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The Evil that Liberians do to Liberians

History does not get rotten neither does any deed, good or evil, go unrewarded. From the time the cornerstones of Liberia were laid till now, there are things Liberians have done to other Liberians either in the pursuit of political power, wealth and revenge or in the form of reaction to abuse of power, over-reach and gluttony. In the case of resistance to abuses and other forms of inhumanity, whether with equal force or not, no evil goes unpunished. Whether in the process of returning fire with fire or leaving no options off the table in pursuit of personal goals, the willful and calculated destruction of lives is wrong, unwarranted and a calamity. Justified or not, those who destroy lives must take personal responsibilities for their actions and embrace the reality that there is a price tag associated that they got to pay at some point.
Liberian killing Liberian

My goal for this article is simple: to help us reflect on the never ending cycle of evil and relent. It is not intended to blame anyone or group for our troubles. What has happened has happened and there is just no way to undo our past. But we can heal when we take the appropriate steps to reconcile.  The thought came to me when I read an extended exchange between Messrs Gonpu Rogers and Omari Jackson. See excerpts at the bottom of page. Read from bottom up to get the background.

Our history is replete with the wanton destruction of human lives from the days pre-dating the settling of the freed slaves to the decades of 90’s and beyond when human life became so cheap to the point that rebel soldiers likened the stench of corpses to that of perfume and other fragrances. It is a pity that Liberians will shoot other Liberians at point blank ranges, tie up and cut off the ears and limbs of fellow citizens or rape someone twice their age, burn down entire villages, bury innocent living babies or feed them to wild animals and then expect to go scar free. Or by some magic rebirth, everyone should just forget about those heinous crimes and pretend that nothing ever happened. How silly!

Whether for power or glory or just to push back, those who killed or vented all kinds of evil against their fellow human beings must be ready to take the punishment whether physical, psychological or spiritual  and never think that nobody is ever going to talk about their actions. It is absurd to think that victims or survivors of such untold cruelty or their kins will just forget and start being buddy-buddy again with those who hurt them so badly.

Let’s take some of the major actors in the Liberian civil war for instance: the Congos, Krahns, Mandingos and the Manos and Gios. While others may argue that the Liberian war was purely political, it is undeniable that it took deep tribal dimensions. For example, the Congo regime was overthrown by a Krahn led PRC. Members of the Congo tribe were specifically targeted and fourteen of their top leaders including the sitting president killed. Then the Congos regrouped, mobilized, and through some of their deep pocket donors and one of their own who became a fugitive launched a brutal civil war that even spilled to neighboring countries. Prior to that time, relations between the Krahns on one end and the Mano and Gios on the other hand had soured. According to president Doe, a Krahn, several attempts were made on his life by the Mano and Gios. Notable among them were the Nimba Raid and the 1985 invasion led by Gen Thomas Quiwonkpa, a Gio. The bloodletting and secret killings against the Gios and Manos that greeted those two incidents were unimaginable.

Mano and Gios fled across the border in droves and became willing recruits of a crafty and charismatic Congo man name Charles Taylor who too, backed by his Congo tribe was on a mission to revenge the overthrow of the Tolbert government through his National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). He did not need to pay the Mano and Gios or promise them the World to get them to put their lives on the line. All he needed to do was to only tell them that they all had the same aspiration – overthrow the Doe’s government. As long as killing of a Krahn became like a trophy, the Mano and Gios who were already in a fight with the Doe regime were willing to go along. Liberia became a killing field and not even the international community could stop it.

Then came the Mandingo factor. Whatever had been the beef between the Mandingoes on one hand and the Mano and Gios on the other hand was brought into the fray. Mandingoes were among the first casualties of the Mano and Gio dominated NPFL war. In addition to members of the Krahn ethnic group, Mandingoes were also marked for extinction by the NPFL. I saw with my two eyes, rebels sniffing Krahns and Mandingoes from the queues we formed at NPFL checkpoints. Anyone judged as Krahn or Mandingo, was either shot before our eyes or taken away never to be seen again. In areas controlled by the national army which by then became known for all the right reasons as "Doe Army" or "Krahn people," Gios and Manos faced the same situation. Depending on where they found themselves, life was worse than hell for those tribes.

So most of the Kranhs and Mandingos fled, regrouped and formed their own fighting force called ULIMO. I did not travel amongst the ULIMO as I did the NPFL so I did not personally see the atrocities they committed but credible eye witnesses said they were even twice as wicked as the force they came to fight. As I learned, they used power saws to cut down human beings and used the intestines of the innocent to build their checkpoints.

The destruction and atrocities went unabated as more and more rebel groups were formed to revenge the way they or members of their ethnic group were treated by their rivals. Whatever name they gave themselves whether as peace, liberation or redemptive movement made no difference. Defense forces based on ethnic groups were being formed here and there as their own tribes became targets of this or that fighting force. Some of the gruesome scenes like the killing of the thirteen government officials, the interrogation and mutilation of president Doe, street battles, acts of cannibalism and others were recorded on camera and now float on the internet for public consumption.

Twenty years later, the war is over or considered over. But the records of the activities of those actors remain. Whether in our minds, in our mouths, on tape or in various media, it is about time that those who meted untold evil and sufferings against their fellow Liberians began to embrace the realities of their past actions. They can continue to justify those actions, make excuses and become insanely unapologetic or defiant but that will not stop their victims and others from talking about the evil they carried out. I will prefer if they can show a little bit of remorse for any destruction of life or other form of mayhem they have caused. The loss of life is always regrettable even in an event of self-defense. In fact let those who found members of their own ethnic group engaging in gruesome acts in the name of defending their ethnic groups must show regrets on behalf of their kinsmen. For example, the continual justification for the execution of President Tolbert and the 13 men must stop. The PRC, the Krahn ethnic group and all sympathizers must agree that there could have been a better way to unseat the TWP oligarchy without the killing of other Liberians. The same should be the attitude of Gios and Manos and their NPFL organization towards the torturing to death of President Doe and the massacres of members of the Krahn ethnic group while the Krahns exhibit the same attitude towards Gios and Manos for all those massacres and secret killings. Either on their own behalf or on behalf of their tribes or political organizations, Liberians must apologize to Liberians for all the destruction and hurt.

