Blind Faith: Supporters of Ellen and the Unity Party Government of Liberia

By Elder Siahyonkron Nyanseor
Senior Advisor, MOLAC & CLACI

Lawrenceville, GA
October 5, 2013

Ellen in meeting with ULAA

“A Picture is worth thousand words” ~ President Sirleaf and her Diaspora Cabinet - ULAA Leadership
~ Photo, Credit given to the Liberian Listserv~

To be an advocate for positive change in a dynamic society (country) requires putting the denizens and country first instead of personal interests. Moreover, it imposes the burden of avoiding errors of the past as a mean of satisfying majority of the people who have been distressed due to lack of good governance. Refusal to pay heed to this admonition most likely yields unbearable human catastrophes which could be worse than the current state of the nation.

Invariably this has been the practice of most African leaders of which past Liberian administrations could not be excused and certainly Liberia’s President Johnson-Sirleaf and her Unity Party government are no exception. This brings to mind an observation captured by a veteran Liberian political analyst who wrote:

“The Unity Party government can be compared to a stubborn child; steadfast in mischief, who does not pay heed to parental and divine advice until trouble descends”.

Is it naivety, power intoxication or obsession by the ruling party’s educational elitism? Obviously, these individuals have failed to conceive the pains encountered by ordinary Liberians daily.

In my candid opinion, it is the negligence to practice good governance and ignore sufferings experienced by the governed. To dwell on these issues brings to mind the resume of Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela and Barak Obama just to list a few. These leaders have demonstrated to the world and continue to portray their concerns for the human family. Currently, the President of the United States, a “Harvard” graduate is making every effort not to take his county to war.

This brings to conclusion with few alternatives that it is not adequate to reason that educational institutions and systems sufficiently mold individuals for the betterment of society. Rather, positive contributions imparted by an individual or group of individuals for the benefit of mankind emanates from innate characteristics refined by parental training and guardian. Equally significant are the teachings of political socialization and positive religious fellowship.

For these preparations, I am very grateful to the following; my mother, Madam Worhwinn Mydea Sarkpah and father Tee-Tee Torborh Korlah Nyanseor, Mr. Samuel Edgar Sie Badio, Sr. (aka Teacher Pepper) then principal at the Government Morning School (GMS) South Beach, Monrovia, in the 1960s including my third grade teacher, Mrs. Ayeko Carey  (aka Teacher Carey). To all of them, we remain GRATEFUL for the discipline and SOUND EDUCATION received.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2013, while MOLAC and CLACI were joined by other concerned Liberians and friends to protest against the corrupt practices in the Liberian Government at the United Nations’ headquarters in New York; President Johnson Sirleaf chose to meet with her “Diaspora Cabinet” – officers of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA). These are faithful Supporters of her government’s policies. The ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE was held at the Liberian Mission in New York.

According to the post from the listserv that is provided below:
Liberia: President Sirleaf Meets with Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) - Leadership Expresses Willingness to Work with Government

30 September 2013

The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA), the umbrella group of Liberians and their various organizations in the Americas, has expressed their willingness to work with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her government to accelerate the development of the country.

According to a dispatch from United Nations Headquarters, in New York, the delegation assured President Sirleaf of this commitment when the leadership of ULAA paid her a courtesy call at the offices of the Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations on Friday, September 27.

Speaking on behalf of the leadership, its National President, Mr. Gaye Sleh, Jr., thanked President Sirleaf for affording them the audience and said they were delighted by the gesture. He said, “We feel that we in the Diaspora are the ‘16th county’. One way to do that is to strengthen the relationship between the government and people in the Diaspora, especially those of us in the United States.” Mr. Sleh appealed to the Liberian leader to provide his organization office space in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to coordinate its activities and strengthen ties with the government. The immediate former President of ULAA, now Public Policy Advisor in the Office of the Vice President, Mr. Anthony V. Kesselly, has been appointed to coordinate the affairs of the Association in Liberia.

