21 May 2019

Liberia: In the Cause of the People...

The Portuguese phrase Aluta continua was the rallying cry of the FRELIMO movement during Mozambique's war for independence. However, in Liberia, the phrase was expanded. "In the cause of the people, the struggle continues... '

Because, as it is, the struggle, is actually about the people, or, should be. Mozambique's' Independence leader, the beloved Samora Machel often used it to cultivate popular support against the colonists. In Liberia, the term is closely credited to G. Bacchus Matthews, a former political activist and a man posthumously referred to as the father of multi-party Democracy in Liberia. In Liberia, history has shown the perennial state of the struggle, perhaps not redefining itself or shifting to varying heights. The use of Populism has often put the people against those accused of plundering the state, withholding political power or sometimes, even themselves. Sometimes, being genuinely privileged is a badge one has to ignore if seeking political power as a show of affinity with the 'people'. Being 'rich' could be dangerous, sometimes.

Many have risen to power and political prominence by simply blackmailing those in power, not with authenticity of cause, but riding on the people as a donkey to the gates of power, fame, wealth and all its perks. The people themselves, often clueless of what the struggle is about, become willing accomplices, escorting their suppressors to power, using fist, insurmountable vigilance and surety.

Liberia's history has seen the rise of demagogues, con-artists, murderers, etc., who have mastered the chord that strikes the soul of the people to act. In the late 1970's history witnessed the rise of activists who tried to wrestle the people from the hands of the True Wing Party and one of Africa's most entrenched oligarchies. Rightly so, there was a need for economic parity, broad based political inclusion and social justice. Details of these disparities are embedded in the complicated formation of the Liberian nation, style of governance, history of the slave trade, education, etc.

However, by 1980, the walls of TWP appeared to be falling apart with a rise of new breed of political elitism -- plunderers who, together, as if playing a role in a film, decided to systematically strangulate the poor through massive corruption, abuse of human rights, poor governance and, in some cases, extreme political incompetence. The fall back of many undercurrents from unanswered questions from the founding of the state and the aftereffects of the 1980 coup d'etat, brought the towers down in December of 1989 -- the Liberian civil war.

In my experience and reading of History, the Liberian political class since 1980 had never amalgamated forces during elections, so as to form a common front in their pursuit of liberty and in the interest of the people. Political campaigns have seen some of the most bizarre alignments and dangerous bedfellows. A senior member of a political party could switch sides in seconds and denigrate members of his former party -- a logic I find mind boggling. Were they lured by ideologies or personal objectives? If the people were the ultimate denominator as they're meant to believe, why don't they count during elections? Perhaps, the most ideal time for political alignment in the name of the people is during elections. Holding different political views is a beauty in the spirit of Democracy. However, when it becomes inevitable that those views become subordinated in the interest of the people at critical junctions, it's prudent that political leaders would oblige.

In the elections of 1985, given President Samuel Doe's NDPL (National Democratic Party of Liberia), Jackson F. Doe's LAP (Liberia Action Party), William G. Kpoleh's LUP (Liberia Unification Party) and Edward B. Kessely UP (Unity Party), one could surmise that perhaps an earlier amalgamation of Political parties would have proved stronger against the incumbent Samuel Doe and his NDPL.

The 1985 post-election 'unity' by three parties under the name 'Grand Coalition' to contest election irregularities didn't command the legitimacy required and positioned the losers as 'angry'.

Subsequent election history in Liberia would mimic similar occurrences, i.e. {1997, 2011 and 2017}.

If the struggle is about the people, then the people should matter at all times and in every decision making by those seeking power, those in power, or the like. When the struggle is about parochial political interests, then our decisions crumble under the test of selflessness. Unfortunately, the name of the people is invoked to lend legitimacy to a cause hugely bent on a tiny mindset of self-aggrandizement.

President William R. Tolbert, Jr cited that the enemies of the state remain 'Disease, Ignorance and Poverty.' I, too, believe that these remain the vices that we have to confront together, with every iota of strength, vigor and will. The struggle is not about us fighting each other, or the wrestle of power from one group to another. It's about using the tenets of politics and statecraft to heal the nation of Disease, Ignorance and Poverty.

About 172 years later, since the founding of the Liberian nation, the struggle persists -- staring at us to annihilate us. God forbid!

To quote President Harry S. Truman, "It's amazing how much we can achieve, if we don't care who gets the credit." Perhaps, we just shouldn't care.

Aluta!

Lekpele M. Nyamalon is a Poet, Author, Inspirational Speaker, OSIWA Poetry fellow and a Mandela Washington Fellow. He is the Author of the Book: 'Scary Dreams', An Anthology of the Liberian Civil War. He can be reached at [email protected].

Liberia

Govt, June 7 Protest Organisers Engaged in Hate Messages - Report

The Alliance Monitoring Mission (AMM), an arm of the Alliance for Transitional Justice (ATJ), a human rights group that… Read more »

See What Everyone is Watching

Copyright © 2019 Liberian Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.