Special Feature

Looking back at President Sirleaf’s Legacy (2006-2012)

Besides the peace and stability Liberians enjoyed under the 12 years of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration, one of the major gains that Liberians and the country’s bilateral partners will continue to remember is the speed with which she was able to secure the country’s debt relief under the Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.


Before her ascendency to power in January, 2006, Liberia was indebted to creditors both bilateral and multilateral to the tune of US$4.6 billion. 

The HIPC Initiative was launched in 1996, by the World Bank and IMF to create a framework in which all creditors, including multilateral creditors, can provide debt relief to the world's poorest and most heavily indebted countries to ensure debt sustainability, and thereby reduce the constraints on economic growth and poverty reduction imposed by the unsustainable debt-service burdens in these countries, Liberia included.

By June 29, 2010, the same date Liberia reached its decision point; about 36 countries including Liberia had reached the completion point. In addition to the World Bank and IMF’s move to launch the HIPC initiative in 1996, Multilaterals in 2005 also created the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI).

The move is to reduce further the debt of eligible low-income countries and provide additional resources to help them reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Under the MDRI, three multilateral institutions—the World Bank’s IDA, the IMF and the African Development Fund—provide 100 percent debt relief on eligible debts to qualifying countries normally at the time they reach the HIPC Initiative completion point.

So it is un-debatable that former President Sirleaf did not only inherit a broken economy, but she also inherited a huge pile of debt accrued under previous administrations to the tune of US$4.6 billion.

By the third year of her Presidency, President Sirleaf had moved swiftly and Liberia became the 29th country to reach the completion point under the HIPC Initiative. The completion point marked the end of the HIPC process, which started in 2008 when the Executive Boards of the IMF and the World Bank agreed that Liberia had met requirements for reaching the decision point, when countries start receiving debt relief on an interim basis.

Thus on June 29, 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) announced that they have decided to support US$4.6 billion of debt relief for Liberia, of which US$1.5 billion was delivered by multilateral creditors and the remainder by bilateral and commercial creditors

After reaching the HIPC completion point, Liberia also became eligible for further nominal debt reduction from IDA (US$66.9 million) and the African Development Bank (US$17.2 million) under the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) and beyond-HIPC assistance from the IMF (SDR117.4 million or US$173 million) and the EU Special Debt Relief Initiative (US$0.9 million).

The completion of the HIPC initiative and subsequent announcement by the Briton Woods institutions to support Liberia’s debt relief program and the eligibility of Liberia for normal debts saw the constructions of several road networks and bridges.

The collapse of the old bridge and its reconstruction by the Chinese Company Chico, saw how resilient the former President was in ensuring that Liberia was once again ready to do business with its international partners this time in a more responsible way. To be continued next Wednesday.

By Othello B. Garblah

Can President Weah defeat corruption in Liberia?

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in the country either the African continent or its huge populations, it has been eating up every sphere of the Liberian society especially corruption prone sectors of government including the private sector.


But how can President George Weah's administration approach the new fight againat corruption to bring the perpetrators to book? Will the government institute strong actions and severely punished the brains behind the practice?

Nowadays the fight against widespread corruption must not be a mere policy; it require a decisive action by President Weah in order to signal to all state officials and others that the CDC led-government is not taking the fight against corruption as a mere joke. President Weah without fears or favor must set an example on public officials caught in corrupt practics.

This unethical practice has grown even larger to the extent it is not only hampering development and growth in Liberia but it is also hunting men and women of honesty and integrity who have made it their lifetime duty to blow loud whistles against it.
In most instances they are often fall victims in the hands of political bureaucracies, foreign capitalists and authoritarian officials whose usually benefit from the tumultuous and rigid system, thus leaving the bulk of the impoverished Liberian population to survive on diurnal hopes.

Presently Africa has come to be a major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving an attention that Africa receives from state actors on the global stage in the context of international politics, the idea of an African rebirth seems to be finding more and more acceptance within the contemporary global politics due to its rich oil but had this new love for Africa developed by Beijing and Washington nowadays produces any benefits for the continent’s larger impoverished inhabitants and eliminate the curse of rampant corruption and bad governance?

Liberia is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but widespread corruption and abuse of resources and bad governance are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings, deaths and the vicious circle of an endlessness hardship from one county to the another in the country.

The nation's riches high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to use; but most Liberians are seeing little benefit from this influx of investment; in fact they are often hurt by poor policy nowadays.

Nowadays, bad leadership and rampant corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than United States One dollar a day. The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power.

“This might sound ridiculous”, but it is a glimpsing fact that resources curse can be avoidable and turn into fruitful and praiseworthy blessings; but the saddest nightmare always plagues dozen of rich African states including Liberia that mismanaged their resources that generate most needed wealth; since resource often in many instances fostered corruption, benefits and profoundly serves foreign capitalists and corrupt leaders’ deep-seated interests to the displeasure of the largest society, thereby restricting bulk of the population to abject poor and inhumane sufferings.

For instance, in many of Africa’s most oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Southern Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, oil, instead of being a blessing for the population, it becomes curse and produces corruption as an endemic debacle. Oil discovery in Africa automatically leads to corruption menace which gives birth to doom and gloom-driven poverty.

Unlike other continents, in Africa corruption is being fought or dealt with through rhetoric-with judges and law enforcement personnel being opened to bribery to compromise cases, even when there is a strong and visible evidence and fact; this fight on the continent doesn’t come with sincerity, commitment and loyalty.

Corruption appears to be the daily practice across majority of the African countries as it widely carry out and visible in the system, it is also eating up the fabric of other sectors including political institutions, schools, civil society organizations, Banks, the media, police, national and international NGOs, commercial drivers, business sector, sporting groups, churches and mosques, and banking institutions.

In some continents the situation is to the contrary, oil is a blessing and not a curse, it removes the people from poverty to better their livelihoods; let’s look at the case of North America that produces more oil than Africa, has the lowest resource rents as a share of GDP and has good governance ratings.

According to US Department of Energy, Canada as one of the top ten world oil producers, has one of the least corrupt governments in the world, on the other hand, Norway is one of the top ten exporters of crude oil in the world, while maintaining its stature as a perennial leader of the United Nations Human Development Index.

From the 1950s to 2000s, Africa has experienced lots of assassinations either by coups d’etat or by civil naughty including political detentions, thus depriving Africa of the men and women who would perhaps have built a better future. Each assassination, each coup d’etat, each civil disobedient and each political exile dealt a blow to Africa. All these ugly activities are direct results of bad governances perhaps under the influences of foreign capitalists to plunge the continent into perpetual crises to enable the foreign powers indirectly loot Africa rich oil and other riches.

Africa is perceived mainly by the West as insignificance, but the continent’s oil and gas are among the few outstanding exceptions to the perceived insignificance of Africa by the West and other foreign capitalists. The United States will soon depend on Africa for a quarter of its total crude oil imports, and Africa already accounts for more than a quarter of China’s oil imports today.

In the words of the former chief executive of BP John Browne, unless geologists succeed in finding new and so far unidentified provinces, as consumers, we will all be dependent on supplies from just three areas — West Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

Dozens of research findings point to the fast that the People’s Republic of China and United States’ interests in Africa are complex, and many issues such as terrorism are high on the agenda. Africa is littered with fragile states. Upcoming and existing oil-producing countries in Africa have been marred by coup attempts and poverty.

In addition, the failure to share the revenues generated by natural resources such as oil in an equitable manner has created disenchanted and disillusioned within the young populations, which have provided a fertile ground for crisis and a haven for rebellions as evident of the ‘Arab Spring’, which rapidly propelled the destruction and demised of many leaders.
Accordingly, crude oil is one of the world’s most important strategic resources, and Africa has attracted a lot of attention among corporate and political decision-makers because of growing global oil demand.

Indeed, it has been suggested that Africa is experiencing a ‘New diplomatic race; thanks primarily to its oil and gas wealth, with the United States and the People’s Republic of China actively competing for access to Africa’s resources. China is currently Africa’s third most important trading partner, ahead of the United Kingdom and behind the United States and France.

In a world where both developed and developing countries require huge quantities of oil resources, Africa has once again become strategic for major actors in the international system. Strategic considerations related to Africa are, of course, influenced by global processes and rivalries, with China’s great power status having recently received particular attention.

China’s new style of diplomacy and its foreign policy principle of “non-interference” but one China policy have been characterized as sensitive to local conditions in Africa rather than imposing standards, as the case of the United States which imposes conditions such as human right, political and economic performance criteria for its foreign investment, aid assistance and support towards projects in Africa.

Unlike in other region like Latin America and Europe where the United States maintains political influence, China on the other hand maintains robust economic influence in Africa. The United States finds it difficult to outweigh China in its financial aid to African due to Beijing new “checkbook diplomacy” and aid to African governments and institutions, although the U.S. militarily out-spent China

In contrast and comparison, this subject looks at Washington and Beijing growing impact on the African continent in the context of influence and support to the continent. While it is difficult to draw out a definite conclusion, empirically China is posing greater threat to the U.S. influence in Africa, except for other regions such as the Latin America, Asia and Middle East where U.S. commends greater respect.
China and the United States use tools of soft power in different ways and with varying effects. Since the mid-1990s, the PRC has adopted an increasingly active and pragmatic diplomatic approach in Africa that emphasizes complementary economic interests.

China’s influence and image have been bolstered through its increasingly open and sophisticated diplomatic corps as well as through prominent PRC-funded infrastructure, public works, and economic investment projects in many African countries; Beijing have diplomatic mission in 49 African countries.
The U.S. international public image is gradually declining on the continent perhaps due to its foreign policies that remain unpopular abroad. The U.S. government has persistently criticized U.S. state diplomacy as being neglectful of smaller countries or of countries and regional issues that are not related to the global war on terrorism.

The United States continues to exert global foreign aid leadership and maintain a major, and much appreciated, aid presence in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. U.S. foreign assistance to Southeast Asia has increased markedly since 2001, although most new funding has been directed at counter-terrorism.

The regions with the largest U.S. public diplomacy efforts in terms of funding are Europe/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Carribean). Likewise, the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program seeks to promote democratic values, mutual understanding, and professional and personal relationships in addition to military capacity.

Many aspects of U.S. social, economic, cultural, academic, technological, and other forms of influence, much of which emanate from the private sector or outside the scope of government, remain unmatched in the world. Many American ideals have long-term, universal appeal, while the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants and foreign students.

Despite a perceived lack of attention among elites, the United States has maintained favorable public image ratings in many African and Latin American countries as well as in the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
The United States and China share the same vital national interests of security and prosperity, although each has a particular additional interest and each defines its interests somewhat differently. Each seeks freedom from fear and want and to preserve its territorial integrity. For the United States, its particular interest lies in value preservation and projection of those values.

