From a generally acceptable perspective, reconciliation is a process characterized by meetings of the minds intended to resolve conflicts for community or national renewal and growth.
Issues which give rise to the process of reconciliation are war, corruption, marginalization, segregation. Hatred, Back-biting/destructive gossips, as well as under-minding, among others. Amidst these, admission, acceptance and forgiveness accompanied by the highest degree of sincerity without fear or favor, are key factors responsible for its success in any community or nation.
In view of the foregoing, attention is drawn to current efforts by university students hailing from Bong County to begin the process of reconciliation among the people of that region in the wake of the “bitterness” between and among them.
It is no secret that the protracted division or disunity, further confused by the re-emergence of the “Lower-Upper Bong” politics continue to undermine the over-all growth and development of the county.
Perhaps it was within this context that Bong County students at the various universities in Liberia thought to initiate a process of mending fences among citizens/stakeholders of the county.
Even though the students reportedly extended invitations to almost all citizens of the county, including legislators and other officials, the April 6-7, 2012 Gbarnga reconciliation conference held at the Administration Building was graced by a few senior officials and citizens, including Legislators Henry Yallah and Lester Paye.
In other words, the conference was poor attended despite early and adequate preparations by the students.
But again, they seem not be deterred by the conspicuous absence of their county officials, who many in that region believe, may be the main instigators of the disunity among the people, but determined to continue to engage the process.
Indications in the county are that officials who consider themselves “close to the Liberian President” or are favorably preferred by the presidency have always dominated the politics of Bong County in their selfish interests. And this has a long history-dating back from 1968 during the administration of the county’s first and most progressive Superintendent, Hon. James Y. Gbarbea.
When Bong County Legislators and other officials at the national level are at loggerheads with each other and with-holding speeches, such conflicts trigger down to the local officials in the county and then onto the ordinary citizens. As a result, various groups are formed to negatively engage each other.
It is an open fact that an official or a group of officials of the county who are allies or political friends of the President of Liberia do not favor a local/county official, i.e., superintendent, will always use such relationship to engage in back-biting or undermining for the replacement of that local official.
And let it be understood that it is not only with this Liberian Presidency that such is happening. During the Tubman era, the Late Superintendent Gbarbea became a victim of such political situation; similar situation also occurred during the Doe and Taylor administrations.
Interestingly, some of these officials are so much entrenched in the county’s politics (only because of their attachment to the presidency) so much so that they always discourage county officials from incorporating the inputs and contributions of other well-meaning citizens in programs intended for the growth and progress of the county. They most often marginalize those they perceive as being critical of their activities/actions and utterances.
Until such unhelpful political attitudes exhibited by the leaders of Bong County are reversed in practical and sincere terms, the division and hatred will continue to widen and political revenge may likely follow in the years ahead.
To abort or prevent such future situation which may not augur well for the county, the Bong Legislators and senior ministers of government must join the university students hailing from the county in healing the deep wounds of the county. The issue of what happens to the county tomorrow when they shall no longer in authority must always be at the core of their current activities and interactions, of course disregarding the “you-say, hear-say or they-say” about each other and other citizens from their supporters.
Unity and progress will only flourish in Bong County when these divisive tendencies are discouraged by leaders/officials and citizens of the county. And the respect and courtesies due Bong County Legislators and national officials must always be given by citizens because they are the symbols of the county.