Nimba, Grand Gedeh end lasting conflict
By Lewis S. Teh
Residents from communities in Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties have agreed during a two-day conference held in Monrovia to end a war-time conflict between them and to co-exist.
Over the years, there has been a bitter relationship between residents of Zualay and Tuzon communities of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties.
That bitter relationship can be traced to Liberia’s brutal civil war that witnessed citizens turning against each other, sometimes on tribal lines.
At the two-day peace conference convened by Integrity Watch Liberia on 13 December 2022 with funding from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the citizens of the two counties committed themselves to a peaceful co-existence.
The conference began at the Lutheran Church in Sinkor, a Monrovia suburb under the theme: Trust Building Interconnected at Different Levels.
It was convened to engage and identify collective ways of resolving conflicts through storytelling and promoting grassroots interaction for conflict transformation and reconciliation.
Giving the overview of the peace conference, Integrity Watch Liberia Executive Director Mr. Herold Aidoo said the discussion surrounding peace and reconciliation has been around for some time.
“We [are] here today because a lot of work has been done after the CPA in terms of reconciling the nation,” he said.
Aidoo explained that the UNDP has been working with communities in Nimba, and Grand Gedeh, specifically to strengthen and build on the long standoff that has taken place during the civil war.
Mr. Aidoo added that local authorities from the two counties have been doing a lot of work in making sure that the peace is segmented irrespective of what transpired between the two counties for their good.
“We are delighted to have our citizens from the two counties in this process to discuss issues around reconciliation and see how to segment [the] progress made as a nation,” he stated.
Making a special presentation, the Senior Pastor of the St. Peter Lutheran Church Rev. Janice Gonoe recalled that on July 28 and 29, 1990, a bloody massacre took place at the Lutheran Church.
Rev. Gonoe said over 600 civilians who went to seek refuge at the Church were attacked and cruelly killed.
According to her, they were killed as a result of the Liberian civil war, specifically the Gio and Krahn war.
She narrated that today she wants Liberians to know that nobody can decide on a tribe for themselves.
“To allow people to use us to fight among ourselves, we are hurting God because he made every one of us despite our different tribes,” she cautioned.
Rev. Gonoe added that men didn’t decide to be a particular tribe all by themselves, rather, it was God who decided a tribe for everyone.
“Today in Liberia, the Gio and Krahn are still in their numbers, despite trying to kill each other. But today, I have come to encourage our people that there’s a need for the two counties to come together and live like brothers and sisters,” she pleaded.
Nimba County Superintendent Nelson N. Korquoi extolled Integrity Watch Liberia and its partners for organizing the peace conference.
Korquoi believes that this will help in uniting the citizens of the two counties.
“I’m excited to be in this gathering where people from both counties including key officials are partaking,” he said.
“But let me say this, the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties don’t have war anymore. There’s nothing between the two counties. Long time ago the conflict was resolved,” he noted.
For his part, Grand Gedeh County Superintendent Kai Farley thanked the delegates from the two counties who made their way to attend the two-day peace conference.
“As far as we [are] concerned, there’s nothing like [a] war between the two counties anymore, evidence is that a good number of Nimba citizens are owners of businesses in Grand Gedeh,” said Mr. Farley.
The two-day peace conference is expected to end Wednesday, 14 December 2022. It brought together officials from both counties including legislators, superintendents, and commissioners, among others.