Mr. Sleh informed President Sirleaf about the organization’s advocacy for dual citizenship and the right of Liberians outside the country to vote. Last December, ULAA hosted a conference in the United States where a resolution was adopted and presented to Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh for onward transmission to the government about their intention to advocate for dual citizenship. The Association also informed President Sirleaf that ULAA officials who visit Liberia find it difficult to meet with government officials, and it made an appeal for such officials to be more accessible to them.

Projects which ULAA intends to undertake in Liberia, Mr. Sleh informed President Sirleaf, include the acquisition of library space in Monrovia, and will adequately furnish a public library for the benefit of Liberian students; the shipment of a 20-foot container of books and computers, which has arrived at the Freeport and for which ULAA seeks duty-free privilege in order to release the container; the construction of a state-of-the-art playground and recreational center for the youth; and the construction of a number of bus stops.

In response, President Sirleaf welcomed the group’s campaign for dual citizenship, and said she favors such advocacy. She also welcomed ULAA’s offer to collaborate and work with the government in developing the country, adding, “The government welcomes ULAA as a strong partner and having a strong relationship, not only in terms of organization to organization but organization to government.”

President Sirleaf, however, urged ULAA, if they have not already done so, to settle the squabble within the organization that had undermined the role which they had played traditionally. “I hope that the new leadership will resolve your internal problems and that you can become strong again,” she said. She welcomed ULAA’s intention to establish an office in Monrovia. Representing ULAA at the meeting were: the National Chairman [President], Mr. Sleh; National Vice President, Mrs. Margaret M. Jones; Eastern Regional Vice President, Mr. Vamba Fofana; Senior Advisor, Mr. Charles Stevens; Mrs. Oretha Bestman-Yates; Chairman on the Scholarship Committee, Dr. Leroy Boakai; former ULAA President, Mr. Emmanuel Wettee; and the immediate past President, Mr. Anthony Kesselly.

Based on the so-called success of the meeting the President had with her ULAA Diaspora Cabinet, a subsequent meeting has been scheduled according to the communication below:
From: dukem99@gmail.com 

The Honorable, Minister of Information- Lewis Brown, Presidential Press Secretary – Jerolinmek Piah, and Ambassador – Jeremiah C. Sulunteh host a Townhall Forum for the Largest Liberian Community in the Diaspora, Minnesota to deliver the message that shapes the destiny of Liberia.

Date: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Time: 4:30
Venue:     United Methodist Church
                  7200 Brooklyn Blvd
                 Brooklyn Center, MN 55429                                                      

Come one! Come all to Civilly Engage the Government officials of Liberia!
Organized by the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM)

For more information: 763 202 9696 / 763 639 5073 / 651 335 7311 / 
612 703 6003

Thanks,

Mohammed Dukuly, Member – Board of Directors, OLM
612 872 8237

All of this has to do with “Blind Faith in Man” - another human being. In a nutshell “Blind Faith in Man” is defined as belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination. If I may add, it is like a blindfolded person walking towards moving traffic without the common sense to know that danger lies ahead.

This is the exact practice the research study titled: “The Promise and Perils of the Diaspora Partnership for Peace: The Case of the US-Based Liberian Diaspora” revealed. Also, the October 5th meeting scheduled in Minnesota is a follow-up to the meeting her Diaspora Cabinet had with her in New York. The statement below exposed the true nature of the betrayal I accused the leadership of ULAA of in my Five-Part Series: A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and its Chapters. Here is the evidence:

Some Diaspora leaders lack dedication towards working on behalf of Liberia and seek leadership for narrow parochial interests. One of the criticisms often leveled against the leadership of the Union of Liberian Associations in Americas (ULAA) is that some of them have been too cozy with the government in power in Liberia to the point of trading their advocacy for political appointments. The leadership of U.S-based Diaspora organizations enjoy high-profile and respectable status in Liberia. As such, some in the Diaspora seek leadership as a spring board towards future political careers at the expense of much needed peace-building. (Osman Antwi-Boateng, Ph.D., “The Promise and Perils of the Diaspora Partnership for Peace: The Case of the US-Based Liberian Diaspora”, Political Science Department, United Arab Emirates University).

This brings us to the main issue of Blind Faith in Man, Supporters of Ellen and the Unity Party Government in Liberia. While Faith is “Is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1 - NKJV); Blind Faith in Man is “Belief without true understanding, perception, or discrimination” about that which is RIGHT or WRONG.

