Everybody Blames Us, But Themselves!
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
Bai Tamia Moore
Introduction: This story is dedicated to the late Bai Tamia Moore, who for years endured the segregation and humiliation he received at the hands of the ruling elites of Liberia. Bai T. Moore was one of the most qualified employees of the Ministry of Information and Culture Affairs when he was alive. Mr. Moore never became the principal Minister up till the day he died. The highest position he attained was Deputy Minister of Information for Research in the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government. This is a man who had almost fifty years of experience on the job. The sad thing about it is, even President Doe continued the tradition of the ruling elites.
There was a similar case that involved Hon. Momolu Dukuly at the State Department, now the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After the death of Gabriel Dennis, the Secretary of State, Dukuly his principal deputy served as Acting Secretary of State for the longest time. Rumor had it that it was due to the fact Dukuly was a practicing Moslem; but when he declared himself a Christian, joined the ‘First Church’ (First Methodist Church), he was promoted by President Tubman to the position of Secretary of State. He was then considered as one of them – the ruling elites, but with reservations!
Another rumor had it that the reason Dukuly was fired had to do with one evening President Tubman paid him an unannounced visit to his office and found him in the corner facing east, praying to Allah. Tubman considered the incident embarrassing and a betrayal on the part of Dukuly who had promised him to become a Christian. Due to the betrayal, Tubman relieved Dukuly of the position of Secretary of State.
“Everybody Blames Us, But Themselves” is a tribute to the rich, creative writing and storytelling style of Bai Tamia Moore, which captured the interest of anyone who listened to him or read his all-time classic: “Murder In The Cassava Patch.”
As children growing up in the urban community in Rocktown, Monrovia proper, our parents would gather us to tell us what the Bible says about the way a child should be trained. Our parents, all of them placed emphasis on Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in a way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” To make sure we did not forget this Bible verse, at some point during the day, one of our parents will randomly ask any one of us – “Train up the child in a way he should go…” and they expect the child to complete the verse - “and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” In addition, we were told the story about Mosquitoes, and the reason Mosquitoes say everybody blames them but themselves about all of the troubles in the community. That’s how the title of the story: “Everybody blames us but themselves” came about.
Here how it all got started!
Once upon a time, there was a colony of Mosquitoes that attended a community meeting where the environment was the topic of discussion. The people at the meeting got angry because no one had invited the colony of Mosquitoes. Secondly, the entire colony went with such loud noise, they disrupted the meeting; because of it, no one wanted to listen to their complaint whether it was legitimate or not. When the noise died down, the presiding office called for a motion to accept the colony of Mosquitoes or not to accept them at the meeting. The motion was made, seconded and was processed. The result of the motion was for Mosquitoes to go and elect a leader along will four members to come to the next meeting to present their concerns. Mosquitoes accepted the result, and they left the meeting.
Prior to the scheduled Community Meeting, the colony of Mosquitoes had their own meeting during which they selected their members, the head of the delegation and the assistant to attend the meeting. At the meeting where their delegation was selected, an elder among them reminded those that were present that when they were growing up how their parents told them “never to tell lies, and to always speak the truth no matter the consequence.” He went on to say, “Since we are little in size and shape, people refused to listen to what we have to say; they drive us all the time to ‘get away’ or ‘Move from here’ are what they always say to us. This is the reason why our parents told us to always travel in group - to fight and stand for our rights. Somewhere these words serve as reminder for us - ‘In union strong, success is sure’; that’s how it became our motto,” he said.
On the day of the meeting, Mosquitoes’ delegation showed up on time; dressed in their native attire. After everybody took their seat, the presiding officer called the meeting to order. He laid down the ground rules and the protocol. The first protocol was everyone present at the meet to introduce themselves, and the community they represent. When it was the turn for Mosquitoes, their leader introduced himself as: “I am Professor Zik Azikiwe, chair of the Colony of Mosquitoes.” The next person to introduce herself was the assistant chair. She said, “I am Dr. Fatuma Saysaye Kamara;” and the remaining three members were: Dr. Nana Kofi Adom, Dr. Ali Nasser, and Dr. Jomo L. Okudo. After Mosquitoes got through introducing themselves, an individual at the meeting asked the presiding office for a ‘point of clarification’. He needed to know where these foreigners came from, and if they were not legal immigrants, the immigration should be called. He went on to say, “they are like the Mexicans, they are always in group; look how they are dressed; this is no Halloween Party!” Right after he got through speaking, Mosquitoes’ Chair, Professor Zik Azikiwe called the presiding officer to ‘Points of Information and Correction’. It was granted!
He said, “Mr. Presiding Officer, the gentleman that spoke a minute or so ago, did not want clarification; had he, he won’t have made all those innuendos and extrapolations about illustrious individuals he knows nothing about. ‘He judged the book by its cover’ and that is a very dangerous thing to do! If it will serve this gathering well, let me give him the clarification he is requesting.” He proceeded, “I, Professor Zik Azikiwe, the Chair of our vigorous delegation is the Dean of the Engineering College at Drexel University; my Assistant Chair, Dr. Fatuma Saysaye Kamara is the Chair of the English and Literature Department of University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Nana Kofi Adom is Ghana Ambassador to the United Nations and a Visiting Professor of International Business and Law at Pennsylvania State University; Dr. Ali Nasser is the Chief Physician at Temple University’s College of Medicine, and Dr. Jomo L. Okudo is a Professor in Sports Medicine and Environmental Studies at St. Joseph University. We are from Africa; we are all citizens of the US, except, Dr. Nana Kofi Adom, who is his country’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN). The clothes we are wearing proudly are our respective countries’ national attire. Thanks Mr. Presiding Officer, I think I have provided the gentleman the clarification he was asking for.”
