Liberia: The Carter Center Should Just Leave Liberia Alone

opinion

There is little public knowledge about a 2011 study conducted by a small research team of graduate students from the Columbia University in New York, who had been assigned to carry out research on the impact of a massive influx of foreign capital into natural resource extraction in Liberia.

But one of such research students, Ashoka Mukpo, author of the article "The tyranny of good intentions" has lifted the curtain on the report of their findings that was submitted to the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) of the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL), Ellen Løj.

Author Ashoka Mukpo reveals that the SRSG pleaded with them to keep the report under wraps, fearing that its release to the public at a time when elections were just in sight "might have been used by the local press to force Sirleaf to answer tough questions about the impact of her economic policies."

Author Mukpo further observed that the blue print for post conflict reconstruction in Liberia was prepared in foreign capitals and it was structured on a model which called for auctioning off the country's land and natural resources and virtually turning the country into a one-dimensional rentier state, hoping that somehow a vibrant domestic sector would emerge out of a rather misty picture.

As the evidence shows, those policy prescriptions have miserably failed. According to Mukpo, the effects of those policies could be readily seen and felt. Their report outlined that education and agriculture remained largely dysfunctional. It also highlighted the bloody riots at the palm oil plantations and the clashes between security forces and villagers, whilst only a tiny fraction of the jobs and social services promised ever materialize.

The point made by the authors of the report was that, after 15 years of massive aid and direct foreign investment, Liberia appears no closer to achieving development than it was yesterday; that their condescending approach to aid and development assistance smacked of what is referred to as "white saviorism", by and large shaped and guided the country's post-war economic strategy and played an outsized role in its present trajectory.

Mukpo rightly notes, "structural disadvantages in countries like Liberia make disbursal of aid a life-or-death matter for people and the form it takes can shape politics, sideline or empower talented reformers, and exert far-reaching influence on the lives of those it affects".

It is within this context that this newspaper views the new "policy prescriptions" recently put out by the Carter

Center calling for changes in the country's nationality or citizenship laws, land ownership for non-negroes and respect for gay rights, whatever such is interpreted to mean.

The first point to be noted is that Liberia is not a vassal state limping along at the whims of foreign benefactors, although the conduct of our leaders do tend to suggest. Such was the case of post conflict national leadership under former President Sirleaf who actually believed in and bought into tailor made foreign policy prescriptions be it from the United Nations, United States of America or wherever.

The history and founding of Liberia is and must be contextually placed in the experience of the middle passage and the severe dehumanization and assaults on their dignity under slavery in America. The inclusion of provisions in the 1986 Liberian Constitution restricting land ownership and citizenship to people of "Negro" descent reflects the thinking and sentiments of Liberians at the time and can rightly be contextualized within the experience of extensive foreign domination of our economy.

Attempts to change those provisions of the Constitution during the 2011 elections failed as well as the absolute majority requirement for election to public office, although they had been vigorously supported by then President Sirleaf. The virtual auctioning of land and natural resources on the cheap to greedy foreign corporate interests under her watch have invariably served to heighten fears of alienation of local communities from their ancestral lands and served to further entrench and deepened opposition to the abolition or amendment of those provisions.

As regards its call for gay rights, this newspaper holds the view that matters involving the conduct of sexual behavior between two consenting adults in the privacy of their shared space are a matter that cannot and should not be legislated. This newspaper however frowns on the discrimination of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation.

This newspaper however notes that homosexuality is as old as the human race and effeminate men as well as manly women and hermaphrodites have existed in all societies since the beginning of time, although some claim homosexuality is an imperial import alien to traditional African culture. Suffice it to say various societies and cultures around the world have all evolved their own ways of dealing or coming to terms with it.

In Liberian history, there have been examples of individuals both male and female who, though well known for their sexual orientation had attained heights in society and did not face discrimination or hate on account of their sexual orientation.

The point here is that nowhere is it recorded in human history where homosexuality has supplanted heterosexual behavior to the point where it undermines the ability of societies to perpetuate themselves through procreation. And procreation can be sustained only through heterosexual behavior. Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth is recorded as a command from God to mankind to indulge in sustain heterosexual behavior and practices lest mankind be wiped off the face of the earth.

In this respect Liberians certainly do not require obeisance to Carter Center diktat to shape its conduct of public policy. As Mukpo right notes, "Structural disadvantages in countries like Liberia make disbursal of aid a life-or-death matter for people and the form it takes can shape politics, sideline or empower talented reformers, and exert far-reaching influence on the lives of those it affects".

In the opinion of most well-meaning Liberians, this country would have fared better had the US government under the watch of President Carter not approved the violent overthrow of President Tolbert. It is about time President Carter and his Carter Center come clean on the dumping of his fellow Baptist President Tolbert in 1980 which opened the stables to violent regime change in Liberia. Simply put, "White Saviorism" is detestable. The Carter Center should just leave Liberia alone.

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