Harry’s Death: Violence Rises In A “Winner Takes All” Society


By J. Yanqui Zaza

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
February 29, 2016



The Late Harry Greaves

As the story of the mysterious death of Mr. Harry Greaves, Jr. fades away, just as others have faded before him, one wonders why violence continues to knock at Liberia’s door. For example, in 1820 the settlers killed indigenous Liberians in order to own territories; a college-graduate, rich businessman, and the fifth President of Liberia, Mr. Edward James Roye was violently killed in 1872; Mr. Welleh Didwho Twe, a former presidential candidate in 1952, fled from Liberia into exile because of a violent threat; Mr. Samuel David Coleman, a son of the former President of Liberia, William Coleman, was violently killed on his farm in 1955; hundred of unarmed demonstrators were gunned down in 1979; thirteen government officials were executed during the1980 coup; and subsequently, violence has now become a regular affair in Liberia.

Is violence knocking at Liberia’s door because of poverty, ignorance and disease, according to a great philosopher, Aristotle? Wouldn’t violence persist as long as these inequities continue, all because “…the economic system is rigged in favor of the top,” according to Hilary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate for the 2016 U.S. presidency? Wouldn’t the economic system be “…rigged in favor of the top” if Liberia’s economic system is “Winner Takes all philosophy,” “Survival of the Fittest,” or the “Private-Profits” over “Community-Profits?”

Pope Francis and U.S. Presidential candidate, Donald Trump say yes. Both men lamented at the “Private-Profits” economic system, which profiteers and greedy corporations continue to use and ruin society, according to Ms. Ross Douthat, (NY Times, 2/21/2016). Due to the spoils of “Private-Profits,” the pharmaceutical industry receives $50 billion yearly from the U.S. Federal government; undermining the fight against poverty (the mother of violence, according to Aristotle). Mr. J. M. Insulza, secretary of the Organization American States, reported that commercial banks, in searching for higher profits, are involved with the $320 billion illegal drug money. Liberian Ministry of Public Works shifted $100 million away from anti-poverty projects such as road construction, according to Congress for Democratic Change, a Liberian political Party.

How and why does an individual become the “Winner,” “Survival of the Fittest” or the “Profiteer?” Yes, in few cases, some are inventors. However, many are greedy government officials and, or greedy licensed professionals hired by owners of society’s lucrative assets. And since bribe greases the wheels of business, private-profiteers usually offer bribes in exchange for favors. Therefore, those who are in position of influence to negotiate, sell society’s lucrative assets or are hired to represent owners of society’s lucrative assets, do not only receive bribes in exchange of favors, but will also acquire more wealth at the expense of society.

Example 1: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government, according to the former Speaker of the Liberian House of Representative, Mr. Edwin Snowe, rejected a favorable oil concessionary agreement from a company from Russia, and accepted an unfavorable offer from ExxonMobil for an oil contract, all because of a higher bribe from ExxonMobil in exchange for favor. In another example, Robert Sirleaf, the President’s son, as head of the Liberian Oil Company, used $138 million out of the Company’s $142 million revenue without accountability.  The Oil Company is now bankrupt.

Maryland County's Chiefs and Elders Meet President Sirleaf at Elexander Glen Tubman Airport, Harper, Maryland, on her way to SIFCA. Is it for more Kickbacks?

Example 2: The New Broom newspaper was forced to go underground after it reported on September 14, 2009 that President Sirleaf and Maryland County Caucus received 2 million dollars and $250,000, respectively, as kickbacks from SIFCA to operate Cavalla Rubber Corporation of Pleebo-Sodoken District.  A Pleebo-Sodoken District student group wrote in a press release in 2009: “We are particularly troubled by the allegations of bribery…” to influence the decision of the Sirleaf Government to grant SIFCA the contract to operate the Cavalla Rubber Plantation in the Pleebo-Sodoken District.

The student group continued: “According to the documents we reviewed, SRI [SIFCA] offered to pay to the Government US $2.3m for the 50% share of the Government while BSP offered US $ 6.3m for the same equity. Besides, we read with deep interest the action plan of the BSP which contains more development initiatives than any other we have read so far. It thus beats our imagination that Government could leave 6.3 million dollars option from BSP and opt to offer the contract to SRI [SIFCA] which offered 2.3 million dollars for the same 50% share of the Government.” 

Such one sided economic arrangements allow private-profiteers to shift wealth away from society; subsequently, leaving society with less revenue to reduce poverty, disease, ignorance, etc., thereby, sowing the seed for the masses to revolt. You don’t have to read about the beheading of Charles I of England on January 30th 1649; the execution of Louis XVI of France on January 21, 1793 or the Russian revolution in 1917 to understand why the unhappy masses usually use violence to demand a piece of the pie. Just look at the different upheavals around the world, and you might understand why the unhappy masses will always rebel. Mr. Thomas Piketty, the author of his book called “Capital in the 21st Century,” stated that, “When the rate of return on capital exceeds the rate of growth of output and income, capitalism automatically generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities that radically undermine the meritocratic values on which democratic societies are based.”

