Rumor had it…, there is a rumor going round that…., and it goes on and on. Rumor has become the vector of serious trouble in Liberia in such a way that it is not far from creating unrest in the country. The recent incident in Lofa is an example. While hundreds of Lofians, who were displaced by ethnic violence, are finding it difficult to come back home, while the government and the religious community, are making all efforts to reconcile Lofians, there is rumor in Monrovia, rumor in Ganta, and who knows where again in days to come. This is the noise in the market today. “Hello, where are you? They say people are fighting in town?” This lady sweating buckets under a blazing sun at Red-Light asks on telephone a friend who is in downtown Monrovia. But Fatoumata Kamara, a market woman, who was passing bye, calls the lady’s attention. “I say my sister, what were you just saying? Who you were talking to?” The lady replies: “My sister, I was calling my brother to know if it is true that people are fighting in town. Someone called my neighbor to say that Christians and Muslims are fighting in town. This thing here is becoming worrisome oh…”
“Eh you woman,” Fatoumata reacts, “why yor like to listen to they say in this country? This they say here, if yor don’t take time it will burn the whole country oh, nobody is fighting in town, let me tell you now. I am just coming from in town. I was there when I heard that Muslims and Christians were fighting here at red light. That’s the reason why I started running to come here and make sure, because I left my daughter on my table. Eh kootooboo, let God help us eh my people.”
Albert Jask, a pastor, who has been observing the two ladies, comes near to talk to them. “My dear sisters, I have been standing here listening to both of you with lots of interest. You see, this country needs strong prayer. We have to pray in this country to safe our land from further destruction and hatred. For that we have to pray hard for rumor mongers. They are the most dangerous threat to peace in this country. Why will people be so cruel to themselves? Jesus, have mercy on us. There are still people in this country who want to see us killing each other. There are still people in this country who are not yet tired seeing women, old people, children, handicaps, and you name, running here and there. We have to pray hard for our country. If not, there will be trouble again.”
At that juncture, an old man, 62 years, dressed in white booboo, intervened to say, “my brother and my two sisters, it is true that we all need to pray. Allah needs to come to our rescue. I was in the mosque when my son came running from in town. When I asked him what is happening, he told me that the news has been spread all over in central Monrovia that Mandingoes and Christians are fighting in Jacob’s Town. I asked him to know who said it; he replied that it was rumor being circulated. So, I don’t know. If we religious leaders don’t warn our various believers to avoid listening to rumors, I am afraid that one day before we get to know that it is rumor, things will be out of hands. Can you imagine that my son came to the mosque well prepared to fight? He was like ready for war. This is very worrisome. I have decided to talk to all worshipers who will come to my mosque, to be mindful with this new virus called rumor. We are just coming out of war during which hundreds of thousands of innocent Liberians died. Do we need to remind Liberians about that? I say no. Pastor, you do the same thing in your church. It is time that we the religious leaders help the government in pacifying Liberia. The government cannot do this alone.”
While Alhadji Babah was making that remark, I stopped a taxi to go to town. In the taxi, the same noise about rumor mongers. “Government really needs to arrest these people who are circulating this kind of dangerous rumor round town. The same way it happened in Lofa and people died for nothing. How someone will just get up and say that people are fighting in town, at the same telling people in town that fighting is going on in Paynesville? It looks like an organized thing.” The taxi driver said.
“These are just criminals who want to loot. They are doing this so that in case of any fight, they will have the chance to loot. We just have to be very mindful of such wicked minded people who want to see this country to sink into violence again.” A passenger said.
At that juncture, I asked the driver to stop. I got down. This time, I said to myself that this is not a noise like others. So you have to mind this, it is not an ordinary noise; it is something to meditate on.