Taking a Peek into Liberian History: The Case of Chicken Coming Home to Roost

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
November 24, 2006


Taking a peek into recent Liberian History is a case of “what’s it in it for me,” which reminds me of “chicken coming home to roost”. A case in point is the statement the former Liberian Senate Majority Leader Honorable Abel Momolu Massaley made during the Taylor Administration. Honorable Massaley and those who reasoned like him felt that the task of focusing public attention upon existing evils, glaring and obnoxious as they may be, should be left to more mature and competent minds. He was soon reminded by Ella Wheeler Wilcox that, “To sin by silence, when we should protest makes cowards out of men. The human race has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised against injustice, ignorance and lust, the inquisition yet would serve the law, and guillotines decide our least disputes. The few who dare must speak and speak again to right the wrongs of many”.

The point here is Honorable Massaley never thought that one day he would be judged by the standards he and those who think like him established. So, sometime in November 1998, Honorable Massaley went on to say, [the] "civil war was a necessary means to a joyful end, and this end can attain its greatest significance if we of diverse political, ethnic or social backgrounds work in concert with the democratically elected government of President Charles Taylor, so that Liberia can achieve full recovery." He was hailed by his fellow partisans for his statement in defense of the civil war, which claimed the lives of more than 250,000 innocent Liberians and crippled several thousands others.

It was not too long for Honorable Massaley to find himself in trouble with his fellow partisans who applauded him – when he said, “government appointees are spending 24 hours around the clock stealing to enrich themselves, and that a presidential inquiry is needed to halt the looting.” This time his fellow partisans and colleagues saw him as someone who had broken their code of silence and secrecy, to which a sophist may have justified their reactions towards him. Honorable Massaley soon found out the chicken had come home to roost. He was considered a disloyal partisan whom his colleagues attempted to expel from the Senate.

Also, this is a classic case of “pot calling tea kettle black”, while frying pan serves as witness. Honorable Massaley’s colleagues at the time were, Evelyn Diggs Townsend, Grace B. Manor, Willie Regland, Baryogar Junius, etc.; they felt that he deserved to “attain his joyful end” for being disloyal to their government.

This behavior should not come as a surprise to many of us - because what goes around usually comes around. The Taylor government, including the Liberian National Legislature at the time sanctioned the exercise of free speech, free press and went on to close down several news media operations for reporting the truth. For example, one incident that readily comes to mind involved four journalists - the Managing Editor of The News newspaper; Joseph G. Bartuah, Editor-in-Chief Abdullah Dukuly, News Editor Jerome Dalieh and reporter Bobby Tapson were charged with espionage on the grounds of "selling military secrets to a foreign power", only because their newspaper carried an article under the title: "US$50,000 Spent On Helicopters".

This action leads me to ask the following questions – what happen to the morals of our elected officials? Are they worse off than their predecessors? Morals, we are reminded are principles relating to RIGHT and WRONG, regarding human behaviors; they include Honesty, Truthfulness, and High Standards of Conduct in all matters of human interactions. Once, Senator Joe Lieberman described morals of our time (the lack there of) in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame as: “values vacuum …where traditional ideas of right and wrong have been gradually worn away.”

I do agree with the Senator! Today, what was once held to be a universal truth is controlled by the individual or group with “Spin Power” – to make FALSE appeared TRUE; which during the Taylor Administration - “Papay” (Charles Taylor) was hailed for his ruthless exercise of power. Song such as, “You kill my Pa, you kill my Ma, I will vote for you” was sung in his honor. Why? because he provided material needs, such as bag of rice, guns, drugs, etc., for those who practically admired and worshipped him. This behavior seems to be the most popular these days; it has conditioned most Liberians to think in terms of “what is in it for me”, when there is no electricity, safe drinking water, poor to almost no existing government health facilities, poor sanitary services in the country.

Perhaps, this is the reason why - those who challenge the government to do the right thing or obey its own laws are ridiculed by the likes of the Honorable Massaleys of Liberia. As a result, elected officials resort to playing it safe – by defending the government’s corrupt practices to the point of violating the Constitution they affirmed to uphold and protect.

In spite of the Honorable Massaleys’ historical shot-sightedness to protect the people’s rights to free speech, the Liberian Constitution is clear about how the rights of every citizen should be protected and defended. This is legacy the late veteran journalist Albert Porte and others like-minded have advocated for. On November 1, 1945, Old Man Porte admonished us that: “Liberia will always be looked down upon and despised by other nations and peoples, unless as a people, we be courageous enough to cry loudly against existing evils, and our leaders be tolerant enough to face our problems calmly and dispassionately, and together we have them remedied. We cannot delay and wait for others to do these things for us and still expect to maintain our dignity and self respect as a nation.”

But recent events in Liberia seem to suggest that Liberians are heading in the WRONG direction again; a direction in which citizens do not have the right to question or challenge their elected officials to behave in accordance to the laws of the land. Groups are now forming to resuscitate the UGLY days gone by – when RESOLUTIONS to show support for the President and elected officials was the order of the day; and an accused person was pronounced GUILTY before his/her case made it to court. Our memories are failing us! Instead of speaking loudly against existing evils, we are beginning to fall back into the practice that almost brought about our demise. Why can’t we learn from our recent history?

Well, as a reminder, let me say to you that history has proven this point over and over that - no matter what the power that be attempt to do regarding the truth – truth being a universal principle, will remain the same today, and even tomorrow. The only exception is there will always be individuals who by choice or influence will tamper with it to advance their own individual interest or for those they are loyal to; but they need to know that there is nothing abstract about the truth, because truth is like night follows day. Therefore, those who subscribed to corruption – like the sophists in Liberia who were calling for the expulsion of Honorable Abel Momolu Massaley from the Senate for going against their code of ethics, should remember too, that “chicken always come home to roost”. And while it is true that Honorable Massaley was no saint, he and no other person should be judged by “kangaroo standards”. To defend him despite his failures to uphold the law and the Constitution of Liberia for which he was elected is a step in the right direction, and this too goes for every citizen of the Republic. This is my only purpose for taking a peek into our recent history.

© 2006 by The Perspective
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