Have the deaths of Greaves, Allison, etc. erased the wrong belief that Liberia was building the tenets of democracy and violence was a thing of the past? Well yes, violence will increase as long as “Winner Takes All” policy generates arbitrary and unsustainable inequalities? Regrettably, Liberians have not only embraced the “Private-Profit” or “Winner Takes All” economic policy, but they are doing everything to sustain it. For example, Benoni Urey, a millionaire, is using his wealth accumulated during the Charles Taylor regime to ascend to the Liberian presidency, primarily to acquire more wealth. Or Mr. Alex Tyler, the current Speaker of the Liberian House of Representative, is using his wealth acquired during the last few years to ascend to the Liberian presidency; the same Speaker the Anti-Corruption Commission has accused of receiving bribes.

President Ellen Johnson is not just the architect and promoter of the “Winner Takes All” policy in Liberia; she has and continues to select lieutenants who will enforce her flawed policy. Family members, friends or inexperienced appointees are her candidates, since the relationship and inexperience might impair their judgment. Additionally, President Sirleaf and her family members have founded numerous businesses. For example, a longtime business partner of the president, Joseph Cashin, is managing one of Liberia’s prominent banks, International Bank. (http://www.panafricancapital.com/announcements/060807.pdf).

Common sense suggests that private-profiteers will always bribe officials and licensed professionals (lawyers, accountants, physicians, etc.) in exchange for favors; thereby, reducing government revenue needed for development. In essence, Liberia is not only encouraging bribery by transferring its natural resources to private-profiteers, it is also reducing the effective weapon (revenue) needed to fight poverty, ignorance, disease, etc. And when social contract breaks down because society fails to deliver services, violence is likely to occur. If Liberia is to collect adequate revenue to build and sustain the tenets of democracy through the fulfillment of social contracts, it should minimize bribery by reducing individuals’ motives (Private-Profits) in managing society’s lucrative assets.

Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Firstly, after a month of such tragedy, such photographs of the remains of anyone are totally unnecessary, at least for the respect of the dead, the bereaved families, and of course for the noble decency of professionalism.

Secondly, attributing "the rise of violence" in our society to "the winner takes all system" is lackadaisical in a world where "where winner takes all" reigns supreme! The rich and powerful take all - whether in centre or periphery nations! DO NOT GIVE POWER TO THE RICH AND POWERFUL! GIVE POWER TO THE COMMON PEOPLE!
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 03:51AM, 2016/03/01.
Charley Cheapo Price
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah:

I have been thinking along the same line as you particularly on this article. It is absolutely uncalled for to place such a graphic image of the late Harry Greaves on the internet.

What message is the Perspective trying to convey by doing this? The civilized world already knows who Liberians are; and if this is not true then why is there still a presence of United Nation forces in the country? It is because we have proven to the world that Liberians are incapable of self-governance. We do not need any more extra depiction of savagery and barbarism to re-enforce this point.

The recent stories of indo-cultural and ritualistic cannibalism which sprung up during the civil war are not new to Liberia. Have we forgotten Tubman’s era and all the ritualistic killing and cannibalism that took place in his home county of Maryland?

Thanks are to the late William R. Tolbert who tried to deter such practices by executing some of the perpetrators on the gallows. What was the motive behind those crimes? The primary motivation behind those crimes was the insatiable appetite for political power and greed. And it still persists in Liberia today.
Charley Cheapo Price at 03:16PM, 2016/03/01.
Alex Garway
Mr. Cheapo, if this article with its ghastly graphics is not driven by a personal vendetta against the victim, the rationale for this type of journalism (YELLOW JOURNALISM) is simply the SCHEME used by DESPOTS OR TYRANTS through certain outlets of the media to INJECT FEAR INTO ANY WOULD BE WHISTLEBLOWER! REMEMBER, the now notorious butcher of Monrovia the despot Ellen Johnson Sirleaf´s media consultant is Abdoulaye Dukule who has now gatecrashed THE PERSPECTIVE to the extent his wishes now seem to be the command to THE PERSPECTIVE MAGAZINE.
Alex Garway at 05:04AM, 2016/03/02.
James McGill

Mr. Alex Garway

Mr. Cheapo mentioned the ritualistic killings that were done in Maryland County during the Tubman’s days. However there are differences between how those murders were handled and the ones today.

In the Maryland killings the criminals confessed; produced evidence; exposed the names of those who were accessories to the crime; and it helped in the prosecution of the case.

However it has been tough to unravel any evidence in the deaths of Messrs. Greaves and Allison. For one thing the reports of the forensic pathologists in both cases have all pointed to deaths by drowning; moreover, not one evidence or fruit of the crime has been found at the crime scenes.

