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Government Bone, Government Load, and Government Grade: Understanding the GOL

Why are we rating government so highly? Our lives are so full of government. You cannot turn left or right without bumping into the all powerful government. This behavior puts government official on a kind of pedestal that they tend to be our bosses and remote controllers of our lives. On January 15, 2008, FrontPage Africa online magazine (www.frontpageafrica.com) published what appears to be a report card of the Sirleaf led government. In her report, some government officials from the President to chairman of the TRC are given grades based on their performances over the two year period since the Unity Party led government was voted to power. FrontPage’s grade report was followed by another grading of the government by Student unification Party of the University of Liberia. Although we all have our opinions of the online magazine’s or the students’ measurement, a major take away from these grade reports is the way we Liberians exalt government officials. This in my view is thinking too highly about those people, putting them at the pinnacle of our lives and making them feel that our lives are nothing without them.

For me, government or the Government of Liberia has not changed much from what it has always been from time in memorial. The GOL has not done much to the benefit of its people when compared to the wealth and opportunities that she gathers for herself in our name. Our government has never being for the people or of the people. Instead, the relationship that exists can be viewed as an abused child trying to cope with mistreatments and denials. There are certain phraseologies and clich├ęs in Liberian circles that speak of the abuses to the point that instead of fighting further, the people have decided to live with the pains in a way that will minimize their excruciating effects.

It is often said that when you get to a town and want s to know what all goes on in that town, listen to the songs the children sing. For years now, some songs that the children in Liberia sing epitomize the sad way the government of Liberia (GOL) had negatively affected the people it suppose to represent. In Liberia, phraseologies like “government bone, “government load” and “government grade,” are three ways that speak of the untold mistreatments and gross robbery of Liberians by successive governments. Just where do these words come from and why they are common even among the kids underscores the coping strategies Liberians have adopted to minimized the effect of the unfair treatment that citizens have endured in the hands of people they vote to power.

“Government bone” is a nomenclature that is associated with football or soccer, the most popular sport in Liberia. This is idea is prevalent during the soccer game when kids play. It suggests a state of lawlessness and gross abuses that go unchecked. While a game may have a referee and perhaps two assistants whose make sure that the game is played by set rules, their officiating guidelines fall short of the declaration of a government bone. There are two ways in which government bone is declared in a soccer game. One way is when team player who has been substituted refuses to leave the soccer pitch; he/she is declared a “government bone.” The declared “government bone” can be fouled, punched, kicked or violated in any conceivable way by any player without such offense being called. While a government bone if that person manages to score a goal, such was disallowed. Another way government bone is declared is during the last few minutes of the game as darkness creeps on the soccer field, the officiating individual or crew can declare a government bone which is a total breakdown of all the rules that govern the game. How has this lawless state come to be qualified by the word “government” is a way to mimic the way the government of Liberia deals with some of its citizens. During the tenures of most Liberian presidents, political leaders or individuals opposed to the government or those fallen out of favor with the president have been the obvious “government bones.” Such people could be imprisoned by the incumbent at will, flogged by security personnel operating on orders, or even killed without any one whistling for an infringement against the rule. D. Twe and others were government bones under Tubman, Gabriel Matthews and co under Tolbert, Kpolleh, the 13 men and others under Doe, Dookie, Tiawon Gongloe and others under Taylor are quick examples of government bones that have come and gone during the past half century of our history. Little children whom quite often suffer greatly as a result of these abuses developed a conceptual model of lawlessness based on government’s actions.

Government load is a way of working for free or working without pay. During one of the moments when kids hang together, a kid will sneakily place a tiny piece of paper pr any useless material on another kids ahead oblivious to the kids. If the kid on whose head the useless object is place takes no notice, that kid is said to be carrying a “government load.” As a kid, I saw people carrying government loads in a real sense. These were the days when most places were not connected with motor roads. Government soldiers physically coerced locals to carry loads.

Government Grade in Liberian schools, at least during the time I was in grade school in Liberia, is 50%. Under government grade, no grade below 50% should be recorded on the student's progress report or report card no matter how low a student's grade maybe. Even if a student did not take a test, the minimum grade required to be sent for that student at the end of a given marking period test is 50%. In essence, students are given free grades or get grades for which they have done no work. Since the grade is free and our sense of government is to give  free things or that whatever is government owned is free for all, we have come to describe a free grade or getting what one does not work for as government grade. TO BE CONTINUED

NOTE: I wrote this in 2008 with the hope of adding more as time would permit. Unfortunately, I have never been able to get to it. I stumbled on it today and just decided to publish as is.

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