A review of recent political events in Liberia pop up questions; questions that were asked during the William V. S. Tubman’s Liberia and successive administrations and answered in the most brutal manner; but now passionately responded to in the Sirleaf’s Liberia. Assertively, questions that were most necessary during the Voster’s administration in Apartheid South Africa and the Smith’s Racist Rhodesia but were unkindly answered in the most ruthless manner which created the atmosphere for liberation struggles.
It must be noted in the strongest term that present day Liberia is remotely distant from those conditions that precipitated militant and terroristic actions and the birth of liberation or freedom movements. Historians and internationalists have perceived the new militant positions and actions by some opposing parties; particularly the CDC which draw from pre-elections and post elections expectations as well as the challenges they pose to the peace and survival of democracy and peace in Liberia as queer, laughable, and in the highest sense, dangerous to the co-existence of Liberians. It is described as an undemocratic and un-nationalistic posture.
Unkind and unappealing to the population of Liberia, are sentiments strongly advocating for a divided or a chaotic Liberia to satisfy certain political aspirations of some political fathers and godfathers. These sentiments as being expressed by them usually captivate their followers (partisans) and placed them in a psycho-dynamic state of condition that expose them to emotional vulnerability to perpetuate violence at a time when all Liberians should be advocating peace, reconciliation and unity. This is regrettable, unfortunate, and lacks the spirit of true patriotism, leadership and love for our common patrimony.
The unfolding events began when some political actors; most assuredly CDC believed they won the elections even before elections were held. The national political atmosphere got worse after preliminary and final results were announced by media institutions and by the Elections Commission at official forums. These announcements were immediately followed by constitutional breaches; threats; disregard for due processes; attempts to subvert the constitutional process; confrontations with the law and law enforcers culminating into the unfortunate loss of life in the process.
Despite all, Liberians continued to positively look forward to national healing, reconciliation, and importantly a robust continuation of the reconstruction of the state and a rigid approach to achieve economic prosperity. Liberians remain confident that everyone will arrive at a place where national interests will rise above political prejudices. The foundations are laid and the collective focus of all Liberians would do the miracle.
Who then is that Liberian who wants to lead Liberia that will oppose this domestic agenda? What would
Motivate such Liberian to send out disclaimers that Liberians do not deserve international honor and accolades? Much as patriotic Liberians would disbelieve what happened in front of the European Union Embassy on the 10th of December 2011, one cannot dismiss its reality nor claim it to be a fiction.
Observers of Liberia’s political environment strongly believe that disenchanted political actors cannot be distanced from the dastardly act. From political statements made by the CDC Standard Bearer and many executives, it is generally believed that they did mobilize their followers in an Arab style protest to burn the Flag of Norway; a country whose famous Nobel Award selections have placed nations and personalities in the highest and admirable pages of history. Rufus Neufville, a former stalwart of the CDC and outgoing Representative of Montserrado County bluntly accused the CDC of being responsible. Others claim that the arsonists of the Norway Flag represent the proverbial hand of Esau; but actually the voice of Jacob.
Unlike Liberians, Nigerians were proud to jubilantly associate with Professor Wole Soyinka when he bagged a Nobel Prize in Literary Arts; though he is known to have introduced the notorious cultism in Nigeria Tertiary Institutions that have caused thousands of lives and many wasted generations of students. Why did they do so? The thoughts of Wale had been far different from what is currently obtaining at Nigerian universities. More so, his contributions to the Federal Republic far outweigh the image attributed to him as the originator of cultism at universities.
Amidst negative images painted of Nigeria, Wole became a pride and redemption to Nigerians. Parents who lost their children as a result of cultism as well as friends who lost their peers did not assemble to burn Norwegian Flag. In other words, Nigerians are more nationalistic and cling to any good thing attributed to Nigerians while Liberians wallow in envy and vigor to destroy the good attributes we need to store for posterity.
The gathering of Liberians under the umbrella of politics or belongingness to a dissatisfied opposition party to burn a nation’s flag for honoring their leader is a contemptible act against rationalism and nationalism and clearly suggests the entry of the spirit of Arab terrorism and an abuse to constitutional democracy. This is alien to the Liberian culture despite the 13 years of civil war. The actions taken by those few Liberians to register their opposition to the choice of the Nobel Prize Committee which has nothing to do with the bi-lateral relationship between Liberia and Norway have its source from the CDC’S Standard Bearer Cllr. Winston Tubman who is recorded as the first to oppose and condemn the committee’s choice, says a marketer. His statement which was captured by local and international media groups bears no difference from the arsonists’ condemnations written on placards, says a Personal Assistant to a Senior Senator who prefers anonymity.
The CDC Standard Bearer, Vice Standard Bearer, and Executive Committee are currently engaged in reconciliation talks with the President of Liberia with presentation of conditions and/or demands said to be virtually impossible. Could this have motivated the burning of the Flag of another sovereign state which suggests hostility and diplomatic breach? Let us take a journey to why Liberians should be more appreciative to the Nobel Committee and conditions which might have influenced the choice of two Liberians at this time. My emphasis would be on President Sirleaf who is the target of the arsonists.
Histories have been written on Liberian Presidents and none have reported that a Liberian President had ever come near a Nobel Prize Award. Why? President Tubman had the most glorious opportunity; being the most respected leader of his time. Tolbert was an enlightened President and respected worldwide. Doe was the first indigenous President of Liberia who introduced multi-party system in Liberia and a close associate of the United States of America. Unfortunately, these presidents were not chosen.
