Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

First published Oct. 2006

Those who believe, and emigrate and strive with might and main, in Allah’s cause, with their goods and persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah.They are the people who will achieve the salvation.(Quran 9:20)

The term Jihad had for a long time been misconstrued by people. This is simply because of the way the religion of Islam was spread after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) was through invasions and conquers.Those wars were not really fought in representation of the term Jihad. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) fought because He and his followers were assailed and drove out of Mecca by the pagan Arabs. It was through their revenge to regain their territories that they overran the pagans, most of whom were converted during the war. As we previously stated, most of those who fought with the swords in the name of Islam after the death of the Prophet (PBUH) had political and economic motives for which they were championing. And those motives were to expand territories, capture the best mines, and assume authority over the inhabitants. If we continue to argue that Jihad is not the usage of the swords and the spares in converting people to Islam, we must now endeavor to analytically interpret the term Jihad to people – its meaning and essence ‘in the cause of God’. WHAT IS JIHAD Let us firstly examine the term Islam before discussing Jihad as a way of propagating Islam. Islam is the religion of the Muslims (Followers of The Prophet Muhammad, PBUH). The word Islam is an Arabic word meaning ‘submission to the will of Allah’.Socially, we may say that Islam is an institution with ideologies and programs which seek to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets. And those basic tenets include the belief in the oneness of Allah as the only God worthy of worship, and that the Prophet (PBUH) is His slave and messenger; regular prayers; hands-giving to the needy in good faith; the performance of the Holy Pilgrimage; and the observance of the Holy Ramadan.Those who perform and promulgate the ideologies and programs of Islam are called Muslims, and the struggle used by Muslims (in the cause of God) to propagate said ideologies is called JIHAD. There are some Arabic words synonymous to the term Jihad, but Islam rejects the use of such words because of their forceful and merciless meanings. This was why the term ‘Jihad’ which is synonymous to the word ‘struggle’ is restricted to Islam. The nearest correct meaning of the word Jihad in English can be expressed as follows:‘to exert one’s utmost endeavor in promoting a cause’.WHAT IS THE MODERN DAY JIHAD The modern day jihad is the exact representation of the word itself which means to exert one’s utmost endeavor in promoting a cause. But the jihad of Muslims is not merely a struggle or a cause, but it is a struggle for the cause of God. ‘For the cause of God’ is an indispensable condition for Jihad in Islam. The modern day jihad now is the usage of the powerful tongue and the mightiest pen under the supervision of an intellectual mind to convince mankind about the existence of Allah as the only God worthy of worship, and that the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) is His slave and messenger. The modern day Jihad is the expending of one’s resources to facilitate and promote programs aimed at spreading the Islamic Religion. This Jihad is a method so refined to win souls and join in congregations to give glories and praises to Allah. But the essence of Jihad consists in a true and sincere faith, an earnest and ceaseless activity, involving the sacrifice of life,person, or property in the service of Allah. Mere brutal fighting that involved killings, injuring and genocide are opposed to the spirit of Jihad. The reason is that you can not win people to your side by killing them or by inflicting injuries on them, or else you will be left alone or with disabled people.And that which is in no way a form of victory. The pens of the sincere scholars and the voices of the persuasive preachers and the contributions of the wealthy and serviceable men in the cause of Allah may be the most valuable forms of the Jihad of Islam
Political Expediency, or the Law?

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Societies every where establish standards to avoid ruthless conflicts among its elements for gains, safety, and glory by setting out laws and a body to effectuate their existence. This can only succeed at the acquiescence of every member. One constellation with distinct titles such as ‘Honorable’, ‘Lord’ or ‘Congressman; makes the laws, and for this, they are the decisive axle and first branch of every democratic society. The second is a body of cabinet headed by a Commander-in-chief for the enforcement of such laws, and the third is a class of refined and brilliant men who interpret the laws at bar. These three branches are by themselves independent but coordinating bodies.

A specter of civil uprisings haunted Liberia in the 1970s and 1980s, and later degenerated into a horrible and bloody internecine disparity in the 1990s the causes of which were corroborated under a blanket of ‘freedom and democracy for the people’. But the effects are scars that can not be eroded from the minds of the survivors; neither can they write historical pages without special emphases on it. This carnage portrayed spineless and callous characters in a theatre struggling for power with no base or standardized procedures in such pursuit. The remissness of their drama never only saw the strength of power at work, but the grotesque suppression of our constitution and codes of law to mere paper document- toothless enough to chew its violators. The result of a society created by such a system only justifies the maxim of a jungle-style life-‘the strongest survives’. And for the strongest to survive the weak must surrender or be eliminated. We experienced this jungle-style life for more than a decade. We saw the involuntary displacement of hundreds of thousands of citizens some of whom are still wallowing in refugee camps in hopelessness; the amputation and slipshod murdering of hundreds of thousands of countrymen, and the robbing of our economy , erosion of our traditional values and the collapsed of our social systems thereby rendering our state a ‘failed state’.

In 2005 a comprehensive peace agreement was signed by the rebels, the GOL, and Civil Society Organizations and Political Parties not only as a document to end the war, but also a testament emphasizing the weariness of the Liberian people in civil conflict and their alacrity for the return to constitutional democracy. But to the dismay of the masses, a people healing wounds of trauma and awakening to a new consciousness, some members of the legislature had reintroduced the use of power against the laws of the state, thereby, radiating hypocrisy, sycophancy and gross betrayal in the service of the people.

Some commentators argued in defense of the anti-Snowe Speakership camp by the mere absurdity of ‘majority decision’. Some argue that Snowe ignored political expediency for legality to secure his regality, and for this he proved to be ‘weak’ politically. To argue this way is to express forgetfulness about the memories of the civil war, because political expediency is guided by the rule of law. A true politician is not the one who plays a charade or chicanery to succeed, but he who pursues success by moral and ethical standards within the circumference of the law. Let us not forget that it was because of misguided political expediency that our nineteenth President was murder in a cold blood. Thirteen of our statesmen were also executed and others followed subsequently, since the then regime saw their existence as threats and for expediency they must be eliminated at all costs. The commanding General also saw it politically expedient to change the despotic regime out of the rule of law, and we saw the theatre of murder and attempted genocide that followed in reaction. Some compatriots also saw it politically expedient in 1989 to return from exile by dethroning the then government through arm invasion. They saw the use of power as the only way out, not the laws of the land. They brutally advanced on the state and the innocent peasants thereby leading this country into a fray of social decadence and fratricidal war that lasted for nearly one and a half decade characterized by ethnic and sectional violence, a change of regimes of all types- irresponsive to their responsibilities, the lost of meritocracy, and extreme poverty in the lives of the people.

