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Making Politicians and Political Activities the Lord and Gospel of our Lives

I was in Monrovia, Liberia few weeks before elections 2017. One thing that blew my mind while I was in Monrovia was the massive involvement and enthusiasm in political campaigns and rallies. I watched people poured out their hearts and souls for the candidates of their choice in political rallies, campaigns and marches. I saw the young, old and not so young thronged the streets, sideways and halls dancing, singing and rallying support for their candidates. At times, I spend hours in the traffic as crowds upon crowds often blocked the streets during those political marches. Some partisans spent their entire days at campaign headquarters either sitting around and fantasizing about their wins or engaging in serious work to elect their candidates.  At atayi shops, university campuses and entertainment centers, the political debates were endless. Some with frail bodies and dried mouths which were signs of hunger, they were assiduously working hard to see their candidate win even at the perils of their own lives and the survival of their families. As I watched them daily, two questions kept dancing across my mind “why do they believe these politicians so much? Where is the evidence of politicians even impacting their lives after they take power?”

Even after those elections, there has been a spike in all forms of political activities on social media both in the Diaspora and at home. Various social media platforms are inundated with political agitations, discussions, debates and sometimes fights. Some have turned instant celebrities and heroes hosting Facebook live shows discussing political issues. Both pro-government and anti-government political talk show hosts are constantly bombarding the airwaves in support of their respective sides. Some take it a step further to put their money where their mouth is by supporting the talk show hosts and candidates of their choice in cash and kind. Money really talks and as such monies flow through go fund me, Western union, CashApp and other media, the voices of these political point guards have become even louder.

It is often said the “whatever you focus on grows” and our focus on politicians and political activities has made politicians to become gods of our lives and our country. Over time, it has become apparent that the quickest way to be famous is to get involved in politics especially when you are in opposition; the fastest way to get the views on Facebook is to discuss politics.  Some of the highest amount of money raised to date on social media go to fund a political campaign, an anti-government protest or some form of political activity. With all the investment in political campaigns and events, there is little or no history of positive impacts in our communities to commensurate the huge investments in politicians and political activities. Contrast that with the immediate impact of individuals and groups in nonprofit and other nonpolitical roles? The results are like night versus day yet our energies and monies are largely expended in political activities, politicians and their causes.

Take for instance the most popular student or group on a university or college campus is the one that engages in political and often anti-government activities. How about the ones that organize high school students and conduct tutorial classes? How about the Great Commission, Liberia Fellowship of Evangelical Students, Varsity Christian Fellowship and other campus base religious organizations that mentor students and get them focused on God and their studies?  How about those purpose driven individuals and organizations that are doing a lot to make impact? I think of Pastor Timothy Kpeh and his Build Liberia movement, Mr. Alex Devine and Youth for Change, Mr. Emmanuel Sackie and his Green Liberia group, Mr. Henry Yaka Dennis and his Liberia My country talk show, just to name a few and wonder if they even get a fraction of the popularity, support and funding given to political agitators, candidates, politicians and their go-betweens. Not that one (platform, career path or organization) is better than the other, but I wonder what the impact on the country would be if we would shift our support (or at least balance it) from politicians and their desires to be lord over us to supporting those among us who are making the sacrifices to improve the lives of others on a pro bono basis.

A friend who is currently working on his doctorate in Chemistry went back to Liberia and visited the University of Liberia campus to talk about chemistry and the sciences.  To his surprise, not even the Chemistry majors were interested. When the discussion shifted to politics, the room was filled and extended almost half a mile outdoor.

The emphasis on or enthusiasm in politics, politics and politics is keeping everything else seemingly dry and boring. It is interesting to note that besides the dead, only politicians including the crazy ones have praise songs in their honor. We need to remember that whatever we’ll focus on will grow. The choice is therefore ours to either make politicians feel almighty so that even teachers, doctors and the clergy leave their vocations to join politics or put the power back into our own hands by making selfless public service attractive. We can choose this day to encourage and support innovation, volunteerism and genuine public service or continue to make politicians and political activities the lord and gospel of our lives.

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