By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
The Holy Bible reminds us that: “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. No harm overtakes the righteous, but the wicked have their fill of trouble. The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy (Proverbs 12:19-22). Therefore, as patriotic Liberians it is our responsibility to speak truth to power no matter the consequence, otherwise, our family members or relatives will fall victims to some of the sinister and ungodly things going on in the country, and no one will be around to save them as underscored by German Protestant Pastor Martin Niemoller in his poem titled: “When the Nazis Came, I didn’t object…” It reads:
They came for the Communists, and I didn’t object
For I wasn’t a Communist;
They came for the Socialists, and I didn’t object
For I wasn’t a Socialist;
They came for the labor leaders, and I didn’t object
For I wasn’t a labor leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn’t object
For I wasn’t a Jew;
Then they came for me
And there was no one left to object.
In the tradition of Chay, Chay Polly, “My people, that me; I na come again o – to write about what many of our country men and women in the current Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) dare say or write about. In the past, I have contributed to the Liberian discourse through the articles listed below:
And “All who draw the sword will die by the sword” is continuation of yours truly 45 years tradition of advocacy for equality of opportunities, social justice, and human rights on behalf of all citizens including those who reside within our borders. My people, while others are missing, dying mysterious deaths and the Unity Party government of President Sirleaf violating the Liberian people’s freedom of speech and rights, arresting, shooting and killing a protester, “a ULAA You Can Believe In” on February 8, 2016 issued a press release (that had no teeth) titled: “ULAA CONDEMNS ACTS OF DEATHS AND CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO END”.
If this is “A ULAA You Can Believe In”, then the question is, which ULAA people did not believe in? Is it the previous administration of Gaye D. Sleh, Jr. or which ULAA the TRUMPCATED slogan is referring to? Based on my historical recollection, I am certain many Liberians at home and in the Diaspora will bear witness to what I am writing here. The ULAA of the 70s, 80s and the early 90s has the history to show for its progressive advocacy. Liberians everywhere respected and believed in its advocacy. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a benefactor of ULAA’s progressive advocacy.
For example, in 1984, the National President of ULAA, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu invited Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to serve as keynote speaker to its Annual General Conference, which was held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In her keynote address to General Conference, Madam Sirleaf referred to President Samuel K. Doe and officials of People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government as bunch of "fools and idiots".
As the result of her disrespectful remark about President Doe and the PRC, when she returned to Liberia she was arrested and imprisoned. To secure her release from prison, ULAA staged protest demonstrations in both New York and Washington, DC including lobbying the US Congress. The same was done for Liberian activists, politicians, students, teachers and labour union leaders who were wrongly accused and incarcerated. Instead, the present ULAA – “A ULAA You Can Believe In” is all about “Dual Citizenship” and raising funds at its March 25th inaugural program while our people in Liberia are being killed like PIGS and hunted all over the place by the security sector and militarized police units. Is this “A ULAA You Can Believe In”? You be the judge!
To buttress my points, check out Prof. K-Moses Nagbe’s book titled: MY COMPATRIOT, YOUR COMPATRIOT: Surveying the Forces and Voices that Inspired the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas. According to the learned patriot:
ULAA’s story must find a serious vessel of conveyance. It is about time someone set much of that information between two hard covers for posterity. That is what My Compatriot, Your Compatriot hopes to achieve. The book goes beyond peripheral questions like “What is ULAA? How did it come into being? What was the vision and mission of the organization?” The book identifies some of the critical forces and voices that inspired ULAA. It tells how ULAA impacted national politics and governance, both from abroad and inside the country…
In that sense then, there should be an important matrix of consciousness at work here, a matrix comprising race consciousness, cultural consciousness, national consciousness and consciousness of personhood. The order may be rearranged, depending on the milieu of residence. The point is that whether we deny the existence of that matrix, it is elemental to the grid by which other people judge our words, our actions and the manner in which we interact. While this knowledge is important in home countries, it becomes more valuable when we reside in other countries. It is a conversation whose time of renewal has come for Liberians and indeed Africans in the Diaspora; it is a conversation relevant, particularly in the wake of the present ULAA crisis. May this book contribute immensely to that conversation. (Make inquiries through email@example.com / www.Lulu.com)
Strange But Not So Surprising Events
Liberian people, the ungodly events in our country are reminiscent of the time Jesus rebuked Peter, telling him that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). Also, it is a reminder about what happened to Shallum (the fifteenth king of Israel). According to the story, with the aid of unidentified conspirators, King Shallum killed King Zechariah “in front of the people of Israel.” That was bold! He did not do it in secrecy, but chose to carry out his treachery in full view of the Israelites. Perhaps, he felt that such bold display of violence would cower the opposition into submission – no one would dare interfere with his corrupt and immoral rule. But history makes strange bedfellows!
