later Kroo enclaves of Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria and Liverpool, England (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 118-120).
    Another case was reported in the Government Gazette published in Monrovia, January, 1916. It is interest to note the racial enmity existing between the Liberians and the Kru/Klao people, as well as the lack of firm government on the part of the rulers of the Republic:
    Executive Mansion, Monrovia, December 18th, 1915
    To the Citizens of the St. Paul River in general, and Caldwell, Clay Ashland, Virginia, White Plains, and Crozierville in particular.
    Fellow Citizens,
    I regret to inform you that I have heard very unpleasant reports of the actions of certain of my fellow-citizens towards that portion of our citizenship in your midst composed of Kroo people.
    They have complained to me of threats having been made on their lives by citizens in Caldwell, whose names were given to me, that if they were found out after six o’clock p.m. they would be shot; also, that violence has been done to their property in the settlements specifically named, all of which is said to be done in retaliation for the alleged killing in Virginia, supposed to have been done by the Kroos.
    I have to remind you that the Kroos who were accused of the killing in Virginia were tried and acquitted in our own court by a jury composed mostly, if not entirely, of persons from the River.

    I am already overburdened with the responsibility of dealing with the acts of unthinking and irresponsible persons, and have to warn you one and all, good loyal citizens, to raise your voice and lend your aid against any and everything that savours of lawlessness. By so doing you avert the bringing of trouble and frown of God upon you (sic) country, which every citizen is, by his lone actions, capable of doing.

    It is worse than hypocrisy to pray in our churches for God to bring in the native people and deny them the benefit of the law of the land for which we contend so strongly.
    The law, of course, will be rigidly enforced upon violators (sic) without partiality, but I feel that all good and law-abiding citizens should be sufficiently interested in the good name of their townships to see that it is not defamed by reckless persons, and I take this method of calling upon such persons to maintain the dignity of the State and the Constitution which guarantees to all men the right to enjoy life, liberty, and to defend his property.
    Your obedient servant,
    D. E. Howard
    President, R.L.
    (IBID, pp. 74-75).
    From the so-called founding of the Republic of Liberia,
    The natives have never been considered the equals of the emigrants, nor treated as brothers … utilized as house servants. “It is convenient to fill one’s house with (‘Bush Niggers’) servants and the settlers have done so from the early days of settlement”, wrote Professor Starr. He and Reeve noted that the driver of the trouble between the rulers and ruled was because the former arrogated to themselves “the position of white man in Africa yet lacking any sense of right and justice or the power to enforce decisions was a travesty, which the natives recognized as bluster on the part of the Americo-Liberians”. (Reeve, The Black Republic, pp. 58-59)
    These are some of the factors that led to the Kru (Klao) and Grebo revolts against the Settlers that are inaccurately reported in ‘Liberian History’.

    Kangaroo Court System
    Reeve provided a strange example of how the court dispensed justice. He wrote:
    Liberians are not much given to independent speaking. One man spoke out and the Government put him in jail without bail, and a woman was held without bail for ‘talking too much.’ In each case it was an ‘ally’ who got caught. No wonder everybody shut up like clam.

    Another incident Reeve mentioned involved a District Commissioner (DC) who rendered the following decision:
    A. you are in the right to a certain degree, but you are in the wrong also because you took up arms without authority of the Government, you are therefore fined two hundred dollars. B. you were wrong in attacking A. without first reporting the matter to the Government, so you must find the same amount as A.
    The miscarriage of justice was so rampant in Liberia that Graham Greene wrote what he observed in his book titled, Journey Without Map. It reads:
    A case was also reported to me from several sources of a man who had been wounded close to Sasstown (during the Sasstown War) and wished to surrender. Although unarmed and pleading for mercy he was shot down in cold blood by soldiers in the presence of Captain Cole.

    In another case:
    The soldiers crept into the banana plantations, which surround all native villages, and poured volleys into huts. One woman who had that day been delivered of twins was shot in bed, and the infants perished in the flames when the village was fired by the troops. In one village the charred remains of six children were found after the departure of the troops. In this connection, it may be mentioned that a man who had been a political prisoner at New Sasstown stated that he heard soldiers boasting of having cut children down with cutlasses and thrown them into the burning huts.

