During a convention of the ruling Unity Party UP in Gbarnga last week, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf asked each minister of her government to provide jobs for at least two members of the party.
This pronouncement was made just two weeks after she declared her intention to be candidate in2011, a declaration she made in the hemicycle of the parliament. While comments were still raining from everywhere about that declaration, the Liberian Iron Lady has made another declaration that has added to the noise in the market.
Under a blazing sun, I went to a garage in Bardnersville to do some works on my car. While thinking on how to get money to pay the mechanic, a young man, whom I met there, asked me: “Mister Press Man, how are you? What do you think of the other one the Old Ma said again?”
“What has she said?” I replied. Wait a minute, he said, “are you really a journalist or you are one of those who are joining the list?” For those who may not know the meaning of JOINING THE LIST, it is a journalist who is still at the embryonic stage of his profession, a journalist who does not know his profession well.
“I am not joining the list my brother. I have been in the profession for more than 15 years now.” I told him. “Now you are talking mister Press Man. So you just wanted to pool my legs right? Ok I will tell you. They say the Old Ma asked all her ministers to employ only UP partisans. What about us, where are we going to get job?”
Lama Kamara, the chief mechanic, intervened: “You mister My Man, hein when you guys were in power you said the same thing. Or it is because the Old Ma gave everybody freedom to speak now that monkey like you will put your month on her. When you had guns hanging all over on you here with tens of body guards, who could talk at that time? You better close your month before I say things I am not supposed to say. Me, tomorrow, I am going to join the UP so I can get job at GSA. Eh, Mohamed, bring me the number 10 let me make quickly so that the chief can go do his job.”
The young man kept staring at the chief mechanic without saying a word for at least 15 minutes, and then he turned to me. “Mister Press Man, my name is Peter Kollie. During the war they used to call me Junior Boy. Don’t mind this man. Because things are looking like this today now, people like this can stand in front of me and talk.”
“That’s what we called freedom of speech, that’s what we call democracy, that’s what we call new era, and that’s why we are happy that the Old Ma has come to give us chance to talk.” Lama told Junior Boy, and then he turned to me and said: “Chief, I have finished with your car. You can go now.”
I decided to go in the supermarket to buy batteries for my tape recorder, the same noise was there. A man, probably an official of government, well dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt and black tie, saw his friend, and decided to call him: “Comrade how you today?” “I am ok but not like you are.” The friend answered. “What do you mean by not like you are?” He asked the friend again. “Because your children are sure of getting job now and mines are not because they are not members of the Unity Party.” The friend replied.
At that juncture, the official of government shook his head, and then gave a tap on the back of his friend, he said while smiling: “Look my friend, why can’t you people analyze things in this country? Why can’t you give attentive ears to statements the President makes so that you can be able to understand the way it should be? Come on man, the President did not say that my children will get job because I am member of the Unity Party. You get, she did not say so.” He shouted.
That statement of the government’s official created uproar. The pros and cons of the president’s statement began to argued everywhere in the supermarket. In this racket, I could not buy anything because this time around, I decided to mind the noise. But don’t do like me. Don’t mind the noise in the market.