The list is endless of the insanity that Liberians meted against other Liberians. I am not naïve to believe that every member of a given tribe is responsible for the actions of their tribesmen. But the process of reconciliation and healing must begin with each actor and their sympathizer regretting the loss of any innocent and not so innocent life. I am sick and tire of Gio or Mano for example getting all worked up when Prince Johnson is held accountable for the killing of President Doe or Krahns falling off the cliff when Doe is held accountable for the killing of President Tolbert and his 13 official, or Mandingoes bursting with flames when Sekou Damante Conneh is badmouthed as a warlord deserving of a war crime tribunal. We can now begin to tell each other sorry, move on and resolve never to act so stupidly again.

Exchanges between Messrs Omari Jackson and Gonpu Rodgers:

From: omari jackson
To: "everyliberian@yahoogroups.com"
Sent: Sunday, May 6, 2012 12:52 AM
Subject: RE: [EveryLiberian] The Painful End Of Samuel DoeTo: "everyliberian@yahoogroups.com"
Sent: Sunday, May 6, 2012 12:52 AMSubject: RE: [EveryLiberian] The Painful End Of Samuel DoeTo: "everyliberian@yahoogroups.com"Sent: Sunday, May 6, 2012 12:52 AMSubject: RE: [EveryLiberian] The Painful End Of Samuel Doe

  Chief Gonpu E. A. Rogers,   The video recording of the end of Mr. Doe, you will agree, is not a healthy scene. And nowhere did I say or insist that you watch it. I read the anger in you, and I wondered what might have overcome you. It came to me that you were somehow unhappy of the video but then who recorded the video.     You claimed that "people are trying hard to forget the past " and who told you that the past can be forgotten? Is it not a sad reality that you are not willing to allow me to share my point of view and as a result you insulted me and those you claimed are paying me? If you ever thought that the past could be forgotten then I will suggest to you that you are sadly wrong. Check in every society where violent destroyed their past, whatever happened are recorded and written for posterity to serve as a warning for the living.    No one will insult a historian because he wrote about the history of his nation, and here for mere video recording that I am not the originator, you of all people have the audacity to insult me.

   For me this is the tragedy of the Liberian experience. You mentioned "my stupid problematic video" and it suggests to me that you acknowledged the "problem" of those who recorded the video.

   To repeat myself to make sure you do not make a mistake and insist I am the originator; I did not record the video. Ok then who did it? You also mentioned about Quiwonkpa and those 13 officials who were strapped on posts and murdered at the dawn of April 14, 1980...as a Liberian if you have the chance to serach for them and post them for those who may have the interest to view them.

   You don't have to be irresponsible in your reactions to issues that are part and parcel of Liberia's history, and I hope you can treat issues with a level of openness, otherwise your irrational reactions may indicate your role in what you are crying about, and as a result give others the chance to know who you were during the issues you are mourning over. And truly I am aware of the need for reconciliation and I think that is where you referred to as "what the Gios/manos and the Krahns are trying to build." Am I trying to break that? I saw your attempt to put words into my mouth and I think perhaps it was an apparent oversight especially when emotions take over your ability to remain realistic.

   It will be unfair to imagine that the death of Samuel Doe will be forgotten. Tell me in history, what event, a momentous event was ever forgotten by those who were the kin of the victims?

   Please, and here I used the word please as a sense of respect, don't let emotion dictate your reaction to events of the past. For, you may expose your weakness, and as a result create room for others to see who you are. I know, I know and I believe in the saying that we are who we are. But if you cannot help it and the only way is to use insults to get yourself in  a better position, then of course go ahead and insult me. The reason being that I will be happy that whatever I did, caused you to insult me, and by so doing you gain an element of happiness.   I will be glad then because I make you day.


To: EveryLiberian@yahoogroups.com From: rear1669@aol.com Date: Sun, 6 May 2012 04:25:24 +0000 Subject: Re: [EveryLiberian] The Painful End Of Samuel Doe Mr. Omari the insinuator Jackson, Why bring about this when people are trying hard to forget the past at the moment? What do you stand to gain by reintroducing situation you referred as painful? Don't you know that the whole World knows about the demise of the former President? What makes you think the former president's family hasn't seen or heard of your stupid and problematic video? Do you have a story or video for the Quiwonkpah's family? Do you also have a video for the families of the thirteen people that were brutally slaughtered on the beach or you are just plain dumb and insane?

Let me make one thing clear to you Mr. Press man the insinuator: no amount of you and your employer's foolishness will break what the Gios/manos and the Krahns are trying to build. What is wrong with you?
Chief Gonpu E. A. Rogers

Sent from my BlackBerry® device on the Simple Mobile network

From: omari jackson
Sender: EveryLiberian@yahoogroups.com
Date: Sun, 6 May 2012 03:51:07 +0000
To: everyliberian@yahoogroups.com
ReplyTo: EveryLiberian@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [EveryLiberian] The Painful End Of Samuel Doe

Hi Everyone, The painful end of Samuel Doe was recorded for posterity, and I am convinced his children will very much not like to see this horror their father went through. The pain is unbearable and it should teach us some life's lessons to redeem Liberia from the chaos it went through. As I watched this video, I could not help but shed some tears for the man whose presence in Liberian politics was said to have brought the time of the people. Rest In Peace Sammy!

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