Against this backdrop, I believe Faith is hoping in spite of hopeless circumstances. Having Faith in God means you never doubt what God is capable of doing for you. Having Faith in the Lord is to be absolutely convinced that God will do what He promised. Whereas, having Blind Faith in Man is like putting your TRUST in him as opposed to God. God’s promise is certain to be fulfilled, but not the promise made by man. This is the difference between those of us (MOLAC and CLACI) that advocate for the Liberian people, and those that support the government regardless of its WRONG policies.

Norman Vincent Peale said it better: “The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”. Amen to that! For nothing praise is what government officials and the President are seeking. They are coming to do just that – to speak to members of their choir, the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM).

Common sense tells us that if the Unity Party government is sincere and serious about addressing the issues MOLAC and CLACI accused them of rampant corruption that is out of control; the lack of safe drinking water, no sewer system, inadequate electricity, poor road conditions, inadequate healthcare system, etc.; they will come to the US to talk about the plan they are putting in place to address these issues. Instead of using the taxpayers’ money to address the issues we raised, they are coming here to talk about the government’s so-called achievements to be presented in a “Message that shapes the destiny of Liberia”. WHAT NOW? We consider it a BIG JOKE and a waste of resources!

Well, MOLAC and CLACI will do as they promised; prepared to greet these corrupt government officials with an organized demonstration to expose their deeds to the American people; and to let these shameless officials know that the ways of the fresh, is NOT the ways of GOD.

More importantly, we want the world to know that the officers and members of MOLAC and CLACI are as patriotic as they come. Our memories of the Liberia that is far from Monrovia are profound. Apart from the politics of yesterday, there were some things that were good about yesterday that we cherished for which we want the President and the government officials to do for the Liberian people. Bring back authentic Liberia culture found in the principles of the KUU and SUSU systems that our people upcountry practiced. The KUU and SUSU systems, for those of you who cannot remember are not about “ME, MYSELF and I”; instead, the KUU and SUSU systems promote genuine concerns for their fellow human beings. Yes, we yearned for the Liberia of upcountry, where people care for their neighbors. This is what we are about!

I remember that culture very well! It was best described in a keynote address at the 14th Annual General Conference of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) during my tenure as President of the organization. The date of that Conference was July 4th, 1987; it was held in Newark, New Jersey.

The Planning Committee recommended an Irish Priest named Rev. Father James C. Hickey. Father Hickey had just been deported from Liberia by the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) government for “corrupting the minds of Liberian youth”. This man of God had lived in Liberia for many years spreading the Gospel, and teaching among other subjects, philosophy. So, when his name was submitted to me for him to deliver the keynote address at our Annual General Assembly, I approved it without hesitation. That’s how we did it back then! We did not select government official to speak to us about issues that we already know. The Rev. Father made us proud of our upcountry culture and heritage that day.

The title of his keynote address was: “Liberia: A Land Both Old and Young.” Let me cite here excerpts of the brilliant prose he used to describe our country and its people:

The Liberian people are heirs to a vibrant African culture of immense antiquity, of extraordinary intrinsic value and of remarkable inherent attractiveness and binding force. Its profundity strongly resists the shallow allurements of other cultures, with their emphasis on things rather than persons. There is a clear recognition that what one is as human being is the all important criterion and not the possessions one might accumulate. Things are of value in so far as they promote the well-being and the purposes of the person and not the other way around. Family lineage and relationships are of extreme significance because they provide the precise location of the individual within the human group. And society, the human environment takes absolute precedent over the values of the physical environment. Thus there arises a most intricate web of interpersonal rights and obligations. The culture is mark with very precise rules of politeness, etiquette and protocol. Person-orientating obligations take priority over abstract and economically oriented duties. The individual dependence on and service to the community are clearly perceived, acknowledged and lived. For the Liberian as indeed for most African cultures the appropriate saying is not ‘poor, no money’ or ‘poor no job’, or ‘poor no car, or T.V.’, nor any other such thing. Rather, the African consciousness finds its spontaneous and most adequate expression in the phrase, ‘poor no friend.’ Likewise, a very strong condemnatory and rejecting attitude is expressed when one would say of another that ‘he is rude’ or ‘he does not know how to talk to people.’ There is here, an extraordinary appreciation of respect for the human person and human society. (From the Keynote Address of ULAA’s 14th Annual General Conference delivered by Rev. Father James C. Hickey)

