As I read the two
articles by my colleagues, Dr. William E. Allen, “Apologies
Require Historical Context: A Rebuttal to Mr. Mohamedu
F. Jones and Dr. Amos M. D. Sirleaf”
John F. Josiah, "The
Unlawful and Wrongful Killing of Unspecified Liberians
which were both published on The Perspective on March
24, 2005, I realized that part of what might be in play
in both articles was the dynamic of what I will call
the “logic of necessary mutual exclusivity.”
The logic of necessary mutual exclusivity means that
by making the point that there is a need for the government
of Liberia to formally and officially apologize for
the unlawful killings on April 22, 1980, as I did, then
I necessarily am asserting that political violence began
on that day and I am also necessarily excluding the
300,000 others who were killed as a result of recent
political violence in Liberia or those who were killed
in earlier periods as a result of official violence.
Indeed, it is the logic of necessary mutual exclusivity
that leads to the conclusion that I am somehow seeing
other Liberian political deaths as diminimis
in my call for an official apology for the killing of
My college daughter helped me see my colleagues’
points of view in proper perspective when she noted
that for one to call for a memorial to Anne Frank
is not to say that the other 6 million Jewish people
murdered in Europe during the Holocaust need not be
memorialized also or that their deaths are for lesser
value in any way. She concluded: it simply means that
at the time the person is advocating for constructing
a memorial to Anne Frank. Well, in the same way, I
was speaking solely to an official apology for the
killing of the13 men on April 22, 1980.
On October 12, 2002, I spoke to the Brewerville Civic Association in Atlanta for their Annual Reunion; my speech was published on October 16, 2002
in The Perspective
. I am excerpting it below because I addressed the concerns of Cllr. Josiah and Dr. Allen in that speech nearly three years ago.
Liberia's history is filled with political violence:
the wars against Liberian citizens, the Kru and Grebo
wars are prime examples of national political violence.
Many Liberians were violently persecuted so that President
Tubman could stay in power: In the 1950's the Colemans
(father S. David and son John) were murdered; Nete Sie-Brownell
and S. Raymond Horace were imprisoned; and Didhwo Twe
was exiled. In the 1960's, E. K. Sherman, H. Boima Fahnbulleh,
Sr., among others, were imprisoned.
On April 14, 1979, many Liberians were wrongfully
killed in the streets of Monrovia by government forces.
On April 12, 1980, members of the Liberian armed forces
and their co-conspirators staged a coup d'etat, and
announced that they had "liberated" Liberia
from a regime that they claimed was "rampantly
corrupt" and "oppressive." President
Tolbert was cold-bloodedly murdered. On April 23,
1980, 13 Liberian citizens were unlawfully killed
in barbaric fashion on a beach of Monrovia. These
are crimes from which Liberia has still not yet recovered,
even after more than 20 years.
Between 1980 and 1990, thousands of Liberians were
murdered, tortured, raped, persecuted, imprisoned,
and even buried alive or decapitated by government
security forces or their agents, so that President
Doe and his collaborators could hold onto power. On
the day before Christmas in 1989, war was unleashed
upon the people of Liberia for the declared purpose
of again "liberating" us, this time from
President Doe. In September 1990, President Doe was
tortured (on video for the world to see), and eventually
murdered, by his fellow Liberians.
In the1990s, our country disintegrated into all-out
war - a war in which some of the most egregious crimes
against humanity, war crimes, and violations of human
rights, in the final decade of the 20th Century occurred.
We Liberians must learn to use non-violent political
resolutions for our political problems. Violence as
a tool of the political process in Liberia must end.
As shown above, I agreed with Dr. Allen and Cllr.
Josiah way back in 2002.