If we continue to solve disparities by violence terming it ‘politically expedient’, though injurious to our laws, then we will not be forgiven by the spirit of our innocent countrymen who fell during our days of anarchy. We emphasize these for no other reasons, but to demonstrate our own resilience and resolve against those things that have once bred chaos in our country. The unconstitutional removal of our speaker does not in anyway demonstrate patriotic consciousness, and a sense of civil responsibility in the Virginia Lawmakers, but rather a blatant disregard of the plight, and sufferings of the people. Thanks to the Supreme Court for the enlightenment that the strongest force in every land is the law.
Restoring the Dignity of the Lower House

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Informative, educative and entertaining was the Star Radio Day-Break-Liberia Program of April 2, 2007, exactly at 6:00 A.M. when I heard the voice of the crowd-pulling and influential voice of the young enterprising political activist of the Congress for Democratic Change, Assistant Secretary Acarous M. Gray. I was just about to begin my preparation for a new and fresh day when Mr. Gray asserted that by 3:00 P.M. the CDC will announce the most ‘marketable, acceptable, and winnable’ candidate to contest the Speaker election of the Legislature slated for Thursday. After My early morning prayer, I was bombarded by several thoughts that led to a one-on-one characterization of the 16 CDC Representatives in the lower house. However, I spent my day in bewilderment and complexity of thoughts as to who is actually endowed with those qualities as described by Mr. Gray.

Though I had been opposed to a by-election in the lower house since the resignation of Snowe, but I have also come to believe that what ever the plenary decides upon , as long as it takes course, I must advocate vigorously for credible people to take over and restore the political dignity and moral sanctity of the lower house. Lately in the afternoon, my intellect was released from its confounded prison when I heard the name of the All-time charismatic Teacher and Civil Leader, Hon. Edward S. Forh announced as the candidate for the speaker position by the CDC. I began to sample the views of some of Liberia ’s emerging intellectuals who frequently assemble on Carey Street to exchange views and comments of our contemporary time. On the aggregate, Hon. Forh was described beyond the Gray’s categorization. He is not only seen to be marketable, winnable, and acceptable, but also seen as a middle-man politician who stands as a bridge linking the aspirations of the masses to the challenges and courage of their leaders. Though his days in the classroom are memorable and still yearned for by students, but his surfacing into the National Legislature came at a time when the people of Liberia had longed so much for his kind.

While people have begun to push forth arguments and analysis about the position of Speaker, my advocacy remains focus on restoring the good image of the House of Representatives that must mirror its obligations to the people on a cohesive and progressive platter. Considering all of the candidates in the race, our lens of critique must be pointed to their individual abilities to ascend and properly discharge the duties of the office of Speaker. Forh’s candidacy neutralizes the solution. His social background and his role in the past reflects the dreams and aspirations of the people for a sincere public servant, and the declaration of his candidacy by the CDC simply balanced all social and political inequalities for a unified Lower House

The locust of derangement and malfeasances that is grotesquely bulldozing the reverence of the Lower House needs not to be combated along factional, sectional or party line any longer. A classroom teacher like Edward Forh needs only attention and quietude in his class, and every student will take the best lesson. His managerial and administrative skills backed by his personal commitment to pursuing a wholesome functioning society in Liberia is powerful enough to silence the brouhaha in the Lower House and set the basis to avoid future occurrences. His discipline and adherence to ethics and the rule of law is sufficiently vigilant and insurmountable to protect the Constitution and other approved laws of Liberia against violators. His courage and determination to stand for just causes and echo the views and aspirations of his people makes him an icon of national unity capable enough to unite and preside over the activities of the First Branch of Government. From his advent into civil activism, like his success in organizing the Liberian Organized for Change (LIBOCH), I have known him to be a man of broad imagination, dramatic personality and boundless inspiration that society will long benefit from, because he had chosen to explore the frontier of pluralistic doctrines for his people. He is a man whose recent emergence into the body-politics of Liberia must be credited not only to his role as a teacher and mentor, or his brilliance as an intellectual, but also to his conviction that one day his people shall live in unity and perpetual peace.
The Unsacred Shrine
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

In the lives of traditional Africans, their posterity has been determined by the oracles who sit at the shrines to represent and interpret the wills of the gods to the people. The oracle priest also represents the will of the people and explains their agonies and demand to the god for solutions and recommendations. When the oracle priest lost his sanctity or moral consciousness, it is most likely that the gods will not favorably respond to the people. And at times when bigotry interferes in the discharge of his sacred duty, the people also lost reverence for his holiness. Consequently, misfortunes and all forms of sadistic deeds of man engulf the lives of the people, and their community suffers collapse with the erosion of rules and orders, and the rise of anarchy.

This analogy suits the lower house of the current Legislature in Liberia . From the elections of 2005, it had been the hopes of many Liberians that this legislature will restore the independence of legislative actions in Liberia if it had ever existed, or this legislature will set the basis and by practice interpret the true meaning of the ‘separate but coordinating’ branches of government as provided by the constitution. Unfortunately, the lower house of the 52nd National Legislature appears to be in my mind a shrine that had lost its sacred obligation to the people who see it as their way to posterity. From January 2006 to my pen time, there have been a cloud of controversy and disdainful happenings from that perceive honorable branch of government. The Representatives firstly exposed themselves to the Liberian people when they elected Edwin Snowe as Speaker disregarding his academic and political limitations and the U.N. Security Council travel ban on him. While people were preaching logic to them they were looking in Snowe’s wallet for response. The strength of his pocket overshadowed all realities and he succeeded. As I turn the pages of local dailies and raise radio volumes the more I am bedazzled about the news that emanate from the lower house. Very recently some lawmakers argued that the Acting Speaker lacks the education to assume the post as Speaker proper, some argued in his favor while some argued that the constitution is not clear on any pattern of succession therefore, they are calling for elections. Amidst all of these controversies, if the Acting Speakers pocket is responsive as Snowe’s was in the early days of their sitting, he would have mounted the post with ease, and the question of education reduced to the trash can as it happened before.

The house is so unconscious and sycophantic that they had currently endorsed the felonious crime of bribery and had made it synonymous to lobby, that any act of such, in their own terms, is considered lobby. The attempted removal of the former Speaker under the seeming alcoholic influence of money has been dubbed as lobby. When Speaker Snowe cross-jumped functions to negotiate diplomatic ties with Taiwan , realists thought that he would have been impeached, but his mastery of his colleagues backed by his responsive pocket kept the situation in his favor, and he offered an apology. His removal came finally when there was a source that financially manipulated the majority and was more profligate in that cause than he could individually do to survive. The Euphoria upset the whole country, as they were nicknamed ‘Pavilion Based’ and ‘Virginia Based’ for more than two months with no achievements or even an attempt. It seemed that the source was so lucrative and resolute to spend even life if the cause be than Snowe himself could to protect his royalty, because those who once fed on him were so robust and chauvinistic that they could not compromise anything Speaker Snowe but Rep. Snowe. Then came his resignation with the emergence of an easy-going Bong County Representative who, by popular affiliation, became Snowe’s deputy.

