To Err is Human and to Forgive is Divine

By Michael B. Bull

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
May 20, 2005


Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Despite her soaring popularity and internationally acclaimed success, haters, and rumor mongers continue the vile campaign to besmear this gifted and powerful woman of our time who has zero tolerance for corruption. Mindful of the fact that upon her ascendancy to the nation’s highest office, there will be no more Business As Usual”, they have launched a full scale scheme to dampen her political ambitions. Some of her detractors and opponents also depict her as the most evil because of a human error she made and has since apologized.

One of the admired components of democracy is the guaranteed freedom of speech and expression, which form the bedrock of modern politics. Nevertheless one should be responsible and accountable for his or her utterances. Three commentaries that have caught my curiosity are (1) an editorial entitled Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Has Not Earned Our Supports on the web page of the Liberian Mandingo Association Of New York (LIMANY), (2) So Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Finally Confesses To Funding The Killing Of Liberians: Can We Forgive Her? Written by Tieh Kofa of Monrovia, Liberia on the’s May 3, 2005 edition and (3) Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf Taylor War Talk Apology: Too Little Too Late?

Accordingly, the LIMANY editorial speaks as if the website were the mouthpiece of the Liberian Mandingos. It charged Ellen of been mute and insensitive to the plight of the Mandingos when they were being slaughtered during the early days of the war, which I believe is unfortunate. LIMANY further accused Madam Sirleaf of doing nothing to stop the killings of Mandingos in Barkedu, Karnplay, etc. For your information, the seventeen tribes of Liberia suffered during the war. I wonder where was the LIMANY editorial staff when ULIMO under the command of Alhaji GV Kromah and the late Roosevelt Johnson armed with uncompromising political bigotry and vendetta under the pseudo-liberation nomenclature, desecrated indigenous shrines, killed and maimed people in Lofa, Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Bong and even in Monrovia? Do names such as Gen. Mohamed Dumoryah, Salt and Pepper, Jungle Jabbah and the list goes on, resonate anything to you? Is it Madam Sirleaf the only one that needs to come clean?

The Internet should be used in a more positive dimension then the negative views being articulated. Every faction, and or tribe played a brutal, devilish and uncivilized role in our country’s darkest hours, especially the ones who led warring factions, as I need not give a graphic dichotomy. It is therefore incumbent upon us to disseminate message of peace, harmony and reconciliation as we ease into a more delicate period in our nation’s history. LIMANY is just an infinitesimal portion of the Mandingo population who necessarily holds no stake in the determination of who leads Liberia, given its locales. Conscientious Mandingos know who they will vote for. Let not play the tribalistic game that has consummated our dear country for so long. I suggest a column on LIMANY’s website be devoted to encourage Liberians to vote rather than wasting time on Ellen earning LIMANY’s support.

On the Tieh Kofa’s commentary, his expressions are so vicious that they could exterminate living things in the River Gbeh. Madam Sirleaf did apologize about her purported statement of flattening the Executive Mansion and rebuilding it during the race for the 1997 Presidency. Those that had ears heard her loud and clear. We hold no divine power to judge her sincerity, but to accept the ones she has offered. How many Liberians who directly or indirectly participated in the wanton destruction of lives and properties during the war offered any apologies? None!

Last but not the least; I beg to differ with the Bendu Koryon’s article scrutinizing the timeliness of Ellen Sirleaf’s apology. The International Community knows who is a war criminal. In the eyes of the civilized world Taylor deserves justice for his deeds and only a court of competent jurisdiction can try him. Ellen doesn’t fit in that profile. Why implicate her? Miss Koryon does not seem abreast of contemporary issues emanating from Liberia and cannot make a difference between a wanted war criminal and a person like Ellen. The location for her apology should not be the yardstick to measure its acceptance. Shouldn’t this matter rest once and for all given her conscience driven overture? Yes it should!

Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf did apologize during the 1997 Presidential Elections and has done so again. We ought to accept her apologies and move forward.

To err is human and to forgive is divine. Repeated cries about this leveling Monrovia issue, is no longer relevant. What is more alarming is the spreading of hate for this great internationally accredited civil servant who could help our nation recover no matter what roles she plays in the future. The primary focus of Liberians at home and in the diaspora should now be to stimulate our people to get out and register to vote rather than dwelling on issues that could jeopardize reconciliatory efforts. We must constructively engage all presidential aspirants to balance the level playing field and help create an atmosphere of tranquility, that our people living in deplorable conditions in IDP and Refugee Camps will see reasons to go home and begin a new life of self-sufficiency.

In the spirit of reconciliation, let us move on and stop singling out one person. Hatred breads hatred.

The author is a Liberian Social and Political Analyst who domiciles in Buford, Georgia and can be contacted at