Liberia: Things Fall Apart

Editorial

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
August 19, 2014

                  


President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

We have the late great writer and literary artist Chinua Achebe to thank for the title "Things Fall Apart". It was the apt title of his seminal work that put African literature on the global map. Today, we are bold to use this title in this crucial editorial. The old man will cry sad tears for us in his grave as we evoke our pains. In Liberia today, things have fallen apart and continue to do so with amazing rapidity.

Things fall apart. Is this some sort of attempt to grab attention by placarding sensational headlines? Hardly the case. Things are indeed falling apart in our dear homeland. But don't take our word for it, read global headlines from the folks who run mass media around the world.

From the highly reputable National Public Radio (NPR) comes this headline: "Photographer Recalls How Ebola Patients Were Carried off in Liberia."  The story is about a group of irate and rowdy residents invading an isolation center and turning the patients loose into the general population. Now, who has ever heard of such insanity anywhere else? But this is happening in Liberia as you read this.

Another headline reads: "Ebola Fears Rise as Clinic Looted". This comes from the Washington Post. 

Fox News scream: "Liberia expands Ebola treatment centers as more airlines halt flights to country."

CNN brings us this one: "Ebola facility in Liberia attacked; patients flee"

The Independent (UK) chimes in: "Ebola patients flee as armed men raid Liberia clinic"

From the Huffington Post comes this one: "Ebola Clinic is Looted in Liberian Capital's Largest Slum"

The Telegraph (UK) puts it this way: "Ebola Outbreak: At least 20 patients flee Liberia quarantine clinic..."

 

These are actual headlines echoed around the world screaming to bring attention to our people's unfortunate plight. Is there a benefit for these global organizations to fabricate the case for Liberia? No, they are telling it as it is. Liberia is in dire straits. The situation is precarious and begs for attention; that it gets. The situation begs for help, but that remains in short supply. The situation begs for leadership; there is none forthcoming. The president is missing in action except for incoherent statement here and there.

The cry in the country now is tantamount to the Biblical verse, "My God, My God, why has thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" This comes from the first verse of Psalm 22.

The people of Liberia have become deserted and isolated. Countries around us are closing their borders as we close ours to them. The people are advised to stay within their homes and avoid human contact with others. They are advised to wear gloves and wear masks. But how does someone afford gloves and masks when they cannot afford a cup of rice? Isn't the ultimate aim to survive? But how is one to survive without food? The country is not self-sufficient in food production and supplies remain scarce even in the best of times.

This Ebola crisis has exposed the vulnerability of the Liberian people. They sense imminent danger and are now acting irrationally. They are becoming caged animals who now act recklessly and senselessly as their natural instincts bring the savagery out of them? Imagine people breaking into a quarantine facility and looting the premises. Can you imagine people looting essential medical equipment for which they have no apparent use? But how about looting and carrying off bloody bed linen... bloody bed linen from the infected patients? The answer is simple. These people have lost hope, nothing to live for. They have given up precious life... life is not even precious to them anymore. They are facing a stark reality: Live under the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime of face death.  The answer for these folks is simple: Death is preferable, hence the suicide mission. It is clear to see this is suicide, isn't it?

We have said here in this publication, and we hereby reiterate, this Ebola virus will be the Achille heels, her Waterloo, if you prefer. This virus exposed the scam the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf regime has run against the Liberian people for the past several years now. Now, she can hide no more. She cannot continue to use flowery words to disguise and distort the truth. The truth comes glaring onto the surface: The country is broke. The country has been mismanaged. There has been a colossal failure of policy. Perhaps it is even more correct to say there has been no policy.

It has been said, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Well, the people are perishing now because of a lack of vision from this senile, incompetent, greedy president. Again, don't take our word for it. The headlines above scream the reality of what prevails in Monrovia. How does the government handle it? It turns to the military to contain the population. There is the most serious medical emergency to face the country, perhaps the region, and the government turns to soldiers to keep people under gun point... even with direct orders to shoot and kill? Read the following for yourself:

Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) Deputy Chief of Staff (DCOS), Col. Eric W. Dennis, has ordered soldiers deployed at the borderlines in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties, Western Liberia, to shoot any individuals crossing into the country from neighboring Sierra Leone under the cover of darkness.

DCOS Dennis issued the order on Friday to the commander of the platoon-size detachment of soldiers deployed in those counties. The soldiers are under orders to shoot on sight those who violate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's mandate ordering all borders closed in the wake of the spread of the Ebola virus across the country.

