Let's Shun Tribalism In Liberia

By: J. Moses Gray/ Inquirer Foreign News Editor

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 22, 2003

It is an open secret that one of the problems that continues to affect this country is divisiveness based on tribal background. Over the years, this has permeated the nation’s social fabric to the core resulting in bitter conflicts where innocent citizens have lost their lives or dispossessed.

During the seven-year Liberian civil crisis, tribal sentiments played a major part to an extent where innocent people were killed only because they belonged to another tribe, in fact members of different groups got at each other’s throats. As a result, the war degenerated into an all out tribal war to an extent where innocent members of respective tribes were killed.

Again, following the seven year old war, a tribal feud engulfed Lofa County as the Lormas and Mandingoes got in a bitter feud which resulted in the deaths of members of either group. That situation was ongoing till the announcement of a the rebel group, misnamed Liberians United for Democracy and Reconciliation (LURD).

We are retrospecting because we have observed and continue to observe that this tribal cancer is somehow raising its ugly head in Nimba County. In recent times, newspapers have been replete with stories and utterances of some Monrovia-based tribal leaders of that county. These utterances or statement, are indubitably inimical to the healing and reconciliation process.

What is disgusting about such is that most of the confusion or conflicts between the tribes are always caused by some of their leaders who are only based in Monrovia, and seem to be insensitive to the plight of their people, but get engaged in acts which only sow seeds of discord, divisiveness and disunity.

Besides the ugly issue of tribalism, the collective guilt syndrome and apportioning of blame on an entire tribal grouping for the alleged act of a member or members of a particular tribal group, however inflames the adverse situation. It can be so alarming as a whole tribe is often ridiculed, chastised or blamed for the unbecoming act of just a member of that tribe.

We are concerned about these negative developments because at times they snowball into situations which affect the entire nation. This is why it is time that Liberians shun tribalism and see each other as "One People with One Destiny". At the same time, let not the act of a member or members of a tribe be blamed on the entire tribe.

If this country must make progress and its people live in peace, Liberians must do away with tribalism and all other vices which have the potential creating divisiveness. Liberians should know that they are one people no matter whatever tribal background.

In the words of the late Martin Luther King, Jr., "if we do not learn to live together as brothers, we will perish like fools." Hence, it is time that, Liberians see each other as brothers and nationals of a country and not as members of different tribal backgrounds.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.