"In The Cause Of The People"
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
January 15, 2002
History makes a strange bedfellow, yet it teaches us to prepare ourselves to face the future. This very fact motivated some of us to develop interest in history at an early age. It also led me to examine various historical figures in order to find out the reason they behaved the way they did at a given period in history. As a result, my curiosity led me to review the role played by these two different but interesting personalities in the American Civil War - they are, President Abraham Lincoln and Corporal William H. Morey.
Both individuals occupied a somewhat unique place in the history of the American Civil War; a war that was fought between the Union (Northern States) and the Confederacy (Southern States) over competing economic interests - Forced Labor Vs. Free Labor.
The eleven Southern states that made up of the Confederacy had an economic system, whose wealth and life style depended sorely on slave labor, while the economy of the Northern states depended on the labor of European immigrants and freed blacks (Africans). The North could afford the abolition of the "institution of slavery," whereas, the South could not because slave labor was the backbone of its economy. It was their (North and South) failure to reach an agreement, which led to the civil war. Yet, those who fought on either side of the war had their own personal reason for their participation. President Lincoln for example, did so to save and preserve the Union, and Corporal Morey who was 24 years old at the time, had just gotten married; he joined on the side of the Union because he wanted to make money to support his family.
On September 18, 1858 and August 1862, President Lincoln is on record to have said:
"I am not, nor have I ever been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office. ... My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it."
During this very period, Frederick Douglass was openly campaigning for full citizenship for blacks and their rights to vote. Yet, the one who is credited with the emancipation of African Americans was not concerned with the plight of blacks but rather with saving the Union at any cause (even if it meant promising blacks freedom if they fought along with the Union).
On the other hand, Corporal William H. Morey fought in the civil war for a totally different reason. His communication dated January 25, 1863 addressed to his wife, Elisa Ann, thanking her among other things for the tobacco she had sent him, explained his position better:
"... I believe and see that this ware (war) is a hole (whole) humbug and money making war everybody tries to make the moste (most) money that is the only thing keeps this war a going and now we see how this ware (war) goes if I only was at home again I would knock the first man down if he asked me to enlist again we are kept here like dogs many a dog is kept better than we are and I tell (you) if I only had my money for these 4 months I would try and run away we are kep (kept) worser every day. ..Here we are working some days verry (very) hard loading the (rail) cars and only half enough to eat a great many of the boys talk of running away if they only had there (their) money. ...We are only marching and doing hard duty all the time."
In the end, Corporal Morey was paid a bounty for his services (for the part he played in the civil war); and with the money, he established a bakery business.
It is reported that these poor solders were faced with deplorable conditions, which Corporal Morey described in the letter to his wife. At that time, the poor citizens from both the North and South had no choice regarding conscription into the military as compared to those with money. It was also recorded that "those with money could get an exemption or buy their way out of the military service." Regarding this practice, several poor soldiers from the South complained that the war was a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight."
This brings us to the reason I titled this essay, "In The Cause Of The People," subtitled, "A Chicken In Every Pot."
First, let's look at the role chicken has to play in this discussion. Chicken as you may already be aware, is the bird that people on our planet consume the most. Based on researched evidence and estimate, there are over 13 billion chickens in a given year, and the meat is so popular that more than 73 billion pounds of it are consumed each year. In addition to this, hens produce some 600 billion eggs a year.
For example, in Western countries, chicken is plentiful and inexpensive. Several decades ago in the United States, voters were promised if they elected certain candidates, there would be "chicken in every pot." Today, chicken is no longer the preserve of the minority or the luxury it was a century ago. But for many in developing countries, the idea of "chicken in every pot" is far from being a reality.
And "In The Cause Of The People," and numerous poplar sounding slogans have and are being used to deceive the electorate by "slick" politicians seeking elected office. Yet, the vast majority of us, continued to be deceived by their populist rhetoric. Rhetoric such as:
"Read my lips" (President George Herbert Bush, Sr.), "From mat to mattresses" and "Precious Jewel" (President William Richard Tolbert, Jr.), "In The Cause Of The People" (President Samuel Kanyon Doe), "Above all else, the people," and "A computer in every classroom (President Charles Ghankay Taylor), Compassionate Conservatism" and "Leave no child behind" (President George W. Bush).
