Liberia: Dumb and Dumbest - the Comedy of Liberia's Continuing Political Tragedy

opinion

In Liberia a power struggle brews between two of the country's most egotistic men. One of them is currently the country's president and a buffoon of the lowest quality who is probably the dumbest person to become president in the history of the world, while the other is a populist, loud mouth radio personality who has been known to wheel and deal with anyone for a buck.

How the Liberian state was able to descend this low is something that can only be understood if the country's history is looked at in its truest context.

In 1821 some blacks who were gathered mostly from plantations around the United States were put on a ship headed for the shores of Africa. The people on that ship had been promised a one-way passage from the United States in exchange for their freedom.

The plan to remove blacks from the United States had been conceived a few years before under the guise of philanthropy and serving Christianity, but the reality was that it was actually in response to repeated uprisings of the slave population in the southern states of the United States. Those revolts had led to the deaths of many whites who were increasingly the minority in many slave areas.

In January 1817 a meeting was hosted in the AME Bethel Church in Philadelphia. The intention of the meeting was to encourage blacks to move en masse to the African continent in furtherance of the resettlement plan of the American Colonization society. The 3000 men gathered in the church gave a resounding no answer to the proposal.

That no answer therefore meant that black people who were living free and had a level of sophistication and perhaps knew something about governance refused to join the resettlement program. As a result, the people who were eventually brought back where those with little or no education and certainly no understanding of how a government should function.

So mostly figuratively blind illiterates were taken from the United States and settled on the shores that came to be known as Liberia. They were made to think that they were better than those they met. They instituted a system of apartheid and transplanted the plantation system of governance they knew.

That smallminded plantation mentality has lived with Liberia since those early days. It was therefore with little surprise when Mr. George Weah got involved in politics in 2004 and consistently remained a serious contender until he was voted into office in 2017.

Mr. Weah epitomizes those figuratively blind illiterates that were dumped on our shores 200 years ago. They thought that running a plantation was not such a difficult thing, hence running a country will be a piece of cake. Mr. Weah also thinks similarly - that running a country is all about giving orders which is an easy feat for anyone.

It is that way of thinking that has helped Mr. Weah to destroy a relatively functioning economy in so short a time. Even after the economic situation has gotten progressively worse under his leadership, he still does not realize that someone as intellectually disadvantaged as him has one of three choices when given leadership: 1) you surround yourself with people far smarter than you who you would give a free reign to act, 2) put in the extra effort and learn what statecraft entails; 3) do not do one and two and rely on your ignorance as your strength and surround yourself with sycophant.

Sadly, Mr. Weah chose the third option and is therefore moving with supersonic speed towards destruction. He succeeded in destroying the country's economy within six months of ascending to power. Interestingly, he is self-deluded into thinking, as he has repeatedly claimed, that he is the best president Liberia has had in a hundred years. The man's self-delusion is simply astounding.

The Liberian people's realization that Mr. Weah was a mistake, has not led them to learn any lessons. They have trooped in droves to Mr. Weah's archnemesis, a trickster called Henry Costa. Mr. Costa came to prominence some years ago when he burst on the scene as a vitriolic critic of the kleptocratic government of Mrs. Ellen Sirleaf.

While Mr. Costa is relatively well read when compared to the average educated Liberian, it is not hard to see that he is actually a dumb person who has no circumspection. You only have to listen to the fellow doing his radio show to realize that he is a walking time bomb, who because of his relative sophistication is perhaps more dangerous that Mr. Weah who is clearly not up to the task of leadership.

Henry Costa is a fickle, narrowminded, smallminded person who thinks that the world revolves around him. The fellow runs a radio show that has no structure and is usually very superficial on content. He is prone to be discussing one thing and jump to another with no warning. He is easily distracted and acts child-like most times.

In 1994 a comedy movie was released in the United States. It was called Dumb and Dumber, starring Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels. The two were dimwits in the movie who decided to drive across the US to return a case they did not know contained ransom money.

In the tragic situation of Liberia, which is definitely not a comedy, we have two men who are clearly dumb (Costa) and dumbest (Weah). Both are tussling over a country though they have very little understanding of what to do to move it forward.

While Henry Costa has a bit more intellectual finesse about him which makes him say some logical things about the running of a state, Mr. Weah has absolutely no clue on how to run a state and sadly he has no intention of learning the rudiments of the workings of a state.

Liberia is at a very sad place. The country needs to be rescued. Serious and well learned people have to step up so that the country can move from having the option of dumb and dumbest as the alternatives it must currently choose from.

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