"History Has A Way Of Passing Harsh Judgment
On Unscrupulous Rascals..."
By J. Kpanneh Doe
Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr., former presidential candidate of the Reformation Party, one of the thirteen parties which participated in the July 1997 elections, was interviewed by The Perspective magazine from London, England, where he is currently residing. Dr. Fahnbulleh offered his views on the elections and a wide-range of issues affecting Liberia's political future
TP: You left Liberia right after the elections, why?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: I refuse to endorse by my presence what I regard as a fraudulent process. Frankly, I do not play in garbage and the imposition of a common criminal on the Liberian people is condemning the nation to the trash can. I have never recognized the results put out by the Commission. The entire process was a grotesque fraud the fact that the results were accepted by a brutalized and traumatized people does not give any validity to the process. What kind of election was this where the Commission could not tell us how many ballot papers were printed and whether the mechanism for free and fair elections was effectively installed prior to voting. The fact of the matter was that the West African community was fed up with the Liberian problem and wanted a solution no matter how faulty. The imposition of Taylor appeared the least risky as he had the largest force and was the most brutal and the most uncompromising. This is a dangerous precedent in West Africa where the most evil individual is rewarded because he is the most callous.
TP: So the election was fraudulent?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: Two weeks before the elections, I addressed the issue of inadequate preparations at the Blyden Forum. I said, "it is obvious that with only weeks to go before the elections, the entire exercise has become one big joke! There are hardly adequate structures on the ground. Warring factions-though disbanded-still control territories although not with arms. In some areas, election registrars are loyalists of former warlords....The Independent Elections Commission is bankrupt, but is told to hold elections. Who is going to recognize the results of a patently fraudulent process?....I am an African and a Liberian. I desire peace and stability for the sub-region and my country. I therefore called on the leadership of the sub-region to exercise statesmanship and extend a hand of co-operation to the United Nations in the preparation and conduct of elections in this country. We must admit that the United Nations Organization has the experience in conducting elections in nations emerging from civil war. The examples of Cambodia, Angola, Mozambique and Bosnia are cases in point. The glory and honor of a successful resolution of the Liberian conflict will inevitably go to those who came from the start to help our people. We Liberians are the judges of those who protected our nation and people during the darkest hours. We will write the history of our country and one can rest assured that it will be a history of African sacrifices for the survival of an African people...." Thus my leaving Liberia is my singular protest at the fraud which brought into power a vicious nonentity.
TP: You 've been not only a student of Liberian politics but a major actor as well for the last two decades, why did Liberians vote for a warlord instead of a civilian politician during the July l9, 1997 elections?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: To believe that the Liberian people voted for Taylor en masse as reported by the Commission is to believe the childish absurdity that man can walk on water if he has faith. Obviously, those who orchestrated this fraud had to convince the world that the Liberian people voted for this nondescript. The pronouncement of certain individuals from the United States that the process was free and fair illustrates the hidden racism which refuses to accept that the African people deserve better than the likes of Taylor. For these high priests of democracy and freedom, there is nothing wrong with a despicable conman being president of an African nation. Would these people accept an Al Capone as president of the United States? The tragedy is that we listen to such pathetic idiots and accept what they say as valid simply because they come from the United States. There were some people who voted for Taylor because they feared reprisals for the crimes they had committed upon his instructions, but I am convinced that Taylor did not get 30% of the votes. They had to give him 75% to forestall any possibility of a run-off which they knew would have led to his defeat. There were many forces at work in this orchestrated fraud and time will reveal them. For now let us leave them to wallow in their fantasy. History has a way of passing harsh judgment on unscrupulous rascals!
TP: Before and after the elections, the opposition seemed unable to forge a united front, how can they therefore mount a credible opposition against the Taylor government?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: The history of Liberia shows that people contest elections for different reasons. Most often, principles do not enter the calculations of most of these individuals. For some, it is an opportunity to get exposure for a cabinet job. For others, it is a means of attracting attention to themselves for financial payoff. Yet for many, it is a matter of ego-tripping. For many of the people in opposition, there were not fundamental differences with Taylor. Many saw the electoral exercise as a continuation of the racket whereby politicians get themselves into office not to carry out social transformation and the empowerment of the broad masses of the people, but simply to parcel out the scare loot. The only credible opposition in Liberia to the durability of tyranny will come from the conscious students, the poverty-stricken workers, the dirt-poor farmers in the rural wasteland, the progressive intellectuals and the middle class nationalists who feel scandalized by the mockery which the nation is being subjected to.