I think it was Shakespeare who wrote, "he who the gods want to destroy, must first make MAD (Crazy)." Exactly, that is what is happening to Charlie Taylor and the former members of ULAA in his government, who have failed to adhere to and to promote freedom of speech/press, respect for human and civil rights and safeguard the constitutional guarantees of our people, for which as student leaders in the 70s, (including me) protested and demonstrated in the United States. It is these guarantees and fundamental principles that Charlie and associates (Blamo Nelson, Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, Tambakai Jangaba, Nyudueh Mornokomana, Gabriel Baccus Matthews, Samuel P. Jackson et al) have compromised for power and position.
It is this point of departure, which has made critics of ULAA blame the organization for the behaviors of these few "rotten apples" (former ULAA leaders). While I may not agree with ULAA's critics, I share their frustrations as well as understand their disappointments caused by these individuals; but at this point in our history, we need to move beyond finger pointing, and deal with those who are engaged in deceit, lies, criminal activities, and the mismanagement of the affairs of our beloved country, now that the gods have made them MAD (Crazy). The signs of which are their continued deception, violation of the Liberian Constitution, laws, civil and human rights, more recently, the arrest of David Kiazolu, Secretary-General of the Inter-Religious Council (IRC) and his assistant, Christopher Toe, who were charged with treason for allegedly finding in their possession e-mails from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD). And worse of all, the brutal beating of journalist Throuble Suah by Charlie's terrorist unit (so-called Anti-Terrorist Unit - ATU) on December 14, 2002, who I understand was bedridden and had to be taken out of the country for immediate medical treatment.
In view of the above, let also review some of Charlie's slogans:
During Taylor's presidential campaign in 1997, he promised to turn Liberia into a paradise with American dollars in the pockets of every Liberian. He didn't stop there, he went further to say that education for Liberian children would be free. He went further to add, "above all else, the people," "shining city on the hill," "computer in every classroom," etc. Since then Charlie has classified the consumption of water, electricity and other necessities as "luxury," which according to him, belongs in his personal "pepper bush" (the spoils he shares with his family and those who support his misrule called government)
It is due to this type of behavior, "the gods" have made Charlie MAD in order to destroy him. Perhaps, these are some of the reasons he has resorted to making all of the wrong decisions, i.e., invoking the 10 years residency requirement in the Liberian Constitution, restricting US Green Card holders from participating in the upcoming general elections (when he himself is alleged to be a US Green Card holder), charging two leaders of a religious organization in Liberia with treason, individuals are dedicated to mediating and reconciling the differences between Christians and Muslims in the country.
The question then is - why haven't we learned from these lessons of history? For example, we were warned by David Lamb in his book titled: "The Africans (1989 Edition), in which he correctly predicted Africa's calamity:
Africa today is "... the story of people who won their freedom on battlefields and at negotiation tables, only to discover that their white colonial masters had been replaced by black neocolonial leaders more concerned with personal power and wealth than national consensus or development."
He continued: "... Africa of the 1980s is neither a happy nor a hopeful place. The colonialists designed the scenario for disaster, and the Africans seem to be trying their best to fulfill it. Calamity waits within arms' reach, oblivious of Africa's potential strength. Across the whole continent, economies are collapsing, cities are deteriorating, food production is declining, populations are growing like weed-seeds turned loose in a garden. Governments fall at the whim of illiterate sergeants and disgruntled despots, prisons are as overcrowded as the farmlands are empty, and at last count the number of refugees in Africa had reached the incredible figure of five-million - people driven from their homelands by wars, tyrants and poverty."
Based on the above reason, we can't sit by idly to watch evil people like Charlie and his partners in crimes continue to ruin our nation. From where I sit, those who do so are contributors to the ruin of their nation, because changes do not come as the result of "let's wait and see." Changes do occur when consistent demands are made by individuals and organized group of people. Therefore, we cannot afford to sit by and expect someone other than us to solve our problems for us. Not to do so, and to accept less, will be placing our future and the future of our children and grandchildren in "serious jeopardy."
Therefore, come election time this year, Liberians should put their differences aside to unite, and implore the recent Kenyan example, to ONCE AND FOR ALL, REMOVE Mr. Charlie and his partners from office. DON'T YOU AGREE?