If you live in the West then I think that you are quite familiar with how the law enforcement agents use evidence found at crime scenes. Sometimes it may be fingerprints found on the victim’s body or a tool that was used in committing the crime. The fingerprints found on the body or the tool is taken to the forensic lab where DNA analysis is done. DNA analysis is not absolute but it has been proven to resolve many notorious crimes in the West.

And so the question is how can people directly blame Ellen for these mysterious deaths without producing an iota of proof? I do not know Ellen personally and neither do I live in Liberia; however, at sometimes in our lives, all of us have been accused of something that we did not have the remotest knowledge of. Equally so we have done the same to other people.
May be we need to call the “sassy wood” man so that he can use the hot iron procedure on all the suspects’ legs. Right? You know what we do back home. This is just a joke Alex, but seriously can you imagine the number of innocent people who have been scarred forever from this practice?

A dangerous precedence is taking place in Liberia. People should be a little cautious in the way they apportion the blame for our national malaise, or else it will translate into fear and apprehension towards our authorities and even towards the average everyday people who are out there trying to fend for themselves and their families.

James McGill at 09:07AM, 2016/03/02.
j yanqui

Hi Mr. Kandajaba Zoeborn Zoedjallah,

You stated: "Secondly, attributing "the rise of violence" in our society to "the winner takes all system" is lackadaisical in a world where "where winner takes all" reigns supreme!"

Sir, please read a statement from the NY Times in reference to the policy of "Community Profits" and not "Private-Profits" implemented by patriotic leaders in South America.


J. Yanqui Zaza

“No leader in Latin America today can afford not to focus on inequality and go back to the neoliberal formulas of the 1990s,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy institute in Washington. “Whatever criticism you might have of the leaders of the left, they put their finger on the legitimate grievance of Latin Americans: that they had been excluded from the political system.”

For some of the opponents now taking power, the question is not about razing the leftist models, but about making repairs and adjustments to them.

No case is more extreme than Venezuela, where years of government controls over the economy and reliance on a booming oil industry diminished agricultural production to the point that the country was importing its meat, milk and rice.

Then came the perfect storm when oil prices sank last year, creating triple-digit inflation and food shortages. In parliamentary elections, leftists were wiped out after 16 years of control.

The opposition rose by criticizing government subsidies, but its plan focuses on cutting them for the wealthy and stabilizing them for the poor. President Nicolás Maduro, Mr. Chávez’s successor, agreed to raise the price of gasoline, reducing a subsidy seen as benefiting the car-owning wealthy. No one has suggested making changes that could harm the poor.

Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, has enacted sweeping changes that have shifted the country to the center-right, including shrinking the state payroll and reducing electricity subsidies.

But Mr. Macri has maintained price control strategies intended to shield people from inflation. He also extended a child benefit program that was the cornerstone of Mrs. Kirchner’s social policy.

“Macri, as well as the rest of Latin America, now understands that it’s necessary to maintain and improve the social agenda,” said Alejandro Grisanti, a former Latin America economist at Barclays Capital.

Here in Bolivia, many point out that while Mr. Morales was blocked from running in the next election, no successor could undo his work in Cobija.

j yanqui at 09:59PM, 2016/03/02.
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah
Hello Mr. J. Yanqui Zaza,

Our bone of contention is that we disagree with you or ANYONE believing that Harry Augustus Graves´ death is the result of STRUCTURAL VIOLENCE(IE. winners take all society, world, or international system).

For the cause of Harry´s death IS IN NO WAY the result of social or legal arrangements embedded in the political and economic organization of our nation, BUT RATHER the result of individual or group violence driven by greed for power and money! TYRANTS, DICTTORS, OR DESPOTS RULE WITH MACHIAVELIANISM! ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF IS A machiavelian DESPOT! This is why while Lewis Browne goes to represent Ellen at the UN, Harry Greaves who Ellen now sees as an enemy to fear is brutally murdered!

And our argument is attested by the litany of examples (of violence) stated by you including EXAMPLES 1 AND 2 PERPETRAED BY ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF.Besides, if our world is not a "winner takes all" world, THE PREVALENT INEQUALITY across the globe would not be the factual nightmare threatening our planet!
Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah at 01:50AM, 2016/03/03.
j yanqui
Hi Mr. Kandajaba Zoeborn Zoedjallah,

You wrote these statements below. Please state which statement is correct, and why?

"Besides, if our world is not a "winner takes all" world, THE PREVALENT INEQUALITY across the globe would not be the factual nightmare threatening our planet!"

"Secondly, attributing "the rise of violence" in our society to "the winner takes all system" is lackadaisical in a world where "where winner takes all" reigns supreme!"

However, if you believe that these statements are not contradictory, then Liberia should institute an economic policy such as "Community-Profit" over "Private-Profit," which minimizes inequality.


J. Yanqui Zaza
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