 

If you think this is fiction created by someone's active imagination, if you think this comes from some Science Fiction account, think again. This is an actual news story culled from the Daily Observer, a popular newspaper in Monrovia. Yes, the administration has ordered soldiers to shoot and kill people suspected of being Ebola-inflicted and attempting to enter Monrovia. So the government's reaction is to seal Monrovia off from the rest of the country, and the surrounding countries, while it does nothing to eradicate the problem in Monrovia. But where does that leave the residents of Monrovia? They are sitting ducks just waiting to expire. Just waiting to demise because they are expandable.

Why use soldiers in an emergency medical development? The answer is simple. There are no sufficient doctors or nurses to deal with the crises. (The few trained medical staff in the country are now shunning the responsibility to serve. You can't blame them. They are under immense pressure from loved ones to abandon duty because of the enormous risk. But most importantly, because the government has not created a safe working environment). So the government's response is to shoot Sierra Leoneans on sight. Perhaps the order will expand to include Guineans and Ivorians. But wait, wait... doesn't Liberia depend on these very countries for crucial food supplies? If you isolate the people of Monrovia, how will they eat? We know there are no medical supplies and services, but don't you compound the problem by creating a food shortage?

It is our belief that the government is operating without clear policy guidelines. It is not even clear whether the president is now in charge. We have heard insane policy statements from officials from the Ministry of Health and now the soldiers have joined the fray. One senior health official is said to have decried the use of cremation for dead victims because it is against Liberian culture. (It is not clear whether the statement was an expression of his personal belief or an official position of the ministry... perhaps there is no difference). Is there a Commander-in-chief at the helm effectively working with trained and competent people to manage the crisis? Are there any effective policy at this crucial moment?

We believe the answer to the questions above is simple: No. The president has lost control. Things have been crumbling around her. For now it is fair to say things are falling apart. This is no fiction. This is the reality facing the Liberian nation. Chinua Achebe's title could not have found a more apt situation to describe: Things Fall Apart.


Sylvester Moses
“We have the late great writer and literary artist Chinua Achebe to thank for the title ‘Things Fall Apart’. Well, guys you need not worry; the “great writer” also borrowed that phrase from a poem entitled “Second Coming” written in 1919 by Irish poet, and Nobel Prize winner for Literature, William Butler Yeats. The opening lines of his poem read thus:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…”

It is a post - World War 1 poem, so the image captures the sense of commotion and chaos of the times; in short, the lack of order, and control. Achebe’s rendering in his novel dramatizes the crumbling of African cultures, traditions, and values in the face of invading colonialism, European religion, and influence.

His novel falls under the mid - twentieth century African literary genre, defiantly described as “Protest and Conflict in African literature“. The old ways giving way to the new, the prestige of elders vanishing, the youthful English district officer is running things, and merely tolerating the old chief, and, of course, the black young pastor banishes the witch doctor to the forest.

Nonetheless, analogizing that context with the panic of an incurable killer virus which no country in Sub - Saharan Africa is adequately prepared to contain would be a stretch. Did the government of President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf miss opportunities to have made a difference developmentally? Yes, without a doubt.

But to say she isn’t in control is a fib; read New York Times for Sunday, August 18, 2014. Few foreign sympathizers have been telling their Liberian friends that the relentless anti - Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf rant on social media is distracting, and doesn’t bode well for the gravity of the calamity on the grounds. In the interest of our infected loved ones in Liberia, let us cease fire, and send help.

Sylvester Moses at 10:29PM, 2014/08/18.
Dan Flomo
Moses, I should like to thank you for the derivation of “Things Fall Apart”, though I strongly disagree with you for implying that the great African writer, Chinua Achebe, plagiarized. This seems to be a disservice to African creativity. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that the creativity gives Africans the right to plagiarize. But what you failed to indicate was whether the great African writer knew that the phrased was used before and he knowingly used it without actribution or not.

In addition, I don’t see any evidence that the Editorial written by The Perspective is a fib: falsehood or small lie. The Perspective has been covering the Liberian predicament since 1996. So why will the same publication lie or preach falsehood against Madam Sirleaf today?