While the Constitution of Liberia did not use elementary terms to explain an ascendancy pattern in the leadership of the house, but the idea that resignation or other circumstances may make the office of Speaker vacant, was what brought a deputy speaker in the leadership of the lower house. Even in local arrangements there are deputies or vice heads that are visibly ceremonious, but are always potential heads in waiting. For the removal of Snowe, the work of the Liberian people was left untouched for nearly two month something that reflected the minds of the people to the grievous past. Today, we still sit and see a legislature that has become so porous to all forms of corruptions, bigotry and indecencies, that what they can individually collect has supersede their consciousness and functions as honorable men an women. They are sometimes accused of chasing investors who to exploit them or delaying a particular bill for handouts.
The Silent Wake of Education In Liberian Schools

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

The worst of all human societies is not just the illiterate one, but also the one in which people are seen to be lettered, but are not truly lettered. A society of such can only pose dangers and threats to neighbors and blockade to development. During the emergence of the civil rights struggle in America, John Brown Russworm, who later came to Liberia, told his fellow blacks that the best way out for the negro race is to educate their brethrens and get them prepare for the challenges of the world; and that which is already before them-the challenge of integration with the white race. The specter of what haunted Liberia in the 1980s and burst up into civil war did not only kill citizens and loot or destroy properties, it also chewed up the fabrics of the cultural lives of the Liberian people, broke down the systems of control in government, civil society and even the religious communities. Most of these seem to be recovering from the debris of the war, but the educational system continues to sink as it still faces post war casualties when the riffles and grenades are no longer shedding. This sector that must be highly equipped to prepare minds and men that will restore the dignity of the other sectors in the society have been polarized by corruption. It is today the sewage for disposing of all the remnants of those who do not fit in other sectors of life. This is however due to the lack of control. Most of what occur today in the schools has been blamed on the unseriousness of students who are just the final product of the system. Let us establish that the product of a poorly managed system can never perform properly. The level of corruption that has taken over the schools has made the system to loss its focus of education, and has concentrated more on money gathering from students. It is unthinkable to note that students pay for examination malpractices to their schools’ administrators before leaving the schools to assemble for the National Exam. This crime-fee is usually dubbed as ‘flexibility fee’. And no one would like to pay for a good or service that he or she will not get. As a result of this advance payment made towards the crime, students no longer read. In fact, they enter the examination halls with the hopes that the ground will be flexible for cheating and all other academic malfeasances that will give them a passing mark. When I was firstly informed about this new market in the Liberian schools, I began to apply some economic theories concerning market, circular flow and consumer behavior. The next thought that reached my memory was that if the students are the buyer of the crime, the schools’ administrators the retailers, then there must be a wholesaler or a supplier that supplies schools’ administrators. When I witness the crime market and many other irregularities, like the parent-child relationship that has been transmogrified to husband-wife relationships by some teachers in the schools, and the humiliation of some teachers that have turned to students beer-table mates, I mourn the scenario as a cold blood murder of the most esteemed segment of the society that is expected to produce the nobles, the honorable, the clergies, the professors and the doctors. And regrettably, we all witness it silently in tears for the future like a traditional funeral ceremony where the drums are silent. The tragedy of this demise of education is that, if the system is not resurrected, Liberia will be faced with the problem of having people bearing professional papers, and cannot fully perform according to the professions. I remember in 2001 when Madam Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America, said to a crowd that “the most important gift we can give to the children of the world is the gift that is most likely to lead to world perfect peace and prosperity, and that is the gift of good education”. If this nation and people will emerge from hatred and mere envy, and be a part of the global network and economy, the education of the Liberian children must be of priority, and not be treated as a mere agenda.
The Fifth General Assembly of FLY
--Constitutionalists Versus. Pseudo-Realists--
May 2007
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Let me give a bird’s eye analysis of the gathering of young people from all over the country that ended in a brouhaha and tragic illusions for the delegates. They actually assembled to decide the fate of what seems to be a consoling and vibrant canopy for their collective welfare- the Federation of Liberian Youth. Those that attended the Assembly may expect me to narrate the sorrows that engulfed the delegates when they impatiently waited to be transported back as they fed on mangoes and water. I do not intend to venture into that, neither do I desire to delve into the monkey-business drama of the division amongst the sitting Executives. There actions only reminded me of the fray between a man and his wife on their fifth wedding anniversary where celebrants saw them ranging insults and allegations of extramarital affairs against each other.

My intend to hold a pen about this Assembly is to narrate what I observed as a battle between constitutionalists, delegates whose arguments were based on the constitution of the Federation, and pseudo-realists, delegates who appealed to the emotions and sentiments of non-members for their participation in order to clothe their favors. The sitting Executives were also divided in that line. The Secretary and his allies on one hand while the President and his allies on another side of the divide. For them, I can not categorize them directly, though some took side with the constitutionalists and others sided with the pseudo-realist. But it is their immaturity and avarices that ridiculed the national efforts of the young people of Liberia. They all operated a criminal syndicate in FLY that was compelled to come to light due to marginal tendencies. They were clog into a crimeberg that could not allow them to actively advocate for the empowerment of the young people all over the country, but rather chasing donors’ fund and muscling each other rapaciously. This limited their role as an advocacy group, and even their vibrancy and essence amongst the youth were lacking. They bathed in errors for two years and finally, they had been dragged into a drainage of distrust, and listed among those that can no longer enjoy the fruits of human confidence. Conclusively, they have lost the confidence of this generation.

It was so elated and exciting as more than one hundred young men and women from all over Liberia met on the night of May 22, 2007 at the Catholic Pastoral Center in Gbarnga. Delegates from the counties were united with their native brothers and sisters who had come to Monrovia in search of education. Little did they know that those who assembled them were mere hustlers and icons of failures, and that the essence of their gathering would end fruitlessly. What first became a sign of achievement was the successful elections of members of the Liberian Chapter of the Mano River Union Youth Parliament. All other events following that could not succeed due to numerous attempts to slaughter the Constitution of FLY in cold blood. The Fly Constitution states that only Full and Associate Members have the right to participate in all activities of the Assembly with at most four and two delegates respectively. And each Organization has one vote in the elections of officers. Contrary to this, were the pseudo-realists who were bent on having non member organizations as voters. The non-members referred to here are delegates from the counties that were primarily invited for the MRU Youth Parliament elections.

Those groups came to the Assembly in respond to invitations from the FLY Secretariat asking County Coordinators to come along with five organizations from each county excluding Montserrado that has more Full and Associate members. FLY was responsible for a single delegate per organization. Any organization wishing to carry the required number will do so at her own expense. But the suspicion of a fraudulent attempt came in when the constitutionalists began to inquire why their must be a specific number from the counties. What happens when a county has more or less than five Full and Associate members? Interestingly, pundits were smart to identify the scheme of unscrupulous vote-making.

At the Assembly hall, delegates succeeded identifying Full and Associate members, and all other participants were asked out of the hall. This was the first major achievement for the constitutionalists. Considering their numerical limitation in the hall, the pseudo-realists began to appeal to the sentiments of those non-members that were asked out by referring to the constitutionalists as people against the participation of the rural groups. But they fell short to recognize that there were Full and Associate members from the counties that were highly participating. There were groups from Gbarpolu, Rivercess, Nimba, Cape Mount, Margibi, Grand Bassa, etc, that were legitimate. They did not relent because they had fewer votes amongst the legitimate members who know their inefficacy. Their only hope was in their self-made groups; therefore, their participation was a must, if they (Pseudo-realist) must remain in leadership. Among the ousted groups also were some that went for memberships either as Full or Associate. The constitutionalists welcomed their desire but requested for their file of records. That could also not be found.

Another interesting part of the clashes between the two groups was the part of the agenda that has to do with the Secretariat’s Report. The President mandated an administrative officer to read the Report while the Secretary General was lively seated at bar. This began another fray. But the Assembly, in line with the constitution, mandated the Secretary General to present his biannual report. The President protested that he had no input to that Report; it therefore does not represent the Executives of FLY that he heads. He relinquished his post as presiding officer. The Secretary presented his Report and a motion for discussion was tested in his favor. In the heat of that discussion, a subsidiary motion requesting the thrashing of the SG’s Report was defeated. That motion was based on two reasons: it was half verbal and half written; no distributed copies to delegates. But the SG had a defense. Here the guys finally recognized their limitations, and the myopic argument about rural participation resurfaced with emotions overriding persuasions. The person expected to draw the line and interpret the constitution to everyone for the sake of progress did not do so, but suspended the leadership and postponed the Assembly to a deferred time.