Unfortunately, the public execution of King Zechariah had the opposite effect; it made King Shallum a prime target. Only couple of weeks in office, he was betrayed by Menahem, a military commander loyal to the assassinated king Zechariah, who took his revenge by killing Shallum in Samaria. This was history being repeated; yet, many leaders are prone to repeating the same mistakes. The question is why are all of these ungodly things going on in a country led by a president with a Nobel Prize for Peace?
Seemingly, we the people allow our leaders to treat us as if they were elected “to do us favors.” And whenever one raises legitimate concerns, or attempts to take the leader and party in power to task regarding not having safe drinking water, electricity, good roads, sewer system, quality healthcare system, accountability, and rampant corruption in the administration, all one hears is, “The oldma is trying!” Was she elected to be trying? Eleven years are too much time for her to be trying!
Too Many Suspicious Deaths…
The ‘suspicious deaths’ of Victoria Zarzar, Harry A. Greaves Jr., former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC), Cllr. Michael Allison, Fayah Saah Gbollie, Keith Jubah and Dan Orogun, Guarantee Trust Bank-Liberia Limited Managing Director should be of serious concern to ALL OF US. In the case of Dan Orogun, it is alleged he fell off a boat while on a ride with his wife, his two children and a Liberian businessman named George Kailondo. His body was recovered from the waters on Tuesday morning, January 26, 2016 in a bad state of decomposition when it was brought to the John F. Kennedy Medical Center.
Furthermore, a FrontPageAfrica article titled: “Fear Grips Judiciary Employees 37 Deaths In One Year” dated December 4, 2015, informed of an unnamed employee of the Temple of Justice who told FPA reporter Mae Azango the following: “You must know where you are standing when you take a job at the Temple of Justice, because, it is not a small place to work. It is just like the Capitol Building, where they use juju to fight one another.” The article continued: “…within a period of one year, it is said that 37 persons have died at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia. The sudden death of Sengbeh Johnson, former Director General of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), came as a shock to many journalists in the country…”
And not too long ago, police officers hassled a FrontPageAfrica reporter, preventing the taking of photographs, and deleted some photos already captured (FPA, February 7, 2016). Of course, MPC opposition party leader Mr. Simeon Freeman escaped from the country after police invaded his compound, terrified his family, barricaded his house, and traumatized the neighborhood because he didn’t turn up for an invitation from the police director. Of course, the recent arrest and manhandling of social activist Vandalark Patricks suggests that anyone can be arrested for exercising their rights guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution. Mr. Patricks was arrested, denied bill and spent eight days in prison on the basis of alleged and unfounded claims he made against the President and the Government of Liberia. After six days in prison, he was charged with sedition and criminal libel by the state.
Yet the Unity Party government boasts of having democracy and not having any political prison. Now, Mr. Patrick has written a letter of complaint to President Sirleaf of abuse the police and a police officer injecting him with unknown substance on the way to the Monrovia Central Prison. This is a serious offense the police committed against Mr. Patrick for which the public should be concerned over.
Another area of concern is the increased of ritualistic killings in the country. This should be reason for security concerns for both Liberians and foreign nationals.
Liberia is a country where our leaders and officials have very short memories. The current President once protested and lobbied the United States Congress and other world forum in support of Press Freedom, human rights and abused of power by Liberian government officials. Yet today, she runs a government whose officials attacked and criticized the press – the same press whose rights she once fought to uphold.
Fellow citizens, too many strange things are happening in our country. Remember, Jesus rebuked Peter about “all who draw the sword will die by the sword”. The wrath of the Almighty awaits those who engage in ungodly practices that are causing the deaths of many innocent people. The fate of those that are responsible will be similar to that of King Shallum of Israel. He too was killed by Menahem the military commander loyal to King Zechariah that he assassinated in public.