The feelings I got from his message remains with me today. You see, in the Liberia of my youth, when we speak of “Poor No Friend”, we speak of “real friendship”. In that society, we greeted each other as: “My good friend, how do, or how do you do?” which implied that we were concerned with establishing relationships rather than making palava with each other; we did so in order to keep our relationship alive.

Even when we were fussing, we still referred to each other as “My good friend.” Friendship and relationship in Liberia of our recent past formed an important part of our socialization. We placed friendship very high on the totem pole of things we cherished; wealth and health came second; relationship and friendship came FIRST. In that Liberia, you were poor if you had no friend. “Poor no friend” was a reminder that we needed each other. Therefore, we made every effort to get along; despite the problem we had with each other every now and then, over the “Country and Congo” thing. These are the things we are yearning for today!

Is it too much to ask for? Our demands are simple! We must do away with the behavioral patterns listed below, which includes holding our elected officials accountable for their actions:

  • The belief that the President is above the law
  1. The belief that the Executive Branch of government have supreme (unlimited) power, compared to the Legislative and Judicial branches
  2. The practice that both the Legislative and the Judicial should support the President even when the President's actions are in violation of the  Laws and the Constitution
  3. The practice of amending portions of the Constitution in order to meet the interest of the President and her supporters
  4. The practice of telling the President what she wants to hear and not what she needs to hear and know
  5. The President or those who are considered ‘Big Shots’ should stop the practice of knowingly violating the laws without facing the consequences under the law, and
  6. The Liberian people should stop condoning the practice of Corruptions, Nepotism and the Abuse of Power; those who do so should be dealt with according to the letter of the law

(From the Conclusion of my article: “A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and its Chapters -- Part V: A Toothless Bulldog – April 24, 2013)

Finally, I leave with you the poem Rev. Father Hickey’s message led me to write - “Liberia, the Beautiful”.

 

Liberia, the Beautiful
© August 19, 1985: By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

I
In search of freedom and liberty
The Settlers returned
United with their brethren
At Cape Montserrado
This glorious reunion
Gave birth to Liberia
The land of diverse people
Like its natural resources
So when we think of home
We think of Liberia
The beautiful

II
Oh home, sweet home
Of thee we sing these praises!
To the land both old and young
But yet indivisible
Where the love of liberty
Will unite all of our people
For in complete unity
Our progress is assured
For our land of beauty
And pride for which we long
Long live Liberia, the beautiful
Forever and ever

III
In spite of the many problems
That has hurt our national pride
We have finally resolved
Never again to fight one another
Also, agreed to live together
Under the Lone Star forever
United in purpose
To protect the land
That is God given
So when we talk about home
We talk about Liberia
The beautiful

IV
Oh home, sweet home
Of thee we sing these praises!
To the land both old and young
But yet indivisible
Where the love of liberty
Will unite all of our people
For in complete unity
Our progress is assured
For our land of beauty
And pride for which we long
Long live Liberia, the beautiful
Forever and ever

V
Oh God Almighty
Please forgive us
For our many misgivings
And restore our native land
To its intended grace and beauty
To let freedom ring
From Cape Mount, to Cape Palmas
And throughout Cape Montserrado
For the land so sacred
And dear to us
To be at peace forever
And remain a national monument
For us to love, cherish
And protect

VI
Oh home, sweet home
Of thee we sing these praises!
To the land both old and young
But yet indivisible
Where the love of liberty
Will unite all of our people
For in complete unity
Our progress is assured
For our land of beauty
And pride for which we long
Long live Liberia, the beautiful
Forever and ever

 

About the Author:  Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor is a poet, a Griot, journalist, cultural and political activist, and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. He is Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF); publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine. He serves as Senior Advisor to the Voice of Liberia newsmagazine as well as Senior Advisor to MOLAC and CLACI. In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com.