A rosy picture of life at home
By Abdoulaye W. Dukule
A few people have recently written and wondered if we could find something interesting and positive to write about the country instead of the continuous negative reporting. They think we need to show the beautiful things that made the country so dear to all of us. In their mind, we need to go beyond the ills of the administration and focus our attention on the simple things that keep us together as a country. There are those who think that discussions of the national politics go beyond the personality of the head of state and that criticism should be directed to people around him.
The government press has accused us of being communist propagandists, supporters of LURD or opposition political leaders, when not on the payroll of some international power trying to undermine our fragile political system. Just last week, we were said to be working for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. None of that is true. As we said here before, many who write here have never met in life and belong to different political beliefs. What we share is our common concern about things at home and the tendency for some to take things for granted.
There is much to be said about the natural beauty of our country. There is much to be said about the need to nurture and strengthen the peace we have achieved after so many years of mayhem and deception. There is much to be said about the good nature of our people, who are able to forgive anything and move on. There is much to be said of a culture and a nation that are still in the making. Ours is a nation made of many colors and bits, a fragile configuration that need to be held together.
We are not about pointing to every small mistake the government makes. We are well aware of the fact that after ten years of military dictatorship, seven years of a deadly war that brought to the surface the worst in us, as a people. For years, we had to live with the lies and violence of the military. We swallow our pride when people start to act irrationally with our lives, starting back in 1979, when armed violence entered our politics. Maybe we should have blamed Mr. Tubman for his policies but now many regret his ways. May be people should have stood up to Mr. Tolbert and told him that Liberia in 1979 was no longer the same as it was when he became Vice-president. But he was left to ride higher and higher until he turned up in a mass grave. People watched Samuel Doe make a mockery of everything that is dear to us as a people, but we sat, and let him get away with it. When his downfall started, many were joyous. But his fall did not bring joy nor celebration but to a small handful of people.
Now, we are all here, in this country, living like refugees, and every day sending money at home, trying to bring here more and more people because life at home has become unbearable, except for a very few. We are not attacking personalities and we rarely use names of people except to make a point. There is much room for change and giving that little bit of breathing space to the people of Liberia would take nothing from the government.
Yes, at times we called the President by his name. Some may say that he is not responsible for everything. That may be true. But he has the ability to instill changes where its due. That's why he was "elected." The people of Liberia did not elect Benoni Urey, Cyril Allen, Paul Mulbah, and many others. Liberians elected Mr. Taylor because he said he had a vision. He was given the presidency because he said he could bring peace and democracy to a country traumatized by 150 years of class domination and 10 years of violent military rule. When a man fails to keep his promise, he must be reminded. We cannot sit, fold our arms and say: "someday, he will change." Should we let Mr. Taylor continue to believe that he and his entourage are doing the right thing for the country? Should we tell him now that there is a need to change and adopt policies that would steer us away from and out of the cycle of violence?
We criticize Mr. Taylor because we want him to do good for the country. We criticize because we believe that Liberia deserves better than what we have now. We are not the only country that had a civil war. And because we had a civil war, we believe that the task of reconstruction coupled with a strong advocacy for national reconciliation should have been the priorities. Why aren't people rushing home? Why is it that many who returned home went back into exile?
We write about positive things, maybe not in the way some people expect us. We are not anti-Taylor, as we always said. We are opposed to political violence, we are opposed to corruption and we are opposed to the One-man Reign that plagued the country's history in the last decades. Those who support Mr. Taylor and would like to see him being reelected must work to make him change things around him. There will always be criticism of government, no matter how good it is. That is not the case here. People talk to people everyday in Monrovia. We all know what it is going on. The Perspective is not advocating anything but what we consider the most basic improvements in our political, economic and social life. It is a minimum and it can be done.
We don't believe Mr. Taylor created single handily all the corruption, violence and governance problems in our country. But it is his responsibility and duty to try to chart a new course. That's why he was elected.
Sorry, if we can't write about the beautiful beaches and reminiscent about the past, when we still have a future. We must not all give up and pretend it will pass. It may not. We must all work for change and in doing so, we must accept and respect all views and approaches. We don't know it all. But we see what is wrong. So do many.