China has thus made in-roads into the oil sectors in Nigeria (Africa’s largest oil producer) and Angola (Africa’s second largest producer), which accounts for “13 per cent of China’s crude oil imports”. Other African countries with Chinese oil interests include Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Liberia, Ghana, Southern Sudan and Chad.

US oil interests are locked into major oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, and the “new oil boom states” Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Since most of the oil being discovered is off-shore, it also has the added advantage of being beyond the reach of protesting oil communities on land that are capable of disrupting the oil flow, as had been the case in the restive Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta since the 1990’s (Obi 2006a: 93-94).

It is fair to argue that the African continent has not traditionally been at the centre of United States of America (USA) foreign policy. Historical links between the U.S. and African countries date back centuries, but significant change in both relations has been the growing concern about the hunt for resources and terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

The United States recent re-engaging with the continent indicates that Africa does occupy a central place in US global foreign policy strategy. The US is the world’s largest development aid donor and has programs dedicated to Africa with billions of dollars being spent in various sectors on the continent.

The Sino-African oil relationship can become complex due to other linked areas of concern. Oil, as part of China’s desire to acquire more natural resources, has brought criticism of China’s “neo-colonialist” presence in Africa, and questions whether China’s presence benefits governance and the African people.

China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-four countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011 while most western analysts believe that the main driving force behind China’s investment in Africa is for natural resources and thus focuses on a few resource rich countries.

China is currently the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, and more than half of its crude oil is imported and by 2020, official sources estimate that China will import about 65 percent of its crude oil China’s presence in Africa, According to Shelly Zhao briefing paper April 2011, to secure oil resources has been increasing.

The study of international relations has historically focused on the activities of large, powerful states, dismissing the smaller entities of the international system as unimportant or merely objects of policy for the larger entities. This truism extends especially to those entities that exist in a partially recognized limbo, neither a full part of the international system nor an ungoverned space.

Yet in the post-Cold War world, following the dissolution of large multi-national states such as the USSR, these entities have begun to proliferate, such is the case of Moscow in Ukraine and Syrian’s brutal civil crises.
This proliferation provides a significant challenge to an international system in which the primary participants are states, and to the institutions created to oversee their interaction for world peace. As such the study of these entities and their interaction with the world outside their borders is a study important for a systemic understanding of contemporary international relations.

This new race for Africa’s resources is already engendering conflicts across the region. By analyzing the likely impact on the economies of oil-producing states, it considers whether we should dismay or rejoice over the ‘New Scramble for Africa’. It concludes that the existence of a New Scramble or a US–Chinese race for Africa should be treated with some caution, while the economic impact of oil investments is likely to be bleak.

Both the American and the Chinese Governments were important in paving the way for American and Chinese oil interests in expanding in Africa. The US Government used diplomatic instruments such economic incentives and military aid. China has proven more supportive and has provided loans, debt relief, scholarships, training, and provision of military hardware without political or economic pre-conditions, in exchange for a foothold in the oil business.

In turn, incumbent African leaders have identified Chinese unconditional financial resources, cheap products, and know-how as an important tool to fend off pressure for political and economic reforms from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Western governments. China is the new superstar on the African continent when it comes to new diplomatic ties, trade expansion and investments in large-scale development projects.

This was emphasized at the recent China-Africa summit in Beijing (5th Forum on China and Africa Cooperation held in Beijing in July 2012). While most hailed the new Chinese drive, some fear a new scramble for Africa’s vast natural resources. Widely believed to become the world’s largest economy, China is successfully seeking its place under the African sun. Starting out with pariah nations such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, excellent relations are now held with almost all of Africa’s 54 states.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where copper and diamonds have inspired wars and mayhem, there is currently intense competition and militia rivalries over the mining and sale, a critical raw material used in mobile phones and electronic devices.
The battle over uranium, used in feeding nuclear reactors, continues to be at the root of conflicts in Niger. The connection between conflict and foreign exploitation of mineral resources can be drawn with respect to other countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy, subject to Cold War rivalries, their path to development largely blocked by their debilitating colonial past. More recently, the West has choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) than on health care, education, infrastructure, and other vital services combined.

For African governments, China’s new interest mostly has been a blessing. Diplomatically, their dependence on Western countries is eased, allowing new diplomatic competition as in the Cold War era, and giving pariah leaders an alternative backing. Chinese aid funds are also popular, because Beijing asks no questions on good governance and is fond of prestigious grand projects.

Economically, however, the Chinese advance has come with mixed blessings for Africa. With China’s admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has boomed into an economic superpower of cheap mass produced exports, giving no room for African competition. But Beijing is not only interested in gaining African export markets. The economic superpower is not endowed with many natural resources, making Beijing dependent on mass imports of crude materials.

Most importantly, there is evidence of greater involvement of the United States and China in Africa, in terms of both commercial interests and political engagement. “China’s bilateralism in relation to Africa” could undermine regional and continental institutions as “it replays the colonialist divide and conquer tactics.” Wars need money.

From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Angola to Cambodia, natural resources such as timber, diamonds and minerals have helped fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians. Currently, there is an amazing infrastructure race taking place within East Africa, helping to reduce investment risk within the region. We see East Asian powers providing infrastructure in order to gain a competitive advantage in these regions.
China is taking a very broad approach and accessing the region whole heartily. We are also seeing Japan’s involvement, and the US through Anadarko’s involvement in Mozambique. Infrastructure is being built for mining and mineral interests, and hydrocarbons are taking a secondary spot. This will provide energy companies with an opportunity to wait for infrastructure to develop. This fact increases a company’s incentive to be a little less aggressive in terms of entering and building infrastructure specifically for energy.

Battling to overcome its own created problems such as bad governance, Africa throughout the Cold War until the mid-2000s, played only an insignificant role on the world’s stage in the context of international relations and diplomacy. This is not to say that Africa was irrelevant but the developments of the Cold War somewhat overshadowed the continent on the global stage.

During the Cold War period, most of Africa remained within the spheres of influence of the former colonial powers, which made use of the relative freedom they were given by the Great Powers to materialize their interests in Africa, but with the end of the Cold War, things somehow turned the other way in the interest of the continent.

Africa’s recent advancement on the world’s stage has sparked out neurons calls for the continent to occupy a seat on the Security Council with an equal veto, but the question that arises is which of the three African countries to occupy the dedicated seat ? Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco are all vying and not ready to allow either one of the three to represent Africa if the occasion arises.

The continent in recent time has been re-positioning in the international system as far as international relations and politics are concerned, but greed for power and wealth, and bad governances, are some of the major problems that are affecting the continent.
In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy; most recently, the West and East have choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts. The legacy of Western domination has left Africa devastated with crippling rates of poverty, hunger, and disease. The continent today has a gross national per-capita yearly below that of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in most African countries, and an average life expectancy of only fifty years.

According to UN’s report, eighty-five percent of Africans have no access to standard pipe borne water, good healthcare delivery system, electricity, social security benefits, sanitation facilities and good meals a day. The report further indicates that 25.8 million people of the two-thirds of the total world population suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Africa. Africa remains a continent abundant in human and natural resources, but are managed to enrich only a handful of African leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, certain individuals and foreign capitalists who continue to exploit the continent.
However, this ‘new scramble’ differs in at least two regards from its colonial predecessor.

First, the pool of actors has widened and Europeans are no longer the dominant outside actors in Africa. China, for instance, has emerged as one of the most active players in Second, while African governmental elites currently are key players with considerable bargaining leverage.

More cautionary thinkers who read international politics point to the prevailing poverty and corruption, civil disobedience, bad governance and the weak political parties and institutions in Africa, while other analysts predict the continent will have a promising future. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in between with a 50-50 reality.

Evaluating the continent’s key actors performances on the global stage, many observers see Africa steadily moving towards Beijing, while others regard tales of a successful Sino-African future with suspicion and point to the robustness of US–African ties.

Nowadays more than ever, as Jean-François Bayart wrote rather provocatively a decade ago, the ‘discourse on Africa’s marginality is baloney. The economic, demographic, and political developments on the African continent suggest that Africa is moving away from the periphery of the international system, not without consequences for the traditional international actors in the region.

But farsighted political figures, also agreed that Africa has entered a new phase of history, which is characterized by increased African actors on the world stage, with greater influences.
For instance, a good marker of this change is the greater interest that the continent has received from Asian and other emerging countries and the resulting competition between well-established and new actors on the African continent.
By: Josephus Moses Gray
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The Fight Against Corruption In Liberia Must Be Decisive Not Mere Policy

Corruption is not a new phenomenon in the country either the African continent and its huge populations, it has been eating up every sphere of the Liberian society especially corruption prone sectors of government including the private sector.


But how can President George Weah's administration approach the new fight againat corruption to bring the perpetrators to book? Will the government institute strong actions and severely punished the brains behind the practice?

Nowadays the fight against widespread corruption must not be a mere policy; it require a decisive action by President Weah in order to signal to all state officials and others that the CDC led-government is not taking the fight against corruption as a mere joke. President Weah without fears or favor must set an example on public officials caught in corrupt practics.

This unethical practice has grown even larger to the extent it is not only hampering development and growth in Liberia but it is also hunting men and women of honesty and integrity who have made it their lifetime duty to blow loud whistles against it; in most instances they are often fall victims in the hands of political bureaucracies, foreign capitalists and authoritarian officials whose usually benefit from the tumultuous and rigid system, thus leaving the bulk of the impoverished Liberian population to survive on diurnal hopes.

Presently Africa has come to be a major Geo-strategic importance to the oil-dependent industrialized economies and giving an attention that Africa receives from state actors on the global stage in the context of international politics, the idea of an African rebirth seems to be finding more and more acceptance within the contemporary global politics due to its rich oil but had this new love for Africa developed by Beijing and Washington nowadays produces any benefits for the continent’s larger impoverished inhabitants and eliminate the curse of rampant corruption and bad governance?

Liberia is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but widespread corruption and abuse of resources and bad governance are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings, deaths and the vicious circle of an endlessness hardship from one county to the another in the country.

The nation's riches high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to use; but most Liberians are seeing little benefit from this influx of investment; in fact they are often hurt by poor policy nowadays.

Nowadays, bad leadership and rampant corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than United States One dollar a day. The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power.

“This might sound ridiculous”, but it is a glimpsing fact that resources curse can be avoidable and turn into fruitful and praiseworthy blessings; but the saddest nightmare always plagues dozen of rich African states including Liberia that mismanaged their resources that generate most needed wealth; since resource often in many instances fostered corruption, benefits and profoundly serves foreign capitalists and corrupt leaders’ deep-seated interests to the displeasure of the largest society, thereby restricting bulk of the population to abject poor and inhumane sufferings.

For instance, in many of Africa’s most oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya, Southern Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, oil, instead of being a blessing for the population, it becomes curse and produces corruption as an endemic debacle. Oil discovery in Africa automatically leads to corruption menace which gives birth to doom and gloom-driven poverty.