    Similar incident occurred in 1916, which involved the Klao (Kru) leader known as Juah Nimene (Seyon Juah Nimene – 1869 – 1937). Due to the inhumane treatment Juah Nimene and his people received from the Liberian authorities, he complained in a letter addressed to Lord Cecil of the League of Nations’ Liberia Committee stating that “It is most certain that we will be arrested like Nana Kru Chiefs who are now in custody at Sinoe, and in the end we may be killed like the seventy-five chiefs who were invited to a ‘peace conference’ at Sinoe but who were seized and executed in 1916”.

    Juah Seyon Nimene (Nimely)
    By August 1936, Juah Nimene had defied the government for five years. Two months later, he was taken to Monrovia as a prisoner. Barclay interviewed the popular chief known as “Wonderful Nimene”. He believed that Nimene had been led astray by educated Kru Liberians; he singled out, Didhwo [Didwho] Twe as the “evil genius” behind the resistance. Chief Nimene was then exiled to Gbarnga for several months and in 1937, when he was set free and allowed to return to Sasstown, he died shortly after.

    Didwho Welleh Twe
    In 1950, Twe and others organized a political party called the Reformation Party of which he was selected as its standard bearer. During the 1951 Presidential Campaign, one political commentator wrote, “Didhwo [Didwho] Twe, a Kru running against Tubman for the presidency, used an old distinction to rally his followers, and Tubman found it necessary to deny the implications of the distinction in an election eve broadcast.”
    Find below what Tubman said about Twe:
    …Mr. Twe refers in his acceptance speech to Americo-Liberians and aborigines. Who are or ever were Americo-Liberians? Certainly not that band of stout-hearted men who gave us, under God, this goodly heritage, its name, style, and title! If any set of people were ever full-blooded Liberians and nothing else but Liberians without any other qualifying word or antecedent, it was they.
    Mr. Twe and his adherents complain that for hundred and four years of the independence of this country, no aboriginee had had the honor of being
    President of the Nation. Whom does he call aboriginees, he and his dangling group of a fifth of the Kru Tribe (emphasis are mine)? I protest! I contest his supercilious misconceived notion. H. R. W. Johnson, Daniel Edward Howard, Charles Dunbar Burgess King, Edwin Barclay and William V. S. Tubman are all aboriginees and indigenous people of this country, for we were all born, bred and reared here” (Area Handbook of Liberia, 1972 – 48).

    Cllr. Tuan Wreh wrote in his book: The Love of Liberty the statement below about Twe:
    In the course of his flight, Twe barricaded himself on his rubber estate as Tubman’s security forces combed the territory. The Krus (Klaos) in Monrovia, Twe’s staunch supporters, circulated the tale that during the period when he was being sought, he magically transformed himself into a white cat at his farmhouse and serenely looked on while the security forces searched in vain. After his escape, Twe told the American press that he had literally taken to the woods and remained there for four months, his protectors being ‘two beautiful and trustworthy maidens, whom the friendly African chiefs had provided for me’. The final stage of his flight into British territory was by canoe. (Tuan Wreh, The Love of Liberty: The Rule of President William V.S. Tubman in Liberia, pp. 56-57).

    Jacob Cummings, one of Tubman’s chief informer, and a Deputy Police Director named William Tecumbla Thompson used to conduct searches without warrants, whenever they felt like it. In the process, they would harass, physically and psychologically intimidate and abuse family members, relatives and friends of Twe and Tor, which at times resulted into imprisonment. Victims of Tubman’s Gestapo tactics were, Edwin J. Barclay, S. David Coleman, Paul Dunbar, S. Raymond Horace, Nete-Sie Brownell, J. Gbaflen Davies, Booker T. Bracewell, Thomas Nimene Botoe, S. Othello Coleman, etc. Later on in the 1960s, former Army Chief of Staff, General George Toe Washington, a law student named Frederick Gibson, Henry Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr., and scores of others were his new victims.
    Such Gestapo tactics along with the PRO network was Liberia’s McCarthyism. It was used to destroy the reputations, livelihoods of prominent Liberians such as Didwho Twe, Nete Sie Brownell, Tuan Wreh, S. Raymond Horace, and Henry Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr.
    D. Twe (Didwho Twe) was a progressive. Elected member of the House of Representatives in 1927, Twe introduced several legislations that were considered controversial by the ruling elite. For example, he introduced legislation to abolish the force labor activities, the pawn and porter systems practiced by the government and the ruling class. Twe was expelled from the House of Representatives for sedition, when in fact; he was expelled for his advocacy on behalf of African Liberians’ human and civil rights.
    Journalism Tuan Wreh suffered similar calamity and abuse.
    Tuan Wreh’s Fate
    Mr. Tuan Wreh, who became dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School, Commissioner of Immigration and Senator from Grand Kru County in post-Tubman years, then a 26-year-old journalism graduate from Boston University in Massachusetts, was made to clean Tubman’s toilet bowl with his bare hands and subjected to other forms of brutal human degradation. His crime was in 1955, he had written an article against Tubman’s manipulation of the constitution to perpetuate himself in office.
    These inhumane and illegal practices by the Liberian authorities against African Liberians led to the various revolts between the Settlers, Klao (Kru) and Grebo people in Liberia.