The ousted group on the other side, squarely supervised by the pseudo-realists, regrouped themselves into a Federation of Rural Youth (FRY) and drafted a resolution dissociating themselves from FLY.
Open Letter to Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
President of the Republic of Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
July 28, 2007

Dear Madam President,I bring you warmest greetings in the spirit of nationalism. Please accept my post Independence Day compliments. This is my first time communicating with you since you ascended to the stewardship of this country. I have decided to make this communication open not only for you and me to be the communicators, but that the people of Liberia can visualize the essence of free speech in a democracy. I also open this communication for the purpose of a conscious audience to take note of my encounter with you through this medium. The writing of this communication was precipitated by impression of your administration’s effort in less than two years. However, I did not decline on outlining my dismay and disappointments about your administration. That will be noted further down as we talk. Let me first commend you for the level of work done so far in restoring peace to our country. If we were on a boat on the Pacific with a rough hurricane blowing, you will be called a courageous and skillful sailor. Bravo. First, let me inform you that your administration has succeeded in restoring hopes to the people of Liberia. The peace enjoyed, with all its delicacy, the numerous economic negotiations, the freedom of press and speech, what I have chosen to fight for, the reformed judiciary, and the numerous cries against corruption signal a future of prosperity and abundant harvest from the compounded field of economic growth and democracy. My studies and observations of power and subjects have made me to know that a leader without vision and courage is followed by a people without hopes and aspirations. With this, I want to let you know that the hopes restored in the lives of the Liberian people are not the results of your eloquence or fascinating appearances, but because of your ability and willingness to convert your good words into fruitful deeds. My studies have also made me to know that when a leader disregard and neglect the cries and services of his people, the people become frustrated. And mind you, a frustrated people are a gullible people who are susceptible to accept all perfidious arrangements of your critics. It is at this time that the seeds of the critics begin to germinate, and very soon the people revolt. Such revolt may end into a long civil war and anarchy when you feel powerful enough to resist them. This is manifested in the Frustration-Aggression Theory, a modern political theory that argues that individuals and even societies that are frustrated sometimes become aggressive. Madam, History had told me that the last three pre war presidents are remembered for different activities and slogans. President Tubman is recorded for the Open-Door Policy and the Unification Policy, President Tolbert is remembered for the slogans ‘from mat to mattresses and ‘total involvement, higher heights’; while President Doe is remembered for the ‘Green revolution’. Some of these slogans and policies only exist on papers and in grapes while some are felt by the people. Some one had told me that like other, you will be remembered for your ‘Papa na come’. I have challenged this to believe that you have more to achieve as president than a ‘papa na come’. My argument have been based on the fact that papa can not come when he is not employed or when he lacks the ability to be employed- when he lacks academic, technical and vocational education. I want to let you know that if you fight and eradicate illiteracy in Liberia by educating the young people of this country, the babies of illiteracy, poverty and disease will have no place in the lives of the people. If this is achieved, papa will come with wealth and health, and your footprints will be indelible, your position in the pages of history will remain sacrosanct. The young people of this country have to find a definitive road to follow from you and members of your generation - a generation infamously known for destroying this country. In Plato’s work, the Republic, it is stated that the world is a journey and every generation will follow the footprints of the preceding generation. If your generation wants a future for this country, you must not relent in your fight against corruption. You must avoid the acts of class and ethnicity in leadership, the act of having clemency over officials who come into conflicts with the laws and policies on grounds that they are friends of the president. The standards you will set for our country are what the next generation of leaders will definitely follow. If concession agreements are not published like the controversial Nigerian Oil deal, corrupt officials are not prosecuted like the guys from the Lands, Mines and Energy Ministry; your successors may likely follow such practice. Madam, I will hold myself in contempt if this communication reaches you without informing you that some of your well known policies are not enforced. The issues of price control and exchange rate to commensurate with incomes have gone beyond the comprehension of low income earners. While there incomes have been seemingly increased, they still survive at the same level as inflation remains a major problem to understanding the consumption capacity of their increased income. The young girls of Liberia are still to understand the fate and essence of the widely publicized ‘Policy on Girls Education’ of April 2006. People living in rural communities still lack basic social services, mainly health facilities and primary schools. Children in distance villages are out of school because of no proximity to communities with schools. With these I will like to close with the conviction that we had a fine discussion, the fruit of which will be enjoyed not only by you and me, but the entire citizenry of this country.May God Bless you and save the State.

Progressively yours

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei
Citizen of Fassie Town, Bomi County
Armed Robbery And The Challenges Of National Recovery (Part I)
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

The trends of invasion on the poverty-stricken people of Liberia had come in many forms from the time of colonialism to the present-day post-war Liberia. During the pre-colonial period, there were tribal invasions, slaves capturing and traditional wars that kept fears amongst the people. The colonial days witnessed wars between the settlers from the West and the aborigines, and the tribes were still at wars with each other. The Post-colonial days; the Republic of Liberia, witnessed problems ranging from political, economic and military calamities that rendered the people insecure from all dimensions. Tribal wars were still prevalent, the Kru War and the Gola War (both between 1915 and 1918) are still in the pages of history. The German submarine incursion during World War I, political dictatorship and brutal handling of oppositions and elections riggings, like the 1927 chess charade, were parts of the horrors after independence. The D. Twe incident of 1951, The Coleman Dilemma of 1955 and the Fahnbulleh predicament of 1968 are all reminiscent of that era. Economic sabotages against the state by public officials are all situations that still maintain fears and horrors in the lives of the people particularly the peasants, the rural dwellers, and those who situations have suppressed to eke living in the absence of economic options.

These and many more incidents counterproductive to civilization set the nation in a volcano with many craters to erupt. Finally, in 1989, the volcano erupted leaving the people at the lowest layer of civilization, the state and its resources pillaged by fighters. As time had passed, the people have concluded their differences with the election of a new government supported by major multinational institutions and super powers. Also supporting the government is the presence of thousands of soldiers, police officers and civilian staffs under the United Nations Mission in Liberia. What has become the new trend of invasion against the people of Liberia; already trying to rebuild shattered lives is the upsurge of armed robbery on them. This has been considered by many analysts as inevitable post-conflict situation perpetrated by ex-fighters. But the point of logical departure is drawn from questions like ‘what is the mission of the DDRR program? Had both the Disarmament and the Rehabilitation segments of the program failed after expending millions of dollars? These questions are asked because small arms are still in the hands of the wrong people, and the people expected to live better lives with skill are still dangerous.

The uncontrollable wave of this armed robbery situation is today posing a major threat to the rebuilding of the state and the recovery of the people. Unfortunately, those who are not even living middle class lives are the most victims of the robbers. People from almost all status, but some, have been victimized. Lawmakers have their ordeals; the journals of journalists are flooded with stories of armed robbery, even those with no fixed income have some testimonies. A particular municipality in the country, Paynesville City and its residents continue to fall prey with no signs of relief. An old woman, explaining her ordeal, inquire why the robbers can not attack the President, the Vice President or top Government Officials who she claimed are affluent. An elderly man was quick to declare that all those people have ‘semi military barracks’ at their gates, ‘only we the poor people will suffer’.