Unlike other continents, in Africa corruption is being fought or dealt with through rhetoric-with judges and law enforcement personnel being opened to bribery to compromise cases, even when there is a strong and visible evidence and fact; this fight on the continent doesn’t come with sincerity, commitment and loyalty.

Corruption appears to be the daily practice across majority of the African countries as it widely carry out and visible in the system, it is also eating up the fabric of other sectors including political institutions, schools, civil society organizations, Banks, the media, police, national and international NGOs, commercial drivers, business sector, sporting groups, churches and mosques, and banking institutions.

In some continents the situation is to the contrary, oil is a blessing and not a curse, it removes the people from poverty to better their livelihoods; let’s look at the case of North America that produces more oil than Africa, has the lowest resource rents as a share of GDP and has good governance ratings.

According to US Department of Energy, Canada as one of the top ten world oil producers, has one of the least corrupt governments in the world, on the other hand, Norway is one of the top ten exporters of crude oil in the world, while maintaining its stature as a perennial leader of the United Nations Human Development Index.

From the 1950s to 2000s, Africa has experienced lots of assassinations either by coups d’etat or by civil naughty including political detentions, thus depriving Africa of the men and women who would perhaps have built a better future. Each assassination, each coup d’etat, each civil disobedient and each political exile dealt a blow to Africa. All these ugly activities are direct results of bad governances perhaps under the influences of foreign capitalists to plunge the continent into perpetual crises to enable the foreign powers indirectly loot Africa rich oil and other riches.

Africa is perceived mainly by the West as insignificance, but the continent’s oil and gas are among the few outstanding exceptions to the perceived insignificance of Africa by the West and other foreign capitalists. The United States will soon depend on Africa for a quarter of its total crude oil imports, and Africa already accounts for more than a quarter of China’s oil imports today.

In the words of the former chief executive of BP John Browne, unless geologists succeed in finding new and so far unidentified provinces, as consumers, we will all be dependent on supplies from just three areas — West Africa, Russia and the Middle East.

Dozens of research findings point to the fast that the People’s Republic of China and United States’ interests in Africa are complex, and many issues such as terrorism are high on the agenda. Africa is littered with fragile states. Upcoming and existing oil-producing countries in Africa have been marred by coup attempts and poverty.

In addition, the failure to share the revenues generated by natural resources such as oil in an equitable manner has created disenchanted and disillusioned within the young populations, which have provided a fertile ground for crisis and a haven for rebellions as evident of the ‘Arab Spring’, which rapidly propelled the destruction and demised of many leaders.
Accordingly, crude oil is one of the world’s most important strategic resources, and Africa has attracted a lot of attention among corporate and political decision-makers because of growing global oil demand.

Indeed, it has been suggested that Africa is experiencing a ‘New diplomatic race; thanks primarily to its oil and gas wealth, with the United States and the People’s Republic of China actively competing for access to Africa’s resources. China is currently Africa’s third most important trading partner, ahead of the United Kingdom and behind the United States and France.

In a world where both developed and developing countries require huge quantities of oil resources, Africa has once again become strategic for major actors in the international system. Strategic considerations related to Africa are, of course, influenced by global processes and rivalries, with China’s great power status having recently received particular attention.

China’s new style of diplomacy and its foreign policy principle of “non-interference” but one China policy have been characterized as sensitive to local conditions in Africa rather than imposing standards, as the case of the United States which imposes conditions such as human right, political and economic performance criteria for its foreign investment, aid assistance and support towards projects in Africa.

Unlike in other region like Latin America and Europe where the United States maintains political influence, China on the other hand maintains robust economic influence in Africa. The United States finds it difficult to outweigh China in its financial aid to African due to Beijing new “checkbook diplomacy” and aid to African governments and institutions, although the U.S. militarily out-spent China

In contrast and comparison, this subject looks at Washington and Beijing growing impact on the African continent in the context of influence and support to the continent. While it is difficult to draw out a definite conclusion, empirically China is posing greater threat to the U.S. influence in Africa, except for other regions such as the Latin America, Asia and Middle East where U.S. commends greater respect.
China and the United States use tools of soft power in different ways and with varying effects. Since the mid-1990s, the PRC has adopted an increasingly active and pragmatic diplomatic approach in Africa that emphasizes complementary economic interests.

China’s influence and image have been bolstered through its increasingly open and sophisticated diplomatic corps as well as through prominent PRC-funded infrastructure, public works, and economic investment projects in many African countries; Beijing have diplomatic mission in 49 African countries.
The U.S. international public image is gradually declining on the continent perhaps due to its foreign policies that remain unpopular abroad. The U.S. government has persistently criticized U.S. state diplomacy as being neglectful of smaller countries or of countries and regional issues that are not related to the global war on terrorism.

The United States continues to exert global foreign aid leadership and maintain a major, and much appreciated, aid presence in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. U.S. foreign assistance to Southeast Asia has increased markedly since 2001, although most new funding has been directed at counter-terrorism.

The regions with the largest U.S. public diplomacy efforts in terms of funding are Europe/Eurasia and the Western Hemisphere (Latin America and the Carribean). Likewise, the U.S. International Military Education and Training (IMET) program seeks to promote democratic values, mutual understanding, and professional and personal relationships in addition to military capacity.

Many aspects of U.S. social, economic, cultural, academic, technological, and other forms of influence, much of which emanate from the private sector or outside the scope of government, remain unmatched in the world. Many American ideals have long-term, universal appeal, while the United States continues to be a magnet for immigrants and foreign students.

Despite a perceived lack of attention among elites, the United States has maintained favorable public image ratings in many African and Latin American countries as well as in the Philippines, a U.S. ally.
The United States and China share the same vital national interests of security and prosperity, although each has a particular additional interest and each defines its interests somewhat differently. Each seeks freedom from fear and want and to preserve its territorial integrity. For the United States, its particular interest lies in value preservation and projection of those values.

China has thus made in-roads into the oil sectors in Nigeria (Africa’s largest oil producer) and Angola (Africa’s second largest producer), which accounts for “13 per cent of China’s crude oil imports”. Other African countries with Chinese oil interests include Gabon, Mauritania, Niger, Equatorial Guinea, Algeria, Liberia, Ghana, Southern Sudan and Chad.

US oil interests are locked into major oil producers such as Nigeria, Angola, Algeria, Gabon, and the “new oil boom states” Chad, Equatorial Guinea, and Sao Tome and Principe. Since most of the oil being discovered is off-shore, it also has the added advantage of being beyond the reach of protesting oil communities on land that are capable of disrupting the oil flow, as had been the case in the restive Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta since the 1990’s (Obi 2006a: 93-94).

It is fair to argue that the African continent has not traditionally been at the centre of United States of America (USA) foreign policy. Historical links between the U.S. and African countries date back centuries, but significant change in both relations has been the growing concern about the hunt for resources and terrorist activities on the continent, particularly in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel regions.

The United States recent re-engaging with the continent indicates that Africa does occupy a central place in US global foreign policy strategy. The US is the world’s largest development aid donor and has programs dedicated to Africa with billions of dollars being spent in various sectors on the continent.

The Sino-African oil relationship can become complex due to other linked areas of concern. Oil, as part of China’s desire to acquire more natural resources, has brought criticism of China’s “neo-colonialist” presence in Africa, and questions whether China’s presence benefits governance and the African people.

China and Africa have since then become all-weather friends that understand, support and help each other. Fifty-one of the continent’s fifty-four countries have established diplomatic ties with China thus far, the most recent being South Sudan in 2011 while most western analysts believe that the main driving force behind China’s investment in Africa is for natural resources and thus focuses on a few resource rich countries.

China is currently the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, and more than half of its crude oil is imported and by 2020, official sources estimate that China will import about 65 percent of its crude oil China’s presence in Africa, According to Shelly Zhao briefing paper April 2011, to secure oil resources has been increasing.

The study of international relations has historically focused on the activities of large, powerful states, dismissing the smaller entities of the international system as unimportant or merely objects of policy for the larger entities. This truism extends especially to those entities that exist in a partially recognized limbo, neither a full part of the international system nor an ungoverned space.

Yet in the post-Cold War world, following the dissolution of large multi-national states such as the USSR, these entities have begun to proliferate, such is the case of Moscow in Ukraine and Syrian’s brutal civil crises.
This proliferation provides a significant challenge to an international system in which the primary participants are states, and to the institutions created to oversee their interaction for world peace. As such the study of these entities and their interaction with the world outside their borders is a study important for a systemic understanding of contemporary international relations.

This new race for Africa’s resources is already engendering conflicts across the region. By analyzing the likely impact on the economies of oil-producing states, it considers whether we should dismay or rejoice over the ‘New Scramble for Africa’. It concludes that the existence of a New Scramble or a US–Chinese race for Africa should be treated with some caution, while the economic impact of oil investments is likely to be bleak.

Both the American and the Chinese Governments were important in paving the way for American and Chinese oil interests in expanding in Africa. The US Government used diplomatic instruments such economic incentives and military aid. China has proven more supportive and has provided loans, debt relief, scholarships, training, and provision of military hardware without political or economic pre-conditions, in exchange for a foothold in the oil business.

In turn, incumbent African leaders have identified Chinese unconditional financial resources, cheap products, and know-how as an important tool to fend off pressure for political and economic reforms from international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and Western governments. China is the new superstar on the African continent when it comes to new diplomatic ties, trade expansion and investments in large-scale development projects.

This was emphasized at the recent China-Africa summit in Beijing (5th Forum on China and Africa Cooperation held in Beijing in July 2012). While most hailed the new Chinese drive, some fear a new scramble for Africa’s vast natural resources. Widely believed to become the world’s largest economy, China is successfully seeking its place under the African sun. Starting out with pariah nations such as Sudan and Zimbabwe, excellent relations are now held with almost all of Africa’s 54 states.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where copper and diamonds have inspired wars and mayhem, there is currently intense competition and militia rivalries over the mining and sale, a critical raw material used in mobile phones and electronic devices.
The battle over uranium, used in feeding nuclear reactors, continues to be at the root of conflicts in Niger. The connection between conflict and foreign exploitation of mineral resources can be drawn with respect to other countries, including Nigeria, Sudan, Cote D’Ivoire, Liberia, Libya, Namibia, and Zimbabwe.

In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy, subject to Cold War rivalries, their path to development largely blocked by their debilitating colonial past. More recently, the West has choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) than on health care, education, infrastructure, and other vital services combined.

For African governments, China’s new interest mostly has been a blessing. Diplomatically, their dependence on Western countries is eased, allowing new diplomatic competition as in the Cold War era, and giving pariah leaders an alternative backing. Chinese aid funds are also popular, because Beijing asks no questions on good governance and is fond of prestigious grand projects.

Economically, however, the Chinese advance has come with mixed blessings for Africa. With China’s admittance to the World Trade Organization (WTO), it has boomed into an economic superpower of cheap mass produced exports, giving no room for African competition. But Beijing is not only interested in gaining African export markets. The economic superpower is not endowed with many natural resources, making Beijing dependent on mass imports of crude materials.

