Indeed, we commend the President of the Nation for her courageous, public declaration, fortunately, in opposition to some of the proposed constitutional amendments, namely, – Persons of non-Negro Race should not become citizens (of Liberia); Liberia should be (declared in Law) a Christian Nation;but, unfortunately, opposeDual citizenship should not be accepted in Liberia or that dual citizenship should be accepted in Liberia -approved by the Constitutional Conference held, recently, in Gbarnga, Bong County, under the auspices of the National, Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).
The President’s action demonstrates the requisite qualities of leadership, particularly,politicalleadershipof a people uninformed, relatively, on critical issues of nation-building or politics, a leadership chosen by the same people, followers, because leadership is knowledgeable, articulate, principled, honest, liberal, rational, progressive, caring, dedicated to their service and mostimportantly, ateacher of the followers, the people.
The dynamics of the three constitutional, proposed amendments are not a simple matter; they are concerned with law (national/international), history, politics/diplomacy, economics and the entire spectrum of human activities dedicated to national/international cooperation for world, peaceful co-existence. We disagreed with all three of the proposed amendments because we believe that implementing those amendments contradict not only our own laws and belief systems, but also international law, peace and security.For the information of all concerned readers, we present a reprint of parts of our response to the proposed, Constitutional Commission/Amendments:
1. “Persons of non-Negro Race should not become citizens” of Liberia”. We disagree.
We held that “The most important reason, in legal, political and logical terms, for repeal ofArticle 27(b)of the Liberian Constitution and the granting of Liberian citizenship to non-Negro individuals who satisfy all other legal requirements, without consideration of national origin, race, gender and sexual preference, lies in the changed/changing socio-political conceptions of political thought and practice, with respect to current conditions and realities regarding race, nationality, tribe & ethnicity, gender, respect for and observance of human, civil, and political rights.
During the days when our Country, Liberia, was founded by freed, Negro slaves who fled from racism, injustice, brutality and death, there was no one who cared enough to dare and challenge the established socio-political order/power on behalf of the disadvantaged poor, racial minorities whose inalienable rights were abused, routinely, and denied with impunity. There was no League of Nations or the United Nations to which one may or could appeal for redress.Under those conditions, it was reasonable, indeed mandatory, for Liberia to close its national borders and doors to the enslaving, non-negro people, who brutalized, routinely, systematically anddenied them (Liberians of the Negro race) their socio-political and inalienable rights, from becoming citizens, for fear that the non-negro race might gain socio-political control and, again, enslave and persecute its citizens.
However, time, socio-political thought, practice and conditions have changed dramatically; therefore, socio-political actions must change, inevitably and correspondingly, with prevailing realities of the day; so it had been throughout human history and is likely to be henceforth. For, the Liberian Nation, of freed Negro slaves, has now become the high-profiled, internationally-recognized, founding member of the United Nations, and participating actor on the world stage, in this age of democratic pluralism, human, civil and political rights of all peoples.It was in this light that, noting the Apartheid Policy of the Republic of South Africa practiced, brutally, against the Negro Republic of Namibia, then under its trusteeship, that the Liberian State took legal action against that nation (Republic of South Africa) in the International Court of Justice, for Racial Segregation and the Denial of Basic Civil & Human Rights as the core of that policy.
Moreover, Article 27(b) of our Constitution is patent violation of international treaties – the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations -to which the Republic is signatory and of which the Republic of Liberia is a founding, member-state. Both institutions forbid discrimination/segregation based on gender, race and national origin.
How then, does the Republic of Liberia explain our laws and policy-action against persons of non-Negro race based on the constitutional proclamation that“. . . only persons who are Negroes or of Negro descent shall qualify . . . to be citizens of Liberia”?Are these constitutional prescriptions and actions not, in fact, blatant contradictions of our own belief systems in respect to socio-economic and political justice, particularly regarding racial justice?
In the light of foregoing, we are convinced that our current constitutional provisions – particularly, Article 27(b) and those other laws – that bar law-abiding persons of good character from Liberian citizenship only on the grounds of non-negro and/or non-negro descentare clearly outdated, insensitive and injudicious.We strongly believe and suggest that individuals of other ethnic/tribal origin and non-Negro persons desiring Liberian citizenship should and must be granted their wish, if qualified in other lawful respects, without consideration of race, national origin and gender; and that such laws must be repealed”.
