Wednesday, July 4, 2007

A Critique of the President’s Visit to RiverGee

Recently the President of Liberia paid visits to theSouth East of Liberia. Amid the many utterances of thePresident the one which struck me the most is thereinforcement/restating of the Ministry of InternalAffairs mandate banning the practice of trial byordeal. Since this issue was widely heralded throughthe media in the report of the President’s visit toRiver Gee, I believe that was her central theme. It isbased on this premise that I articulate the followingobservations:1. There is a demonstration of the lack ofunderstanding of the fundamental issues facing theLiberian people. I think the President’s advisors dida very poor job by allowing her to raise the ordealtrial issue on her nation wide tour. The problemsLiberia faces have nothing to do with trial by ordealbecause the practice itself is a result of the need tocompensate for those basic things that are absent fromthe people of Liberia. Trial by ordeal is tocompensate for the absence of an appropriate judicialsystem. It is the result of the absence of appropriatemedical and scientific systems for the improvement ofthe standards of living of the people. 2. Singling out River Gee or the South East to deliverthe statement was inappropriate and politicallypremature because it stigmatizes one section or regionof our country. It is polarizing, to state the least.The problems Liberia faces are unique though manyregions of the country may adopt different ways ofaddressing them. So what is needed from the Presidentis a central theme which unites the nation insteadthat divides it. In fact, viewing the statement from abroader angle, it is an affront to the hosts (thepeople of River Gee). It is against the norms that avisitor has to be polite and civil to the host. Youcan’t visit someone then castigates them. Thepresident showed little respect for the people ofRiver Gee by repudiating them on their own soil. (Thisis an approximation of telling your hosts that his/herhouse is filthy). The President needs to apologize tothem3. There is a failure on the part of the president andthe government to acknowledge some forms of judicialpractice existing in our present system which areparallel to the ordeal which banning highlighted hervisit. Some forms of judicial practice which has to dowith coercion, indoctrination, sleep deprivation,testimony with the promise of lesser sentence orpardon, etc.The Way to go, Madam PresidentThe problems Liberia faces are enormous and must beviewed keenly from a broader perspective. Some candidways of dealing with those problems involve thefollowing: There is a need to review and over haul oureducational system. Our educational system shouldreflect our values and must be valuable to thecommunities. The need for teaching science applicableto the society must be encouraged and fully financed.In so doing some make beliefs and superstitions couldbe dispelled. The Liberian Judicial system must be strengthenedthrough the training of judges and others responsiblefor the dispensation of justice. The system has to beindependent and fully financed as well. Law enforcersneed to be fully trained and equipped in order toserve the nation well. The county administrative system should bestrengthened by placing responsibilities and somepowers (financial and administrative) into the handsof county/community leaders. By so doing some of ourbrightest must be deployed in the counties instead ofcrowding them in the Capital city. There is a need that government relinquish someof it powers of trying to do it all and perhapsdomestically ‘out source’ some of itsresponsibilities. In so doing government can identifysome responsible and capable institutions orindividuals then delegate some of it projects to them.Let’s consider for instance the Catholic Diocese, theAssembly of God Mission, and other credibleinstitutions getting loans to undertake projects likehousing, road constructions, and health care delivery,amongst others. Finally, it does not augur well for the Presidentto choose as a central theme to deal with one of thesymptoms long existing of chronic problems. Thismatter involving trial by ordeal must be left with theInternal Affairs Ministry which will tackle it throughthe local officials. The President needs to identifythe central issues that connect the entire nation. AndI know for sure that we do not need to look too far orelsewhere for find those issues.

Letter To Dr. Carlon

“Unfortunately, it may seem to some of us that the miracle we had expected is not happening fast enough. In which case we need to stop and ask ourselves: “Where would Liberia be if we were President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf? Would the nation’s state of affairs be any better?” And, my friends, my experience over the past three decades and beyond compels me to respond to the latter question with a resounding NO! And I can say, without any hesitation, that most of the vocal critics now surfacing may turn out to be among the worst actors, if the table were to be turned around in their favor. Honestly speaking, many of us here today, who have experienced happenings in our country over those decades, especially since 1980, may agree with me on this.”
-Dr. S. Jarbaru Carlon