Do not think that everything from the New York Times is Gospel? Do you remember the NY Times PR article during the Taylor administration? Why do you think that the Sirleaf administration, that has millions of dollars from the Maritime at its disposal, will sit quietly? Think about it and perhaps you could come out of the closet.
Dan Flomo at 12:17AM, 2014/08/19.
Ted Allison


Sorry, Mr. Moses. Things are indeed falling apart in Liberia. Sorry You haven't gotten the memo. Thanks for your review of Achebe's book. Since the book has been assigned reading for millions of African pupils and others around the world, you add nothing new. Your attempt to downplay the serious message of the editorial is in poor taste. Yet you end by appealing for funds. That's the Ellen style: Send more money.
Ted Allison at 05:13AM, 2014/08/19.
Ted Allison

Mr. Moses, it may come as a surprise to you, but the NY Times is not the only publication in America. It doesn't have a monopoly on opinions. You may want to read what was written in the article linked below. It was actually carried right here on the pages of The Perspective.

Here is the link: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/08/14/the_cure_for_ebola_is_accountability


And here is an excerpt:

The governments in the region and the international community are finally getting serious about a coordinated response to Ebola. Sadly, however, these measures only treat the symptoms and not the causes of the problem -- which at their core are issues of corruption, mismanagement, and a lack of accountability of those in power to their people.

Ted Allison at 05:27AM, 2014/08/19.
Sylvester Moses
No, Flomo, Chinua Achebe didn’t plagiarize, far from it; literary imitation has been an acceptable norm, and is different from poaching, and unattributable quotes. Yeat’s “Second Coming” is just a representational example of modernist poetry, after the wordy languor, and artificial rhyming of most 19th century Romantic and Victorian poetry. His poem influenced writers as varied as crime writer Stephen King, and playwright/film director Woody Allen who titled one of his books of comedy “Mere Anarchy”, another phrase in the poem.

Ever since the Bible and Homer’s “Iliad’’ were written they’ve been sources of imitation for everybody: poets, playwrights, novelists, and so on. Even the great Shakespeare borrowed materials from historical sources, and other writers for all of his plays. Yeats poem is also saturated with Christian imagery, and the title is an allusion to the expected second coming of Jesus Christ whose arrival would bring love and order to a world falling apart. Other modernist poetry includes those of the imagists: Ezra Pound’s “The Cantos”, and T.S Eliot’s “Wasteland”. Strict originality in literature, Flomo, is a fictive illusion.

Now to the point about our objection to the editorial drawing parallels between Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, and the Liberian crisis with its attendant confusion. In both novel, and poem the “conflict” that result in the dislocation is willfully and intentionally man - made; whereas, in our situation it is an environmental disaster, and whatever man may have done to cause it was unintentional, and accidental. And, therefore, the apportioning of blame must take into account all the mitigating factors, and be reasonable.

Do we think that the government is blameless; no sir. Was Colonel Dennis right to have allegedly made that inflammable statement about killing our kin across the border with Sierra Leone? Hell no! But to say that Ellen isn’t in control, we aren’t going to buy. We think, though, that incorporating some of the proposals from the Liberty Party in FrontPage Africa Liberia would add some clarity to a bewildering tragic situation. This is an ongoing calamitous crisis, and bringing it to a successful closure ought to trump all partisan concerns, and on that platform we stand until hell freezes.


Sylvester Moses at 07:38AM, 2014/08/19.
Anthony Cofrancesco
Thank you, Mr Editor for the concern of our country.Mr Moses and a few are loyalists of this administration or are in denial that Liberia has been mismanaged by the present administration and the country is falling apart.Even in the present health crises when So many Liberians are dying from bad decisions about the virus.Looking at her task force,can one be blinded that wrong has been done to our country. I am wondering, If this lack of leadership by Ellen had been someone else, do you believe Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf would have been on the side lines and watch; Hell NO.This woman would be all over the country and the world to rid us of the Leadership by every means possible.How long should Liberians wait to see their country go down the tube.Are you comfortable with the way the country has been managed.What is your problem, are you looking for a job?sorry my brother,the bad news is, the jobs are all taken for family, friends and cronies.
Anthony Cofrancesco at 07:40AM, 2014/08/19.
Anthony Cofrancesco
Mr. Editor, could you please let us know about the President plans of taken the capitol city to Nimba County.This was mentioned at the funeral of Mr. Knuckles, stating he was slated to be planner. Has this been approved by the Legislature and Senate members.Is this another ploy for corruption and stealing before leaving the Presidency. How can this shameless administration take on so many unfinished projects.To name a few: Decentralization of the Government, TRC Recommendations,Good Health and Education systems,clean water supply, Electricity through out the country etc. All our natural and oil resources have been contracted without benefit to the Liberian population; but to her family, friends and cronies. Now the new area for chopping is to move the Capitol City to Nimba County.
Anthony Cofrancesco at 08:32AM, 2014/08/19.
K
I think the editorial written here is right to the point and shows how Liberia lacks leadership. Leaders are there to develop vision and get their followers to implement the vision. If the leader in the person of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is not creating the vision but is more concern with how her family members, friends and cronies use the Liberian people's resources to pay their mortgages in the USA, the Liberian people are certainly destined 'to perish'.

