23 January 2013

Liberia: 'Human Beings Are Not Good'


Indeed if human beings were good, the coup that overthrew William R Tolbert Jr., ex-President of Liberia, and the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana; the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and former President Charles Taylor's dramatic journey to the Hague would not have happened.

The caption "human beings are not good" is drawn from Professor Jones Doupoe's tale. Prof. Doupoe lectures English at the University of Liberia. He explains in a story that once upon a time there was a feast in a town that was located beneath a mountain, and a dwarf came and joined the feast. This dwarf enjoyed the feast so much that he forgot to return. The dwarf awoke up and found himself in the hands of some angry people.

"This dwarf has been stealing our chickens and meat from our traps all of the time. let us kill him." An elderly man said, "do not kill the dwarf, take him to the town chief and try to find out why he is here, and if the accusations made against him are true."

The chief asked the dwarf, "You look like human being? Why are you here?"

"Don't compare me to human beings. Human beings are not good," the dwarf angrily sounded. "How good are they?" He explained that even Jesus Christ, the savior of the world who made the blinds to see, the lames to walk, the dead to rise was betrayed, denied and crucified by the same people he came to redeem. He then questioned about "What good did they do for him (Jesus)?"

The nature of human beings is engulfed by misconception, deception, and dishonesty. In the midst of these, some human beings treat leaders with disfavor, dishonor, and disrepute.

In view of the above, many people often make the conclusion that human beings are not dependable in their dealings. They are like water that appears calm on its surface, but under it there are many things happening. It is often said that "The smoke that comes out from a house appears uniform but contains many uneven happenings in that house."

This is why many people are intrigued over what on planet earth that can justify the coup that toppled Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, a man who did so much for the Ghanaian. Today his visions for the same people who ousted him out of office are bearing fruits.

When Nkrumah declared Ghana's independence at 12 AM, on March 6, 1957, he was hailed as "Osagyefo" - which means "redeemer" in the Twi Language

Among President Nkrumah's remarkable achievements include attempts to rapidly industrialize Ghana's economy so that it escapes the exploitative colonial trade system, by reducing dependence on foreign capital, technology, and materials goods.

Nkrumah's policies made Ghana truly independent. After being toppled from power, many of the economic projects he initiated became unsuccessful, and its benefits were delayed.

Nkrumah's advocated for industrial development at any cost; and with the help of his long time friend and Minister of Finance, Komla Agbeli Gbema, he spearheaded the construction of the Akosombo Dam hydroelectric power plant, which is located on the Volta River in Eastern Ghana.

American companies that agreed to build the dam presented the conditions that they will take charge of its management until the amount used to construct it are repaid out of the sale of the power generated.

But Nkrumah objected to these terms

Nkrumah therefore decided to borrow money to build the dam, something that placed Ghana in heavy debts. To repay the debts, he resorted to raising taxes on the cocoa farmers in the south. This accentuated regional differences and jealousy.

To this day the Akosombo Dam is one of Ghana's major sources of revenue, as it supplies electric current to other West Africa countries such as the Ivory Coast.

In view of his rich legacy, Nkrumah is one of the most respected leaders in Africa's history. In 2000, he was voted Africa's man of the millennium by listeners to the BBC World service. Earlier in 1963, he won the Lenin Peace Prize offered by the Soviet Union. That same year, he became a chartered member of the Organization of African Unity.

This illustrious son of Africa, a revolutionary and a liberator, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah was ousted out of office in February 1966, while on a state visit to North Vietnam and China, by the military police of Ghana, backed by the American CIA. The overthrow of Nkrumah left an indelible mark on Ghana, Africa, and the world at large.

The Gold Coast had been among the wealthiest and most socially advanced areas in Africa, with schools, railways, hospitals, social security and an advanced economy. Under Nkrumah's leadership, Ghana adopted some socialist policies and practices, Nkrumah created a welfare system, started various community programs, and established schools.

Nkrumah took a non-aligned Marxist perspective on economics, and believed capitalism had malignant effects that were going to stay with Africa for a long time.

Although he was clear on distancing himself from the African socialism of many of his contemporaries; Nkrumah argued that socialism was the system that would best accommodate the changes that capitalism had brought, while still respecting African values.

He specifically addressed these issues and his politics in a 1967 essay entitled "African Socialism Revisited"

Billboard in Zambia with Nkrumah's Non-Alignment States: "WE FACE NEITHER EAST NOR WEST; WE FACE FORWARD."

Nkrumah was best known politically for his strong commitment to the promotion of Pan-Africanism. Having been inspired by the writings and his relationships with black intellectuals like Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Du Bois, and George Padmore and his biggest success comes with his significant influence in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

In Liberia, the justification of the coup that dethroned the slain President, William R Tolbert, is still a million-dollar question that researchers are gathering data to ascertain.

Pres. Tolbert, was a true Messiah whose life was terminated at the peak of his mission, who called the youth of Liberia his 'precious jewels'. Some Liberians view that his affinity to and relationship with native Liberians caused his kinsmen to alienate him.

President Tolbert's philosophy was pluralistic democracy, based on tolerance and the avoidance of political arm-twisting. In a book written about him by Robert A. Smith entitled, William R Tolbert, a political portrait, Robert A. Smith called Tolbert's political philosophy as "Liberal Progressive Nationalism." Tolbert himself preferred to call his philosophy as "Total Involvement for Higher Heights," a policy that was geared towards creating "A wholesome functioning society in Liberia."

It was in line with his political philosophy that Tolbert permitted the activities of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) and the Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA), much to the annoyance of the ruling Party at that time, the True Whig Party (TWP). This liberal decision could never have been permitted by his predecessor, President Tubman.