2.“Liberia should be (declared in law) a Christian Nation”. We disagree
We held, also, that “This issue, deeply personal and highly explosive, is likely to tear this small nation apart,Christians & Supporters versus Muslims-Islamists. But they lived together for centuries in peace and harmony until, quite, recently. Now, Christians and Supporters claim that the Liberian Nation should and must be declared, in law, aChristian nation, because they say that, “Liberia was founded on Christian Principles”. The Muslims-Islamists disagree. But, was Liberia founded, based, on Christian principles?
According to Miss Jackie Sayeah (Sayeah, On Shaky Ground . . . FPA 2015), the White-people’sAmerican Colonization Society (ACS) bears the major responsibility for the founding of Liberia in response to the dilemma of what to do with the Black population in America. “Robert Finley, a Presbyterian pastor on February 15, 1815, wrote a letter to a colleague . . . explaining that ‘Everything connected with their (black people’s) condition, including their colour, is against them; could not the rich and benevolent devise means to form a colony on some part of the Coast of Africa, similar to the one at Sierra Leone, which might gradually induce many free blacks to go. . . . . . We should be cleared of them; we should send to Africa a population partially civilized and Christianized for its benefits .. . ”.
“The ACS . . . was formed for the sole intent that the slaves not be restored to liberty . . . except for transportation(out of the continental USA); and that, as the free coloured people never can mingle with the whites, the only practicable way of doing them good, is to remove them from their own country to the distant land of their forefathers.” The 13th Report of the ACS continues, “The present number of this unfortunate, degraded, and anomalous class of inhabitants cannot be much short of half a million, and the number is fast increasing. They are, emphatically, a mildew upon our fields, a scourge to our backs, and a stain upon our escutcheon. To remove them, is mercy to ourselves, and justice.” Charles Fenton Mercer of Virginia favoured removal of the freed blacks because they were “every day polluting and corrupting public morals and more than half the freed black females were prostitutes and half of the males, rogues.”All highlight mine.
“At the first general conference of those that favoured colonization of the freed slaves, Elias Caldwell explained:“It was expedient because the free blacks have a demoralizing influence on our civil institutions; . . . Africa seemed the best place to send them . . . the climate was agreeable to the coloured man’s constitution, they could live cheaply there, and above all other reasons, they could carry civilization and Christianity to the Africans. . . . With the promise of equality, a homestead, and a free passage, no black would refuse to go” (Alexander, 82).
“But refuse many did. Most Blacks distrusted the ACS and made their opposition loud and clear, claiming the USA as their place of nativity and expressing outrage that they should be banished from a land they viewed as their own. Some went so far as to approve a petition in 1817, calling for colonization “while we thus express our approbation of a measure laudable in its purpose, and beneficial in its design, it may not be improper in us to say, that we prefer being colonized in the most remote corner of the land of our nativity to being exiled to a foreign country . . . whether it would not be an act of charity to grant us a small portion of territory, either on the Missouri river, or any place that may seem conducive to the public good.”
Our African-American, founding fathers were forced toemigrateto this land of their ancestors in search for human dignity, justice and peace, particularly, racial justice and human dignity. Therefore, Liberia was founded on principles of race and skin color discrimination/segregation with profound system of injustice. Although the founders brought, with them, inherited notions of Christianity, teachings of one of the world’s greatprophets and religious teachers, Jesus Christ,of ancient Israel,butLiberia was founded NOT on Christian principles, such that can be defended in fact, law, logic or the political domain.
Religious Faith is a strong, personal belief in something – heaven, life after death, for examples – for which there is no proof; a belief without evidence; things hope for without evidence of reality; and belief in things not seen, but hope for without proof. In all of this pushing-and-shoving, religious fanatics or dogmatic, true-believers who wave the Koran and Bible in support of their respective Faiths, have yet to produce evidence of life after death by a live individual who returned from the great beyond!!
