Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Finding a Path to Genuine Reconciliation


I have now selected to do my social-political and economic commentaries under the heading of ‘Critical Issues of National Concern’ due to the realization that my commentaries, after series of evaluations, are been used to influence national policy decisions. I hope that the Liberian intellectual cycle can join the new war against tyranny, corruption, nepotism, and bad governance using the pen and the evolving free media community.

The first edition of the series under my new headline is looking at and assessing the path to genuine reconciliation in Liberia. This is a complimentary article to my last article, The Challenges of Achieving Genuine reconciliation in Liberia (Daily Observer, Aug 27, 2008; www.limany.org). This piece also represents my third major commentary on the national reconciliation project of our country. It is my aspiration to see a united and progressive people at peace in the midst of boundless economic advantages and opportunities in Liberia that I remain unwavering to critically comment on every steps of the truth and reconciliation process in Liberia.

Reconciling the Forces

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission described reconciliation as its working definition as a healing process for all Liberians, and by all Liberians. If this definition must be accepted by the people of Liberia, then all must be supportive and fair with the process harboring a nationalistic intention that lasting peace depends on the effectiveness of reconciling the opposite forces of our history. No human society perfectly exists without conflicts between/amongst opposing forces targeting the same end. Histories of every human society are therefore clustered with controversies and inconsistencies documenting virtues and vices of the existing forces. Man therefore should not bother with the existence of conflicts and inconsistencies in history, but should rather focus on the building of effective mechanisms to control violent conflict and reconcile victims and perpetrators- and also search for curative, creative and constructive methods to correct the past.

Our history like any human society suffers the same inconsistencies as well. The fact that our history is replete with controversies is irrefutable and the fact that our national debacles went to the extreme of unspeakable human barbarity was due to entrenched class, ethnic and regional animosities is indisputable.

The road to a genuine reconciliation for Liberians must be very considerate of the existence of class bigotries, ethnic animosities and regional disputes. Individual problems may be the by-products of the major terrible occurrences between two or more groups in Liberia. Therefore, it is important to go beyond reconciling individuals to reaching the foundation of their acrimonies which may be found in problems between groups decades or centuries ago.

The Class Struggle

There is a need to extend our road longer that we may land peacefully on a soil of tranquility, and that conflicts will only exist superficially amongst us and it may not take deep roots in our hearts and explore violently that it becomes uncontrollable like the experiences of the 1980s and the 1980s. The issue with reconciling and neutralizing the class struggle in Liberian affairs is a daunting one. There have been an existing bitterness with the existence of classes drawn on economic and political lines. There are those who believe absolutely that they must be the forerunner of government, and this group by that status and influence have remained in control of the economy, and are the most affluent Liberians. This group has below it the class that performs the roles of plebeians- low class members who live completely in destitute, but are the backbones of the affluent class. There is a need for some level of reconciliation between the two groups. Reconciling these groups needs no commission, but programs of empowerment that will provide for the education and employment of the two groups on an equal opportunity scale. These groups have been in a struggle which became a point of consideration during the 2005 Elections, and was dubbed as Elites Vs Grassrooters. May I remind you that society at all levels is stratified, and that there is no possibility to have a Liberia with all on the same scale, but there is a possibility of considerably reducing the economic and political disparities which may reduce the tendencies of animosities and conflicts between the classes.

A major divide in the class struggle that needs to be nullified is the Native/Amerio-Liberia Divide. This divide, as a line of social separation between the two main politically-struggling people of Liberia has been a major cause of conflicts in this country, and therefore, needs to be dislodged. In the 2005 elections, the debate on elitism and grassrootism was an offshoot of the Native/Americo-Liberian Divide. Though the Americo-Liberian Class has apparently extinct from the surface due to the numerous alignment of notable members of that class with native tribes, the inbuilt mental classification still exists and the divide therefore exist subterraneously in some quarters.

Tribal and Sectoral Bigotry

The violence and horrible nature of the conflict lasted long as a result of tribal differences that came to the fore on terrible tolls when combatants lost their factional ideologies and turn to persecute members of certain tribes as a result of preexisting conflicts. This according to some studies was what prolonged the war, and also accounts for some of the heinous crimes committed.

Most of our tribes have been in conflicts long before the civil crisis. It is therefore important to excavate and establish the causes (traditional and territorial) of those conflicts and neutralize those differences in a way that the succeeding generations will lose all traces of the factor and events that put tribes against each other. There are several tribes that demonstrated extreme bigotry and viciousness against each other during our civil wars. That these tribes must traditionally and culturally understand one another and do away with stereotyping and misconceptions before we move forward should be a matter of consideration and a point to take a transit of revision on our road to genuine reconciliation.


The path to achieving genuine reconciliation in Liberia and setting the basis for lasting peace depends on opening gates of economic opportunities and empowerment for all in Liberia. This requires education and empowerment of the young people and the teaching of broad-based Liberian culture(s) in Liberian schools.

The classes, sectors and tribes that have been against each other in this country needs to reconcile through a tribal reconciliation process that must be implemented through tribal and regional conferences throughout Liberia. There is also a need for the Americo-Liberians and the Natives to reconcile through a conference that must acknowledge the contributions of both sides to the development of this country. The National Reconciliation Conference to be called by the TRC must not be the end of the road, but a means of finding the actual end of the road.

-In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice, the Pen shall never Run Dry-

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