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I still believe in Miracles

These Dry Bones (Progressives) Will Rise Again
Ask me about the thing that drives everything that I do or say and I will be frank with you that it is my faith in God through Jesus Christ. Having being through many ups and downs and survived including the barbaric Liberian civil war, it is the resolve that the same Jesus who worked wonders for me yesterday can do the same again and again. Maybe taking Him for granted sometimes, I bask in the realization that the same God who does not falter or forget can sail me through even tougher challenges. This has been my strength, my coping strategy, my survival technique and defense mechanism often exhaled in a song I learned in Sunday school years back:

This same Jesus who was in Galilee
This same Jesus who walked upon the sea
This same Jesus by faith had made me whole
This same Jesus will still see me through

This was the song on my lips when rebels took me from a town in the Firestone area and forced me to carry their loads on the frontline near the highway of the Robertsfield International Airport where they were “cutting the supply lines of the enemies.” To and from the rebel destination, I sang the song again and again and was persuaded that I was not going to perish in yet another difficult situation. I was assured that I was covered and therefore the devil and all his forces could not do me harm. The part that really wowed my own imagination was when a villager who lived near the Du River volunteered to put me across the river in a canoe for free. Canoeing across was the only means of transport and only rebels had the luxury of being transported for free. I contemplated on faking to be a rebel to scare the villagers for a free ride but my body language could tell that I was scary civilian returning from hell. Anyway Jesus saw me through and the villager perhaps thinking I was a rebel returning from the war front offered to transport me across at no charge.

It was those same lines on my lips when once or twice I found myself surrounded by armed robbers commonly known as bandits in Abidjan, La Cote d’Ivoire and stopped by vigilante groups in Ogun State, Nigeria. In all those instances, miracles happened and my life was spared. At times when there was nothing to eat (not kidding-absolutely nothing to munch on,) only miracles came to my rescue. It was this same Jesus.

Once upon a time, a group of Liberian intellectuals and political activists known as the progressives emerged. These young and energetic men and women became the voice of a down trodden population of mainly indigenous Liberians whom the so-called pioneers who became the ruling class have under classed and dispossessed of their own rights and privileges. Their efforts were ongoing and came to the peak in the late 1970’s. Building on what their forerunners like David D. Coleman, Didhwo Twe, Nete Sieh Brownell, Tuan Wreh… have started, activists like Togba Nah Tipoteh, Gabriel Baccus Matthews, H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. and others have come to popularize the Progressive movement. Then a coup came which put an exclamation point to their fight, toppling a so-say-one, so-say-all government headed by Mr. Tolbert who was also a number two man in the Tubman oligarchy. Their efforts unmasked a century long tyranny and oppression by the minority ruling class. The support that greeted the bloody coup was overwhelming and the progressives having set the stage were the decorated heroes along with those non-commission soldiers who actually overthrew the government of Mr. Tolbert. When the one family domination came crumbling down, the nation sang in unison "our eyes are open."

But as anyone who expect, the honeymoon between the progressives and the coup leaders soon ended. One by one, they left or were forced out of the military government that we have all come to embrace as the people’s Redemption Council Government. They soon jumped back into familiar waters opposing the government with all their might and whim. Sooner or later, they have succeeded in exposing the ills of the Samuel Doe government even when it changed from military to be somehow democratic. The fact that Mr. Doe, the military leader turned politician stood in the elections and won (supposedly) made it even more suspicious and marred the first multiparty elections after 133 years of abuse as flawed and not good enough to work with. Little by little the tension built but the worst was yet to come.

As the enemy of my enemy is my friend, others whose intentions might have been under estimated if not devious joined forces with the progressives to work out a plan in “returning the country to democratic rule” that the progressives have long sought. Such plan took on many forms from the party headquarters and streets to rebel training camps. Coups – both real and schemed, invasions and murders came and went leaving behind the dead, wounded and exiled.

Then hell finally became to live with us on earth when over a decade long uncivil war which took the lives of an approximate quarter million of our own people including the sitting president began. The war was so brutal that people who once danced for the 1980 end of autocracy began to prefer the pre-Doe one party and one group dominance. As one pastor said, “because of the suffering, they preferred Egypt to the promises of the Promise Land.” The war did not only turn hearts against the activism of the progressives, like sheep without a shepherd, the progressives themselves all went scattered with a few actually taking up guns to kill, rape, and plunder as well. It was a messy situation that carrying guns or commentating atrocities like a soccer match became like fashion. Some of the progressives and their trainees were divided up among the war lords either as propagandists or foot soldiers on one side or the other. Few held to their guts to remain untainted but by then their names went stink in the noses of many who were tricked into believing that the progressives were responsible for all our troubles. The devil is truly the grand parent of all lies and deceit.

By the time the war ended, the morale of the progressives has waned if not dead. Their number dwindled as the political waves drove them from this side to that side trying to reclaim their identity. To make matter worse, the demography has changed but the progressives seemed not to realize that and saw no need for self re-introduction. The man Charles Taylor who emerged as the strongest warlord won a landslide victory in the rush-rush election that followed. Last minutes effort by the progressives to group themselves into an alliance against the largest rebel group proved useless as such alliance could not even hold in the face of the Taylor’s popularity and intimidation. The youths most of whom had been drugged to fight for Mr. Taylor and his NPFL knew no one except their lord Mr. Taylor whom they saw as their father and therefore referred to as “pahpay.” That was the beginning of more disintegration of the progressives.

The reign of Mr. Charles Terror Taylor pushed the country more and more towards the-strong-shall-survive society. Ruthlessness had paid off and Mr. Taylor was not letting go. He muzzled everyone and even bullied his neighbors. He pinned the remnant progressives to the ground and continued his war time campaign against them forcing still some of them into compliance. Bit by bit their number thinned.

The fragmentations continued through the 2005 elections resulting into multiple breakaways or carpet crossing to other parties and the formation of other neo-progressive movements. Neither the parties of their progressives nor their breakaway groups were significant factors in both 1987 and 2005 elections. They all lost miserably. With the first democratically elected female president well positioned to revive and recoup a war battered country, the Progressives seem to be without a message, vision and the strength to make any meaningful impact.

To make matter more complicated, the birth of Mr. George Weah on the political scene is driving them to the edge. Will Weah embrace the progressive and be infected with the same progressive diagnosis? Conversely, will the progressives join the Weah yo-yo train as a possible fourth quarter strategy? Or will these progressives whom have grown to oppose only the ruling class now begin fighting at two fronts? Will anyone listen to them?

Like the valley of dry bones that Ezekiel saw, these remnants of progressives are conspicuously scattered throughout the Liberian political landscape with no skin on them or juice left in them. As all hopes of a progressive comeback dissipate, the song "This same Jesus" which danced on my lips and ferried me across many hopeless and dangerous situations has returned.

This same Jesus who was in Galilee
This same Jesus who walked upon the sea
This same Jesus by faith had made me whole
This same Jesus will still see me through

I still believe in miracles even in this precarious situation when all hope is lost. With miracles, even this Progressive movement of Liberia which for now appears like scattered and forgotten dry bones will live again. And that is why I am not afraid to declare,

These same progressives battered and tossed about
These same progressives dry, scattered and almost forgotten
These same progressives once showed us the way
I know these same progressives will still thrive again

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