TP: There has been much talk lately about healing wounds and national reconciliation, what do you make of this and what is your tick?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: This is all a money-making venture by a few "Negroes" in the United States. Only the Liberian people can together heal the wounds and reconcile. But first we must know the crimes which were committed against defenseless people and allow the perpetrators to show remorse to the families of the victims. Are we going to sweep away the painful memories of massacres, mayhem, brutality and injustice simply because a black conman wants to impress people that he understands Africa better than most Africans? Evil must not go unrecognized if it does, then the tendency is let loose that the end justifies the means and the horrendous calamities visited upon nations and peoples become acceptable because of moral delinquency and downright dishonesty. We will make our own history and reconcile ourselves, but first we have to probe into the madness which allowed a handful of misfits to destroy an entire country and murder over three hundred thousand people. Are we to allow the dead to rot in their unmarked graves without finding an explanation for this genocide? What do we tell the children of tomorrow about this calamity? There must be a more valid explanation for this catastrophe than simply the ambition of a fugitive to gain the presidency and enrich himself. We as Liberians know our history only too well and we know what needs to be done to heal the wounds and reconcile all our people.
TP: Were you invited to the recent conference on the future of Liberia organized by the Taylor government? If not, why not and what do you make of it?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: Nobody ever invited me. It's very interesting, Liberia is a small place - everybody knows how to find everybody. I'm here (in Europe), one or two people at the embassy here have my number so it's easy. But they were not interested. You see, this conference was simply a forum to endorse the return of these degenerates... Look at somebody like Romeo Horton, it's now people like him, after eighteen years, want to come to Liberia to talk about reconciliation. There has been a need for that since 1990. Listen to somebody like Corrina Vanee, I just heard excerpts of her speech she delivered... These people are just saying "we are are back now and there is not a damn thing anybody can do about it." They don't want people to address pertinent issues. They're playing games. We challenge the likes of Jesse Jackson and others who want to promote this garbage in Liberia. We challenge them. It shows their ignorance. It shows the hidden racism of people like Jimmy Carter that (these) Africans do not deserve anything better.
TP: How well do you think the Taylor government has fared in the areas of human rights, freedom of speech and the press, and economic development?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: You should ask Jesse Jackson this question, probably he knows something we do not know. How can a college drop-out without any vision understand the heroic struggle of people for the defense of rights and the end to exploitation? Do you really feel that this cabal of gangsters understand any of these things or care about the rights of the Liberian people? They are killing people secretly and lying to the world for men who commit murders, mayhem and rape, lying is child's play. The only people who are going to Liberia now for business are the same crooks and robbers who pillaged the country together with the NPFL during the civil war. They will cut down the trees indiscriminately and destroy the ecological balance; they will dig for gold and diamond and invest nothing; they will plunder the marine resources and give the people nothing; and they will engage in an orgy of looting and plunder with the high priest of theft-Charles Taylor, the Brooklyn hoodlum who now presides over a wasted nation and a frustrated people. To see people like Jesse Jackson, who supposedly is a disciple of the legendary Martin Luther King, Jr., supporting the scandal and mockery in Liberia is to question the moral rectitude of some of those in the leadership of the black struggle in the Diaspora. Is Jackson aware of the hundreds of thousands of people who were butchered in this war? Is he aware of the many uumarked graves which are scattered around our country? Is he really a black leader or "a small time hustler from Chicago" as former President Bush described him once? Nothing has changed in Liberia. It is still banditry and insecurity masquerading as legitimacy.
TP: Any comments on the future of democracy and multi-party elections in Liberia.
Dr. Fahnbulleh: I put it this way frankly, with Taylor's presidency, with this form of tyranny you can forget about any election in Liberia in the future... This man and his people are creating the condition to make sure that we would not have election in Liberia. Let me give a good example: the whole idea about this 2024 - he's sending a message. This man thinks that he will intimidate the people and keep himself in power in order to break Tubman's record (Tubman ruled Liberia for 27 unbroken years). He wears this tailcoat and all this rubbish trying to imitate Tubman. What you see happening is the disappearing of people, the murder of innocent citizens, the refusal to allow the restructuring of the army, the establishment of checkpoints all over the country. This is outright tyranny. There's not going to be any election. I'm not that naive to feel that come the year 2003 we are going to have election. If things continue this way, conditions are as such that the country is going to go down its kneels. You have a serious situation like Mobutu of Zaire. This guy is not a democrat, he doesn't believe in democracy, he doesn't believe in the people...
