|Charles W. Brumskine|
Charles Walker Brumskine was born into one of Grand Bassa County’s pseudo elite families that had always felt entitled to everything BASSA. In a classic old order Liberian political control, this handful of families ran county affairs from the 1830s until the military takeover of 1980. Since the birth of this new Republic, the old order or remnants of the old guards continue to assert themselves in new ways by aligning with self-appointed traditional leaders in the county. Together with their sycophants they take advantage of low information voters in the county to continue their grip on the Bassa people. This mindset has led to the ridiculous assertion, commonly refers to as “the qwe and face of Bassa politics” by some hired pens.
The idea that one man who has not done anything meaningful to impact the lives of Bassa citizens can tell voters how to choose their representatives is an insult to the Bassa people. I believe the Bassa citizens are not the personal property of Charles Brumskine. However, over the years the Bassa people, especially the youth have learned the hard truth that he is only interested in their vote to gain political office without a corresponding concern for their wellbeing. Records show that the people are not as beholden to Brumskine as claimed by his supporters. And this assertion is borne out by looking at the numbers from the last presidential elections in 2011 when he was a candidate. Bassa voters were not as eager to support Brumskine as compared to the level of support he received in the 2005 election.
In fact, as Bassonians looked closely at his campaigns which had not put forth a concrete platform to address their issues, Brumskine’s support in Bassa and River Cess took a downward spiral, receiving far less votes in both counties than his 2005 bid. Pundits say this means the more Brumskine stays on the scene and continues to exploit the goodwill of the people the less likely the citizens will be inclined to allow him and his allies to control them. Experts say voter behavior is influenced by reality and self-interest. And in Bassa that reality is gradually taking hold. Like people elsewhere, Bassa voters are beginning to identify and vote their own interest rather than catering to some political “kingmaker”. No doubt, Bassa has a unique history than the rest of the country. Most of its citizens, both natives and settlers, speak the Bassa language.
Some citizens allege that over the years politicians like Brumskine used their fluency in the Bassa language, though merely a ruse, to portray themselves as “we are one Bassa people” to rule the natives. However, as their sweet talk (rhetoric) failed to produce any positive change in the standard of living of the masses, the average citizen now suspects this common heritage talk as a trick. And for many years our people became victim to this strategy of deception. The cornerstone of the strategy is to limit access to education. And as long as the natives remain ignorant and illiterate, the Bassa ruling class is assured in its chances to be the dominant force and continue to run things as they are in Bassa. This is why we must do everything to re-elect Sen. Gbezohngar Findley since he is the leading advocate of education for the citizens of the county. Sen. Findley must be commended for having the political foresight in identifying the key necessary to ending ignorance and poverty.
While others continue to take advantage of people, Sen. Findley is working on a long-term solution to eradicate the disease that is keeping Bassa behind in development: limited access to quality education. Though the veil is being lifted and the ruse exposed, others, including Charles Brumskine, continue to rely on the old practice of pretending to be seeking the best interest of the people.
However, nothing could be further from the truth. Mr. Brumskine is all about Charles Walker Brumskine – a man who believes Grand Bassa County is his plantation. After serving as Charles Taylor’s legal counsel during the civil war, Taylor rewarded Brumskine by selecting him as the Senior Senator of Grand Bassa County. And at Taylor’s urging, the National Patriotic Party, the ex-ruling party, promoted Brumskine to President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate.
So, what did Brumskine do for the Bassa people? Zipo! When questioned, Brumskine said, in no uncertain terms, that he was a lawmaker and nothing else. Brumskine has always maintained that it was the national government’s responsibility to build roads, schools, health centers, etc. In Brumskine’s view, lawmakers do not advocate for their constituents. His concept of public service was to go to Monrovia in the name of Bassa without helping to bring home any development projects that would impact the lives of his constituents. In other words, He was sent to Monrovia to collect his salary and other perks for rendering no services to those who sent him to Monrovia. What a bizarre concept by a man who thinks that he has presidential pedigree!
Political observers suggest Brumskine is not alone in this scheme. He’s being helped by native sycophants who do not have confidence in their own ability to lead. As a result, the common people become a pawn to their selfish manipulation. In this scheme, the native surrogates are the advance teams. These compliant agents use traditional manipulation to convince the average citizens to vote for the recommended candidates. For these politicians, development and enlightenment are the enemy. They prey on ignorance and benefit from its excesses. How sad indeed. Contrary to popular perception, Grand Bassa County is lagging behind in every sphere of development in Liberia.
We are at the bottom in education, our student population is among the lowest, and the quality of life of the Bassa people is among Liberia’s poorest, thanks in part to the political model represented by Brumskine. According to this philosophy, as long as the Liberty party controls the county, and its bosses are well off, the rest of the people are left out on their own to weather the storm of abject poverty until the next election circle. The one key question that Mr. Brumskine must answer before he can accuse Sen. Findley of failing to deliver on campaign promises is: What has Charles Brumskine done for Grand Bassa County?
What is happening in Grand Bassa County politics is sheer jealousy by a political loser who is bent on holding the county hostage for his rejection by the Liberian voters. Otherwise, both Sen. Gbezohngar Findley and Charles Brumskine share similar background. Both men are sons of “respected” old elite families whose fathers rendered invaluable services to Bassa and Liberia. Understandably, Mr. Brumskine is free to do infomercial for his Liberty Party, and in a democracy, he is entitled to his own opinions, though fraught with half- truths and distortions. What he is not entitled to is a set of his own facts.
So we will give you some hard facts that no half-baked truths can hide. From 2006 to 2011, the Liberty Party represented all the legislative districts and one of two senate seats in the county, the exception being Sen. Gbezohngar Findley who ran as an independent. And during that six year period, no one can point to any meaningful development projects the party brought to the county.
By contrast, through Sen. Findley’s leadership, Grand Bassa County has a community college today. Many citizens say the senator must be applauded for his proactive vision of the future for Grand Bassa County. But what should have been a major accomplishment for Grand Bassa County in terms of up lifting the county from the ravages of ignorance has run into a political fight.
At stake is a fight for the future of Grand Bassa County, with a clear demarcation being drawn between a group of people loyal to the status quo, and those who recognize the county cannot advance unless radical changes are made. Brumskine & company epitomize the status quo, which rely on keeping people backward by lack of educational opportunities, creating a dependency culture where some old folks control the destiny of the future. We have seen the ugly head of this snake before and we quite didn’t like it then, we sure are and will categorically reject it.
Whereas Sen. Findley and supporters believe the best way to develop a person is to give him the tool necessary to better his chances in life. That tool is EDUCATION, which forces loyal to Brumskine, mainly stooges of the Liberty Party, are opposing in Bassa. While the lips and limbs of these sycophants may be moving on cue, we know who pulls the strings on these puppets.
Intelligent minds can agree that the substance of political leadership is all about LEGACY. The development of Grand Bassa County Community College is Gbehzohngar Findley’s lasting legacy. While there are rooms for improvement, the establishment of this community college is the single most significant development in our life time. Credit has to be given where it is due! Gbehzohngar Findley has distanced and distinguished himself from his peers and predecessors.
Signed: Jerome Z. Gayman
Grand Bassa County Association in the Americas, Inc.