Politics Of The Belly: A Reason For Liberia’s Under–Development
By Abraham M. Keita, VI
Liberia is an African Country and located in the western region of Africa. Liberia was founded in 1822 by repatriated freed-slaves from America. The freed-slaves were taken from Africa to Europe and America, and back to Africa due to several reasons including the growing numbers of blacks in the U.S. and to build a nation in Africa and a nation for the civilization of Africa. Liberia was founded so as to accommodate freed African-American slaves who were being repatriated by the America Colonization Society (ACS) in the 1800s.
Since the establishment of Liberia in 1822, there has been so many periods starting from the Colonial Rule, Common Wealth Rule, and continues up to now. It is the oldest nation on the African continent that got its Independence on July 26, 1847. Ironically, Liberia is still considered the second poorest country in African and the world despite an independent existence of 167 years. Consider as the cornerstone of democracy, civilization and education in Africa, Liberia still cannot boost of any tangible developments as compared to African countries that she aided in becoming independent states. Liberia is the mother of all African countries, which some African states look up to for advice and direction. Liberia aided countries from colonial rule to independence including Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, DR. Congo, etc. Liberia in the 1900s was a reservoir of knowledge where African leaders came for political wisdom especially during the periods when African states were striving from colonial or imperial rule to independence. In 1947, Osagyfo Kwame Nkrumah made a stop in Liberia to seek political direction & wisdom because he was getting prepared for Ghana’s independence struggle. Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nmamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria were among several African leaders who visited Liberia in the 1900s to seek the knowledge, blessing and direction of the Liberian people.
What is more paradoxical is that, even the youngest countries in Africa – South Sudan & Namibia – are much better than Mama Liberia in terms of their GDP, infrastructure, electricity, food production and human capital development.
In Liberia, many Liberians enter politics or political contestations and activism because they seek wealth. The term “POLITIC” in the Liberian setting now means, “personal satisfaction” or “wealth”, “business” and “belly struggle”. Politics is different in Liberia. Since the foundation of this nation – Liberia, those who referred to themselves or claimed to be politicians have always said that their Political Goal is the general interests of the masses. But when they are given jobs or positions to serve in the very Government they criticized for corruption and bad governance, they insult the same masses. Over the last 15years in Liberia, when a so-called politician or a person wants a job or an employment in government, that politician (as such a person is generally called) begins to take on or engage in political debates and protests in the name of better living conditions, quality electricity, infrastructure and the provision of many job opportunities for the suffering Liberian men. Some of those persons with similar situation are: Lewis G. Browne – Minister of Information, Sen. Milton Teahjay, former Superintendent and Senator-elect of Sinoe County; Isaac Jackson, Deputy Minister for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information; L. Eugene Nagbe, Minister of Youth & Sports, etc. The above individuals were very critical against the Sirleaf’s Administration. In fact, they were seen as “Political Prophets” sent by God to speak against the ills in the society, but today, they are the sleepless dogs barking all day and night to defend the current Government, especially the Executive Branch whenever it comes under criticisms.
Starting from the periods before Liberia’s establishment or independence, people have always accepted money other than a just cause. In 1822, King Peter of Bushrod Island unlawfully gave out a land to the pioneers/colonist for some money. According to his people, no one not even the King had the right to sell the land which belonged to the entire community. As a result of King Peter’s selfish- appetite for money, he erroneously sold that land which belonged to the people, a land that is not part of Liberia. (I am not against the idea of selling the land to the colonists because it marked the beginning of the land called Liberia but it should have been done in the genuine manner along with his people). For some times now, in our history, people have mounted our political pedestal and purported to be in the general interest of all. There were people that we hailed and called them “Progressives”. Those people are believed to be self – less individuals who brought meaningful and lasting changes to the Political meadow in Liberia. They spoke against nepotism, cronyism, selective justice, economic enslavement, anti-freedom of speech and many more. Those progressives strived for the introduction of multi-parties democracy in Liberia, and which of course they achieved. The likes of Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, Dr. Togba-Nah Tipoteh, Gabriel Baccus Mathew-(late)-the father of Multi-party democracy in Liberia and Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. are among the progressives’ class.
What they spoke against in few years back, those things are now masquerading in the paradigm of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf–led government, a government which they all have been directly involved with excluding the late Gabriel Baccus Mathew. Their only point of political survivability and relevance is to rely on the quotation of Frank Omar Fannoh, (a French scholar), which states that “every generation has its own mission- out of relative obscurity, you either fulfill it or betray it”. Because of said quotation, their argument has been, their generation has elapsed and so they cannot speak against wrongful ills now, what they spoke against yesterday. The progressives have said several times that it is the responsibility of the current generation to speak against the ills. With the progressives’ point, should we also say that the generations of Charles Brumskin and Simeon Freeman have passed and that they should not criticized the current government for its lapses? Should we also say that the generations of the late Nelson Mandela & Kwame Nkrumah had ended but yet they were still speaking against societal ills till death do them away? And should we also argue that Pre. Roberts Mugabe should not be speaking for his people all because his generation has passed and that he is in his 90s? The time is always right to righteously speak against flagrant ills in the society.
Belly Politics Should Be Put To An End….Let Politics With Nationalism Prevail
I have always said that, Liberia will never develop or go forward, until the concept of Politics in Liberia changes. It is very disgusting that a country which has lived for over 150 years of zealous existence continues to be listed amongst the world’s poorest, least developed and unhealthy countries. One may actually ask, did God curse Liberia? Are we not Homo sapiens? Don’t we have brains to think progressively like people of other countries? No, the Sisyphean leaders of Liberia have led Mama Liberia to be what it is now!
All of Liberia’s oil wells have been sold because our leaders are voraciously obsequious and money monsters. At times, I wonder as to whether pursuing a degree from the best universities or colleges around the world means exploit yourself and ruin your children’s future because that’s what is now in Liberia………
If Liberia is to make progress, politics with selfish aim must be destroyed. We must forget about what we, as individuals, want in our political activism. In order for Liberia to ameliorate from the dangling discourse of poverty & hunger, Liberians must be united and ideologically with a nationalistic spirit. As Liberians, let’s identify what we can stand, live and die for to be a critique or an opponent to a government, you must except & accept hardships such as: Hunger, torture, etc.
WE MUST AUGMENT TO THE OCCASION, WEAR OUR NATIONALISTIC GARMENTS AND STOP THE POLITICS OF THE BELLY INORDER FOR MAMA LIBERIA TO AMELIORATE!!!