Most importantly, there is evidence of greater involvement of the United States and China in Africa, in terms of both commercial interests and political engagement. “China’s bilateralism in relation to Africa” could undermine regional and continental institutions as “it replays the colonialist divide and conquer tactics.” Wars need money.

From Liberia to Sierra Leone, Angola to Cambodia, natural resources such as timber, diamonds and minerals have helped fund armies and militias who murder, rape and commit other human rights abuses against civilians. Currently, there is an amazing infrastructure race taking place within East Africa, helping to reduce investment risk within the region. We see East Asian powers providing infrastructure in order to gain a competitive advantage in these regions.
China is taking a very broad approach and accessing the region whole heartily. We are also seeing Japan’s involvement, and the US through Anadarko’s involvement in Mozambique. Infrastructure is being built for mining and mineral interests, and hydrocarbons are taking a secondary spot. This will provide energy companies with an opportunity to wait for infrastructure to develop. This fact increases a company’s incentive to be a little less aggressive in terms of entering and building infrastructure specifically for energy.

Battling to overcome its own created problems such as bad governance, Africa throughout the Cold War until the mid-2000s, played only an insignificant role on the world’s stage in the context of international relations and diplomacy. This is not to say that Africa was irrelevant but the developments of the Cold War somewhat overshadowed the continent on the global stage.

During the Cold War period, most of Africa remained within the spheres of influence of the former colonial powers, which made use of the relative freedom they were given by the Great Powers to materialize their interests in Africa, but with the end of the Cold War, things somehow turned the other way in the interest of the continent.

Africa’s recent advancement on the world’s stage has sparked out neurons calls for the continent to occupy a seat on the Security Council with an equal veto, but the question that arises is which of the three African countries to occupy the dedicated seat ? Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco are all vying and not ready to allow either one of the three to represent Africa if the occasion arises.

The continent in recent time has been re-positioning in the international system as far as international relations and politics are concerned, but greed for power and wealth, and bad governances, are some of the major problems that are affecting the continent.
In the post-independence eras, African states became weak pawns in the world economy; most recently, the West and East have choked Africa with an onerous debt regime, forcing many nations to pay more in interest on debts. The legacy of Western domination has left Africa devastated with crippling rates of poverty, hunger, and disease. The continent today has a gross national per-capita yearly below that of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in most African countries, and an average life expectancy of only fifty years.

According to UN’s report, eighty-five percent of Africans have no access to standard pipe borne water, good healthcare delivery system, electricity, social security benefits, sanitation facilities and good meals a day. The report further indicates that 25.8 million people of the two-thirds of the total world population suffering from HIV/AIDS live in Africa. Africa remains a continent abundant in human and natural resources, but are managed to enrich only a handful of African leaders, corrupt bureaucrats, certain individuals and foreign capitalists who continue to exploit the continent.
However, this ‘new scramble’ differs in at least two regards from its colonial predecessor.

First, the pool of actors has widened and Europeans are no longer the dominant outside actors in Africa. China, for instance, has emerged as one of the most active players in Second, while African governmental elites currently are key players with considerable bargaining leverage.

More cautionary thinkers who read international politics point to the prevailing poverty and corruption, civil disobedience, bad governance and the weak political parties and institutions in Africa, while other analysts predict the continent will have a promising future. Most likely the truth lies somewhere in between with a 50-50 reality.

Evaluating the continent’s key actors performances on the global stage, many observers see Africa steadily moving towards Beijing, while others regard tales of a successful Sino-African future with suspicion and point to the robustness of US–African ties.

Nowadays more than ever, as Jean-François Bayart wrote rather provocatively a decade ago, the ‘discourse on Africa’s marginality is baloney. The economic, demographic, and political developments on the African continent suggest that Africa is moving away from the periphery of the international system, not without consequences for the traditional international actors in the region.

But farsighted political figures, also agreed that Africa has entered a new phase of history, which is characterized by increased African actors on the world stage, with greater influences.
For instance, a good marker of this change is the greater interest that the continent has received from Asian and other emerging countries and the resulting competition between well-established and new actors on the African continent.
By: Josephus Moses Gray
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By: Josephus Moses Gray

Can H.E. President Weah Learn any Lessons from the NTA’s MD?

H.E. President Weah’s row of appointees is men and women with impeccable character and high moral competence. But these claims can only be fulfilled when answers are found to the to a celebrated maxim that says: “We shall know them by their fruits.” Yes, Liberians are beginning to know Hon. Herbie McCauley, NTA-MD by some of his drupes. Hon. McCauley is one of H.E. President Weah's finest political brains. Hon. McCauley has taken a giant initiative, something his boss, the President of the Republic of Liberia and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia has not done since he took his presidential Oath on January 22nd. 2018 under the watchful eyes of His Lordship Francis Korkpor, Sr., Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia.


The tryst of Hon. Herbie McCauley by H.E. President Weah was a forthright choice for the people of Liberia on the one hand, and on the other, it was also for the attendants at the National Transit Authorities (NTA). Liberians do not need to research the academic thoroughbred of H.E. President Weah’s appointees in order to discern their individual’s moral competence. The appointees themselves will rationalize their pragmatic stance through their holistic deeds rather than words.

Liberians will definitively appraise H.E. President Weah’s governmental flagbearers either through their vision document or their measurable deliverables plan of action from time to time. This is the case with Hon. Herbie McCauley, Managing Director, NTA, who from all intents and purposes strangely becomes the newest frontage of Liberia's 21st-century metamorphosis as a genius agent of change amid the ensuing unethical complexities at the current NTA since the advent of the then Liberia’s civil carnage. Hon. McCauley was profoundly courageous to have divulged on Tuesday, February 20th, 2018, in a press conference about the dignified need for the seemingly known corruptible NTA to undergo an Audit which was conspicuously a very strange political phenomenon coming from the tongue of a newly appointed MD.

This unprecedented political adventure was taken by Hon. McCauley had not been taken even by H.E President Weah, Hon. McCauley’s boss. But in Africa, the term “Audit” often irritate thousands and thousands of politicians in Liberia especially in a poverty-striking nation like Liberia where the words “accountability and transparency” devastate the hearts of so-called Liberia’s reformers and H.E President Weah is no exception.

Hon. McCauley believes in modernity for the security and sovereignty of the little unknown finances of a very poor entity like the NTA which I want to take my hats off to Hon. McCauley for such a board and giant attempt to audit the NTA. His quest will no doubt sink down into history as one man within the Weah’s government that initiated an audit under the noises of his boss H.E President. Hon. McCauley's reputable quest should be an enormously challenging lesson to H.E President Weah, and his host of Ministers, Directors, Commissioners, Ambassadors and counties Superintendents. There is the urgent need for H.E President Weah to initiate an audit of the 12-years Former President Sirleaf’s tenure in office to establish the financial status of Liberia 12-years ago. It was a shacking utterance on the part of Hon. McCauley when he vehemently lamented: “The Audit is intended to establish the status of the institute’s obligations, debts, gains, challenges, and financial status.” Great!!

This is unprecedented in a country that is submerged in systemic corruption and political thievery. Hon. McCauley has the hallmarks and the characteristics of the International community. This is one outstanding feature the International Community often look for in most African governments—thanks to Hon. McCauley a million times. To run any administration, one has to first understand the overall financial status of the said entity, it gains, its debts and balances and it outstanding and international and national obligations both externally and internally. Currently, H.E President doesn't know the financial standing of his own Government this is a very dangerous precedence on the part of a President who ran on the platform of "Poor Pro-Government", accountability and transparency, yet he has deliberately negated the word "audit" from his present vocabulary which amounts to H.E President Weah’s insincerity.

PUBLIC POLICY FOR RACIAL JUSTICE  OR “STATE CAPTURE”?A COMMENTARY

Deeply-troubled and concerned, President George Weah, the Second “Country-Boy” President of the Republic, born and raised in the Ghetto-Slum, Clara Town, enclave of the City of Monrovia, declared in his first State of the Nation Address, that “In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a Clause [Article 27 (b)] in our Constitution (of 1986) is unnecessary, racist and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations”.


The Clause, which has come to be known as the “Negro Clause”, denies Liberian citizenship to persons or individuals only and only because they are not Negroes or are not of Negro descent.

The relevant questions, crucial and critical, are the “circumstances” and “place” which the Republic now occupies, according to the President. Our answers:

a) Prior to and during 18th century conditions and “circumstances”, Liberians were a people subjected to and fled from wrongful, racial discrimination, human bondage and servitude, with social, economic and political rights denied and routinely abused with impunity. Therefore, such a law [(Article 27(b)] was not only necessary, but also, mandatory, for fear that the non-Negro race might gain political power/control and, again, enslave and persecute them.

b) But in the prevailing 21st century, conditions and “circumstances” have changed dramatically, such that the new Nation of freed Negro Slaves has become the high-profiled, internationally-recognized member of the United Nations and participating actor on the world stage in this age of democratic, pluralistic political process with protection of human, civil and political rights of all peoples.

c) Moreover, the Republic is not only a founding member-state of the World Body, but also the willing signatory to all International Treaties, including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids member-states from discrimination based on race, gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, religion, etc.

d) It was in the light of these changed conditions and “circumstances” that the Republic of Liberia dragged the Republic of South Africa to the International Court of Justice for Racial Segregation/Discrimination on behalf of the Republic of Namibia, then under its (South Africa’s) Trusteeship.

Indeed, segregation/discrimination based on race has been declared, and is, a profound wrongful, evil and illegal act long ago then and is now wrongful, evil, illegal act, will be henceforth for all time. Therefore, Article 27(b), the “Negro Clause”, must be repealed and cleansed from the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, under these “circumstances”.

The Political Scientist
Now, comes the Political Scientist, Counselor-at-Law and member of Liberia’s Supreme Court Bar who declares that “President Weah is been coerced by certain group of people to seek their selfish interest at the detriment of the ordinary Liberian people . . . This draws a parallel to the political science concept called State Capture. I don’t think those who advised the President (Weah about repeal of the Negro Clause) were fair to him. In economics we say land is a factor of production. If you look at Liberia, from its founding up to the present, a vast majority of the country’s population has been deprived of land ownership. The dockets of courts are crowded with land dispute cases (New Democrat, February 6, 2018)”.

From his outburst, the eminent Political Scientist and Counselor-at-Law is against repeal, but retention of the wrongful, immoral and illegal act incorporated in the nation’s organic law, the Constitution more than a centuries ago.

Moreover, the Counselor raised the issue of “State Capture”, an illegal practice against which State law enforcement action should and must, now, be directed to compensate, implicitly, in exchange for retention of Article 27(b), the Negro Clause, rather than repeal of this wrongful, immoral and illegal act. This is reasonable conclusion implied in accordance with the Counselor’s choices.