    Unlike other tribes, the Klao and the Grebo fought for justice like the American Patriot Patrick Henry, who when the American colony was being attack chose to act while others were waiting for consensus.
    Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Patrick Henry’s Speech: “Give me Liberty or Give me Death”, March 23, 1775 speech in Richmond, Virginia by way of a resolution to the Congress).
    The same is true with Abolitionist Frederick Douglass who said:
    …Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
    …There was an important lesson in the conduct of that noble Krooman (my emphasis) in New York the other day, who, supposing that the American Christians were about to enslave him, betook himself to the masthead and with knife in hand said he would cut his throat before he would be made a slave.
    …This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle (Frederick Douglass’ August 3, 1857 Speech: Power concedes nothing without a demand, delivered to a ‘West India Emancipation’ group in Canandaigua, New York).
    The (Kru/Klao) people in Liberia fought for freedom and justice like Patrick Henry and Frederick Douglas did in their days.

    Train Up A Child in the Way He Should Go…
    At an early age, Klao children were taught to always speak truth and never allow anyone to take advantage of them. They believed freedom and justice were given them by no one other than Sno-Nyesoa (Heavenly Father GOD); and that they should protect others who are abused and taken advantage of; a kind of ‘brothers’ keeper, like the Bible says. This belief is part of our DNA and nothing anyone can do about it!

    Yet, the people who have had extensive interaction with Europeans prior to the arrival of the Settlers (Americo-Liberians) are portrayed as “troublemaker”, “war-like”, “hardheaded”, “fussy”, “savage”, “primitive”, and “belligerent people”! The Settlers did this because the so-called “hardheaded” people resisted them by ‘any means necessary’ to protect their civil, human and economic rights. The portrayal of Klao people in “Liberian history” written by their so-called “historians” and their contemporary “scholars” resembles comic scripts out of Hollywood that depicts Native Americans as dumb and savages, while Cowboys and Scouts are portrayed as smart and intelligent; and always victorious in battles against Native Americans. Similar lies were told in Settlers’ history about African Liberians; a classic example is the Matilda Newport (Matilda Spencer, her name at the time she performed the so-called historic task).
    What a contradiction! The same people the Settlers portrayed as ‘fussy’ are referred to as:
    Morally as well as physically the Krumen are one of the most remarkable races in Africa. They are honest, brave, proud, so passionately fond of freedom that they will starve or drown themselves to escape capture and have never trafficked in slaves. Politically the Krus are divided into small commonwealths, each with a hereditary chief whose duty is simply to represent the people in their dealings with strangers. The real government is vested in the elders, who wear as insignia iron rings on their legs. Their president, the head fetish-man, guards the national symbols, and his house is sanctuary for offenders till their guilt is proved. Personal property is held in common by each family. Land also is communal, but the rights of the actual cultivator cease only when he fails to farm it. (An extraction from the 1911 encyclopedia: KRUMEN (KROOMEN, KROOBOYS, KRUS, or CRoos)
    Professor V. R. Ruggiero states in his book: The Art of Thinking that “If everyone makes his own Truth, then no person’s idea can be better than another’s”. This is the belief system upon which the Settlers ‘founded’ Liberia.

    The Kraos (Krus) are the most persecuted people by the Liberian authorities and their allies; because they will fight for their rights no matter the consequence. As the result, the Liberian government authorities considered them disruptive, and to the point of disrupting peace in heaven when we got there. The heaven they referred to is not the heaven where God resides; it is Liberia, the piece of land loan them in which the excluded the original owners.