Major Concerns – about Religion in Politics
Those Liberians whoare concerned about thisChristian Principles thing, especially, the Muslims-Islamist Liberians, have nothing to fear from theChristians, traditional believers, non-believers, etc. But there is much to fear from and be suspicious of the Muslims-Islamists. Just watch the nightly, Evening World News on television or turn to the world news page in the newspaper.
You will be treated, in the “on-going, international ‘trouble spots’, by Muslim-Islamists atop mounted anti-aircraft artillery, brandishing AK-47 assault rifles, shoulder-mounted RPGs and preaching Islamic state, a single person-rule, sharia law of beheadings and stoning to deathin a state that does not recognize women’s rights;other“trouble spots”on our African continentinclude Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, North Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia,all dominated by demand for Islamic StateMuslims-Islamists; thenewest andmost dangerous sensationoperating in Nigeria and Cameroons is Boko Haran – Muslim-Islamist, sectarian violence of abductions, rape and murders. Liberians, therefore, have reasons to be worried and suspicious of Muslims-Islamists, who, evidently, show no regard for human life.Finally, religious faith is a very personal matter, a conviction or belief that should and must be confined to the church, temple, synagogue, mosque, tabernacle, etc., etc.Let us confine Religion – any religion – to the places of worship, out of politics”.
3. “Dual Citizenship Should Not be accepted in Liberia”. We agree.
We held that “Births,throughout human history, including the state of nature, had beenordained by and from nature, as they are today. Births were not and are not rights,but a simple means of identification that is permanent, unchangeable. Besides, there were no rights,obligations/responsibilities during the state of nature. As acts of nature, birthswere and are above and beyond the capacity of individuals, both during the state of nature as well as human, organized society to affect – change or regulate in terms of parentage, kinship and ethnic/tribal relationship.
Citizen, Citizenship & Rights
The terms “citizen” and “citizenship” are creations of the Social State, an organized society or political community.A Citizen is member of an organized political community who is entitled to rights and privileges, with obligations and responsibilities, developed, controlled, provided and administered by the Social State or the organized, political community, defined byThe Social Contractof mutually-binding rules and regulationsby and between the individual, the citizen, and the Social State or political community.
Citizenshipisthe state or condition of being a citizen.Fundamentally, citizenship is characterized by and rests on the foundation of “Love-of-country” – loyalty, allegiance and patriotism, and other, related, lawful obligations of the citizen to the state, and the state to the citizen. For example, one may be born in country A, citizen of the same country A, but may not be or claim citizenship of countryB, simultaneously, of country A. Further, one may be citizen of country A and born in country B, but may not be or claim citizenship of both A & B simultaneously.Therefore, dual citizenship or dual nationality has no place in Liberia, because it is a patent violation of all required obligations/responsibilities of a loyal, patriotic citizen.
But Liberians in the Diaspora argue for adoption of dual citizenship in our county, based, mainly, on “birthright” claims – that birthright is “citizenship right”, expressed by their notion of “Once-a-Liberian” or once you were born on Liberian soil, then you are “always-a-Liberian”. But this is not true, as wave shown.
Dual nationality (dual citizenship) results because there is no international rule, law or convention regarding the granting/acquisition of naturalized citizenship. Therefore, each sovereign nation makes and has its own, independent laws, domestic policies and requirements on the basis of which naturalized citizenships are granted. Although the United States says that it does not favor dual nationality as a matter of policy, but subscribes to and requires an exclusive oath of allegiance/loyalty to a single nation at a time, recognizes and practices dual nationality “in specialized, individual cases”.However, we believe that Law gets its majesty from human reason and socio-cultural, moral rectitude for the achievement of the vital interests and needs of a given people and nation. Liberian is no less guided and dedicated.
Now, we are told that passage of a dual citizenship bill now before the Legislature will encourage trained and experienced Liberian professionals in the Diaspora to return, as foreign citizens (dual citizens), benefit Liberia and be a part of the rebuilding effort. We disagree with this simplistic approach to a complex problem for the following reasons:
Firstly, we admit that there are trained, experienced Liberian& former Liberianprofessionals and technocrats in the Diaspora;however, it does not follow, necessarily, that they are eager, willing and ready to renounce their foreign citizenships, return homeandbenefit their homeland in its social, economic and political development, while living abroad with families, permanently, on “exclusive loyalty and allegiance to a foreign country”. Evidence shows that most of the leadership of proposed dual citizenship and related proponents are middle-class Liberians who are citizens of foreign countries – academics, university professors, lawyers, engineers, doctors, business managers, IT professionals, etc. – some of who have been and are living out of Liberia for almost 20 years, invested in homes and retirement income, although they know that their expertise is not only appreciated, but also in high demand here, on the ground, in Liberia, and thateffective, efficient and relevant change will come only with active involvement of the informed, educated, trained, experienced, courageous and dedicated citizens.