Although the Counselor’s suggested approach of exchange/substitution to provide justice, the critical issue racial justice, leaves the Republic of Liberia NOT better-off in the final analysis, it is very important and relevant, therefore, to inquire as to what is meant by “State Capture”, simply, for the sake of the Counselor’s argument.

According to Wikipedia Encyclopedia online, the term “State Capture” describes the whole body of Political Corruption in which private interests influence significant state decision-making process to achieve their objectives. The term was used, first, by the World Bank to describe situations/conditions in central Asian countries which were in transition from Soviet Communism. Specifically, the term was applied to situations where small, corrupt groups used their influence over government officials to appropriate state decision-making to their economic advantage. These groups were later known as Oligarchs.

State Capture, Specific & Classic
This category of State Capture refers to formal control and manipulation of state institutions - Executive, Legislative, Judicial, Laws and Patterns of expected social behavior - by private individuals and firms to influence state policies and laws in their favor. This category of State Capture seeks to influence the design, crafting and formation of laws to protect and promote influential private interests, not to seek selective enforcement of laws already on the books.

The basic objective of this category of State Capture is replacement of state-selected managements, boards, commissions, etc., with its privately-chosen compliant ones. State decision-makers are, in fact, agents of the state captors who function in monopolistic, non-competitive manner. In the case of this type of State Capture, the expected outcome or state decision is known and assured.

Example of this classic State Capture is the case of South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family business empire.

Corruption State Capture
The other form of State Capture is Corruption State Capture in which a plurality and competition of several Corruptors seek to influence state decision-making by selective enforcement of laws on the books, in force and effect. But in this case, the outcome of policy or regulatory decision is uncertain.

This form of Corruption State Capture had been established in Liberia since 1847. There has been, and is, the plurality and competition of corrupt Captors – American, British, German, French, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, Israeli, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, etc., you name it.

The major Corruption State Captors are western states, some Asian, others, firms and individuals. Although these States have declared anti-corruption and pro-democracy policies, but they cooperate, collaborate and partnership with corrupt, undemocratic states and, thereby, become Super Corruption State Captors, with local “puppet” presidents.

This approach has been the historic case in the Republic of Liberia for 170 years and continuing!

Land Cases “Crowd Court Dockets”
Regarding the issue of land ownership (raised by the Political Scientist/learned Counselor-at-Law), Liberian History reveals that it was NOT the Corruption State Captors, but the leading Liberian founding Fathers, the African-Americans/Americo-Liberians who confiscated and appropriated, forcibly, indigenous citizens’ tribal land – Vai, Gola, Bassa, Kru, Grebo, etc. – of Cape Mount, Bomi, Montserrado, Lower Margibi, Grand Bassa, Sinoe, Grand Kru, Maryland Counties, etc.

This process has been handed down to descendants of Africa-Americans/Americo-Liberians, Congo-Liberians and the Indigenous citizens who graduated into the Americo-Liberian political ruling Class, now as Lawyers and politicians. The process continues to this day, NOT by Corruption State Captors, but by ourselves – Liberian citizens – particularly, the political Counselors-at-Law who “eat money” from both sides of litigant-parties and baffle, baffle and baffle with delay tactics, such that the “dockets of courts are crowded with land dispute cases”.

Example is the Cooper Beach estate land issue. The Supreme Court of Liberia has decided that case in favor the Coopers and lawful owners who bought land from the Coopers. But there are bandits and illegal encroachers who rely on illegal connections with corrupt, political lawyers and judges to continue, still, occupy the land years after the Supreme Court decision. The Ministry of Justice, even, lacks the power/authority to vacate the illegal encroachers!!

It remains to be seen from the promises made by the new Justice Minister (Cllr. Dean).

Therefore, the intervention, by the Political Scientist/Counselor-at-Law of the Supreme Bar, is not only irrelevant to the issue of racial justice at hand, but also, false and vicious distortion of the facts of Liberian History, regarding law enforcement.

 

Confronting Superstition in Postcolonial Africa

Recently, there have been reported incidents of harmful acts that are connected with traditional beliefs and practices across the region. For instance, some people attacked traders and fishermen for 'tying the rain'. They alleged that the victims controlled rainfall in the area to benefit their businesses. The practice of rainmaking and unmaking is found in other African societies. Fortunately, the police intervened and warned the perpetrators against making such false accusations.


In another instance, ritualists killed five bald men in the district of Milange because their head supposedly contained gold. It is not clear how and when Mozambicans started associating bald heads with gold or magical wealth. Similar superstitious narratives have led to violence in other African cultures. For example, in Nigeria, those who believe that the hump contains some 'precious mineral' attackpeople with a hunchback.

Mozambique, however, has been particularly susceptible to ritual murders in recent years. People living with albinism (PLA) have been hunted down and killed in Mozambique for their body parts. The body parts of PLA are used to prepare magical substances that ostensibly bring wealth and good fortune. In September 2017, ritualists killed and removed the brain of a 17-year-old boy.

Mozambicans who suffer ailments or death impute witchcraft, and those who are accused of witchcraft are frequently attacked or killed. In 2011, at least 20 people were murdered for alleged involvement in witchcraft in Mozambique. Some of those arrested for attacking or lynching alleged witches were even schoolteachers. It has thereforebecome pertinent to explore how these manifestations of superstition and magical beliefs are related to the idea of modernity or the postcolonial context. Why has the spread of modernization not resulted in the disappearance of superstitious beliefs and practices in contemporary Mozambique?

A Reaction to modernity?

Some scholars such as Peter Geschiere, Jean and John Comaroff have designated the manifestations of occult beliefs in contemporary Africa as part of the dividends of Africa's encounter with modernity. They have argued that modern changes have fractured Africa, and disrupted the lives of people within Africa. Ritual beliefs, and superstition-based practices, argue Geschiere and Comaroff, are ways that Africans make sense of these changes.

However, the modernity argument needs to be critically re-examined. First, how is accusing traders and farmers of holding the rain or killing PLA a way of making sense of modern changes? Does modernisation propel people to make witchcraft accusations and lynch alleged witches? How is the crisis wrought by modernisation (whatever that means) connected with magical imputations and ritualistic beliefs? Where is the logic in the argument that modernity is the raison d'etre of the growing visibility of occult beliefs in the region? Are modern phenomena not supposed to be oppositional to magic and superstition?
There is no doubt that modernisation has brought about significant change in African societies. The introduction of state bureaucracy, the school system, science and technology, neoliberal economics and the media has led to social, economic and political adjustments in postcolonial Africa. But occult beliefs and practices predate modernity in Africa. Africans have been using narratives of magic to make sense of their lives and social organisations before the introduction of state bureaucracy and other modern institutions. Modernisation has not led to the total disappearance of magical beliefs. So, is it justified to postulate that the manifestation of superstitions in postcolonial Africa is because of modernity?

In contemporary Africa, people make active use of both the magical and modern. Modernisation has provided Africans with an additional facility and resource in making sense of experiences. Where African people cannot use or access the modern, the magical is deployed. If the modern does not suffice, superstition is relied upon to supplement. People try to explain their misfortune using science and logic or by applying material and naturalistic resources. But where the material and natural are unhelpful and unsatisfactory, where they do not provide the answers and solutions, the supernatural and spiritual is used.

Superstition and magic are waxing strong and manifesting forcefully in places like Mozambique despite the modernisation process because there is some purpose that these ritualistic beliefs and practices are serving which modernity has not addressed.

State Failures

In Mozambique, the state has failed in helping the citizens to meaningfully managethe shortage of rain and other existential uncertainties and anxieties. The required education or awareness is lacking. The state has not provided evidence-based information or response to the problem of limited rainfall especially to people in rural communities. According to a local source, elderly persons in the country languish in poverty: "They do not have access to basic health services, transportation and housing. Most elderly persons do not enjoy psychological and material well-being. They live in deplorable conditions, abandoned by relatives, accused of witchcraft and with little or no income".

The state of Mozambique has been unable to put in place effective poverty alleviation programs for the citizens. There is no functioning social support system to cater for the poor, and the unemployed. So people try to make sense of their unfortunate situations using whatever they can lay their hands on whether they are material, immaterial or mixed. No incentives are extended to farmers and fishermen who are struggling to earn a living. They bear the brunt of poor harvest without state support or subsidy. Traders and others managing various businesses are left to cope with the harsh economic realities.

Conclusion

Due to the lack of effective state interventions and leadership in these critical areas, Africans resort to occult practices to make sense of their lives and experiences. In the absence of modernity, people in Mozambique and elsewhere in the region invoke magic and superstition to help process the existential challenges and uncertainties that they face in their everyday life.

By Leo Igwe

Russia turns to Asian and African markets

Squeezed between the United States and European Union sanctions, Russia has been exploring effective ways to increase the exports of its industrial products under “Made-in-Russia” program to traditional markets in Latin America, Asia and Africa.


The primary strategic goal is to secure Russia’s economic interests abroad while at the same time support Russian industries in raising revenue to modernize Soviet-era industries. But increasing exports especially to African markets, Russia has to confront market competition from Western players and Asian countries such as China, India and the Gulf states.

In a recent interview, Director General, Russian Export Center, Peter Fradkov, explained that Russia has been making every effort to avoid the “raw-materials” export model and focus on developing export-oriented industries and the launch of the Russian Export Center was a key step towards the development of a full-fledged national export support system.

The Soviet Union made a significant contribution to the social and economic development of African countries by building large industrial and infrastructure facilities and helping to establish national education and health care systems. However, in the 1990s the Russian-African relations came virtually to a standstill.

At present, Russia’s foreign trade turnover with Africa is about $12 billion, which is a rather modest achievement. Nevertheless, the African continent remains a rather promising market for Russian industrial goods.

Admittedly, the Government authorities, Inter-Governmental Commissions and the REC are primarily concerned with removing barriers for Russian exporters and opening up foreign markets for them in Africa. Reinforcement of positions of Russian exporters in Africa requires creation of certain conditions and the key task is penetration into the global market.

For this purpose, the Russian Export Center has launched a program to promote Russian goods and services under a single country brand, “Made in Russia”, and in this context, Fradkov pointed out that, “Africa is a very important partner for us, though not an easy one,” adding, that, “Russian manufacturers have a number of specific competitive advantages. Let’s take, for example, agricultural machinery. The main advantage of Russian products as compared to the counterparts by major foreign manufacturers is a lower price and almost the same level of capacity, quality and useful life.

On the other hand, there are some difficulties still inherent in the Russia-African business partnership. According to Fradkov, there are still insufficient awareness of the real economic opportunities, market conditions and specific counterparts in African markets by Russian businesses and poor awareness of capabilities of Russian partners for Africans.”
“We are often faced with discriminatory barriers, which are there not because we are from Russia, but because we have just not thought about how to remove these barriers. Our primary task is to gradually change the thinking of Russian entrepreneurs, who are often skeptical about entering foreign markets, including Africa. Secondly, we strive to promote the image of Russia as a producer of diverse and high-quality products,” he explained.