Those that committed such heinous crimes must NOT go scots free. They must be pursued and brought to justice. The deaths of Victoria Zarzar, Harry A. Greaves Jr., Cllr. Michael Allison, Fayah Saah Gbollie, Keith Jubah, Dan Orogun, Sengbeh Johnson and others that are unknown MUST NOT DIE IN VAIN. My people, if we continue to ignore the facts, we will have NO country; unless we want to be employed by Sirleaf &Company.
We can no longer afford to live in denial. Powerlessness of the majority due to poverty is not a condition for lasting peace, but a foundation for civil conflict. There are certain root causes of the crisis in the Liberian society/polity that have not been adequately addressed, which merit our immediate attention and action. They include but not limited to:
Fellow Liberians, truth is the same yesterday and today; it cannot be sugarcoated. What is outlined here informs just how explosive our situation, and merely reexamined how we got where we are. But most importantly, it’s also a prescription for attaining lasting peace and in our country. A repeat of the “Business as Usual” taking place in Liberia is recycling danger, a specter of chaotic events stalking Liberia and the region. We have the opportunity to avoid repeating these failed policies of the past, The Republic of Liberia CAN be a success story. Since Liberia has to be completely rebuilt; change it must! Liberia can become a model for Africa if our resources are used for the benefit of the Liberian people and NOT for the exclusive use of our leaders who are making themselves wealthy at the expense of the majority.
Given the unfolding crisis in our capital, Monrovia, we’re appealing to all peace loving peoples and nations of the world to assist us in our predicament as we campaign for the future of Liberia. Therefore, come 2017, in deciding on the question of leadership, we must first consider that - all those who succeed in life at times get off to a bad start, and pass through many heartbreaking struggles before they arrive at their goal. The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at the moment of some crisis, through which they are introduced to their "other selves."
In planning to follow one’s dream, however, a visionary leader can’t abandon his/her vision, or be influenced by the parochial concerns of those who would try to pigeonhole them in a particular category, or age bracket. Actually, popularity is not a requisite in the struggle for reconciliation, stability, and peace. In fact, longevity plays a role but passion and commitment to a cause make the difference. To achieve any goal in this changing world, one must possess the spirit of great pioneers of the past, whose dreams have given to civilization – everything of value, which today serves as the life-blood of our humanity.
In other words, "no condition is permanent", and as long as breath well in our body, we shall continue to fight for affirming change to the logical end by exposing injustices and corruption wherever they exist in Liberia. This should be our commitment and not how young or old one is. Human tragedies cannot be camouflaged or forgotten; age and longevity are relevant to the cause for which we continue to struggle. To erase their significance is to incubate and manufacture divisions that will lead to more atrocities. Instead, we should prevent past mistakes from being repeated. Because if we don’t, we will run the risk of having generation of people around who cannot remember the horrendous crimes committed against humanity by the Atlantic Slave Trade, the likes of King Leopard, II of Belgium, Adolf Hitler, Charles Dunbar Burgess King, William Vacanarat Shadrack Tubman, Samuel Kanyon Doe, Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the so-called ‘Iron Lady’.
Finally, the truth of the matter is — those of us critical of the bad governance/ policies do so not because of dislike of any official, but “truths in the service of bigotry create falsehood.” This is what we’re bitterly against. And, frankly, if the operation of the government in Liberia is not based on the democracy it claims to practice, there will always be serious disagreements. Which means the governors will have to govern according to the wishes of the Liberian people who voted them into power. Citizens in a democracy perforce disagree to agree, and no administration should use that as pretext to charge some with sedition, or lack of patriotism. Our political leaders need to heed the advice “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” for the eyes of the suffering vast majority are wide open now.
My people, on behalf of the Liberian people at home, let’s expose the perpetrators that committed these heinous crimes against our people. They must NOT get away with it! With God all things are possible! AMEN!
About The Author: Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor is man of God; former Chair, Vice Chair & Secretary of the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons (UCEP), Inc. He is a poet, Griot, journalist, and a cultural and political activist. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut can be obtained at: Kiiton Press – www.kiitonpress.org. Nyanseor can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org