When Ellen visited London at some point, some of the guys in the meeting insisted on booing her for her incompetence and I was one of those who said she was our best hope. How wrong was I in my judgment. She is one of the most incompetent leaders the country has ever had.

People with educational degrees but without the common sense that is needed to make your country a great one. She and her cronies go around parading Harvard degrees as if a degree (while good) is an end in itself. Socrates and Plato and the other classics did not have formal education. What they had and what has made the developed world what it is is common sense.

Liberia need a leader who can make the Liberian people to believe in themselves and translate that belief into reality by planting food to feed themselves and making the hard decisions about what their country mean to them.

Until Liberia can develop a leader or leaders to lead by example and make the people to believe that they have 'something' in them and that, like other countries, they can work and make their country a great one, Liberia is doomed. Sorry but it is only when the people of a country take control of the destiny of their country, can that country have any future.

Ellen, if you or any of your official read this, you still have some time to do better. Take control, develop visions for Liberia. Don't disappoint those of us who for years believe that you were our best chance for good governance in Liberia.

You have done well over the years to help bring peace to the country, but it is time for you to lead and make the Liberian people to believe in their ability to make their country a great one. LIBERIA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY WE HAVE. EVEN THOSE WHO HAVE OTHER PASSPORTS AND CITIZENSHIP KNOW THAT ONLY ONE PLACE CAN EVER BE THEIR TRUE COUNTRY - LIBERIA.
K at 08:54AM, 2014/08/19.
Ted Allison

Mr. Moses, in your zeal to show your genius, you missed the point of the editorial entirely. You contradicted yourself by agreeing that writers and artists do borrow from each other, as long as the attribution is made. You claim Achebe borrowed his title from a line in one of Yeats' poems. Fair enough, but what does your tautology have to do with the point of the editorial?

When Achebe borrowed from Yeats, did he go on to tell the same story as Yeats did? When you borrow a line or title from an artist you admire, are you under compulsion to have the same theme, the same story line? Think about.

The editorial only borrowed the title, not the story. The editorial made no attempt to retell Achebe's story; it has already been told. Your effort to analyze Achebe and touch on unrelated academic matters is a vain attempt to show your own learning; impressive, but misdirected.

I think it is appropriate to say things are falling apart in Liberia. To insist that things aren't falling apart because the situation is not similar to what Achebe wrote about is a bit confusing in logic. Must things always fall apart the same way? Your attempt to digression was a failure. Forget your genius to analyze the great works of history, literature and religion here. Let's stick to the situation in Liberia, for heaven's sake. Thank you, sir.
Ted Allison at 01:21PM, 2014/08/19.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Mr. Moses, you are simply playing the job seeker! The unintentionality of one´s NEGLIGENT act or omission regarding the independent variables arising from him or her in no way vindicates, exonerates, nor acquits such an individual from blame, guilt or liability.

The ebola disease or epidemic is in other neighboring countries as well but things have not gone out of control because the countries´ Presidents exercised THE DUTY OF CARE consistent with THE SOCIAL CONTRACT!

Hence, from the Liberian government sending people on conference affected by the virus, dumping the corpses of ebola victims in wetlands, non-existence of quarantine centers since February when the epidemic began to shortages of food and mattresses in make shifts to tent ebola affected patients; and now orders to shoot and kill on sight, with corpses littered all over the city and other parts of the country, you bet The Perspective is 100 % right that Ellen is not in control for she is running the country as an uncontrollable locomotive!

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 02:45PM, 2014/08/19.

Post your comment

You can use following HTML tags: <a><br><strong><b><em><i><blockquote><pre><code><img><ul><ol><li><del>

Confirmation code:

Comments script


© 2014 by The Perspective
E-mail: editor@theperspective.org
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: submittingarticles@theperspective.org