The Effects on National Development

No nation develops or progresses in the absence of aliens or foreigners who contribute to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through employment, petty trade and large-scale investments. At the same time development does not take place when the lives of the citizens are threatened by problems of insecurity, particularly in the midst of harsh economic conditions. There must be a favorable climate that guarantees the safety of all against aggressions and injustices. Whilst the Government is making strides on the international stage, attracting investors, tourists and experts to the country, the safety of those investors and tourists in the country is a major challenge to the government as cases of violence and armed robbery is reported daily. Mid this year, a trainee at the MVTC stabbed an innocent Chinese woman who had come to contribute to the Human Resources to death. In November alone, a used car dealer was armed robbed on Bushrod Island, a Belgium National who left his home investing in Liberia was shot to death by unknown men in LAC in Grand Bassa County, and a Global Bank Van, transporting the sum of 150,000 United States Dollars was armed robbed on the high way to Buchanan. At the same time, local residents in the Cow Field community in Paynesville openly cried on the Government to immediately cease the situation. These incidents have occurred barely one month after the World Bank had reported that Liberia has a terrible climate for business. The consequences of the actions will undoubtedly scarred investors away, because there is nothing more precious than the life for which the money is invested.

The Role of the Government

Whilst the situation continues unabated, the government is still studying options of arming or not arming the national police to combat the robbers. As the debate of arming the police has taken the whole country with views expressed in articles and on radio talk shows, the casualties increase in geometric progression, particularly at the single most ‘engagement point’- the Paynesville-Gardnerville Belt. In 2006, the then Justice Minister challenged community residents (who by themselves are armless) to defend themselves against the armed robbers. I view the challenge as something that undermined the Social Contract of 1847 signed by the people of Liberia in the creation of a sovereign state that will defend them against aggression in return for the submission of their rights. Moreover, the Government, through its information machinery had continued to intellectualize the calamities. About a month ago, after the media reported that armed-robbery tops police charge sheets, the Solicitor General, in one of his intellectual show-off, challenged that report; but the upsurge of the crime in recent days had drown the dichotomy between his claim and that of the media.
A Review of Monkpeh Karr’s Inquiry on Minister Bropleh
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

One Monkpeh Karr declared that he was taken aback by recent statements made by the Minister of Information regarding religious tolerance in Liberia . My intentions here are not to deal with Karr, whether he (considering him a male) exists in person or not, but I do know that someone somewhere has exposed his limitations by distorting the Minister’s statements regarding religious tolerance in Liberia by parochial interpretations. Whether it is poor comprehension or intentional distortion, my focus here is to interpret the issue, and to some extent push logic into his head.

Karr claims that something is puzzling simply because he does not understand the matters at bar, mainly issues concerning peace, democracy and the desires for genuine reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in Liberia . Minister Bropleh, also a Methodist Cleric, had just decided to be consistent with principles, and not to give blind eyes to the reality as many Liberians could choose to do. His speeches and actions are all in the collective interest of genuine peace and mutual coexistence. Only few individuals who profess to be ‘Men of God’ and anxious to create impressions can challenge his ideas. I don’t know whether Karr is one, but the facts are obvious.

On a general theme, the Minister has continuously argued that if Liberia will be peaceful and if democracy will be exercised, it is prudent to observe and respect the values of others in the country who are not Christians. As such, as a broad-minded man, he proposed that Muslims should be given a Holiday on any of their religious Festivals. If this can not be done, then Christian Holidays should be nullified in order to live up to the doctrine of ‘Separation of State and Religion’ as provided for in Article 14 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. Other countries are doing the same, and their people are proud to live together with honorable reverence for each other. Our neighbors including Sierra Leone and Guinea are fine testimonies of harmonious religious coexistence. It is a pity that people will continue to use strictures and ousted condemnations of the true defenders of the truth.

Karr inquired whether the Minister is denying the faith of Jesus Christ. For those of us who understand social interactions and promote unity, we can only say that inasmuch as the Minister remains a Devotee of Christ, he uphold the values and rights of his neighbors with high veneration. On his second inquiry concerning the Minister’s Statesmanship and Being, one can succinctly states that the Minister’s statesmanship is imbedded within his being and that all outputs whether divine or political represents his ‘Being’ which is an ideal amalgamation his intellect and beliefs.

In his conclusion, Karr declared that the Minister’s day are drawings to an end, in a tone that is only indicative of a sage or a close ally to the President, or to some degree an Angel. Does Karr know when he would loss his job or when he will be recalled by his Creator? It is unfortunate and preposterous to negatively interpret the future of another person
A Candid Look at Bropleh’s Islamic Holiday Proposition

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

Since the patriotic stance taken by the Information Minister calling for the recognition of a major Islamic Festival as a National Holiday in Liberia, many persons have come out with dissecting views on the matter. Some, so dogmatic and willing to compromise anything to impress their congregations, have pushed for the expulsion of Bropleh from the service of God Almighty. Yet, some so intellectually incline and cognizant of the growing need for the fertilization of the ongoing peace process have taken the cross with Bropleh to wave the debate through the logic associated with it. But a third group, claiming to be member of the intelligentsia, have joined this debate with bombastic controversies clusterized with disjointed propositions. This group, gyrating around the lampoon of the ‘theoretical Secular State’ provided by the 1986 constitution, continues to ignore the reality of the de facto Legislation of Christianity in Liberia. Among them is an acclaimed student of Law, named and styled S. Herron Gbidi, who marketed his own cancerous limitations and ignorance in the January 30, 2008 edition of the Public Agenda Guest Column, a regular meeting point for intellectuals and logicians. This unsuspecting imp, in an article entitled ‘Bropleh’s Menacing Call for Islamic Holiday’, presented ill-fated arguments in which were self-stultifying and self-contradicting elements. He at one time justified the de facto, yet empirically state-sanctioned Legislation of Christianity by his unfounded claim that ‘Liberia is a predominantly Christian nation’. At another time he hypocritically withdrew from that point by fallaciously interpreting the government poverty reduction, peace and democracy objectives relative to religious tolerance.

Change as a universal permanence is precipitated by time and events. When it is time for a necessary change to take place in any given human society, the events of the day, and the people involved should be given prominence. Christianity as a religion in Liberia got influence from state resources and maximum support. This does not in any sense makes Christianity a state religion. In fact, considering our national experience, which is stained with immoralities, dehumanization, stealing and bloodletting, all well-meaning Christians will swiftly distance Christianity, a religion of divine principles, from the national affairs of Liberia. Liberia was never legislated as a one-party state under the True Whig Party, but the TWP’s hold on power and dominant style of authoritarian rule, gave it a de facto status that its activities became national activities for more than one hundred years. When it was time for the change, only the conscious patriots from within the same realm blew the trumpet for democratic change …and we saw the resultant events when there were attempts to nullify the proposition and eliminate the advocates.

The recent call by Dr. Lawrence Bropleh for the recognition of Islamic Holiday is a call that must go beyond our frozen sentiments to a level of analyzing and forecasting the livelihood of peace in this country, if at all we are serious about our call for democracy. For anyone to ignore the exclusive privileges given to Christians in this country at the expense of the Muslims is a self-imposed blindness to reality. The fact that Government Ministries and State Agencies are closed on Easters and Christmas is sufficient for a patriot to recognize the brutalization of the 1986 Constuitution. The irony of this matter is that with the influx of pro-democracy organizations and political parties in the country none can ably recognize this violation of the constitution; but all arguments have been driven behind unconstitutional political appointments, corruption, and the hunt for grants from donors.

