Father Tipkor Missed an Opportunity to bring Liberians together

By E. Vinton

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 13, 2010


Let me reply to this part: Is this an “oration”? This is more a policy speech than anything. An oration should be a call to unity, to bring the country together not divide the people with hate mongering and xenophobic call to “defend” the country. Here is an excerpt from Father Tipkor's Independence day speech in italics:

"Now, I am not a lawyer. Furthermore, I stand corrected. It seems to me that these texts were written at a particular time, and referred to the people of that time, 163 years ago. In the 1960s, the former Colonial oppressors and repressors in Guinea, and Ivory Coast have granted those countries their freedom to govern themselves. But nationals from some neighboring countries still come, continuously pouring into Liberia’s porous borders. And, within a week or two, they are in Monrovia. Within another week or two, they have obtained a brand new Liberian Passport. Do you think I am joking?

Ask the appropriate officials at the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization and they will tell you how many spurious Liberian Passport holders they have detained here in the last twelve months.

I met one in South Africa recently at the Chancellery of the Liberian Embassy. He had come for a sort of official confirmation from the Consulate Officer, Mr. Ben Sie-Too Collins in Pretoria. He wanted to continue on his way elsewhere as a Liberian. After some fifty years after independence, foreigners are continuously pouring into our long cheated country. Should we not cry “Foul”? “

Put the case: If a complainer’s ethnic roots could be traced back to Guinea, for example, before that country’s independence, then he should be considered a non-Liberian because the Constitution granted him the permission of coming to Liberia as a place of refuge. Shouldn’t the Attorney-General tell the lawyer of that Liberian Passport holder, no matter how brilliant this lawyer might be, that the burden of proof lies squarely in his client’s court?

To his words I would explain that borders are porous and as the EU (European Union) has shown, it is beneficial to have such free movement of people. In addition, ECOWAS was very helpful to the many Liberians who fled the civil war. They were able to move unhindered to our sister countries. Are we now to shut the door? Should all the Liberians living outside Liberia be pushed out by these other countries? This is the same situation now taking place in South Africa. After South Africans fled apartheid and many took refuge in neighboring countries, now their country have become safer, South Africans are murdering other Africans and want them out of the country. How soon they, and us, forget?

The oration was divisive. In a time when many people are looking for scapegoats to blame for their suffering, it is wrong to paint a picture of us vs. them. Now there is even dividion coming about between the Liberians at home and those outside. Why should it be so?

I thought a man of the cloth was to speak about peace and reconciliation? What if the United States then decides to send all the Liberians and other foreigners home? what if other countries decide to have only those born in their countries live in their countries?

The passport issue is because of corrupt officials who sell Liberian passports, it is the supply, not the demand. Ifyou say you want a passport, but nobody is willing to sell it to you, then what is the problem? It is the seller that is at fault, not the buyer.

Ghana and other countries have embraced dual citizenship. That is how they benefit from those that have left. Who wants to build in Liberia if this is not their home? The Bible says “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Nobody wants to leave their country if there is peace and safety. Liberians fled becasue of war, should they be punished again and again becasue they wanted to live?

The Father contradicts himself by using the United States as an example. Immigrants from all over the world are the ones that have built America and have made it great. That is why the Statue of Liberty inscription reads in part "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

The oration failed in bringing our people together. This brings to my mind the Bible saying “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: Joel 2:28.

Liberia needs a visionary, one that will assist the president in creating a vision, a goal that all Liberian can work towards, not someone who lives in the past and dream dreams.

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