Of the Presidency and Ambition: A letter to George Weah




An Open Letter by Omari Jackson

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

November 22, 2004

My Dear Weah,

I am risking another step to draw your attention to an important issue that has been raised concerning the forthcoming presidential elections in Liberia. It is interesting that the Liberia National Congress (LNC) has petitioned you to run as an independent candidate for the presidency. When I first read the petition, I must confess that I was somehow amused and a smile came across my lips. It appears that I am jumping the gun since you have not come out to declare your acceptance of the LNC’s request. However, it may be good for some examination to be done with some recommendations.

This mild reaction did not come because I never entertained the idea that as a Liberian you should contest for any position, especially as the situation relates to the leadership of Liberia. I am aware, of course, of your love for Liberia, and I must state here without games that there are many of us also who have great love for Liberia. Hence, it becomes important to review our respective contributions to Liberia, since politicians of old joined together and introduced another dimension of the war to this dear nation of ours.

I must also point that I am aware of your enormous contribution to Liberia in the area of sports and how unequalled it is when your assistance is compared with many of our countrymen. It therefore suggests to me that you have an undying love for Liberia. But who does not have such a love for Liberia?

During the heat of the war, George, many Liberians lost their lives, which means they were murdered for what they were: just Liberians who could not escape the impending threat to their lives. That indicates that they paid the ultimate price with their lives and shouldn’t we be thankful to God that we still have ours?

This brings me to another point.

You will agree, my dear George, that while many of you had the opportunity to be outside of the country during the most difficult period of the war, many thousands had nowhere to go. Like that movie several years ago, there was NOWHERE TO HIDE. This resulted in their receiving the brunt of the war.

I also agree with those who sing your praises, which of course I am one, that your lovely heart is so full of meaning that giving the chance as a leader, you can be of great service to Liberians and Liberia as a whole. However, I hold a different opinion on the issue of developing an ambition to contest for the presidency of Liberia next year, 2005. While not underestimating the Liberian people’s desire to elect whomever they want, I have a word of caution for you: don’t accept the petition to contest for the presidency of Liberia, period.

My dear, George, I am not sure but you must agree with me that God gives any animal that He wants to fly, wings ; and there are others with wings that don’t fly. This means their respective destinies are caught up for them. Therefore, as my Gambian friend, Lamin Sane told me a few days ago, some popularity is not meant for president, meaning that since you have earned a place among Liberians and the world as a model of what talent, determination and God’s blessings can mean, you must stick to that role to the world and the young and don’t risk it by involving yourself into African politics.

It is possible that you may receive my suggestion with contempt but (replace giving with if you give) me the chance I will be able to make myself rather more clearly on this issue.

I need not convince you that African politics is a field all its own, and those who are in it are those who have been tested and challenged in the practicalities of the world. True, you may be asking what the old politicians did for Liberia that you have not surpassed. But the failure of the politicians to put Liberia on the world does not suggest that anybody can announce that they are ready to lead the country. To be a leader, you need education, experience and also you must know the world of politics and its intricacies, believe me.

Evidently, you will agree with me that Liberia’s history is checkered and politicians never had the opportunity like what is before us to chart the course of the nation. The murder of William Tolbert, the coming of Samuel Doe and the resultant destruction is not sufficient evidence to measure the worth of politicians. Let me hurriedly add that I am not making a case for the politicians, though it may appear so at the moment.

It is certain that you may be determined to carry out the recommendation of the Liberia National Congress, since I am told that many of them ran through the streets of Monrovia, singing, “HE KNOW BOOK, HE NA NO BOOK, and
WE’LL VOTE FOR HIM.” This is the evidence that they have set their hearts on you. Granted that Liberians appreciate your personal contribution to the country, it is also clear that they can and may make the ultimate decision in your favor.
But let me remind you that the Liberian people recently danced on the streets of Monrovia and told the world that: “HE KILLED MY MA, HE KILLED MY PA, and I’LL VOTE FOR HIM.”

In his last days, the same Liberian people danced through the principal streets of Monrovia, singing, “TAYLOR PACK YOUR BAGGAGE, TAYLOR PACK YOUR BAGGAGE,” while others shed tears of disappointment. And of course you remember that at one time, some Liberians attacked your house and almost set it on fire.

What was your crime? Previous to this experience, they (the Liberian people) were also aware of your love and support to the country, weren’t they? But what went wrong? Your guess will be good as mine.

Meanwhile, George, I have three questions for you.

You wanted to be president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA), right? You also wanted to be the head-coach of the Black Stars of Ghana, right? You told me recently in Atlanta, that you would be attending the French Coaching
Institute, (in France), right? And now the LNC has petitioned you to run for president of Liberia, right? George, will it be hard for me to ask the 4th question: what do you want to be? It is important you set a definite plan of action
about what you decide to be otherwise with so many “want to” or “wanted to be” it will indicate lack of stability or vision. And don’t allow yourself to be confused by the hypocrites, who claim that YOU CAN MAKE IT.

My dear legend, I am not sure I have made myself clear in this letter which will be my first to you, but let me conclude with the recommendation that you must play the role that you presently enjoy in Liberia and the world. You must decide to be a politician in the future and must get some education to prepare you for it. Please don’t rush into politics and regret for the rest of your life.

I don’t intend to cause you discomfort but please remember that Liberia today is a violent society and you are too good to risk unwanted attacks.

Sir, I am sincere in my appeal and permit me to end, knowing that I have a duty to say it like it is. However, if you think my request is damaging and unnecessary, pursue the cause you think you are chosen for, and may the God of Heaven bless and guide you.

Yours truly,

Omari Jackson