Though Bropleh’s position is strange and impalpable in the minds of the hyposensitive ones, the reality is crystal and pursuant to the building of peace in this country. How then can he be seeing as anti-peace or someone in search of a political bloc? In Bropleh’s mind, the worship of God by an individual should not be motivated by state legislation, whether de jure or de facto. Individuals should perform their religious obligation based upon their faith, and the state should have no intervention thereof. But the state’s involvement had gone so deep to the extent that its own legal provisions are grotesquely violated, and at the expense and violation of the right of another group of its citizen.

The government’s policies or objectives of ensuring economic revitalization, rule of law, infrastructural development, peace and democracy all encapsulated in a poverty reduction strategy paper can not be attainable without generous commitment to the state’s own constitution and the principle of equal treatment of citizen. An Islamic Holiday in Liberia on a major Islamic Festival shall not only benefit the Muslims but will also promote peaceful coexistence because this will open more windows of opportunities to celebrate and even share with each other. You may agree with me that because the major Festivals in Christianity like Easters and Christmas are recognize as national holidays in Liberia, Liberian Muslims have the time to celebrate with the Christian colleagues, but unfortunately for some of the Christians who will want to celebrate with their Muslim friends on the day of Eid- Ul Fitri (Ramadan Day), there is no similar opportunity since the day is not even a working holiday. This is done right in neighboring Sierra Leone where on both Christmas and Ramadan Day; one can not easily distinguish the Muslims from the Christian, because all are hands in hands celebrating each others joy.
The Doctor that can not Heal His Own Sore
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

A serious argument sometimes ensued between two older persons probably in their eighties over issues of competence, credibility, and will of a particular doctor in a village that could not properly prescribe drugs for himself, or treat a sore on his right thumb. I was a pedestrian on the road stretching from the main road to Fassie Town in Bomi County. Fassie is situated up the hill some one and a half miles from the Richard Henries Junction just few kilometers from Tubmanburg City. I stood and listened to the wisdoms and wits of the older people. Though in a state of fatigue from the distance just covered, I could not afford losing the opportunity to learn some of the conventional and traditional wisdoms of the two octogenarians.

One contended that if the doctor could suffer from a sore on his right thumb for over six months yet he moves with medical kits, drugs and supplies; his ability to cure people with similar cases is questionable, let alone a person suffering from appendicitis and in need of a surgery. The other lady, in sharp reaction suggested that the doctor could suffer from the sore because he lacks the particular drugs to cure himself, but not the training. On, and on they continue; and I kicked off to end the apparently last quarter of my one and half mile journey.

So is it with the healing of the wounds of our country, Liberia, inflicted by prolonged civil strife that was characterized with some of the worst forms of barbarity in human history; and the ignominious pillaging of the wealth of the land and the people.
The question of healing such wounds that were endured by a people now in complete traumatic disorder supported by the falsification of prospects by the current status quo is indeed a lingering and ponderous one. It is evident that there are various kinds of wounds- physical, that which results to a sore on the body; psychosocial, that which results to a state of stress and traumatic disorder. The latter also leads to a complete incoherence in society, and erosion of vital fabrics due to extreme frustrations and disillusionments. The psychosocial wound of our society is deepening daily due to the unavailability of soluble options to recover the people from stagnated poverty conditions.

The Liberian population or society is currently suffering from a serious psychosocial wound or traumatic breakdown in the population. The answers of recovery from such a state of nature have spurred debates in many quarters. Some argue for a form of retributive justice to prosecute and penalize those responsible for the mayhem. In some quarters, particularly ones dominated by the perpetrators, like the Accra Peace Accord, restorative justice is the subject. The legitimacy of the Accra Peace Accord succeeded in establishing an institution of restorative justice apparently in search of amnesty from the victims. The question of which succeeds or which fails is not a major concern now. But the prime concern of many Liberians is to have a cleanse and healed society with people properly recovered from the shackles of trauma ignited by the civil decadence; and systems of rule, order and effective civil administration restored to avoid the recurrence of war. This concern also raises its own question as to who or what kind of institution can effectively heal those wounds and establish the historical or root causes of war that will prepare the people to adopt attitudes that will ensure perpetual peace and mutual coexistence.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the available institution now charged with the responsibilities of healing the traumatic wounds, reconciling the population, and putting forth appropriate recommendations to avoid recurrence. Looking at its present content and dispositions, it has come into sharp contradictions with its mandate and intent. News regarding the moral behavior of some of the commissioners and issues concerning violations of the Act establishing the TRC had not only dragged the commission under the microscope of pundits, but had also brought to the fore questions on the competence and ability of individual commissioners to sit on that ‘noble’ bench. This had further led to a generalization of inquiry on the ability of the commission to perform its function of truth gathering and reconciliation since it had proven unable to reconcile a burning conflict between two of its members that ended into a fist fight in southeastern Liberia where the commission had gone in continuation of public hearings. What a disillusionment and abuse of the people’s expectation of this commission.

Reflecting on the case of the village doctor who can not heal a sore on his right thumb, the TRC has drawn analysts’ attention to its moral will and ability to heal the wounds of this country when it suffers from internal wounds since its creation. During its early days, there was an issue with an expatriate worker and some commissioners regarding salaries and benefits, the heat that surrounded this issue was sufficient to steam the expatriate, and he silently left. After the commission has wallowed in some millions of dollars, one off its financiers, American Billionaire George Soros came to the country and alarmed at the financial extravaganza at the wound-healing and reconciliation body. This also happened at a time statement takers of the commission were striking for salaries at the offices of the commission.

One of the commission’s primary functions is to gather the truth, and nothing but the truth. It is because of the relevance of the truth in establishing the root causes of our civil war that witnesses are made to take oath before testifying before the commissioners and the public. Therefore, it must be on the volition of the witness to appear. I was fortunate to be among the few Liberians who lively witnessed, Day One of the public hearings at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion on January 8, 2008. On that day I recall seeing one David Sayweh as the first witness to appear. David gave startling revelations of the involvement of Liberian musician Sundaygar Dearboy in the gang rape and death of his sister in 1994. This relevation have aroused series of hullabaloos with the TRC accusing the Executive Mansion of interference into its affairs. Though Dearboy have denied his involvement into the allegations, the controversies continue to spur unabated with David taking a surprising u-turn from his earlier revelation this time implicating one of the commissioners. Here we are with the recent relevation of David that he was paid by one of the commissioners to besmirch the character of Dearboy publicly. Whether the last testimony of David on April 13, 2008 is true or not, what remains troubling is the web of controversies entangling the credibility of this commission, and the depth to which it have collapsed into gross public disrepute that is rendering it untrustworthy and irrelevance to the wound-healing and reconciliation process of this country.
As the case of conflict of interest on the commission moves on with the warning of a commissioner who serves on another body, the commission moved to suspend said commissioner. But as it had been crisis-driven internally, with every commissioner attempting to accentuate influence over others, the suspension was challenged by a court order. It was unimaginable for the people of Gbarpolu County, haven gathered to listen and narrate war experiences to see a commissioner of the reconciliation body being escorted by a court sheriff to take seat at the hearing. What a frustration? What hope can those people have that they can be reconciled by such a body?

