Pinpointing The Misfits Among Us: Understanding The Mistrust Of An Earlier Generation


By: Emmanuel Dolo, Ph. D.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 15, 2004

The conflict in Liberia and the resulting displacement of Liberians have invited a discourse on a growing mistrust of some members of the society whose ineptitude and flaunting of the goodwill of the citizens led to the steep erosion of the social fabric of Liberia. I have in the past months taken on the charge to expose those same tendencies that made it possible for such persons to risk and subject the livelihoods of thousands and even millions of Liberians to chaos, hostility, and relentless grief. Yet, with each passing moment, it has seemed that a generational war is brewing given that many of the actors whom I have criticized fall in an age cohort that generally worked in the public sector during the TWP, Doe, and Taylor regimes, and/or played roles in the outgrowth and entrenchment of an insurgency ethos in Liberia.

To counter any feelings of fostering or supporting a generational divide, I sought to write this article to clarify the challenge that I have launched against those seeking to reinvent themselves. I must admit, that there are several persons within the generational cohort that I have targeted, that cannot be aligned with individuals who wrought havoc on the Liberian economy, fomented war, left their countrymen and women in misery, and then sought refuge in various hiding places. And yet, they have chosen to still remind us of their gory records through repeated appearances in public spaces to test our levels of tolerance. Essentially, those targeted do not neatly fit in a generational or ideological container. Instead, they are characterized by specific attitudes or habits that need to be exposed, if we are to move forward with nation building. You see, the most disturbing feature of the Liberian crisis is that past dictators and their cronies have achieved victory in death, because their successors have been even more ruthless and cold blooded. Most importantly, we, Liberians have allowed these national rogues and international rascals to be recycled repeatedly, as if something is wrong with our psyche. To unearth why the trend of reinventing themselves has remained so stubborn has to be a shared goal because it is in doing so, that we will halt and reverse such an unspeakable pattern. Liberians cannot start anew while folding our hands and watching our future go to rot as these despicable actors render our nation a nonentity.

When we cheapen our educated people just because a few persons, who have all the trappings of intellectuals, yet fail to honor such noble purpose, have engaged in scandalous behaviors, we devalue our nation’s most precious resource. For Liberia to awake from its bleak state and achieve the stature of a beacon on the African continent that it once was, certain critical steps will be necessary. Liberians will have to cultivate a professional class whose purpose will be to devise strategies and interventions, much needed for the survival of our society. Equally important, will be the need for a business class that will rescue the nation from the throes of predatory business practices wrought by the marriage of convenience between the decadent political elites and some foreign business people who have come to entrench their seeds of exploitation in our nation’s capital. There is no doubt that among such an illicit group you will find former and present government officials (young and old) as well as merchants and business owners of all sorts and races that we need to weed out to create an entrepreneurial landscape that is corruption-resistant and responsive to the needs of the citizens.

Digging deep into the crevices of our civil society and finding those persons whose names are associated with human rights violations and corrupt deeds, and reminding them that even in voluntary associations, the norms of good governance and accountability are required, will be steps necessary to launch us onto paths of social and distributive justice. It behooves Liberians to stand together, not as tribesmen, females, males, youth, children, adults, or elderly people, but as a people with a shared national identity, and commitment to equity and justice. We must, accentuate and honor those among us who have on occasions, when it was convenient for them to duck and hide, even steal, that they stood with the Liberian people pointing fingers of justice in the face of injustice. We can no longer allow the misfits in our midst who do not have our interests at heart to tug at our emotions, appealing to ethnicity and parochial interests. We must let them know that God has given us another chance not because we deserve it, but because God is merciful. Let’s take our country back and speak truth to a house full of hustlers and political pimps. They would be welcome only if they turn their backs on their awful and wicked ways.

Finally, it should be noted that no one Liberian has claim on Liberia than others. But these political misfits have pretended as if they have monopoly over the nation and all its critical power resources. Even worse, there is a young generation of Liberians who are beginning to show signs of sheer opportunism by aligning with other failed members of the political classes, who have been beneficiaries of the system through silence and apathy in the face of injustice, and are now acting as if they can save Liberia from its fast trek toward decadence. Look for them among the pool of so-called candidates for the presidency in Liberia. Our generation is not doing enough by marching to the same drumbeat that led the country to where it is now. Look for them among the so-called supporters of some of the same persons whose indifference and even their relationships with despots led us to where we are. You would not have to look too hard in Monrovia and elsewhere to find young men and women who are serving as errand boys and girls for these misfits. Intellect alone is not sufficient to give people free passage to public offices. Equally so, populist credentials and endorsements alone are not sufficient to forge license to higher office. It is the heart, a commitment to the Liberian people demonstrated by lifting up your fellow Liberians when they were downtrodden that matters, alongside a modicum of good judgment. The rest of the criteria can be harnessed through good coaching and surrounding oneself with thoughtful supporters. We must beware of the guises that crooks wear.

About The Author: Emmanuel Dolo lives in Maplewood, Minnesota with his family. He can be contacted at