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The Convergence of Opinions on Bitter Stuffs to Swallow

It is becoming a consensus that in order of us Liberians (including natural borns who have "lost" their citizenship) to really get out of our most pressing challenges, something bitter must be taken. For Chief Rogers, he called it “bitter pills.” Mr. Harrison Welh Jargbah says “bitter truth” and elder Bai Mayson Gbala has just written about “painful realities” in our homeland.

Agree with their analyses or not, one thing that has emerged is that in order to move us a step closer to resolving our issues is that we all need to be in uncomfortable positions and accept what may not sit well with any one of us. I differ with all three writers on details. I am even on record poking fun at Chief Gonpu Rogers’ ten point plans for reconciliation or 10 bitter pills which I mocked as “10 bitter balls.” However, what is beginning as a consensus is that with all our individual convictions on what we think can bring about lasting reconciliation and good governance in Liberia, none of us is 100% correct on the money. We all must lose some grounds in order to form better relationships with one another that will ensure that our country gets out of the hole in which she currently finds herself.

One bitter truth or bitter pill or painful reality is how one tribe/ethnic group continues to dominate government for almost 200 years now and as a result gets all the resources to be at the helm of power in Liberia for God knows how long. It is time that the minority Congo ethnic group shared the wealth and opportunities that our country has to offer. The 133 year Congo rule plus the years a Congo man named Charles Taylor plundered and ruled leading to the years of the “Oldma,” meaning President Sirleaf, one tribe has continued to get richer and influential not from their own innovations and work in the private sector but from government. Take for instance, Mr. Robert Sirleaf is slowly becoming a billionaire now, not from working on Wall Street or inventing some computer program or cell phone application but from working in his mother’s government. Mr. Benoni Urey and others got wealthy from Mr. Taylor’s loots while Mrs. Sirleaf has consistently appointed members of the minority Congo ethnic group to strategic positions where they continue to accrue power and wealth so that during any election cycle, they become the most qualified or well placed to buy votes, legislations or people. [The number of Congo appointees in government compared to any single Liberian tribe speaks to this bitter reality. And you can take it or leave it.] It is hard to say this without being singled out as a "tribalist" or hating Congo people. I am aware of the risk but I am taking it anyway as one of the uncomfortable and painful positions that one must take in order to break the spell and unshackle the chains that are holding us back.

Another bitter pill is the ability to tell whoever is in power to do what is right no matter how this will affect our pockets or ethnic affiliations. We can’t support wrong in one administration and condone (or be ambivalent to) the same in another administration because the one in power is member of our tribe or not. Speaking one-on-one with any Liberian, they can easily point out what is wrong with any current administration but that is when we are not connected to that administration. Because the government including the justice system has failed Liberians consistently, ethnic affiliation has been the only fallback position. Many have naturally clung to their ethnic affiliations for protection and solace when the central government or the most power unit failed them miserably. And I agree with Mr. Jargbah, the support for leaders like Prince Johnson, Alhaji Kromah, George Boley, Charles Taylor, etc. by their respective ethnic groups is a testament that only a kinsmen can rescue you when your ethnic group becomes an endangered species. And you the protected and rescue need to return the favor by honoring such natural leader your heroes or heroines; after all one man’s hero is another man’s rebel.

So far the law that is suppose to punish treason and other forms of subversive activities has gone to bed. All the laws that suppose to protect the ethnic Mandingo, Krahn, Mano, Gio (Mah & Daan), Lorma, Grebo…all went to sleep so with their backs against the wall, leaders have to rise up amongst each of those embattled tribes to fight back even if that meant committing the worse of all atrocities. And as long anyone of us will call for a trial of any of those “heroes,” the resistance from their respective ethnic brothers and sisters will fight so hard to prevent that. This is a bitter pill, but I think we (and I as an individual) need to swallow it if we must move forward. What else do we do as an alternative to deal with these former warlords or alleged war criminals? I wish I knew all the answers!

Fairness in the dispensation of justice and the allocation of our nation’s resources and opportunities is a must. There is no way to double dribble around this. In as much as our leaders will be partial in the distribution or that we play a blind eye to such inequity because we are the ones benefiting, our troubles will continue and another calamity far worse than the one we have seen is bound to happen.

About the Author
Dennis was born in Doodwicken, Southeastern Liberia and by the grace of God, a survival of the Liberian civil war. He currently lives in the USA and can be reached at dennisjah@yahoo.com

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