It will be illusory and self-stultifying for the Liberian people to continue to repose confidence in this body, or even to believe that the facts will not be tempered with by this commission; or that this commission will indeed accomplish the task of genuine reconciliation in this country haven conspicuously demonstrated attitudes that flagrantly contravene the spirit and intent associated with its establishment. So help us God.
The Role of the Youth in Promoting Women/Girls’ Rights
Statement delivered by Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei at a Symposium organized by the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) at the William V.S. Tubman High School
May 16, 2008

I am very delighted to expatiate on this topic that is of major concern in our contemporary world. First of all, let me extend my gratitude to the Women of Liberia Peace Network (WOLPNET) for organizing this unique program, and for my preferment to deliver on this topic.

Issues concerning women’s rights and empowerment have been of major focus in many public discussions principally due to the increasing wave of consciousness of the women of the world to speak out vociferously and courageously for their rights; and their enlightenment that they have pivotal roles in the promotion of socio-economic development. Thus the women of the world are on an accelerating course to catch up with the modern concept of globalization and its pragmatic appurtenances.

Democracy as a system of participatory governance is incomplete when there is a de facto or any form of discrimination (against) or marginalization of any group of people in reaction to their sex or gender- something which no one has control over. Beyond the definition of Democracy as a system of government by the people, for the people and of the people lies the question of equal participation. And this participation should not be decided by the identity, gene, lineage, sex, or gender of an individual, but the ability and competence to fully discharge duties in public service. In the pursuit of achieving this, everyone has to be given the opportunity for education and self advancement.

The primary reason for which women around the world are forming coalitions to advocate for their rights is that it had been discovered that for centuries their rights have been violated. In some countries, legislations were passed denying them of certain things, in some, the denial of women of certain basic rights was a mere tradition accepted by everyone. It is in the general recognition of these violations against women that international conventions and protocols are being signed mandating states to protect and empower women. One may ask why there are no coalitions or international protocols and conventions for men’s rights. But the answer is man had established himself as a master and had now recognized his limitations without the women, thus he is giving in for equal participation and collaborations.

Liberia is a post-conflict African state whose civil war accounts for some of the worst forms of barbarity against the human race, mainly women and children. Besides the atrocities committed against women during the civil war, they have already been living with limitations due to the gross imbalance in educational opportunities in Liberia which in turn limits their abilities and desires for participation in socio-economic development, leadership and decision making and the desires to own properties independently.

Most of these are still on-going in larger parts of the country, where young women in their teens are forced into early marriages. These are mostly in some parts of rural Liberia and in some traditional settings. The case of the rural women should now be of primary concern to youth activist and women activists as well. Because, in the rural communities where there are limited educational facilities and vocational centers, most families still support the education of boys than girls, and the tendencies of traditional schools in stopping girls from obtaining quality education is still prevalent. A case of such was recently reported from Grand Cape Mount County where parents took their girls children from school for traditional bush school.

The curtailing of such practices and the advancement of the rights of women in Liberia depends on consolidating our efforts as activists to working together in promoting legislations, carrying on awareness against sexual exploitation and abuse, rape and all forms of violence against women. It is good to note that Liberia is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Chatter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, all of which have provisions for the protection of the rights of women, and the AU Protocol on Women’s Rights, which is a brilliant compilation of laws asking state parties to follow in protecting the dignity of the women. Additionally, this country has demonstrated a commitment to end violence and abuse against women by the ratification of the African Charter on Human and People’s rights on the rights of Women in Africa, and a passage of the New Rape Law by the legislature.

With this demonstration on the part of our Government, it is our appeal as youths that the government goes beyond the formality of writing and enacting policies, and ascending to a state of implementation through programs and projects, monitoring and evaluation to ensure that what has been passed be felt by the people and the immediate beneficiaries.

The youth of Liberia are consciously aware that violence against women and all forms of discriminations against women are nothing more than social ills that can lead to violence and instability. As such we the youth of Liberia can do nothing more in promoting women’s rights than calling on the government to ensure the effective implementation of its laws to prosecute those involve in the cowardly acts of sexual abuse and exploitation of young Liberian women, rape, gender based violence and discrimination.

More to that, the rights of our women will not be upheld and promoted in the absence of adequate awareness and the education of our citizens in knowing the essence of those rights and the conventions that provide them. Therefore, we the young people of Liberia must now begin to engage in productive activities in our communities by using our various youth based organizations as campaigners and advocates, message carriers and proponents of women rights. The spill over effects of the success of such campaigns will result into the consolidation of peace and development, unity and genuine democracy which has been the general concern of nearly every youth based organization in Liberia.

It has been a general belief that the young people are the main perpetrators of violence in society and are mostly involved in acts of gang rape and gender based violence, but this can be curtailed if these young people are educated on the consequences of these acts, and are trained to live as civilized people who respect human dignity. The government and civil society groups must therefore engage in educating the young people against drug abuse and crimes; and train them to be used as peer educators to help in curtailing violence in the society.

Finally, I want to express warmest thanks and encouragement to youth and women, and institutions that are tirelessly working to improve our world; and a special kudos to women who are courageously taking up challenges in leadership and decision making in Liberia and the world at large. I want to say here clearly that the women revolution is no threat to the survival and progress of men, but a process that had introduced a challenge for self advancement, and an opportunity for a strong partner in development, as we are all aware that this revolution is empirically making a difference in the positive direction.

I Thank You.

This comes with greetings of felicitations on your ascendancy as Minister of Finance of the Republic of Liberia , and a tease of your consciousness as you excel nobly in the service of the people of Liberia . I could have done this at our regular meeting points and times, but for the sake of historical documentation, and the provocation of the conscientiousness of the constituency you represent, the young people of Liberia , I thought it wise that their participation as an audience was necessary in this interaction between you and me.

In most instances, by the normal Liberian or African lifestyle, it is customary for those who desire to win the favor of great men to present them with things they value most, and sometimes shower them with praises and give them statuses of demagogues and demigods.

Thus, we often see people present gifts to great men, and sometimes unduly praise them in attempts to gain favors and confidence. When these praises come, most often with sycophancies and flatteries, they come with inclinations of terrible effects on the lifestyle of people. Unsuspectingly, those seeking your favor gradually turn you to a character of an imperial and arrogant leader. Very soon you become to yourself a demigod and to them, a demagogue. Then come the time of imperial control and the foundation of self-stultification. In less than a lunar revolution, you become a public enemy, wallowing in ignominy with disdains from all ends. Looking around you to find those that adored you and gowned you with the garment of absolutism, they are no where around; but found among the cycle of the weeping public, some perambulating with shifting blames.

Wishing therefore, to present my observations of your ascendancy with some commendations and appreciation of my own role as an activist for social justice and democracy in this country, I have not found among my belongings anything that I might value or prize so much as a gift to your professionalism, neither had I realized myself with a character of a sycophant. My orientation, like yours, is that of ebullient advocacy for positive social transformation of society. Though you are from a different school of thought, the ‘alleged communist-styled’ Student Unification Party (SUP- UL), I am trained in social-democratic ideologies from the Progressive Students Alliance Leading Movement (PSALM –AMEU)). But what remains a denominator is our principles and commitment to diligently serve this country and Africa .