With new trends and directions in global business, African countries have to look to the Eurasian region as a huge market for exports as well as make efforts to consolidate and strengthen economic cooperation, says Tatiana Cheremnaya, the president of ANO “Center for Effective Development of Territories” and head of the working group on public-private partnership, “Business Union of Eurasia”, based in Moscow.

Cheremnaya discussed here three main points and are as follows:
The problems of effective cooperation between Russia and Africa are political in nature. Thus, the strengthening of Russia’s position leads to the strengthening of its influence in the world, including in Africa and vice versa, sectional policy has significantly reduced Russian exports.
The second problem for the development of Russian-African business is the lack of competitiveness of Russia which allows working only in the low-budget segment. This is due to structural problems in the Russian economy, the need for modernization, the bulk of the products produced during the Soviet Union.

The third problem is competition from the United States, China and India as more developed countries with more advanced technological solutions, and from the European countries as the former “patrons” of African countries.

Russian President, Vladimir Putin, taking part in a congress during the 11th Russian Business Week organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RUIE) early February, discussed how innovative technology is reshaping the global business landscape. He, however, encouraged Russian industrialists and businesses participating in the forum to improve their business approaches in order to have competitive advantages in the global market place.
“This is the most important thing. And fundamentally fresh markets for goods and services will become available, and new leaders will appear as well. Naturally, competition will exacerbate. Clearly, in a situation like that, no one will be playing fair with their competitors, including in the global business environment,” Putin said.

In June 2009 after an African trip, Dmitri Medvedev, as then-president declared that it was not too late for Russia to play a role on the continent. Summing up his trip, he noted frankly that Russia was "almost too late" in engaging with Africa. "Work with our African partners should have been started earlier and that Africa is waiting for our support," he said at that time. Acknowledging that the interest of major international players in Africa is actively discussed on the continent, and Medvedev declared: “We should be also involved.”

Last year, during a discussion panel within the XIV International Conference on Africa hosted by the Institute for African Studies, Evgeniy Korendyasov, head of the department for Russia-African Studies of the Institute for African Studies (IAS) and former Russian ambassador to Mali and Burkina Faso, presented his research report titled “Russia: A Difficult Comeback to Africa” in which he has identified the key bottlenecks as political bureaucracy, lack of leadership and absence of a comprehensive plan of action for Africa.
In his assessment, Russia is gradually emerging as a global player and is becoming stronger and stronger on the world arena after the Soviet era. “Understandably, Africans expect that the level of Russia’s influence to be as high as those of China, India Turkey and so forth. But, it’s very difficult to penetrate the landscape of Africa. Russia today does not have a concrete policy agenda for Africa, its influence has been low over the years because of many obstacles that still remain to solve. Russian authorities need to design and roll out a long-term strategic plan for raising economic partnership with Africa,” he said.

Maxim Matusevich, an associate professor and director, Russian and East European Studies Program, at the Seton Hall University, told me in an interview that “in the past decade there was some revival of economic ties between Africa and Russia – mostly limited to arms trade and oil/gas exploration and extraction. Russia’s presence in Africa and within African markets continues to be marginal and I think that Russia has often failed to capitalize on the historical connection between Moscow and those African elites who had been educated in the Soviet Union.

“It is possible that the ongoing crisis in the relations between Russia and the West will stimulate Russia’s leadership to look for new markets for new sources of agricultural produce. Many African nations possess abundant natural resources and have little interest in Russia’s gas and oil. As it was during the Soviet times, Russia can only offer few manufactured goods that would successfully compete with Western-made products. African nations will probably continue to acquire Russian-made arms, but otherwise, I see only few prospects for a diversification of cooperation in the near future.”

Former Ethiopian ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Russian Federation, Professor Teketel Forssido, also explained that Russian businessmen think that business can be done from government to government levels (at the state levels) but in many countries business at the state levels has been complimented by private participation.

Using government as an umbrella could be alright, countries such as India, China and others run businesses without government in Africa. The government, of course, has to clear the way for smooth business transactions. “Russians are counting on the authorities to do business, but if they always rely on the state, business can be ineffective. That’s why Russian businessmen are slow as we have seen it,” he said.

According to Forssido, Russia has to open its market for Africa and there are various ways to this. One surest way is to use the existing rules and regulations. The preferential treatments for agricultural products exist but Africans don’t use them. Then, individual countries have to negotiate with the Russian government for their products to enter the market.

Further, the African regional economic blocs can be useful instruments because these blocs are very important and can work with their counterparts to facilitate trade between Africa and Russia. For instance, in COMESA and SADC zones in Africa, goods and services move freely, and now I think these blocs should look into the line of working as regional economic blocs with Russia.
“At the moment, China has done a lot in Africa despite worldwide criticisms. China is not the only player on the continent, but also India, Turkey and other serious players. But, when we talk about Russia, I think it’s not comparable. China has largely involved in Africa, practically in all sectors as we can see. We expect that Russia can do more if they want to, looking at their huge potential capability. They still have their own priorities, anyway,” he pointed out assertively.

As already known, Moscow’s long term goals include developing investment cooperation with African countries, widening the presence of Russian companies in the African markets through increased deliveries of industrial and food products, and enhancing Russia’s participation in driving the economic development of Africa. At the same time, Russia needs to look at simplifying access to its market for African countries.

In one of his speeches posted to the official website, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, noted frankly: “It is evident that the significant potential of our economic cooperation is far from being exhausted and much remains to be done so that Russian and African partners know more about each other’s capacities and needs. The creation of a mechanism for the provision of public support to business interaction between Russian companies and the African continent is on the agenda.”

*Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and the Eurasian Union.

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Sierra Leone: Can the “Lion Mountain” Ever Roar Again?

After the recent fiercely contested presidential election in Liberia, world attention has turned to neighbouring Sierra Leone, which has its own crucial vote on 7th of March 2018. Both countries share so much in common, not just political histories, but devastations of symbiotic civil wars.


Following the American Revolutionary War of the 17th century, and Slave Trade abolition initiatives, freed slaves from America and those “rescued” in the West African region settled with the natives of the two geographical locations known today as Liberia and Sierra Leone. While the American Colonization Society administered pre-independent Liberia, the British Crown held sway in the Sierra Leone Colony until the country gained independence in 1961 with Sir Milton Marghai, the last Acting Governor General as its first Prime Minister.

Much earlier, in the 15th Century, European contacts within West Africa were in the Sierra Leone, with Portuguese explorer Pedro de Sintra, credited with mapping out and naming the Freetown Harbour, Serra da Leoa or Sirra Leoa (Portuguese for Lion Mountains), from which Sierra Leone derived its name.
Like Liberia and many other African countries, Sierra Leone is blessed with natural resources such as diamond, iron-ore, titanium, bauxite, gold, and a vast agricultural land. It rains for much of the year in Sierra Leone, but ironically the country relies on food imports, and as is often the case with many developing African countries, instead being a blessing, diamond became cursed or so-called “blood diamond” for Sierra Leone, during its civil war which started in 1991.The war, which killed more than 50,000 people and displaced some two million others, was notorious for its savagery, ruthlessness and barbarism, involving the engagement of child soldiers and amputation of victims’ limbs among other atrocities.

Thus, Sierra Leone, the home of the famous Fourah Bay College, celebrated as West Africa’s first University and which once had a bragging right as the “bastion of peace and democracy” in the region, lost its glory days. The country today competes in the league of the World’s poorest nations with run down infrastructure and one of the highest rates of infant and youth mortality.

But even without the civil war, Sierra Leone has always been a country of contrasting fortunes. For instance, air travel to the country still terminates at the Lungi Airport. The rest of the journey of less than 30 minutes by sea to the nation’s capital Freetown is completed on a ferry/boat ride across a short stretch of the Sierra Leone River. A helicopter shuttle service started as an alternative was abandoned in 2007 after a terrible air disaster that killed more than 22 passengers. Lungi-Freetown is a laborious six hours by road, so ravelers prefer the ferry ride. This is because of the topography of Freetown, a port city on the Atlantic Ocean with undulating hills, mountains and valleys.

But if the difficult terrain is a natural phenomenon, the political instability, military coups, bad governance and corruption which have characterized Sierra Leone’s chequered political history are largely man-made. Following Sir Milton Margai’s unexpected death in 1964, his half-brother Sir Albert Maigai succeeded him as Prime Minister. But barely six years after Sierra Leone’s independence from Britain in 1961, and few hours after opposition leader Siaka Stevens was sworn in as Prime Minister after defeating Albert Margai in the 1967 general elections, he, was topped in a bloodless military coup. Although Sir Stevens was reinstated a year later, through a counter-coup, the brief military incursion became a benchmark for instability in Sierra Lone, where two political parties, the Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) and the now ruling All People’s Congress (APC), have dominated political power. While the Margais were of the SLPP, Stevens belonged to the APC. To his credit, Stevens initiated some socio-economic reforms and made Paramount Chiefs and the Provinces more prominent. He also tried to bridge the distance between the city and the provinces with the construction of roads and provision of social amenities. It was also under his administration that Sierra Leone became a Republic in 1971 and Stevens, as President, was pivotal to the creation of the Mano River Union (MRU), started as two countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but has since expanded to include Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.

President Stevens and his APC went ahead to win the 1972 by-elections, boycotted by the opposition SLPP, over allegations of intimidation and obstruction by APC militia. He survived an alleged coup plot in 1974, and another attempted putsch in 1975, which was followed by the execution of the alleged coup leaders. He went on to win another five-year mandate in 1976, with his APC also victorious in a disputed parliamentary election in 1977, but amid growing discontent and allegations of authoritarianism and dictatorship against the government, which made Sierra Leone a single-party State under the 1978 Constitution.

Stevens retired from active politics in 1985 with his anointed candidate Maj.-Gen. Joseph Saidu Momoh installed as his successor. But even with his military background, Momoh faced several coup attempts, but went ahead to become Sierra Leone’s second President following an election in which he was the sole candidate in 1985. President Momoh took a hard stance against corruption with the launch of the Code of Conduct for political leaders and public servants, but an alleged attempt to overthrow his government in 1987 resulted in mass arrests of suspects including Vice president Francis Minah, who was convicted and executed along with five others in 1989.

Bowing to internal and international pressures the Momoh government initiated what his critics called half-hearted political and economic reforms, including the re-establishment of multi-party system in October 1991. But by then, his administration had outlived its goodwill and with the raging civil war in neighbouring Liberia its days were numbered.
There can be no better illustration of the link between the civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone than the fact that Liberia’s ex-warlord and former President Charles Taylor is today serving terms in Britain for war crimes committed, not in his home country, but in Sierra Leone. Taylor as leader of the National Patriotic Front Liberia (NPFL) launched the rebellion against then President Samuel Doe in December 1989. He was also accused of helping the formation of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone led by British trained Corporal Foday Sankoh with the aim of dislodging the military base of Nigerian-led ECOWAS Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Sierra Leone, which was then fighting Taylor’s NPFL rebels in Liberia. This was after both men had undergone guerrilla training in Libya.