It is important to note that no matter the level of one’s academic training, knowledge of the issues, one’s patriotism, passionate commitment and dedication to socio-economic and political transformation in Liberia, one must be on the ground in Liberia, because one cannot effectdemocratic change in Liberia by remote, pie-in-the-sky pontifications.One must be physically and permanently present on the ground, in Liberia, to observe and experience the dynamics of the socio-economic and political, developmental process – who does what, to whom, why, how, where, when and the context of these dynamics.
Secondly, foreign citizenship is not a requirement for former citizen returning home to be involved his birth nation’s redevelopment.
Thirdly, protection of the Nation’s National Security is, should and must be the major factor in the choice of individuals for top, strategic, policy-making positions, such as the office of the nation’s President (the Executive Mansion), National defense, National Security, other leading Ministries and agencies of government, includingthe other two branches – Legislative & Judiciary – of government. It is necessary that we draw upon the experience of our socio-economic and political mentor, the country from which we borrowed, almost, all of our laws, the powerful, United States of America.
The US Nation was drawn into Iraqi and Afghan destructive wars on false argument/advice of weapons of mass destructionby dual citizens placed in top policy-making positions at the White House (National Security), the Pentagon, State Department, the US Congress and the Supreme Court.Caught and entangled in the web of dual citizens-activities, particularly, regarding its domestic(political/economic) and foreign(national security)policies, the USA is now involved in an effort to extricate itself from or find a way out of possible, nuclear confrontation with some developing/developed nations, due to acts by dual citizens. We, Liberians, should and must learn to benefit from the US experience.
Fourthly, Public Dishonesty or Corruption. One may argue, without research support, that there appears to be positive correlation betweendual citizenship-employment in Liberia and public dishonesty or corruption (theft of property). From the days of GSA Managing Director, Mr. Charles Taylor’s success in avoiding extradition to Liberia for trial on allegation of economic sabotage/theft of property involving hundreds of millions of US dollars during the early 1980s to the recent folk-heroes – Miss Ellen Corkrum& Mr. Melvin Johnson – still at-large, safe and sound in the USA. Thanks to our Judicial system and the recent inability of the Ministry of Justice to extradite the pair for trial in Liberia.
Now, there are new disclosure(Fraud Agents, New Democrat, August 17, 2015) of fraudat the Ministry of Foreign Affairs involving US $300k,staring aMr. AugustineNyanplu, permanent resident of the US who is reportedly “on the run in the US”.Apparently, citizenship of and permanent residence in a foreign country, etc., offer an excellent escape route/cover and protection from arrest/prosecution for theft of property in Liberia – stealing public resources.
And Fifthly, the Political Economy of Liberia.This is a national phenomenonthat needs careful, open, diligent examination. According to recent, published analysis by a Liberian Professor of Political Science at a US University, the Liberian Political Economyhad been, still is, dominated and controlled by few members of the nation’s political, ruling class, a majority of which were and are dual citizens. The Liberian Political Economy, according to the study, bears responsibility for the massive exodus of Liberians who abandoned the Republic, during the civil war, into foreign lands and acquired naturalized, foreign citizenships.
From their entrenched domination and control of the nation’s economy, dual citizens “earned/earn” fabulous incomes in Liberia with which they bought/buy homes and maintained/maintain families in their second homes/foreign countries. They, also, maintained/maintain fabulous bank accounts in and made/make periodic trips to these foreign countries. According to recent reports, almost all revenue-generating, state-owned enterprises, their presidents and vice presidents; managing directors and deputies; members of boards and chairpersons, including ministers and deputies of major ministries, and financially-lucrative agencies of government, etc., are dens or enclaves fordual citizens.