    The phrase “Peace was in heaven until Kru People got there” resembles the accusation the Sanhedrin (a ruling body composed of both Sadducees and Pharisees) leveled against Christ for preaching the WORD of His Father on earth. His accusers felt that peace was on earth until He (Jesus Christ) came on earth to save mankind from sins.

    The Truth Shall Set You Free
    Each time issues concerning the injustices done to African Liberians are being discussed, benefactors of the system go on the defense, and will accuse African Liberians of practicing tribalism or ‘pushing up fire’. If any group in Liberia is tribalistic, the Americo-Liberian tribe is the architect; because for 133 (up to 1980) years, they were the ones who held to power by tribalistic means.
    We do not seek vengeance; that belongs to the Lord; we do not take matters into our own hands, we simply look to God to vindicate us in His own time and in His own way; praying this way affirms our confidence in God’s ultimate justice. Whether now or later, the truth will win out and hidden evils will be exposed. David prayed many such prayers against his enemies (Psalms 35 and 109).

    Conclusion
    In the Foreword to Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, President Barack Obama wrote: [Mandela’s] “example helped awaken me to the wider world, and the obligation that we all have to stand up for what is right. Through his choices, Mandala made it clear that we did not have to accept the world as it is – this we could do our part to seek the world as it should be”.
    So as a youth, I too was awaken by the injustices I saw and experienced in Liberia and I promised the Almighty God that up to my last breath, I will seek justice for those who are denied it, especially, the Liberian people by their leaders since the founding of the country. Therefore, no one will ever persuade me from doing that which is RIGHT.

    Cultural Explanation of Word Kwii
    The word Kwii which is used to describe a so-called civilized person is derived from the Klao (Kru), Grebo and the Bassa languages. The original meaning for Kwii – is “spirit”. The word Kwii was later corrupted as a result of African Liberians’ interaction with the Settlers and European missionaries. Today, it is used to refer to a white person or a so-called civilized person. Kwii is plural, while KU is singular. KU means DEAD in Klao; add “Menmen” to Ku, becomes DEAD PERSON in the Klao (Kru) Language. It is a general belief held by the Klao, Grebo, and the Bassa ethnic groups that “White People” are our dead ancestors who had been reincarnated. According to our oral history, when our people die, they go behind the sea to live, and they remained there under the sea. And by living too long under the sea, their skin turned white.
    This Klao/Kru, Grebo, and Bassa live along the Atlantic Ocean; made their living as fishermen and some of them worked as stevedores on European ships. Legend has it that their ancestors who live under the sea provided them protection. So, when they encountered the first white people, they thought their dead ancestors had reincarnated.

     

     Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is a founding member the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), Inc., and its 11th President (1986-1988). He is the historian of the organization; former vice chair & chair of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. Elder Nyanseor is an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Also, he is a poet, Griot, journalist, a cultural, social and political activist. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is now on the market. His upcoming book: WROH: The Heart of the Matter consists of selected articles, stories and poems will soon be published. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com. 

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    Jonathan Paye-Layleh’s Legitimate Fears http://theliberiandialogue.org/2018/04/15/jonathan-paye-laylehs-legitimate-fears/ Sun, 15 Apr 2018 16:29:02 +0000 http://theliberiandialogue.org/?p=4947 By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh           

     

    There are historical precedents of intimidation, verbal abuse, physical abuse of journalists and the death of a journalist who was killed on the job in Liberia.

    One of the fatal stories of a journalist who was assassinated as he was doing his job occurred in the 1980s when Charles Gbeyon was allegedly ordered killed by President Samuel Kanyon Doe, for asking the dictator a question. 

    As it was in the Gbeyon case in 1985, Paye-Layleh in 2018 also asked a sitting president a question. And as it turned out, Paye-Layleh was met with a barrage of unexpected pushback from a very sensitive and intolerant President Weah, who did not hesitate to intimidate him.

    However, in Mr. Doe’s cowardly mind, it was unwise and even contemptuous for this working young journalist to ask the very powerful Liberian president a question, which meant public execution. 

    The intimidation, imprisonment, harassment, and death of Liberian journalists did not stop with President Samuel Kanyon Doe; but continued with government officials who will not hesitate to use their muscular authority to silence journalists. 

    Remember the legendary Albert Porte and the incomparable Tuan Wreh? Both men had their own run-in with Presidents William V. S. Tubman and William R. Tolbert, Jr. 