In an ensuing political confusion, a group of young Sierra Leone Army officers led by Captain Valentine Strasser struck in April 1992, seized power, and forced President Momoh into exile in Guinea. But after four years marked by several real and alleged coup attempts that resulted in further bloodshed, Strasser himself was toppled by his fellow National Provisional Ruling Council (NPRC) members and forced into exile in Conakry, Guinea in January 1996. Captain Julius Maada Bio, his former ally, and whom Strasser had promoted to the rank of a Brigadier, led the coup plot. The Bio-led junta managed to keep its promise and returned Sierra Leone to constitutional democracy by organizing general elections in 1996, which Ahmad Tejan Kabbah won to become Sierra Leone’s third President under the SLPP platform.

But having tasted power, the Sierra Leone military would not let go. By May 1997 another group of soldiers, this time, led by Corporal Tamba Gborie, who was loyal to Army Maj.-Gen. Johnny Koroma detained over alleged coup plot against the Kabbah government, sacked President Kabbah and forced him into exile in Guinea, which was fast becoming the preferred refuge for dethroned Sierra Leonean leaders. Despite Kabbah’s reinstatement by the Nigerian-led ECOMOG forces in February 1998, Sierra Leone’s vicious civil war and instability were far from over.

When this writer visited Freetown on a reportorial mission after Kabbah’s reinstatement, the once bubbling Salone capital city was a shadow of itself with the war damage and destruction very much in evidence. To underscore the level of instability, that trip from Lagos was only facilitated by ECOMOG in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules military aircraft. Tourist centres in the city including then famous Mummy Yoko Hotel, where the Radisson Blu Hotel sits today, were in ruins with the only functional Cape Sierra Hotel serving as the temporary Command Headquarters of ECOMOG. The regional force was then under the Command of Nigeria’s Col. Maxwell Kitikishe Kobe, who until his death in 2000, served as Sierra Leone’s Chief of Defence Staff in President Kabbah’s government in recognition of his gallantry and contribution to ending the RUF-instigated civil war.

When embattled President Kabbah eventually requested for UN support, the Security Council in 2000 approved the deployment of an initial 6,000 Peacekeepers, later increased to a 13,000-strong force at the peak of the hostilities. However, following the withdrawal of Nigerian ECOMOG troops, the RUF seized some 500 peacekeepers resulting in Operation Khukri by the UN troops to flush out remnants of the RUF rebels.

By January 2002, Kabbah declared the Sierra Leone civil war over and in May of the same year, he was re-elected with a wide margin against the opposition APC’s candidate Ernest Bai Koroma.

The return of relative peace in the country in 2004 encouraged the UN-backed war crimes court to begin trials at The Hague of those with the highest responsibility for Sierra Leone’s civil war. This led to the conviction of Charles Taylor for his involvement with the RUF, whose leader Sankoh had died in detention in July 2003 while awaiting trial.

Although ineligible to run again, having completed his constitutionally allowed two five-year terms, the August 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections in Sierra Leone, represented a referendum on the legacy of the Kabbah administration. The result was a resounding NO for the SLPP whose candidate Solomon Barewa was defeated in the presidential run-off vote by APC’s now outgoing Sierra Leone’s fourth President Ernest Bai Koroma.

While the jury may still be out on the assessment of APC’s 10-year government under Bai Koroma, Sierra Leone’s post-war worries, were compounded by the Ebola virus pandemic of 2014, which killed more than 3,000 people from the estimated 10,000 reported cases in the country, part of a West Africa-wide affliction. And as if that was not enough, Sierra Leone was hit by deadly mudslides from heavy rains, which claimed more than 1,000 lives and displaced tens of thousands of others, with grave health consequences.
It is under this grim context and prognosis that Sierra Leone holds the crucial presidential, parliamentary and local council polls on 7th March. While the APC and SLPP, which have dominated power, are fielding Foreign Minister Samura Wilson Kamara and former junta leader Julius Maada Bio, respectively, as their presidential candidates, there has been significant realignment of political forces ahead of the crucial elections.
Sixteen candidates are contesting for the Executive Mansion. But there are only two women flag bearers even though women account for 52.1% of the country’s population. The stakes are particularly high and whoever emerges winner has his/her job cut out. Kandeh Yumkella, the standard bearer of the newly formed National Grand Coalition (NGC), considered a “third force,” did not mince words, when he declared in a recent interview that “Everything bad is with us,” in a reference to various development indicators which put Sierra Leone on the bottom rouge of the ladder, with 70% of the population living under the poverty line.
The constitutional requirement that a candidate must score 55% of the votes to win the presidency makes a run-off ballot almost inevitable. The contest for Sierra Leone’s unicameral parliament is no less competitive, with more than 795 candidates, including 101 women vying for the 144 seats, including 12 slots for Paramount Chiefs and with 124 of the seats filled by direct election.
Some 3.17 million registered Sierra Leonean voters, out of the country’s estimated seven million inhabitants will be casting their ballots in 11,122 polling stations to elect the nation’s fifth president, who will shoulder the responsibility of moving the country from the devastation of natural and man-made disasters to the path of national development if the “Lion Mountain” is to roar again.
This would be the fourth multi-party elections since the end of the civil war, but it is the first time that Sierra Leone authorities would be taking full responsibility of the electoral process since the withdrawal of the UN Mission in 2014. One tribute which Sierra Leoneans owe the memory of ECOMOG fallen heroes, including the late Kobe, and gratitude to ECOWAS, the UN and the rest of the international community, for their sacrifices for peace in the country, is to conduct themselves responsibly and deliver credible and successful elections for the consolidation of peace and democracy in the country and the region as a whole.
Winners of the March 7 polls must be magnanimous in victory, while the losers must cooperate and all work for Sierra Leone to put its dark past behind it in the interest of development and prosperity.
*Paul Ejime is an International Media & Communications Consultant

REJOINDER TO: “LIBERIA HAS NEVER BEEN AND CAN BE A RACIST COUNTRY” - A NEW DEMOCRAT EDITORIAL

1) The Republic of “Liberia has never been a racist country; that people are wrongly thinking Liberia is practicing a form of Apartheid; and that to believe Liberia is practicing racism is to accuse the victims of racism of practicing racism”;


2) Further, that “the great object of forming these Colonies (Liberia, the original five counties), being to provide home for the dispersed and oppressed children of Africa . . . none but persons of color shall be admitted to citizenship in this Republic . . . but the truth is that 170 years after its independence, Liberians are still victims of economic racism because Lebanese and Indians are still the beneficiaries of the wealth of the nation”.

3) “There is another dimension to the citizenship debate which the President (Weah) is not even taking into consideration or giving prominence, which is the citizenship for natural-born Liberians who, during the civil war, took asylum in other countries and subsequently became (naturalized) citizens . . . but (the President) is only pre-occupied with citizenship for Lebanese and Indians”.

In response, we submit that:

• The foundation of conditions of “Apartheid-type of racism” that the Editorial claims to “have benefited, and benefit today, only Lebanese and Indians” was laid by Liberians, the leading Founding Fathers of the Liberian Nation in 1847, the Lebanese and Indians were not around;

• The Founding Leadership of Liberia’s political institutions have erected, installed, perfected, maintained, subjected and continue to subject and maintain its citizens and others to the system of profound humiliation, debasement and suffering, throughout the century of nationhood, although this is a nation founded by a people who endured and fled from human degradation-dehumanization;

• Many prominent, leading citizens joined, willingly, and became operating partners of a minority, political tyranny that denied majority of the population not only participation in the affairs of the nation, but also citizenship, without aggressive resistance and challenge, although they fled from human bondage and founded their nation on the pledge of democratic pluralism, possessed the education, experience and platform for action, but did not.

• Article 27(b) of Liberia’s 1986 Constitution which has come to be known as the Negro Clause states clearly, unequivocally that “In order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia”. That is, that this Clause shall deny, and denies, Liberian Citizenship to persons, nationalities only, and only because they not Negroes or of Negro descent, the classic discrimination only on the basis of race.

President Weah’s Address
In his first State of the Nation Address, President Weah said that, “In these circumstances, it is my view that keeping such a Clause [Article 27 (b)] in our Constitution (of 1986) is unnecessary, racist and inappropriate for the place that Liberia occupies today in the comity of nations”.

Now, what are these “circumstances”?

a) During 18th century conditions and “circumstances”, the Republic of Liberia was the nation of a people who fled from wrongful, racial discrimination of human bondage and servitude, with social, economic, political and inalienable rights denied and routinely abused with impunity. Therefore, such a law was not only necessary, but also, mandatory, for fear that the non-negro race might gain socio-political control and, again, enslave and persecute its citizens.

b) But in the prevailing 21st century, conditions and “circumstances” have changed dramatically, such that the Nation of freed Negro Slaves has become the high-profiled, internationally-recognized member of the United Nations and participating actor on the world stage in this age of democratic purism, human, civil and political rights of all peoples.

c) Moreover, the Republic is not only a founding member-state of the World Body, but also the willing signatory to all International Treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which forbids member-states from discrimination based on race, gender, age, nationality, sexual preference, religion, etc.

d) It was in the light of these changed conditions and “circumstances” that the Republic of Liberia dragged the Republic of South Africa to court at the International Court of Justice for Racial Discrimination on behalf of the state of Namibia, then under its (South Africa’s) Trusteeship.

These, then, were the “circumstances” of centuries-old, the past, and the now-prevailing “circumstances” in which the Republic of Liberia operates as founding member-state of the United Nations that are inappropriate for Article 27(b), the proposition of the 18th century now known as the Negro Clause, the President argued lawfully, reasonably, morally, truthfully and forcefully.

On Dual Citizenship
It is deeply disappointing as it is painfully troubling to note that the New Democrat Editorial, like the proponents of Dual Citizenship, proceeds from false and fallacious premise-conclusion; that is, that Liberians in the Diaspora were forced into naturalization by the tragedy of the civil war.
But the fact is that all, almost, of the leading proponents of Dual Citizenship, particularly, the academics/intellectuals, left Liberia for “green pasture”, long before the civil war. The less-informed sought to become Liberia’s historical “been-to”.

Taking oath of allegiance, loyalty and patriotism to any country, including our Liberia, is a voluntary, legal requirement that is made known to all applicants. Liberian law upholds the right of any Liberian citizen to choose naturalized citizenship of any foreign country, but may not be citizen of two counties simultaneously, including Liberia.

Thus, the terms “citizen” and “citizenship” are creations of humankind in organized society, the Social State. A citizen is member of an organized political community (the Social State) who is entitled to rights and privileges with obligations and responsibilities, while citizenship is the state or condition of being a citizen, the notion which describes the changing relationship (Social Contract) between the individual, the citizen, and the political community defined by and based on mutually-binding, governing terms & conditions of rights, privileges, obligations and responsibilities of the state to the citizen, and the citizen to a single state at a time and period, under exclusive terms of loyalty, allegiance, and patriotism.

