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:
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.
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”.