Robert A. Smith wrote "The new society as envisaged by Tolbert, would be a place where all would learn to appreciate the value of productive labor, a land where development will not be out of distance by growth; and where everyone could work responsibly and honestly to serve not as masters, but as servants of the state to earn and merit respect based on loyalty and selfless performance."

President Tolbert spoke against the lazy and complacent attitudes of Liberians. He exposed and dismissed corrupt government officials.

President Tolbert wanted justice for all, and that was an extreme risk and adventure for him, in a society that had known justice only for the elite. He hanged murderers from all angles and dismissed elite circle, he was blamed for being too liberal and lenient with natives. His kinsmen blamed him for the Rice Riot and the Coup of 1980.

It was said that when his brother, the pro-tempore of the deposed Liberian senate was interrogated by the then military tribunal of the defunct PRC led by Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe, Frank in a lamenting voice said "I don't blamed these country-boys; I blamed Willie."

It can truly be said that President Tolbert permitted the opening of the door for the pluralistic democracy we enjoy today.

As a Pan African activist, President Tolbert affectionately called Willie, subscribed to the liberation fever of the 1960's and 70's. He supported the struggles for the liberation of apartheid South Africa, the independence of Namibia, Angola, Zimbabwe, Sao Tome and Principe and Many others. Leaders like Julius Nyerere, Samora Machel, Joshua Nkomo, and many others received moral support from his regime,

Dr. Tolbert was instrumental in the formation of the Mano River Union and ECOWAS as well as stood behind Africa on her Non-Alliance Stance.

Dr. Tolbert brought many companies, Multinational Corporations, and Banks to Liberia (LAMCO, LAC, ITC BANK, ETC.). During his regime, Liberia's economic growth (GDP) statistics was said to be second to only Japan. Logical conclusion will then hold that it was President Tolbert's economic system and policy that contributed to that status.

His economic policies and plans expanded Liberia's agriculture programs: "county Agriculture Development Programmes were launched such as the Nimba County Agricultural Development Programs (NCADP), the Bong County Agricultural Development Program (BCADP) and the Lofa County Agricultural Development Program (LCADP) funded by government and foreign aid.

Under the program, Liberia became a major cocoa and coffee grower and exporter, thus creating local employment and fostering economic growth. Other agricultural programs include the Partnership for Productivity (PFP) in Nimba, a project that was funded by the US Government. It served as a major source of income for the local dwellers in communities where they were operating.

The regime instituted the farm-to-market road program to enable farmers take their produce to the nearest markets. Through these programs, Lofa, Nimba, and Bong Counties became known as Liberia's bread basket counties.

It was the Tolbert regime that expanded the services of the Public Utilities Authority (PUA) which later became known as the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) and the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC). It was President Tolbert who also created the National Housing Authority (NHA), a public corporation that built many housing estates for the middle and low income people in Monrovia. Electricity and pipe borne water was so much easily available that every mud, zinc and mat hut in Liberia benefited.

The General Serviced Agency (GSA) and the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) were all creations of President Tolbert.

The health delivery system was also improved; more clinics were built in remote areas. Education expanded and improved greatly between 1973 and 1980. The "Multilateral High Schools were built in Lofa, Margibi and Grand Gedeh Counties, vocational schools then followed the trend. One of such is the Kwedin Vocational Training Center which was built in the forest region of lower Nimba County near the border with Rivercess County.

Indeed Liberia was moving from "mats to mattresses" in a "wholesome functioning society." With all these developments that unfolded during the Tolbert era, one may then amazingly ask, what then necessitated the 1980 coup that toppled President Tolbert?

In spite of his liberal political philosophy that witnessed the emergence and tolerance towards political groups against the then political order, and in spite of his deliverable economic policy which placed Liberia on the road to economic growth, Tolbert was brutally slaughtered and buried in a barbaric manner. Did the nation's hero such as Willie merit such death and burial?

In a similar vein there are many in the world who are wondering that if any leader in the world has been left in the cold, deserted, marginalized, disgraced and stigmatized, that leader should be former president Charles Taylor of Liberia. The Liberian ex-president that is now serving 50 years life sentence for war crimes committed during the rebel war against Sierra Leone, a neighboring country.

At the onset of the civil war in Liberia in 1990, the leader of the rebel movement, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) former General Services Agency (GSA) boss in Samuel K. Doe led Government, Charles Taylor was hailed as the liberator and a revolutionary who took up arms to free his people from the hands of the unpopular and dictatorial regime of the late Samuel K Doe.

The Charles Taylor led uprising spread like a dry bush forest fire, because President Samuel K. Doe's mal-governance, abuses of public office and dictatorial tendencies. There were 32 coups and two invasions of Liberia during his ten years in power, indicating that his government was unpopular.

Taylor's popularity increased, as the old folks refer to him as the best "tailor" that will give them the desired fashions; fighters of the NPFL sang songs praising his name, "anybody who doesn't want Taylor we'll treat you like a dog, oh Taylor our leader, oh Taylor our man." This same previously popular Taylor who led the fastest and most publicized rebel movement in Africa was later betrayed, and abandoned by his colleagues and soldiers. He was turned over to the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone sitting in the Hague.

There is a wise saying that if you are asked to kill the person you considered as an enemy, you will be killing the best friend of others. Human being must know that the leadership of a group or nation is designated only to one person at a time. We need to hold every leader in high esteem.

Absolutely there is nobody including you to rule to the wishes of all. Stop blaming one another; learn to build on what other leaders have done. The city of Rome was not built in one day and by one man.

Even all of what one does today as a family head will not be accepted by his own children, what about leading a nation?

Present leaders should stop the blame game. Improve on what your predecessors have done, you too will not leave the leadership stage without blame.

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