    Tuan Wreh’s groundbreaking book, “The Love of Liberty” chronicled Tubman’s repressive 27-year rule; and was openly opposed to Mr. Tubman’s grip on power for which he was tortured and jailed without trial for 131 days. 

    The energizer Albert Porte was fearless, and his legendary activism is forever etched into our collective consciousness.
    We are forever grateful to Albert Porte and Tuan Wreh and other men and women who followed in their footsteps to bring Liberia to where it is today in its rocky journey to democracy and the rule of law. 

    However, as far as I can remember – from the days of the autocratic William V. S. Tubman to the days of Tolbert, Doe, Taylor, and even Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian journalists have never been safe, and they better know what they write or say, else, there will be harsh consequences for doing their job.

    In 2002, journalist Hassan Bility of the Analyst, a frequent critic of the government, was arrested and jailed for months on trump-up charges of attempting to assassinate President Charles Taylor.

    In 2007, the late Chief Justice Johnnie N. Lewis threatened to imprison journalists for committing such “infractions” for misspelling his name, and giving him wrong and inappropriate titles, and “attaching his photos to stories that have nothing to do with him in their papers”

    In 2011 Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa was arrested on contempt of court charges when his newspaper published a reader’s letter to the editor accusing then-Supreme Court Justice Gladys Johnson of bias in a criminal case.

    In 2016, journalist Philipbert Brown was arrested and jailed for libel on the orders of a civil law court when his paper published an interview about a teenage girl who was allegedly raped in 2013 by lawmaker Prince Moye.

    In 2016, journalist Festus Poquie was arrested by plainclothes officers for republishing a story in the New Democrat’s that quoted a political opponent of Equatorial Guinea’s dictatorial president Teodoro Obiang as alleging the president is a cannibal.

    Also, in 2016, journalist Wremongar Joe of radio station Prime FM was beaten by three unknown men, after he refused their request that he delete a video of a brawl between a lawmaker and spectators during a football match.

    These are some of the unfortunate stories (there are many, many more stories) of Liberian journalists who were either intimidated and imprisoned for doing their job, a reminder that in Liberia, the wages of daring to be a journalist is dangerous.

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh committed a ‘crime’ in Liberia against President George Weah when he asked the powerful and undisputed Liberian leader a question that (I guess) embarrassed him so much that he had to vent his displeasure publicly.

    According to Paye-Layley’s open letter, he asked President Weah whether he (Weah) was willing to do what Human Rights Watch had asked him to do – that is to create a space for victims of the civil war to face their alleged perpetrators.

    This is a legitimate question, especially at a time when the Liberian people are demanding that President Weah put his weight and skyrocketing influence behind the establishment of a war crimes court in Liberia, to seek justice for the dead and their countless living relatives who are still in excruciating pains over the senseless deaths of their friends and relatives.

    Knowing the chilling history between journalists and government officials in Liberia, it is not insane for Jonathan Paye-Layley, who is BBC and AP Monrovia Correspondent, to raise the specter that his life is in danger after President George Weah said publicly that Paye-Layleh depicted a ‘positive image of the carnage of the war’ and “was one person against him” during his (Weah’s) days as a human rights advocate.

    First of all (1), I am unaware of George Weah ever being a Human Rights advocate, and (2) with all the problems in Liberia facing his fledgling administration, is this issue with Paye-Layley serious enough that it requires his attention?

    Really, Weah?

    This is as petty as it gets.

    And instead of Weah dabbling in such profound pettiness, all he needed to do was to answer the question before him. Instead, he fumes like a child and brings back the past to intimidate this journalist and other journalists.

    Jonathan Paye-Layleh did the right thing when he took his complaint or concerns about Weah to a global audience. Paye-Layleh also did the right thing when he decided to leave the country fearing for his life.

    Liberia is a country where impunity reigns, and there is no rule of law.

    The public execution of journalist Charles Gbeyon allegedly by President Doe, and the mysterious and unsolved death of Harry A. Greaves, Jr., during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, is a constant reminder of our own vulnerabilities as activists, opinion writers, and journalists.

    By intimidating a journalist publicly, and shutting down or threatening to shut down the office of FrontPage Africa, President Weah shows that his administration is just as intolerant and undemocratic as his predecessors.

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