Dual citizenship or Dual nationality, accordingly, is a clear violation of the required, critical terms & conditions of the social contract, with particular respect to the citizen’s obligations/responsibilities to a single state at a time and period, including loyalty, allegiance and patriotism.

None of the Leaders/advocates of Dual Citizenship has yet presented a thought-provoking, micro/macroeconomic, rational and political argument/analysis in support of dual citizenship, other than the usual, worn-out clichés of “western union remittances; political persecutions due to our unfortunate tragedy of the civil war; the pool of highly trained/experienced Liberian citizens-professionals in the Diaspora who can be utilized in the nation’s reconstruction/development effort”. Those issues have been effectively debunked.

And in all of their academic/intellectual arguments and analyses, the proponents of Dual Nationality or Dual Citizenship, now including the New Democrat, have not been able to refute or disprove the natural law of Physics which holds that “no object can occupy 2 spaces at the same time”; nor the age-old TRUTH that “no servant can serve 2 masters at the same time”.

Similarly, no one can be citizen of 2 countries with loyalty, allegiance and patriotism at the same time.

But one of Liberia’s problems with the most profound negative impact – Dual Citizenship – had been and is still with us, although the practice is illegal in Liberia. It has become one of the most important, critical issues of debates in our times; in fact, it is Liberian Political Rulers’ dedicated self-interest and the Nation’s celebrated “Pandora Box”.

In this and related context, Liberia has become the country whose Political Leaders, especially, lawyers and law-makers, are the major law-breakers. They make laws with loop-holes for selective obedience/disobedience to law. Dual Citizenship “is Liberia’s Pan Dora Box”, according to Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, Chairman of Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) before the Supreme Court.

Ministers of state & Deputies; Presidents & Vice Presidents of state-owned enterprises; Senators & Representatives of the National Legislature, Judges and anybody who is or want to be somebody in Liberia is or seeks to be dual citizen, citizen of a foreign country and, simultaneously, Liberian citizen, with passports of both countries, although Dual Citizenship is illegal in Liberia as stated earlier, against Liberian statutory and constitutional law in full force and effect.

But, in her effort to control and manipulate, unlawfully, the lawful functions of the National Elections Commission, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appointed Cllr. Jerome Korkoya Chairman of the NEC, knowing, very well, that the appointment was, and is, in violation of Liberian law, because Cllr. Korkoya is citizen of a foreign country, the USA.

Moreover, the Supreme Court, all registered political parties and anybody who is somebody in Liberia refused to remove Cllr. Korkoya as Chairman of the NEC. The Desire/Commitment to protect and maintain Dual Citizenship in Liberia by seeking to amendment/repeal of existing laws against Dual Citizenship is the major reason that plunged Liberia into the recent Electoral Controversy.

But the demand for amendment/repeal is without merit because the socio-economic and political conditions, then prevailing, that gave rise to the passing of the laws against dual citizenship are as valid today, as they were, when the laws were passed.

Our research information of the list of declared political candidates’ citizenship status (though a tip of the iceberg of Liberia’s Pandora Box) is revealing and shows that of the 12 politicians seeking the presidency of Liberia, including the sitting President, 6 or 50% are US citizens, 4 or 33% are in doubt, while 2 or 17% are Liberian citizens. Thus, this is the reason that politicians support illegal appointment of Cllr. Jerome Korkoya as Chairman of the NEC. To protect and secure their self-interests!
The most, profound negative impact of Dual Citizenship is felt in two notable areas in Liberia, namely, National Security and Political/Economic:
National Security
Regarding National Security, the word "allegiance" means that we promise Loyalty, exclusive and unrestrained, with lawful, binding obligation. Because citizenship carries with it, also, the responsibility and obligation to be exclusively loyal to one country at a time, the concept of Dual citizenship raises questions about which of the dual citizenships have priority.

This is extremely important when and where the two countries have opposing interests. In the case of a declared war or real threat of a conflict, for example, our allegiance to the Republic should and must preclude any other interest, be it another country or political ideology.

It can be a deadly problem when and where a dual citizen occupies a high position in our Liberian Government. Can one imagine a dual citizen of an opposing foreign country serving in the Ministry of National Defense during a conflict with that country? Today's conflicts are at Liberia’s door-steps. Liberia is surrounded by nations with governments dominated by militant Muslim-Islamist BOKO Haran, with “weapons of Mass Destruction” which Liberia does not possess.

Political/Economic
Historically, Dual Citizens controlled and dominated Liberia’s Political Economy and Political Decision-making Power during the 170 years of Liberia’s political independence and continuing. Through control and absolute domination of Liberia’s Politics and Economics, fabulous salaries and related incomes, generated in Liberia by Dual Citizens have been, and are being transferred, regularly, out of Liberia to purchase and purchased homes, maintain families and educate children in foreign countries, the simultaneous, second home-countries of these Liberian, dual citizens. They travel, very often, to and from these countries to which they owe exclusive allegiance, loyalty and patriotism, and in which they hold and maintain fabulous bank accounts.

As Dual citizens of foreign countries and, simultaneously, of Liberia who hold major political policy/decision-making power, it is in their best political/economic interests for Liberia to depend, infinitively, excessively and dangerously, on buying imported goods services from these foreign countries, rather than take planning/development decisions for Liberia to establish industrial entities in Liberia for production of goods and services for domestic consumption and the export trade.

Many Liberians . . .
Finally, for an insight and understanding of the argument against the Negro Clause, it is necessary to provide, hereunder, the socio-economic and political perspective.

Many Liberians, including proponents of Dual Citizenship - academics/intellectuals, politicians, economists, lawyers, former officials of the Liberian government, technocrats, professional diplomats and others left Liberia long before the civil war in search of the proverbial greener pastures; and regular, ordinary Liberians fled our country, then engulfed in a deadly civil war and socio-economic and political tyranny. These Liberians, all of the Negro race, including the victims of the civil war who sought and took refuge, settled in Asian, European and North American countries of Non-Negroid Peoples and dominated by their culture.

The Non-Negro hosts or inhabitants of these countries opened their borders, doors, received graciously, and welcomed the Negroid Liberians, including those seeking refuge from war, human suffering and death. These countries, and their people, non-negro, offered and delivered immediate re-settlement, financial assistance, temporal residence, political asylum, permanent residence, employment and granted citizenship, eventually; and:

• These Many Liberians, including their off-springs, sought and became citizens of these non-negro countries.
• Attended/attend their schools, colleges, universities and vocational institutions; some, with financial assistance from the non-negro individuals, business houses and governments.
• Acquired/acquire high-level education, professional training and experience.
• Secured/secure high-paying jobs and positions in the private and public (government) sectors.
• Bought/buy expensive homes and live comfortably with conveniences and services made available by the sweat, blood and other sacrifices made by these non-negro peoples, with investment in retirement and compensation.
• Yes, these many Liberians posted, rightly, will continue to post, in leading world newspapers, heart-warming, successful life stories of hope, peace, security and dreams for the family future, from scratch; all because of and due to the profound generosity of their non-negro hosts.

Yet these, very same, Many Liberians argue, will argue, vehemently, to death against granting, at the very least, real property rights and ownership, let alone Liberian citizenship, to these peoples, only and only, because they are NOT NEGROES and/or are not of Negro descent, during this 21st century worldview. Yes, these many Liberians are adamant in this type of discrimination based on race, by denying to non-negro individuals benefits and opportunities available in their country of origin (Liberia) that they, abundantly, enjoyed and continue to enjoy in the other’s (non-negro) countries. This behavior is not only morally detestable and unfair, but also a violation of the Gook Book (Bible) teaching to “do to others that which you would like for them to do to you”.

How H.E. President Weah’s Land Commissioner’s Dr. Othello Brandy Must Reduce High Costs of Unscrupulous Land Sales Against the Interest of Liberians: A Few suggestions

The reduction of the high costs of land across Liberia is another area that is adding hardship on Liberians. The unprecedented hike in the sale of land is unbearable. There is an urgent need for very strong austerity measures taken by H.E. President Weah to arrest such an ugly scenario. This situation is causing Malham among Liberians in Liberia. Land prices should be moderate so that it can be affordable by Liberians who have the desire of purchasing a piece of land for their future. H.E. President Weah's government could also erect low-cost housing facility for poor Liberians across Liberia.


The rationale is to reduce hardship on Liberians. The Government Land Commissioner Dr. Brandy should re-regular land tenures and land prices across Liberia. Let the Land Commissioner creates a condition that will make land purchases more and more affordable by Liberians. Land prices shouldn’t be left to landowners or foreigners to decide.

For example, land situated around the Robert Field High Way should be price tagged between $2,000LD to $3,000LD. Land situated around the Congo settlement should be sold between $500LD to LD800 dollar. Those in the leeward counties should be sold between $200LD and $300LD dollars to ease the land burden problems on Liberia across Liberia. Steps should be taken swiftly by H.E. President Weah’s administration to make Land accessible for purchase by all Liberians ill-respective of creed, status or condition in Liberia.

Lowering prices for rent/land tenures can also reduce hardship on Liberians. H.E. President Weah will need to take series of much stronger measures against Liberians and foreigners who are bent on hiking house rent and the sale of unscrupulous land in US dollars against the will and expectations of very poor Liberians.

First, all house rents should be paid in Liberian dollar and not in US dollar nor its equivalence. There should be a much stronger regulatory rent and land policies put in place by H.E. President Weah that will work towards abolishing the: “no rent pay in US dollar system across Liberia, but rent should rather be paid in exclusive LD.
Housing is one of the major areas of tremendous hardship in Liberia. H.E President Weah should curtail the proliferation of huge rent hikes on poor Liberians by foreigners who owned properties in Liberia and increased their rents straightly in US dollar. Other Liberians who are also in the Estate market business, shouldn’t be charging between $75 to $100 US for a one-bedroom apartment.

Other Liberians and foreigners charged the US $200 the for $300 dollars for a two-bedroom apartment with a tiny pouch with no conducive outside kitchen or bathroom. A whole house is being rented between $1,500 to $2,500 US a month, which is ridiculous. These self-imposed rent hikes activities are causing hardship on Liberians. Worst of it, some unscrupulous foreigners are heavily engaged in the Housing Estate Business. These foreigners hiked housing prices thus making life unlivable for Liberians in their own country.

For example, one-bedroom should be rented at a reasonable price of $1,500 LD; two-bedrooms should be $2,500LD, and a whole house of three-bedrooms should be $3,500LD. The idea of Liberians making compulsory deposits for two to three years advanced rents before they moved into a particular apartment/house. Such an advanced payment arrangement should be canceled by H.E. President Weah in order to make housing affordable to poor Liberians.

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