By Theodore Hodge
The House of Clowns: P. Y. Johnson, E. Snowe and Cletus Wotorson
Front Page Africa, in an article titled "Liberia: Ebola Extortion? Senator Says Authorities Inflated Outbreak", quoted Grand Kru Senator Cletus Wotorson saying: "What kind of EBOLA? That thing you did to get donor funding your say EBOLA in Liberia?" This comment was purportedly made while another senator was speaking on the senate floor addressing an issue related to the crises.
The paper further elaborated: "In the wake of fresh cases resulting in five deaths reported in next-door Sierra Leone this week, a senior senator in Liberia's national legislature, Cletus Wotorson (UP, Grand Kru) believes that the noise made by health authorities was much ado about [nothing] and intended to extort money from donors. Senator Wotorson during a regular senate session alleged that the pronouncement concerning Ebola outbreak in Liberia was a ploy to attract donor funding.
Imagine that! I know it is difficult for some of you readers to imagine as it is for me. Did a real senator actually say that? Was he actually denying the existence of Ebola? Had he not ever heard of this deadly disease that has affected other parts of our world? Secondly, was he actually accusing fellow legislators of plotting to extort monies from international donors? Is this normal in the so-called Liberian legislature? Was the senator speaking from experience?
It is a pity that we have to be reminded of the caliber of people that call themselves lawmakers in our country. The country has degenerated to its lowest level at this crucial stage of our existence. Consider two houses of national legislature where there are no lawyers. (Perhaps there are a lawyer or two among the bunch, correct me if I'm wrong... but the rarity is astounding). There are former warlords, market women and street peddlers. There are former fish mongers or "fish salesmen" and all manners of hustlers. One of them was a professional driver who eventually became a managing director of a major corporation after marrying the president's daughter. Some are simply illiterate and could not read a sentence if it were written in big bold letters. Yet, they are lawmakers. Imagine such a theater of the absurd. This is what our country is reduced to. (Please note: I have nothing against market women and street peddlers, those are noble professions. But one must admit that it is a quantum leap by any measure to go from that to becoming a legislator).
Within such a group, one would hope that a man who claims to hold a masters degree (in whatever discipline) would be a welcome relief. But Senator Cletus Wotorson is a big disappointment. Is it that he got his education so long ago that it has now become obsolete? Does he read? Or has he degenerated to the level of those surrounding him?
The first time I heard the name Cletus Wotorson was in 1997. He was a candidate in the Liberian presidential race. ULAA sponsored an event so that the spokesmen from the various camps could tell us about their candidates. The Wotorson Camp spokesman kept referring to his candidate as "Dr. Wotorson". I had no idea who Dr. Wotorson was, though I had vaguely heard the name before. I asked whether the candidate was an MD or a PhD, and if so, what was his area of expertise. I was disappointed to learn that the candidate was neither a PhD nor an MD. But why was he been called Dr.? Did he know that he was been referred to as Dr. Wottorson, and if so, was he aware of and approved of the fraudulent representation? Did he think the title was was a matter of family inheritance? Did he think the title was transferable?
I questioned the spokesman bitterly, to the point of embarrassing him. He apologized. I told him the impression I got was that he was miss-representing his candidate... and that I thought his candidate was a fake. And now he's proven me right.
I'll recommend a book for the so-called senator to read. It is called "The Big Necessity: Adventures in the World of Human Waste", by Rose George. In the introduction the author writes: "Poor sanitation, bad hygiene and unsafe water - usually unsafe because it has faecal particles in it - cause one in ten of the world's illnesses. Children suffer most. Diarrhoea [or diarrhea] - nearly ninety percent of which is caused by faecally contaminated food or water - kills a child every fifteen seconds. The number of children dead from diarrhoea over the last decade exceeds all people killed by armed conflict since the Second World War. Diarrhoea, says the UN children's agency UNICEF, is the largest hurdle a small child in a developing country must overcome. Larger than AIDS, or TB, or malaria. It is estimated that 2.2 million people, - mostly children - die from an affliction..."
My point here is to demonstrate that occurrences like the outbreak of Ebola in such places like Liberia should not surprise enlightened people. With the poor quality of sanitation or the lack of it among our people, the surprise should be that it doesn't happen more often. Has the senator ever sponsored a bill to build a public toilet in Monrovia, Grandcess or Barclayville? Where does he think human waste is disposed of in Liberia where there is hardly any running water? And he is genuinely surprised that the country is now experiencing the outbreak of an epidemic mostly caused by unhygienic living conditions? Has he ever sponsored a bill to have the government build a health center in his county, one of the least developed in the country? When he spoke those words that Ebola is a hoax, was his mouth operating independently of his brain? Was he, in fact, having diarrhea of the mouth?
Unfortunately, we have to put up with pimps, con artists and hustlers masquerading as lawmakers in our country. We are forced to stand by and watch former court jesters now compete to become monarchs. The former messengers now out hustle each other to become emperors, clothed or unclothed. After all, who will know the difference? My fellow countrymen and women, the guns of war might have devastated our population, but the real threat to our continued existence and betterment is ignorance. And with the likes of Cletus Wotorson leading the pack, we face a bleak future. The name of their game is hustle and self-enrichment. He said so himself. If it were not a common practice to design schemes and scams to extort monies from unsuspecting donors, the senator would not have said so. But he exposed himself and his fellow comrades by what he said. They make tens of thousands of dollars a month in salary and they neglect the most basic things for the public. Our people are prey and they are predators and they are having the time of their lives at our expense.
I now propose that the House of Senate and the House of Representatives, commonly referred to as the Liberian Legislature, now be combined into one House, the House of Clowns. Their production amounts to nothing more than the theatrics of absurdities.
The author: Theodore Hodge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Please feel free to direct all comments to him directly.