History Makes Strange Bedfellows!

By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

Lawrenceville, GA
October 11, 2013

The idiom, “History makes strange bedfellows” is entering into a peculiar alliance with people you do not share the same beliefs but they are at the center of power more accessible to you and it produces the results you want. This is what is happening with many Liberians and Liberian organizations in the Diaspora and in Liberia.

I love a Democracy that promotes contending ideals that will help society becomes better; instead of promoting “one size fit all” mindset that supporters of President Sirleaf and the Unity Party government of Liberia. The latter approach simply wants President Obama to dance to the beat of their drums. Yet another human being who is not a SAINT, dares refer to me in a similar manner, as not having relevance. Find below his statement:

Mr. Nyanseor, I feel good. I was just sharing your story as I do with others. For me you have no impact therefore your views, stories mean nothing to me. You [are] not a serious person.

One might want to know what triggered this comment! I wrote an article entitled: “Blind Faith in Man: Supporters of Ellen and the Unity Party (UP) Government of Liberia”. This gentleman saw it fit to send my article to current and none current Eminent Persons of ULAA with the comment: “This is what the Chairman of ULAA Council of Eminent Person, Eminent Nyanseor wrote”. Here is my response below:

What is your point here? What else is new? As an individual, don’t I have the right to write about what I see is wrong? Check my record. I am very consistent!

The byline of the article reads: By Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, NOT Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, CHAIR OF UCEP.

Thanks for letting me know how you feel. You put it out there!

This brings me to the purpose of this article. As a believer in God Almighty, what another man tells me or says of me, means nothing to me, because the God that I worship made me so different, that I am one of a kind. There is no one like me! God has blessed me with 66 years on this earth, which I do not deserve; and He still has mercy on me, because of that I thank Him every minute of the day. Moreover, He equipped me with what it takes to be an instrument to fulfill the adage: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” I take it a step further to say, in this digital age, the computer and the Internet are mightier than the sword. Therefore, I do not listen to the noise in the market which would prevent me from doing what is right. I therefore consider it my moral obligation and duty to speak and write about any issue that I consider WRONG in our society.

A leadership role requires that one must be able to speak the truth no matter the consequence! A good example is the recent comment President Barack Obama made regarding the name of Washington, D.C.’s Football team – the Red Skins. The name Red Skins is offensive to Native Americans.

Ray Halbritter, leader of the Oneida Indian Nation, a tribe in Upstate New York that has been campaigning against the name said: “There’s just no place for a professional football team to be using what the dictionary defines as a racially offensive term.” To which Harjo added: “There’s no such thing as a good stereotype, no matter how well-intentioned, no matter how good people feel about it, …it still has negative ramifications for our people.”

I have a serious problem waiting on everybody to agree before one takes a stand. This approach makes one an unintended accomplice to heinous crimes, emotional and physical abuse, and corrupt practices perpetrated against poor and venerable people; sitting by supinely and watching without coming to the defense of the victims, makes the person callous.

What moral authority do the accusers have to refer to us as “Disturbing the Peace, Stability, Progress, and Success of the regime under whose watch all BAD practices are prevalent? How dare they have the audacity to call themselves leaders when they do not speak on behalf of the people? Instead, they identify with the same people who declared corruption our number one enemy, and still employ corrupt people in the government; and invite corrupt companies to operate in the country without doing due diligence.

The last time I checked the dictionary:

  • Nepotism is considered a crime;
  • Favoritism is considered a corrupt practice;
  • Paying BIG SALARIES to a select few who are NOT doing anything EXTRAORDINARY, is still a corrupt practice, and
  • Calling yourself a representative of the people and NOT advocating on their behalf, is a deceitful practice.

If the President who they unquestionably support can say:

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…

I hope that the new leadership will resolve your internal problems and that you can become strong again.

The President’s statement speaks volumes, and implies that ULAA is an OLDER PERSON with NO TEETH, just like a TOOTHLESS BULLDOG.

The idiom, “History makes strange bedfellows” is entering into a peculiar alliance with people you do not share the same beliefs with, but who are at the center of power more accessible to you, and it produces the results you want. This is what is happening with many Liberians and Liberian organizations in the Diaspora and in Liberia.

This reminds me of historian John Henrik Clarke’s profound statement about history. According to him:

History is the clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geography…history tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, an understanding of history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.

