Sunday, July 4, 2010

Our Liberators In Retrospect: Where Did They Go Wrong? (Part I)

Written By Alfred Johnson


“….The reason is that many of our heroes’ refusal or inability to know went to take off the veil of idealism and allow themselves to be guided by realities, made them to adopt policies that were too extreme like the “Africa is for Africans” philosophy promulgated by Marcus Garvey. This lack of guidance from reality also impaired their abilities to design and maintain a leadership structure that was reflective of their believe in freedom and democracy and a viable longitudinal blueprint that who have immensely benefited generations of Africans…” -Alfred Johnson

From Kwame Nkrumah’s “I speak of freedom “speech to Nobel Laureate Nelson Mandela and disadvantaged South Africans’ victory over Apartheid in South Africa. From Julius Nyerere’s demonstration of “flashing verbalism” at the OAU’s 1964 Summit and his bloodless struggle for an independent Tanganyika to Ahmed Ben Bella’s improbable yet unwavering struggle for an independent Algeria, Africa has produced some of the greatest advocates of social justice the continent and mankind has ever seen; individuals, who, against all odds, questioned the status quo and implicatively declared “normalcy, never again.” They did not just inspire their people to believe in the possibilities of equality, independence, and self-reliance but unrelentingly worked to make it come to fruition.

The continent (Africa) also paid host to two of the greatest champions of non-violent struggles including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Indian founding father Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. In fact, the latter’s (Gandhi) inspiration for a non-violent struggle is inextricably linked to its test and success in Africa, precisely, South Africa where he succeeded in bringing national and eventually international attention to the inhumane treatment of Indians in South Africa.

However, more than half a century later and following series of successful independence struggles, our people are still sweltering with what Dr. King called “the heat of withering injustice.” The continent future remains as beclouded as it was in the earliest part of the twentieth century; Senseless civil wars, coups upon coups, famines and starvation, high mortality rates, unimaginable division, and the list goes on. The ironies involve are inexplicable. A continent with abundant natural resources yet many of its people continue to wallow in the valley of impoverishment. It is the cradle of civilization but also the scene of barbaric acts. Additionally, (as previously stated) it is the birthplace of some of the greatest advocates of social justice and freedom humanity has ever seen, yet, the staging ground for bloody coups and home of vicious dictatorial regimes.

These painfully ironic but indisputable facts have generations of Africans and the world at large asking, what went wrong? How can a continent with such history be the face of irony? Did our champions refuse to understand that the fight and victory over Colonialism was just the beginning and not the end? Were they (African Liberators) unctuous in their independent fight; exploiting our people’s grievances and legitimate concerns and using it as a springboard to political prominence? Where did they/we go wrong and how can we learn from their mistakes and positively shape the destiny of our continent.

From all indications, champions like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Olympio, Barclay and the rest initial intentions were genuinely grounded in their desire to liberate their people (us) from imperialistic rules to self-governance, empowerment, and determination. In the case of Pres. Edwin Barclay, his intention was to move away from the policy of “us v them “and extend a hand of mutual respect to indigenous Liberians, soliciting their opinions on issues of national concern. Sadly, those good intentions, in many instances, did not work as evident in the present state of our continent.

The reason is that many of our heroes’ refusal or inability to know went to take off the veil of idealism and allow themselves to be guided by realities, made them to adopt policies that were too extreme like the “Africa is for Africans” philosophy promulgated by Marcus Garvey. This lack of guidance from reality also impaired their abilities to design and maintain a leadership structure that was reflective of their believe in freedom and democracy and a viable longitudinal blueprint that who have immensely benefited generations of Africans.

Like Michael Eric Dyson, author of I may not get there with you, a book in which he gave readers a comprehensive understanding of Dr. King’s inspiring intellectualism and his moral failings, I am cognizant of the fact that this piece will not receive the nicest of response from some of my fellow Africans. Reason being, we find it revulsive and continentally unpatriotic to bring into the spot light, the flaws of our heroes. However, I take refuge in my unflinching belief that as the next generation of (public and private sectors) African leaders, any attempt to change the trajectory of our continent is contingent upon our ability to understand our past; objectively analyzing the achievements and failures of our founding fathers because in their history lies many of the fundamental causes and solutions of and to our problem(s). Moreover, it is an established fact that these people were not saints they had flaws and they knew it as apparent in this quote from Mandela “…I want to be known as Mandela, a man with weaknesses, some of which are fundamental and a man who is committed” (think exist).

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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