The day is Saturday, September 17 and the time is all day, at least that what stalwarts of the Unity Party are telling the curious, the well wishers and the doubters too, about what is being billed as the march that will blanket Monrovia and rival only a few in the history of electioneering in Liberia.
The wait seemed unending but at last it is nigh. The preparation has been tedious and logistical challenges have been never ending; the pressure and the expectations have been building to near untenable levels. Campaign paraphernalia, garlanded in the red, green and brown party color have been secured by anxious partisans and sympathizers; transportations and other logistical challenges have abated, if only just, as the forces of sheer will and grit stand ready to converge on Monrovia to form a sea of human beings, gracefully singing and dancing familiar party songs in an atmosphere that is expected to be charged and colorful at the same time.
Party event organizers are already raving about what Saturday promises. For a party that represents every class and strata of the Liberian society, we are told the boundary in class and status, imagined or somewhat real, will be seamless as Liberians of common aspirations, hope and destiny march in cadence and in one accord, beaconing to Liberians at large who are yet to read the tea leaves, to submit to the arc of history as it is written.
According to event planners, the march billed as the Unity Party coming out gala, promises to see the pen-pen boys, the market women, the shoe shine boys, the cab drivers, the farmers and just about everyone who shares in the belief that continuity at such critical juncture must remain an uncompromising choice if the promise tomorrow beholds is to come to fruition. We are told too, that the professionals and religious community will also be in attendance, daring not to go against the tidal wave of positive change already enveloping this country.
Judging from the Unity Party public service announcement about the event, it seems just about every aspect of life in crowded Monrovia will feel the impact of what is to befall Monrovia tomorrow. As partisans and observers throng to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium, it now appears that everything –from the transport vehicles to pen-pen, to merchandise, to printers, and just about every product and service merchandisers and service providers can market has been either sold out or stretched thin, to the dismay of the opposition and others not supportive of the Unity Party.
The campaign leadership team revealed that the decision to transport supporters half of the way from all the suburbs and around Monrovia is intended to avoid laying a siege on Monrovia. “By transporting our people half of the way, we are demonstrating that as a party steeped in the values of respect and fairness, we believe that others who do not share our vision for Liberia should have a right to carry on with their lives in Monrovia and its environs, if only just in certain parts” a campaign official said.
From the drop-off locations, the parade will begin in earnest from all directions — north, east, west and south. Some celebrants will march in sober reflections on what has already been achieved, giving thanks for God for the power of discernment bestowed upon President Sirleaf to guide this nation through the turbulence; others will wail and dance in wild celebrations for what is expected to come — the hopeful future, better livelihood, better and more jobs, good and cheaper education, good and safer roads and safer communities to raise children and sleep in peace — a future where each one can only be limited by their abilities and potential and not by their station in life, their relationships and or proximity to power.
So as Monrovia waits with baited breath for the caravan to roll in town on Saturday, many have begun making early preparation — taking care of Saturday’s business ahead of schedule to avoid getting stranded or crowded out. Even coordinators believe it is a wise move because for a better portion of the day Monrovia will acquiesce, whether willingly or otherwise, to the collective aspirations of the Unity Partisans and the many others who believe that the way to consolidate the gains is to reelect the experience Unity Party led government headed by Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
At the stadium, before the first Partisans and other speakers take the stage, special Unity Party campaign music will be blaring on every street corner, but more so, in the walls of the Antoinette Tubman Stadium. Every inch of the field is expected to be occupied, and probably the Lynch Street UN Drive corridors as well. Then in some messianic culmination, the first partisans will climax the speaking portion of the spectacle when she steps forward to clearly and succinctly make the case for her second term bid. President Sirleaf who has since said she would run on her records, will first appraise Liberians, both the assembled and those in radio land of the appalling state of the nation six years ago and proceed to catalog how far we have come — touching on specific critical benchmarks and milestones. She will then charge campaign strategist and foot soldiers to go all out in every nook and cranny of this land, spreading the word that morning in Liberia is nigh.
Then without prompt, as the program at the stadium concludes, the partisans in a joyous chorus will spill into the streets of Monrovia to begin what would amount to a political great commission – to go out and not only spread the message of progress, stability, peace, unity and reconciliation, but to win messengers of the message. Then the blanket of people that would have covered Monrovia will retreat to act in ones, twos and in small groups, thereby surrendering the city back to its inhabitants for some much needed respite, but certainly not the mission. From there on, it will be campaigning non-stop.