TP: Taylor has accused Liberians living abroad, especially prominent Liberians, of spreading lies, rumors, and negative information about his government. Is there any truth to the allegations?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: Taylor is his own worse enemy. Read the internet to hear what is coming from there, what is reported by his own radio station, and of course, the press of Liberia. The mysterious disappearance of people, is that propaganda? Massive corruption - is that propaganda? The insensitivity to the plight of the people, is that propaganda? The continued intimidation of the people in the rural areas, is that propaganda? Harassments at checkpoints, is that propaganda? There are over four thousand Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone who have refused to go to Liberia because of fear of harassment and intimidation - they are afraid. Where is the propaganda from people outside? His problem is that he wants for people to take him seriously. And, frankly, serious-minded people cannot take this (man) seriously. So he has a problem. He has a problem of credibility. Now when you have a situation where the president of Sierra Leone after returning to power, traveled to the United States and presided over a donor conference, here's the man who calls himself president of Liberia, after seven years of war, cannot go to the United States to even go and address the United Nations. Who are his friends? - Gadhafi, Campore? These are the guys Taylor looks up to. You know how long Gadhafi and Campore have been in power. Campore changed their constitution two or three times. These guys are international pariahs... Taylor has a problem of credibility. And there will be a problem of credibility because this is the first time in the human history where a common criminal has used his ambition to seize power in the country. He broke from jail in America to being head of state in Liberia, who's going to take him seriously? This man is a big joke and a scandal for Africa. This guy is an embodiment of evil...
TP: Taylor was elected president of Liberia. But there is no end in sight to the corruption, mysterious disappearance of people he perceives as opponents, human rights abuses, and intimidation. So what can Liberians do now?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: Well, you are doing the best you can do. You must highlight the inconsistencies in the man's utterances, the repression of our people, to the international community. I tell you in my frank opinion, I think that whole thing (Taylor's government) will blow apart. This barbarity cannot be justified. There's no way the nonsense will continue. So let's keep the international community informed of the reality in Liberia.
TP: Hypothetically, if you were asked to advise the Taylor government, what would you say to them?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: But these are gangsters, all they have to do is to pack their bags and get out.
TP: What are your plans and would you be returning to Liberia soon?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: I believe that evil must be fought with all the strength that one can muster. At the moment, I am writing, for I believe passionately in the advice of Rabbi Nachum Yanchiker when he wrote in 1940: "Do not become embittered by waiting and tears. Speak with calmness and serenity and do as our holy sages have done-pour forth words and cast them into letters. Then the holy souls of your brothers and sisters will remain alive. These evil ones schemed to blot out their names from the face of the earth; but a man cannot destroy letters. For words have winds; they mount up to the heavenly heights and they endure for eternity." Finally, I am a disciple of former President Edwin Barclay and I believe in his nationalistic command: "Then, forward, sons of Freedom, March! Defend the sacred heritage!-The nation's call from age to age-Where'er it sounds 'neath heaven's arch. Wherever foes assail. Be ever ready to obey-'Gainst treason and rebellion's front, 'Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt of battle lay the hero's way!-AII hail, Lone Star, all hail!" I SHALL RETURN TO LIBERIA SOON!
TP: Is there anything or message in particular you want to send to the Liberian people?
Dr. Fahnbulleh: Courage noble people; these dark days will not last forever. You who have been through the trials and tribulation of war; have endured hardship and suffering; have stumbled but not fallen; you are capable of building a new society where a man will be judged not by his name or his position but because he renders service to humanity. These are difficult times, but this is history's way of judging whether we are up to the task of creating a new society and a new man. It was said in the past by a great black man: "Up you noble race; you can accomplish whatever you want." I believe you are capable of building a great nation under the right conditions. I think of you all and like the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda says: "I carry our nation wherever I go, and the oh-so-far-away essences of my elongated homeland live within me." God Bless.