According to a research group, those who surrounded those presidents as close confidants and officials in strategic positions contributed largely to the back bench space they got in history. Tubman was known as one who suppressed all fundamental freedoms and civil liberties at home. Surrounded by a network of security organizations and informers, as well as his host of power sensitive officials such as, Campbell, Bestman, Goodridge, and others, Tubman was feared then loved. With such credentials, the Nobel Committee could not have chosen him.
Tolbert was Vice President and by official association and inputs, he inherited the Tubman’s records. Though he endeavored to modify and create a somewhat liberal society, his conglomerate of conservatives to include, McKinley Deshield, Clarence Simpson, Justice Minister Oliver Bright, and Police Director Varney Dempster, E. Reginald Townsand among others pressed him towards a close and aristocratic Liberian society. His tenure and policies leaned towards a one party state and at the end of it all; he ascended the undemocratic throne of Tubman. That did not attract the Nobel Committee.
President Samuel Doe administration was characterized by controversies and was accused of abuses of the fundamental rights of Liberians. Advised on legal and constitutional courses by a Justice Ministry allegedly found most wanting, he tried to push for liberalization and a workable multi-party system which he introduced; but unfortunately, his security agencies headed by Winston Tubman as Justice Minister and later his successor Jenkins Scott, Liberia was turned into a fearful police state. His tenure failed to attract the Nobel Peace Prize.
It is important to note that there are specific criteria set for the awarding of the Nobel Prize. These criteria which range from noble breakthroughs, records set, and achievements which positively affect humanity; whether they are inventions, politics, literary contributions etc. are some of the basics for the committee’s selection of candidates who are properly vetted.
The choice of President Ellen Johnson did not take into consideration Liberians unproven allegations of her being a warmonger; but what has been achieved during her first term as President of the Republic of Liberia. The committee, according to knowledgeable sources, noted her accommodation of civil liberties which includes but not limited to, freedom of the press, speech, and the fundamental rights of all Liberians with major focuses on women empowerment, the rights of the child and other critical decisions that no other President of Liberia have taken in the midst of enormous powers given to the presidency of Liberia for constitutional or discretional use. These she delivered to Liberians without restrictions. These are the opportunities the Liberians of various political persuasions are enjoying; including those who burned Norway’s Flag to spite her. The absence of those freedoms and rights usually promote a hostile environment and threaten peace.
Liberians, whether CDC, U. P., NUDP or LP, with no doubt agrees that under no administration could they have exercised such unlimited rights extended in this dispensation in the enforcement of the constitution as they do in the Sirleaf’s administration. As a result, Liberia stands tall amongst African and third world nations; and perhaps considered a beacon light of democracy on the continent. This should attract the pride of all Liberians irrespective of where we stood during the civil war or during the just ended political season. I believe this exercise of freedom and the necessary legislations and conventions passed and ratified during her first term clearly speak in approval of the Committee’s decision.
Nations in which acts of extremism are committed such as burning of another nation’s flag are notoriously colorized with humanitarian tragedies as a result of oppression and indignity to human lives and gross abuse of fundamental human rights and the rights of others to exist. Unlike those nations,
Liberia is not a nation of suppression and oppression of the fundamental rights of others to exist. It is not like former Apartheid South Africa and Rhodesia where extreme measures were required to gain the attention of the world. It is neither Palestine where extreme radical postures are adopted or where terrorism becomes necessary. The political and legal systems of Liberia are progressively being reformed in dramatic ways that accommodate free flow of views and provide a wider corridor to pursue justice unlike any other time in our history.
The burning of the Norwegians Flag is an act of unfriendliness and signs of a nation adopting terroristic culture. It breaches diplomatic principles and suggests that the citizens of that country are insecure in Liberia and could be exposed to danger. That act could cause diplomatic concerns and endanger Liberians living in Norway. It also exposes Liberians who want to travel to Norway to much rigid scrutiny, denials, and undeserved difficulties by the act committed by the arsonists. It is further a crime to burn another’s property. This in law is call arson.
This is a condemnable act which Liberians should not allow to immerse into our political culture. From petrol bombs, we have now graduated to burning of the flag of a nation. Where do we stop? Are we suggesting that Liberians have not reach the maturity of being given such fundamental freedoms? Are political parties or opposition groups transforming into liberation movements? If so, are they liberating Liberians from the environments of freedom, democracy, civil liberties, human dignities which they enjoy under this dispensation?
What would be Winston Tubman’s and Dr. Bhofol Chamber’s position relating to this undiplomatic and extreme course? Would they be in defense of the arsonists’ actions or join Liberians in condemning same? Would CDC distance itself from such criminal act? During the elections, a U.P. office was attacked by arsonist and petrol bombs thrown. Would the Flag of America be the next? Those who teach their people rebelliousness, violence, bitterness, and hate make them rebels without a cause. Their legacy would be undesired by a decent and civil society and their names would be written in the black pages of history.
For a political self-seeking group of citizens to subject our national honor to political prejudices and pettiness is not only regrettable; but is a sin committed against the Republic of Liberia. Thoughts, Politics, and People however congratulate President Sirleaf and Madam Gbowee and heartily welcome them back home with the assuring words that they have brought pride and honor to Liberians. Your foot prints will remain in the sands of time. Your legacy will remain appreciated as long as history lasts.