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The Sociology of Liberia- Part I

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For those of you that understand the academic discipline sociology will have no reasons to refute the fact that every country equated as a society has its own sociology. This assertion is premised on the fact that sociologists rely on social phenomenon; an observable fact or event that defines the sociology of any country.

Against this backdrop, this article perhaps the first of its kind meticulously attempts to examine the sociology of the Liberian society as part I. As a broader phenomenon, the sociology of any society as in the case of Liberia takes a holistic interrogation of the social behavior peculiar to the Liberian society and its impact on the same society. In other words, the sociology of Liberia arguably explains how Liberians on average often react to diverse issues (social, political, economic etc.) and the extent to which the society is impacted. The sociology of any country doubtlessly embodies the culture of that society and it’s far reaching impact on the society. Moreover, it also embodies subcultures of the larger society.

Take for instance, one social phenomenon associated with the average black Southern Africans (Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa in South Africa and northern and southern Ndebele in Zimbabwe (Mahadi in Sesotho, Roora in Shona, and Magadi in Northern Sotho)is the culture of Lobolo or Lobola; bride price in cash or kind, which a prospective husband or head of his family undertakes to give to the head of a prospective wife’s family in consideration of a customary marriage.

From a social perspective, the behavior of the average black southern families for Lobola is uncompromising and even more stronger ever than before despite unintended negative effects (financial barrier for some young men looking to take a bride; couple that is emotionally ready to commit to each other to stay unmarried if the man does not have the financial resources to satisfy the impeding traditional ritual; condemnation by some Christian denomination such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day-Saints in Southern Africa etc.) The behavior is influenced by the purpose Lobola serves by building relationsbetween the respective families as marriage seen as more than a union between two individuals and to appreciate the bride family’s for her worth or value.

It is affected by many different factors including, but not limited to, the education level of the prospective bride as well asher beauty although in the eyes of the beholder and whether she has a child or children. Semanya (2014).
This example does not explain the entire culture of Southern Africa mentioned in this article. Itis part of the typical black southern Africans subculture as a common social phenomenon. Today the emergence of Ghanaian democracy as a model for democratization in Africa derived from its sociology that does not just cause noises for one to two weeks and back off. It is culture that demand changes especially when it threatens the national interest of their society.

Government policies tailored to improving the everyday lives of the people through better healthcare, education, and poverty-reducing is evident of strong progressive society. For example: In 200,Ghana former Minister for Youth and Sports Mallam Isa was accused for stealing US46, 000.

The society did not just caused one to two weeks noises. They demanded action from the government. Eventually, the minister got a four-year jail term, fined 10 million cedis (US$1,500), and ordered to refund within one month $46,000 he had stolenby Accra Fast Track Court. Importantly, it was the first time the government’s policy of “Zero Tolerance for Corruption” was tested. The minister attempted an appeal but the supreme court of Ghana dismissed the application.

Let’s look at Liberia. There are many social phenomena that typify behavior of the average Liberians.  One observed social facts peculiar to Liberian society is our reaction toward social, political, economic issues. Arguably, whenever something undesirable happens, the average Liberian including the electronic and print media cause one to two weeks noises and after that nothing is said about it or done as an impact. Take for practical examples: without any intention to cause harm, the Hon Edward Forh corruption allegation about “You eat some; I eat some” between former Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan in 2013 attracted one to two weeks noises that at the end of the day only penalized Hon. Kpaan while Hon. Forh went off the hock despite his admission to the recording.

Similarly, following the death of the whistleblower Michael Allison involving LACC investigation of US$25,000 scandal linking the speaker of the House of National Legislature, nothing has been said or done. Ellen Corkrum, the former Boss for Robert International Airport (RIA) that misappropriated over hundred thousand United States dollars for renovation work at the RIA and released secret recording of top government official after fleeing out of the Country attracted one to two week noises and afterward died a natural death.

How is this kind of behavior affecting our society? Over the years Liberians have introduced a terminology called the “Culture of Impunity” characterized by the same one to two weeks noises that produce no positive outcomes. If something politically undesirable happens, monitor the radio stations that open the phone lines to solicit Liberians views and also the local newspapers top headlines as if to infer that something concrete will emerge after one or two weeks.

With this kind of behavior that arguably described Liberians as very passive people, we cannot develop a progressive society that hold people accountable for their actions. It can be argued that prior to the civil war, the slogan “In the cause of the people, the struggle continues” as a social change that produced multiparty pioneered by the late Gabriel Baccus Matthew, Dr. Amos Sawyer, Togba Nah Tipoteh etc. was an indication of a progressive society between the late 1960s -1980s that ceased to continue in this generation.

Granted Ghana is not a perfect society and is faced with challenges just like Liberia. However, its sociology embodies an actions oriented society that does not encourage impunity culture. As in the case of the Ghanaian former minister, can we as a people of Liberia demand such action?

Another observed related phenomenon is the inclination of being quickly entrap by our comfort zones after something undesirable has happened. Take for example, Liberia has a history of natural disaster replete with sad memories that could have putted us in better disaster resilience but our comfort zones make us to forget about the pass.

Then came the deadly Ebola outbreak that overwhelmed our coping abilities. Granted the government is making effort to build disaster resilience, but at the community level or on the average, the inclination of being entrapped by our comfort zones is already happening as evidenced by people reluctance or relaxation of adherence to anti-Ebola best practices. Although no right thinking person will ever wish or hope for the virus to resurface, God forbids that it happens. In case the resurface pose a serious threat to our comfort zones, we will want to be robust quickly in our actions through the media as usual.

Being entrapped by our comfort zones that make us to forget about the past has the potential for reoccurrence in different forms not in the case of Ebola only. As a right thinking person, retrospect on other phenomena in which our comfort zones weakened our precautionary measures.

As argued in this article, it can be concluded that the sociology of any country to a large extent impacts the society as whole. So hearing that Liberians are passive people when it comes to our reactions toward issues as pinpointed in this article, know that it is an embodiment of the sociology of Liberia affecting our society that any sociologist will not easily refute. I rest my case and anticipate your feedbacks.
About the Author

Mr. Ambrues M. Nebo holds MSc in the top 5 % of the graduating Class in Peace and Conflict form University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Post Graduate Certificate with distinction in Public Administration from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Ghana, BA Hon (Magna Cum Laude) in Sociology from African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College in Liberia and various International Certificates in peacekeeping operations from the Kofi Anna International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.

Besides this article, he has authored a dozen of articles dealing with contemporary issues in Africa and Liberia in which some of his articles (Stop Pointing Fingers at the West for Political Problems in Africa, Is Prolonged Regime, a Recipe for Potential Problems in Africa? and Instead of the International Criminal Court, blame our Leaders, The dark side of Majority rule in Africa; The role of the Government in Social Stratification ) can be accessed online at google search and www.academia.edu.

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