For The Love Of Country

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 15, 2003


The Holy Bible reminds us that "The desirable thing in earthling man is his loving-kindness" (Proverbs 19:22). In retrospect, acts of kindness rendered for the sake of love - are truly desirable. The "Loving-Kindness" referred to in the Bible is based on an already existing relationship, such as one founded on a prior act of kindness on the part of another, which may include loyalty to the one who first rendered the "Loving-Kindness". For the purpose of this article, we shall use King Jehoash of Judah as an example.

King Jehoash owed a great debt of gratitude to his aunt and Jehoiada, his uncle, who when he was less than a year old, his wicked grandmother wanted to kill him. First, she succeeded in making herself queen and then in killing all of Jehoash’s brothers, who were heirs to the throne. Her failure to kill Jehoash was due to the fact that Jehoash’s aunt and uncle hid him, and in the process, taught him the Laws of Jehovah. When he was seven years old, his uncle used his authority as high priest to execute the wicked queen (his grandmother) and made Jehoash king (2 Chronicles 22:10-23:15). Young Jehoash ruled as king based on God’s Laws, which were taught to him by his aunt and uncle. Upon their deaths, King Jehoash’s turned to idol worship. Jehovah being a loving God sent his cousin Zechariah to warn him of his apostasy. Instead of adhering to the warning, he had Zechariah, the son of the family to whom he owed his life, stoned to death.

I feel Liberia and its people are the family to whom previous corrupt leaders, the warring factions (the NPP Government, LURD and MODEL), should be thankful to - "for the love of their country" or what Liberia has done for them. I feel if it weren’t so, a peace agreement would not have been negotiated to bring an end to the suffering of the Liberian masses that have suffered tremendously these 14 - plus years.

While many Liberians, including me, did not agree with the arrangement that brought us the Peace Agreement, it is the document we have to live with for the next two years. Those who are signatories to it are aware of how certain issues in the Peace Agreement were negotiated and finally resolved. Therefore, at the implementation stage, to engage in this negative public discourse over who has the power to appoint or not to appoint, is not in the best interest of the country, and particularly the people who have been subjected to violence, displacement, degradation, you name it.

It is peace, justice and security the Liberian people seek, and those who are placed in position of authority are obligated to see to it that they are provided. And if it means to do so, they have to bring to justice violators of the Agreement; it must be done within the framework of the law.

History serves as the best teacher for mankind, but why can’t we Africans and Liberians in particular, learn from it? Why do we have to keep repeating the same old mistakes over and over?

For 14 years, guns and violence were used against the Liberian people in the name of setting them free. In the process, many were killed, raped, maimed, internally and externally displaced, their properties confiscated or destroyed, which brought about various peace agreements. These peace agreements were negotiated in Banjul, The Gambia, Nigeria and Ghana, at which the Liberian people did not exercise their constitutional rights; instead it was done for them in the name of peace. How long are we going to continue this kind of practice?

The parties to the Agreement are equal, and they have ECOWAS’ mediating committee headed by Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar to resolve any disagreement regarding the interpretation of the Agreement. Therefore, they should not resort to threat or hold the Liberian people in perpetual hostage condition because of their disagreements. Are we becoming our own worse enemies?

The peace deal reached with help of the 3,500 West African peacekeepers, the U.S. Marines, the UN and the international community, will be jeopardized, if the parties to the Agreement do not follow in. The preamble is very clear on these issues:

"Gravely concerned about the current civil war that has engulfed our country leading to loss of innumerable lives, wanton destruction of our infrastructure and properties and massive displacement of our people;

"Recalling earlier initiatives undertaken by the Member States of ECOWAS and the International Community, aimed at bringing about a negotiated settlement of the conflict in Liberia;

"Moved by the imperative need to respond to the ardent desire of the people of Liberia for genuine lasting peace, national unity and reconciliation;

"Reaffirming the objective of promoting better relations among ourselves by ensuring a stable political environment in which our people can live in freedom under the law and in true and lasting peace, free from any threat against their security…"

In view of the above, Chairman Gyude Bryant, LURD, MODEL, and other parties to this Agreement will have to put aside their differences if they truly believe in what they signed.

While I do not believe nor support the use of armed to overthrow a seating government, I feel that negotiating the Peace Agreement was the right thing to do, which to certain extent brought an end to the killing of innocent civilians and the destruction and confiscating their properties. Once the Agreement was signed, each party to the agreement, be it Chairman Bryant or the warring factions, must abide by it. No one party has the right to deviate from the letter of the document. The very fact that there is chaos over apportionment of ministries and appointments is a direct result of not following the Agreement to the letter. Instead of shifting blame, when there is a disagreement regarding the interpretation of a particular section, the document should serve as the means to resolve the disputed issue. We can’t continue to "wash our dirty clothes in the public." There are other sections such as, cessation of hostilities, disbandment of irregular forces, reforming and restructuring of the Liberian armed forces, cantonment, disarmament, demobilization rehabilitation and reintegration, restructuring of the Liberian national police and other security services, human rights, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, etc. of this Agreement that are awaiting implementation.

There is lots of work to be done in Liberia! And if the parties to the Agreement are truly committed to bringing peace to our people, as they have said in their public statements, they need to put aside their differences. Except, they want to continue the reality of the past 14 years - in which political power flows not from the ballot box but from the barrel of the gun, which makes me to wonder whether the parties to the Agreement will not follow the footsteps of their predecessors who were preoccupied with accumulating wealth and properties illegally.

Like King Jehoash who upon the deaths of his aunt and uncle turned to idol worship, killed his cousin Zechariah who was sent by Jehovah to warn him of his apostasy, it appears that Liberians might be heading in that direction, a direction similar to the Hobbesian state of nature, where there will be continued injustice, intimidation, human rights abuse, corruption, denial of freedom of the press and speech and failure to adhere to the Peace Agreement signed in Accra, Ghana. It is not encouraging the way things look. I hope I am proven wrong!

I am led to believe that since violence and terror propelled the victors to this stage (for their participation in the interim Government), these vices could also serve as determinants for political continuity? That’s my fear! Since these vices worked so well during the civil crisis, they are likely to work in "peace time" too - to return the victims (the Liberian people) to their usual places (internally and externally displaced refugee camps). Isn’t this the experience the Liberian people encountered throughout the civil crisis? My gut feelings tell me, Liberians will be heading in that direction if we do not get our act together. For God’s sake, I hope I am proven wrong this time around!