This is an extract from an article written by Dr. Jabaru Carlon on March 10, 2007 and carried by the Perspective. I am compelled to respond to the former IGNU’s Sport Minister whose major accomplishment during his service was a proposal to change the name of the S. K. Doe Sports Complex.
I wonder as to what extent some people are willing to go in compromising their intellectualism and integrity for the sake of sycophancy? Dr. Carlon’s comments that he sees no other person doing better in Liberia than what President Sirleaf is doing or has done thus far is an assault on intellectualism and high performance. His comments are demonstration of the lack of respect for hard working Liberians who are making positive impacts in various spheres of endeavors. His comments undermined the growth of Liberia and offered no hope for the future. At the same time his unscientific claims offered no hope for Liberia’s younger generation. However, I am assured by the fact that those claims are without empirical basis and thus must be dismissed
I understand Dr. Carlon is a member of the ruling elites that have miss-governed the country since the Tubman’s era as such he perceives no better. The Dr. has seen around himself for almost a half century a continuous recycle of corrupt elites from the days of William V. S. Tubman to present. But this is no sufficient recipe that the country is void of the brightest and those with the ability to excel beyond the present condition at a quicker pace. I can assure Dr. Carlon that there is hope for the country and that hope rests with the departure of the corrupt and destructive gangs. The gangs that have emerged from the days of Tubman yet have refused to vacate the political scene. The departure of such gangs will usher the dawn of a new Liberia.
Dr. Carlon is a prophet of doom whose assertions must be dismissed because they undermine the integrity and resolve of progressive Liberians. I guarantee the Doctor that there are brilliant, visionary, and constructive Liberians with tested and proven strategies to salvage the nation. There are Liberians who could have acted differently in the circumstances he alluded to as regards the behavior of the President. There are Liberians who could have performed far better than what the government of the elderly have accomplished so far (how do you refer to a government in which the average age of a top officials is 65?).



He was tall and hairy whom many saw as handsome. His name was Kanibluh (kan-nee-blur) which was given him at birth. Kanibluh was skillful at farming, playing instruments, fishing and setting traps. One thing Kanibluh was not good at was climbing. Maybe he was afraid of heights but in his village, such a natural fear for heights was not known so that became his major shortcomings. Kanibluh’s acrophobic condition was a major setback that he tried his best to conceal.

Ponnie Did not Listen

Far in the forest town of Bana, lived a young farmer. His name was Tiah Ponnie, a widower. Before the death of his wife, she bore him one fine girl child. The two of them lived together happily. The people of Bana were mostly farmers. Ponnie was a farmer of rice, cocoa, plantains, and sugar cane. Besides, he loves setting traps both on land and in the rivers and creeks.
Few miles from Bana, was a hill which was covered by a very thick rain forest. The forest was very thick and dark with giant trees like pulp, eke, lovoa, and many others. Its soil was very rich. It was so fertile that if a seed fell on it, it would grow in a day’s time. Even if you would stick your finger into the soil, it would grow roots. Apart from the soil being rich, it was a dwelling place of a giant monster referred to as the gina and many other fearful dwarfs. The gina lived in a very big cave at the foot of the hill. The gina was not only feared by the people of Bana but beyond. He could cause rain, storm, or thunder any time of the day or night. It was widely believed that if any one made farm on the monster’s hill, he or she may lose his or her life and crops. It was said that the monster had the power to make crops grow or wither. The monster could cause calamity to befall anyone from one generation to the other who would expose him to the sun by brushing down the thick forest. This belief was upheld for many, many years so there was no thought of some one challenging such belief. It was dreaded also.
At the beginning of the farming season, Tiah Ponnie decided to farm on the hill. This was in defiance to the advice of the people of Bana. One by one they said to him;
‘Ponnie, please do not farm on that hill. It is forbidden. For many years, our fathers did not make farm there.’ But Ponnie did not listen to the people’s advice. He always replied:
‘I am a man for myself who can make decision. No body has the right to tell me where to make farm and where not to make farm.’ Over and over they advised Ponnie not to go ahead with his plans, but Ponnie did not agree. As a result, the people decided to stop and let Ponnie have his own way.
One fine morning when most of the people were going to engage their farms, Tiah Ponnie arose to the dreaded hill to begin his work. He sharpened his working tools, packed them in a long basket and walked into the forbidden forest. His tools were sharper than a razor blade.
Tiah Ponnie worked not very hard on the first day. Nothing happened to him on the first day. The second day came. He went back and worked very hard till evening. Again he did not experience any trouble, then he began to mock in his heart at those who advised him against farming on the hill.
‘I thought they said a devil lived here and would eat me up the moment I chop a shrub here.’ This was what he said to himself repeatedly and laughed softly.
On the third day of work, Ponnie returned to his farm. He was surprised that his farm was brushed to completion. Though surprised, Ponnie was happy inside that the first part of his work was completed in just three days. It was a large area even larger than ten playing fields put together. He began to thank God for his work.