Many of the present leaders of ULAA are not aware of the role the organization has played in the recent past in the lives of our people in Liberia and the Diaspora. When ULAA was founded, we pledged to be the conscience of the Liberian people. We succeeded until Lucifer got hold of some of our leaders who were employed by him to do his dirty work. You know the rest of the story!

As a reminder, let me share with you the ULAA many of you do not know, in the 323-page book titled: “My Compatriot, Your Compatriot: Surveying Forces and Voices” that inspired the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas.

In the book, Professor K-Moses Nagbe, a writer, poet and academician, explores the ideas and ideals, which inspired young Liberians studying in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s to organize the Union of Liberian Associations in the United States [Americas] (ULAA). This pioneering work established links between the Civil Rights struggle in America and social reform activism in the West African [Republic] of Liberia. Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Martin King, Jr. etc. featured in this insightful conversation about the reality that there comes a moment in the lives of ordinary people when they are bound to scream, “Enough is enough!”

According to the author:

The book goes beyond peripheral questions like “What is ULAA? How did it come into being?  What was the vision and mission of the organization?” The book identifies some of the critical forces and voices that inspired ULAA. It tells how ULAA impacted national politics and governance, both from abroad and inside the country…

The adage, “History makes strange bedfellows” is captured in the example provided by Benjamin Kofa Fyneah of Gainesville, Florida. It reads:

The recent history of paid government agents, including the President herself, who are vociferously condemning and maligning the protest of yesterday [October 24, 2013] leaves much to be desired. The President is a product of the ACDL a group that was conceived and existed in constant PROTESTATIONS against the Liberian government of Samuel Doe. NOT satisfied with peaceful protests they resorted to aiding and abetting the NPFL – actions that led to the DEMISE of the Liberian nation! (“Protesting Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in New York – Liberia’s Paul Revere Moment!” September 25, 2013)

Wole Soyinka tells us that, “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.” As such, in any struggle, be it in Liberia or any part of the world that a people start, some of them will not live to see it to the end; some will either die in the process, while others will betray the cause (sell out); age may cause others to slow down; while some may take another approach due to circumstances, and then there are those who will stick around to serve as advisors to the young people who will carry on where they left out. Even those who started the struggle, and for certain reasons, stopped – should not be dismissed, rather be given some credits for starting the struggle in the first place, because if it wasn’t for them the young people will not have the plan to start from and continue with.

Those who stick around deserve respect from their benefactors – they have not given up, they have the battle scars to show for their struggles. They are needed not to monopolize the leadership, but to serve as guard for the young people so that the mistakes they made in the past will be avoided, and together they will come up with a better approach in addressing the problem. With the older folks’ experience and the technological knowhow of the young people; both groups can develop a better approach to address the problem that affects both the old and the young. Since they are in this together, it is only fitting for the young ones to respect their elders; with age comes experience – for “experience is the best teacher.” The Bible says, “Respect your elders, so your days on earth may be long.” This is all those of us who are still around who want to assist the young people to achieve the dreams they once had for their children, some of whom are our grand and great grandchildren. Therefore, the way forward is not to apportion blame, but to work together to get the people’s business taken care of. This is what Chinua Achebe referred to so eloquently: “When old people speak it is not because of the sweetness of words in our mouths; it is because we see something which you do not see”.

Therefore, my brethren, let’s have patience with one another, so all that matters will be the end results we crave for. We need each other to achieve our goals. We, the older folks, are on our way out; you young people are our benefactors. Respect is all we need from you! Is this too much to ask? I think not! Our native people say, “The one you love is the one you advise; your enemy you care less about.” Let’s be civil to each other and put Liberia FIRST!

I close with the poem, “When Things Chakla”:

© Nov. 11, 1995

When things Chakla
They cannot be fixed
Or returned to their original state
It is easy to spoil things
Than to have them return
To their original state
The conditions
Of our villages
Towns and cities
Are good examples
Of the type of destructions
Of which I speak

The same is true
Regarding brothers, sisters
Former play and schoolmates
Killing each other over hatred
Revenge and ethnicity
Therefore, these warring factions
Need to be reminded
Of the old saying that
When things chakla
They cannot be fixed

Whenever one pulls rope
Rope pulls bush
So these warring factions
Need to learn this fact of life
That when things chakla
They can never return
To their original position
So the unnecessary destructions
Of our resources
And infrastructure
Will have to stop

The warring factions
Need to be reminded that
We the people, will remember
How they CHAKLA our dreams
Therefore, when the time comes
We will reward them well


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.