It is a Palaver Hut, not a Court of Law
By J. Baitee Tubah
Unquestionably, the Internet has become the palaver hut for the discussion of all issues - local, national or international. Once in a while, I pause at an issue that deserves a little longer read, and perhaps a response.
Counselor Jones' rhetorical question of October 16, 2001 to which he devoted a few pages in answer fits the category that deserves a response. It did get a response from Mr. Smith and this is a reaction. Mr. Smith's reaction in defense of Senator Brumskine calls to question Counselor Jones' right to his question. Further, he sought for the evidence to support the Jones question. Another response in defense of Counselor Jones' right to question 'would-be' leaders was posted. This creates an interesting scenario.
I know that it is stating the obvious if I said that this is the second half of 2001. It is also not an oversimplification if I said that this age is routinely described as the 'information age'. The rational is that during this information age, any person seeking for public office will find it difficult, if not impossible, to shut the window on information and full public disclosure. I am amazed, truly, that a man apparently well educated and presumably successful in his field appears not to understand the difference between the evidence that is required to legitimize a question in a court of law (or to make an accusation in that arena), and the evidence needed to meet the minimum threshold in the public arena to question a 'would-be' leader's record and character.
Senator Brumskine, no doubt, has an extensive record in public service in Liberia. Longer records more often than not, increase the public desire to seek clarifications, or to request reassurances. Senator Brumskine cannot afford to have thin political skin if he intends to enter the ultimate public arena in Liberia. Personally, I see Counselor Jones' question as legitimate. The question begs an answer. It needs an answer. I have no reason to suspect that Counselor Jones had a hidden motive for his question. I think that Counselor Jones is an honorable man and I accept him as such just as I accept Senator Brumskine to be an honorable man.
For the sake of argument, however, let us assume that Counselor Jones had an ulterior motive for his question 'Is Brumskine the Right Presidential Material We Need?' If that were the case, I think that Senator Brumskine woefully failed the test of character and temperament. He lost a great opportunity to use the Jones question, notwithstanding Jones' intent, to expound on his (Brumskine's) record. Senator Brumskine should have used the opportunity to highlight the positive aspects (if any) of his record and to provide convincing answers that wet the appetite not only of Counselor Jones, but also all others who may be contemplating similar questions. He should have explained his record and his associations. The Senator should have recognized that in answering Counselor Jones' question, he was answering not only one man's rhetorical question, but also answering several thousand more likely questions from 'likely supporters?' The Senator may have even used the occasion to sway Counselor Jones to his (Brumsknie's) thinking. It may be far fetch, but a possibility nonetheless.
I was surprised that someone other than the Senator responded. Perhaps the Senator is a busy man to pen the response himself, but he should have seen to it that his record got a clearer explanation. To have someone attack the person who questioned the Senator's record is to imply that there is something to hide, something worth protecting from the public domain. Is there something that Senator Brumskine is trying to hide? Does this foreshadow the Senator's leadership style if he were successful in his effort to occupy the Liberian presidency? These questions somewhat come naturally. Remember, this is the information age.
I am definitely interested in the Senator's answers to the question raised by Counselor Jones. I think that gone are the days when those who ascended to Liberia's highest political office virtually became mini-deity in their own eyes and saw to it that that perception was enforced amongst the people. I believe that Senator Brumskine understands that those days are long past. That is why he, if he desires to run, needs to be prepared to answer questions such as the one under discussion and perhaps many more similar ones. He should not be surprised to find himself being asked repeatedly occasionally.
The beauty of the situation is that the public does not need an iron clad evidence to prompt a question not only to Senator Brumskine, but also to any other person contemplating a run for that office. This is not a court of law to require proof before sustaining a question. This is the palaver hut, the public domain, where any question goes. Your ability to answer effectively all questions, fair or unfair, is a mark of your character, temperament and leadership ability. The saying in Liberia is unambiguous; the kitchen is probably not the place to be if you are uncomfortable with the heat.
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