Grand Bassa County's problem is a subject matter that
has been discussed many times over, at least in the
realm of Liberia History and many may even relegate
these discussions to "Old News." But yes,
some, if not many of the Good people within whom a sense
of decency exist know that there is a very larger then
life elephant...So to speak, in our collective living
rooms that no one wants to discuss. This elephant happens
to encompass Prejudice and Segregation which are the
products of a stout and pseudo creative subculture in
Liberia and Bassa in particular.
To truly understand the ill of this subculture, which
is chronic, but not unique to Bassa, we have to understand
Symbolic Interactionism which challenges us to do some
social role reversal. In essence, a wise person would
envisage problems from the opposite end of a shared
prism. That shared prism would seem to be our shared
values and those things that are intangible, but yet
critical to our survival. For instance, in the Bassa
Culture, DISRESPECT is ranked second only to CONSPIRACY
in the hierarchy of disdain and Bassa social norms.
With this being the point, I want to just briefly address
with conviction the absolute disrespect shown Hon. Joseph
M.N. Gbadyu and Mr. David Cassell at the honoring ceremonies
held August 14, 2006, in Baltimore. The event was sponsored
by the Bassa High School Students Association.
Yes, there is something intrinsically wrong with our
socialization in Grand Bassa. I know that this could
also be said about the entire Liberian Society, but
for this piece, Grand Bassa is the point of reference.
The Bassa High School reunion this year had a special
added flavor to it; it was meant and planned by well
intentioned people with the intention of honoring special
people in our county who had made contributions to our
education system. Those that were invited included but
not limited to: Mr. Joseph M.N. Gbadyu and Mr. David
Cassell. Mr. Gbadyu served as Supervisor of schools,
Superintendent of Grand Bassa County and he went on
to serve as Deputy Minister of Local Government and
Rural Development. On the other hand, Mr. David Cassell,
served as Principal of Bassa High School. In any case,
Mr. Gbadyu was the highest ranking official at the occasion.
In addition, Mr. David Cassell was the only former Principal
at the occasion. In this case, if any one deserves any
accolades, these two gentlemen should win with a "Slam
When the plaques were awarded to the honorees, several
people were given the opportunities to make a few minutes
of remarks. Among those that were allowed to speak were:
Mrs. Brumskine (the mother of Mr. Charles Brumskine),
Ms. Pat Riley (a former Peace Corp Teacher at Bassa
High School), Mr. Harris (son of former Principal, Phil
Harris) who went on to speak lengthily and very graciously,
I must add for the honor bestowed upon his late father.
When it came to the most significant honorees, at least
according to ranking, Mr. Gbadyu and the former Principal
were ignored. Those with sociological imagination began
to see through the smoke screen. A message was passed
from your utmost servant, the Co-Chair of the Board
of Directors of Bassa High School to the Emcee, Mr.
Nathaniel Brumskine. The message was to remind Mr. Brunskine
that there was a protocol that was not being followed
in the hall. I and few more people made another attempt
to correct the wrong that was being intentionally perpetrated
against these icons.
Again, the Emcee, Mr. Nat Brumskine deliberately refused
to recognize these individuals. An explanation to me
according to the Chairman of the Board was that Mr.
Brumskine felt that Mr. Gbadyu is "long Windy"
meaning that Mr. Gbadyu's remarks tend to be too long.
On the other hand, there were no explanation given for
ignoring Mr. David Cassell, the former Principal.
For this and many other reasons, many of us who grew
up in Grand Bassa, and understand the injustices and
dichotomy of the socializations there find these recurring
tendencies to be offensive at best.
I am willing to work with any and all Liberian organizations
and to make meaningful contributions in an effort as
to not repeat our past. As in all behavior disciplines,
there are Four steps that anyone with a problem must
take to be rehabilitated. The steps are: (1). Admit
that one has a problem (2). Identify the problem (3).
Make a plan to deal with or alleviate the problem and
(4). Put one's plan into action or in short, demonstrate
As it stands based on our conversation following the
unfortunate incident, some members of our organization
feel like there was nothing wrong with what happened;
and even if anything did happen, it was not a big deal.
Yes, it is a big deal to the Bassa people and the very
culture of which they are a part. The Bassa culture
is rich in symbolism.
To be and remain optimistic about Mother Liberia, one
has to pay close attention to what is transpiring nationally
in Liberia. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has begun
to take the Four steps that represent the Four Golden
Rules to true recovery. The President, in her quest
for a true legacy put it very succinctly to the student
body at Harvard University, during her September 18,
2006, address to her Alma mater. She said Liberia has
had problems and the problems can be lumped into Two
categories: "Marginalization and Subjugation"
by a segment of our Liberian society that did not know
And she continued along that track when she spoke at
her Washington, DC, Freedom Award ceremonies; she reiterated
to the World that Liberia's long history "Peace
and Stability" had "Masked" the real
underlying tensions. She admitted that Liberians are
very good in using Prose, Camouflage and "Disguise"
in addressing serious social issues.
The president has begun to truly admit that Liberia
has real and serious problems, she has begun to identify
them, she has made a plan and now, she has begun to
put Liberia's plan into actions. Not just talk and the
usual long speeches...
Bassa and every segment of our society has to adapt
that approach. We have to address issues within our
own homes, families and ultimately on the national level.
We should desist from the same old tradition of "We
cannot wash our dirty clothes in public" or "So
say one so say all".
The Bassa High School Students Association publicly
humiliated Hon. Gbadyu and Mr. David Cassell. Bassa
High School Student Association should do what is prudent
and civilized...Apologize in public, publish a letter
of apology and that would be our first step in the right
direction. Any thing less is unacceptable!
In accepting the President's explanations to our problems,
she used the operative phrase, "a society that
did not know any better." But we now know better.
2006 by The Perspective
To Submit article for publication, go to the following URL: http://www.theperspective.org/submittingarticles.html