The Presiding Office proceeded with, “Professor Zik, since the agenda has been approved and your group is the first on the agenda; could you state the purpose for which you are here?” Professor Azikiwe thanked him and said, “Dr. Nana Kofi Adom, the lawyer on our delegation will make the presentation, and will be followed by Dr. Jomo L. Okudo, our Environmental Specialist.” At which time, the Presiding Officer said, “Dr. Adom, the floor is yours!” Dr. Nana Kofi Adom thanked the Presiding Officer and proceeded with the Colony of Mosquitoes’ compliant.
He started off saying, “Mr. Presiding Officer, Officers and Members of this august Community Board, Officers and Members of our Mosquitoes Delegation, Ladies and Gentlemen; our concern is very simple. It has to do with basic common sense practice and principle, which I believe all of us here at this meeting have – common sense!
“You see, everybody blames Mosquitoes for being responsible for passing Malaria onto everyone; and whenever we want to tell our side of the story everyone we come in contact with refused to listen to our story. Out of frustration, we wait until they are sound asleep to whisper into their ears the facts of the matter; even then they get so mad with us - they slapped themselves in their own ears and then blamed it on us.”
Next was Dr. Jomo L. Okudo, the Environmental Specialist!
“Ladies and Gentlemen, as my colleague just said, the problem we are facing is the lack of ‘basic common sense practice.’ What do I mean by basic common sense practice? By basic common sense practice - I mean the failure to keep the environment clean and safe. You people leave dirt and dirty water all over the place, which developed bacteria and when we (Mosquitos) are thirsty, drink the water not knowing it is contaminated, we get infected with bacteria on the account of your inconsideration for the environment. Each time we attempt to tell you people about not leaving trash and contaminated water in the environment, you do not listen; instead, your become violent towards us, and resort to every means at your disposal to get rid of us – even kill us! Therefore, the only way to get our message across to you is to wait until you are sound asleep; then we make our move, not individually, but as a group to make your lives miserable as you do ours.”
Right then, a lady in the audience accused Mosquitoes of practicing tribalism because of the manner in which they support each other. Immediately, the VOA Africa reporter, Blojlu Tarty who was covering the event, stepped in. He posed the following question to the lady: “How can you explain when all of you white folks supported each other to justify the enslavement of Africans; wasn’t that tribalism? Blojlu Tarty continued, “In my country, Liberia, those that chose to call themselves Americo-Liberians, accused the natives of tribalism whenever we support the most qualified person among us who is running for an elected office; yet for 133 years they supported each other – even if their candidate was not qualify for the position, but they did not consider it TRIBALISM. Isn’t it a double standard?”
After Tarty’s statement, all hell broke loose. I was asked to throw some light on the issue, since I was the only person at the meeting who had no ‘fish to fry in the matter’.
Usually, as I always do; I posed the question – “What constitutes TRIBALISM?” The best authority to consult was the BIBLE; and based on biblical evidence, tribes were named after their leaders. The tribe of Ephraim is a good example. And according to Cultural anthropologists, a tribe is any of a variety of social units; the term is usually applied to a unit of social organization that is culturally homogeneous and consists of multiple kinship groups. Most tribes are organized as unitary political entities, within which people share a common language and culture. Some tribes are confined to a limited territory, sometimes a single small island, within which everyone knows everyone else very well. What unites societies of such diverse scales as being “tribal” is their own internal sense. A tribe may consists of several villages, which may be cross-cut by clans, age grade associations, and secret societies; each of these cross-cutting institutions may, at different times and in different ways, perform economic, political, legal, and religious functions. (http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/Tribe)
TRIBALISM simply means, preferring your own tribe or a person from your tribe – even if the person is not qualified. Tribalism also means tribal solidarity. It can be both POSITIVE and NEGATIVE depending on how it is used. In most cases, if you support the most qualified person, and because he/she is from your tribe, IT IS NOT TRIBALISM; yet in Liberia, you will be accused of practicing TRIBALISM.
A good example is the lady that accused Mosquitoes of practicing tribalism because they support each other’s cause. This reminds me of one who has nothing valuable to contribute to a discussion, and will resort to raining insults on his/her opponent or bring to the discussion unrelated issues.
The issue that Mosquitoes have been complaining about is very simple; all the people had to do is listen to them with open mind; instead, everybody had their minds made up that Mosquitoes were at fault for infecting them with Malaria. Had they listened to the environmental issues Mosquitoes raised - such as keeping the environment clean by properly deposing and not leaving dirt and dirty water all over the place; which eventually developed bacteria that infected Mosquitoes when they drank the water from the contaminated pool; there would have been no need for the discussion. Moreover, had they listened and paid attention to what Mosquitoes had to say about the problem of the environment, we won’t be having this discussion! That’ all I have to say. “I told your I have no fish to fry in this palava!”
In short, Mosquitoes have been consistent in telling the people to stop leaving trash and abusing the environment, instead, they resorted to violence, and would use every means at their disposal to KILL Mosquitoes. Yet, everybody continued to blame Mosquitoes for being responsible in passing Malaria onto everyone. It is the people’s refusal to listen to Mosquitoes’ side of the story, which out of frustration got Mosquitoes to wait for them to fall sound to sleep in order to whisper their side of the story into their ears; even then, the people get so mad with Mosquitoes for slapping themselves in their own ears and still blamed Mosquitoes for slapping themselves.
The moral of the story is, if you do not listen, you will HEAR at some point and time. That’s the reality!