Judging What is Normal

Kollie, a NPFL rebel who forced us to carry his loots during one of their attacks on Monrovia told us that he saw nothing wrong with looting. In other words, this was normal. His analysis was that the wealthy few had been sitting on their riches for so long; as a result, the war had come to ensure the even distribution of the nation’s resources. Looting, he said was a sure way for those downtrodden to take back what had been denied them for years.

During the NPFL 1992 attacks on Monrovia known as the infamous Octopus, rape and the sodomizing of our female population was rampant but the fighters thought that was normal to do. Many of them never saw anything wrong with their acts, after all since the girl did not fight and scream during the sexual encounter, such was consensual. At the Aludura Church yard where I briefly sought refuge, when the head of the church referred to as Father questioned a rebel soldier why he was abducting a female displaced occupant, he said “no bamboo will break on her, I promise.” Out of sincerity, the rebel never thought of his act as wrong. Killing the girl after the sexual act was the only wrong that he saw which he swore against. As the girls returned to the church yard at early mornings after spending the night with the rebel fighters, they came with rice, beans or anything that the rebels would give. Most of them saw their acts as protecting their prey against other violent rebel fighters who may not be so kind to give them some food after the encounter.

Another rebel fighter named Jimmy, a fellow whom I grew up with never saw anything wrong with going to Duala to loot his sister’s shop. He maintained that it was only wise for him to do so because if he did not, some one else was going to loot it anyway. In Jimmy’s view, his sister would be at ease if she learned that her brother benefited from her sweat instead of other rebel fighters.

I wonder how we easily forget. Few years ago Mrs. Sirleaf, then NPFL Iron Lady issued a command to level the country. Using Monrovia as a symbol of how the power crazed general wanted the country and our people destroyed, she spoke on BBC “level Monrovia and we will rebuild it.” To many of her supporters, it was a fair call, I mean that was normal because anyone who wanted “dictator” Samuel Doe removed from power would have given the same orders. In other words, there was nothing wrong with her call to massive destruction of lives and properties. The order was executed and there we are today with a “leveled” country. Evidently, outpouring donor contributions and debts relief had done little or nothing to resuscitate the “leveled” state of what we use to call our sweet land of liberty.

This is why I am not freaked out if someone including the country’s Solicitor General sees nothing wrong with disgraced minister Willis Knuckles’ act of sodomizing a chain of girls one of whom looks so young to be his grand daughter. In the views of Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe and the leadership of the ruling party, this is not abnormal. Like rebel fighters Kollie, Jimmy and others who justified their actions, they see no law that outlawed such behavior. If two girls in Knuckles chain is considered normal to these gentlemen and some women, who knows how many ladies are in other sex chains that they know about! Who knows how many others in powerful positions are engaging in sexual exploitations so much so that other powerful government officials see it as a norm? I am also not optimistic about the president taking a strong stance against Mr. Knuckles. When her infamous command to level the country was carried out, not only were infrastructures flattened and lives wasted; consciences, dignities, self worth…of those who remained alive got “leveled” as well. It should therefore be of no surprise that those who think today that Knuckles’ act is normal may be doing so out of a “flattened” conscience and ‘leveled’ image of us as a people.

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