May I now fulfill the second objective of this note: Your ascendancy as Minister of Finance of the Republic of Liberia was a monumental victory to the great cause of dismantling the wall between our generation and the ‘tainted’ generation. You are now caught in a web to serve in a senior level cabinet position to work with a generation tainted for its role in distributing poverty in this country through corruption, bad governance and lack of reverence for the voice of the popular people of Liberia .
You must therefore demonstrate a high degree of professionalism and ethical standards of public administration to defeat the vicious expectations of the critics and of those who enviously hold opinions that youths are not competent for senior positions.

While you work with those people, it is the aspiration of the youths of this country that you pave the corridor and brightens the light that those behind you may see prospects of reaching where you are or where your personal capability and humbleness may lead you to.

I believe that your appointment as Minister of Finance of this country is an extension of the confidence the Presidency enjoys in your service while you served as Director of the Bureau of the Budget. Hoping that you retain that record of credibility that men from all social orientations can repose durable trust and confidence in you, I urge that your life as a corporate governor remains demonstrative of the standards of financial management and passion for public service.

As your nomination had garnered applause from so many quarters, it is my prayer that your Creator endows you with the wisdom and courage to satisfy the expectations of the Liberian people whose ardent desire is to be liberated from economic incarceration and the vortex of abject poverty. This, I think you can achieve through effective corporate governance and perpetual advocacy for democratic governance as you have done in the past.

As I end this note please accept these words of Henry David Thoreau as my own gift to you: “I know of no more encouraging facts than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavors.”

Wishing you well in your corporate life as a public servant, I salute you for and on behalf of those who pursue social justice.

Progressively yours,

Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei
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-

The Civil Society Must Remain Firm, Or Extinct
Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

I sometimes wonder what would happen to the people in a given country if they had a government with absolute power, or what would happen to a constitutional government that has limited power. However it may be, in all dimensions, there may be some uncertainties in the control of power, and its essence thereof. If a government has absolute power, then the people’s voices will sound like the sea breeze and just blow cold without impacts. On the other hand, if a government has limited power its control and influence over the subjects will weaken and may gradually plunge the state into anarchy. The convenient political balance sheet is to neutralize the center of authority – give the people the power, and the power be exercised by the government through their legitimate representatives, and that the legitimate representatives remain conscious and alert to the voices of the people – the repository of true political power.

This premise is to lay the foundation of this commentary which by the mandate of my conscience as a civil society actor, I must convey to vent out sentiments of the foreseeable consequences of an infirm civil society, and an attitude of ignoring the voices of the people - not by a system of military junta, a dictatorship, a monarchy, but by a ‘fledging democracy’ still in the nursery for incubation and subsequent maturity.

Civil societies are formed to have people united and governed under an authority that they may not suffer the wraths of each other in the pursuit of their personal gains. It is from the civil society that governments originate. Generally, civil society has been referred to a political association governing social conflict through the imposition of rules that restrained citizens from harming one another. It is these groups that build the strength of a government and there existence further approves and assures its legitimacy. Theoretically, civil society ‘is composed of the totality of voluntary civic and social organizations and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society as opposed to the force-backed structures of a state (regardless of that state’s political system) and commercial institutions.

If democratic governance and practices had never existed in Liberia it must be primarily because of the absence of effective civil society activities or the presence of harsh political environment for their existence. The emergence of effective civil society activities in the country in the 1970’s saw the enlightenment of the masses which culminated into a radical change that we are still struggling to consolidate today.

During the period of the military intervention, and the various eras of crises from 1990 upward, the civil society organizations, through relief, charity, peace making, advocacy and empowerment activities, have been the source of hopes and consolations for the people of Liberia. During the transitional administrations when there were no oppositions, it was the civil society that kept the role of monitoring and critiquing the governments that the power must not be misused and abused to the derailment of the people.

The civil society, since the civil war has been very active in peacemaking, election monitoring and democratic consolidation. More besides, the civil society has also been the sanctuary or refuge center for political oppositions who in the past were caught in the dragnets and traps of dictators in the country. In the 1980, the 1990s and early 2000s, when some oppositions and activists were arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned, it was the vociferous voices of civil society groups and actors that kept the alarms and sometimes compelled the regimes to have them released.

Interestingly and very disappointingly, the regime that is much acclaimed today as a ‘democratic’ regime, clustered with former activists and civil society actors that were the voices of the past, is the regime that is ignoring the voices of the people and the voice of the civil society. That the same activists watch the excesses of a regime and dance the cantata of those excesses while the civil society cries foul, is inimical to personal integrity, principles and values, and a disillusionment of the people. This must go beyond our understanding of its superficiality, and we must begin to reflect and calculate that if this regime succeeds in its refractory campaign of silencing the civil society and rendering it irrelevant thereby laying it into a coffin of dormancy, the possibility of the reemergence of absolute, imperial, and dictatorial rule is imminent in Liberia.

The recent public outcries of the civil society organizations through various outlets and communications against the railroaded appointments and confirmations of commissioners of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission which was adamantly ignored by the government must now raised our eyes above the lenses of the glasses, and we must begin to either accept all other treatments or stand firm in the fight to consolidate democracy seeing the present political establishment as an adversary.

The Liberian Anti-Corruption Commission, among every other thing, is a brain-child of the Liberian civil society which came about after sober reflections and realization that, to strengthen the capacity of government and build a durable democratic system, corruption must be fought fearlessly. It was the civil society that persuaded the transitional government in 2005 to sign the United Nation Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), and the same civil society pursue the drafting of the Liberian Anti-Corruption Strategy (White Paper on Corruption) which evolved into the Anti-Corruption Act that finally established the Anti-Corruption Commission. In recognition of the efforts and indispensable role of the civil society in this process, the Act provides that the nomination or appointment of Commissioners be done in consultation with the civil society. It is not only this commission that the civil society have been proactive with, the formation of the TRC saw a mass and broad based consultation process that led to an informed vetting and selection process of commissioners. Similar consultations were also held for the commissioners of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights. It must also be noted here that the civil society have been a formidable partner and an indispensable actor in all aspects of our rebuilding and recovery processes.

Unfortunately, after these and many more concerted efforts by the civil society organizations and local pro-democracy actors, the Anti-Corruption Commission has been formed in a blanket of sham which has been identified as not only an attempt to have civil society organizations and activists extinct, but also a stratagem to create a syndicate of witch-hunting against opposition leaders - a scheme long alarmed by some lawmakers and opposition politicians. As it has exposed its intent and will publicly, it has become to grind up in controversy as its formation did not only violate its own Act, but also blatantly contravenes the UNCAC which calls for an open and broad-based participatory process in fighting corruption. Furthermore the act of the President to hurriedly nominate commissioners in the absence of such broad-based participation and national nomination and vetting process is a complete self-stultification of her purported war against corruption. For those in the Legislature that did the haphazard confirmation, let it be known that the Liberian people are watching you as you draw yourself in a rubberstamp orgy of money-making while the people cry on you helplessly. You must also be aware that you were once in the civil society, and you shall return.

Finally, this ends with a call to all actors in the civil society to come together in true solidarity to fight back robustly because the true adversary has unsuspectingly brought itself to the fore. The media which is an integral part of the civil society must build the first line of defense since the adversary can not operate without it- yet it fights to silence it. The fight is no more limited to mobilizing the citizens, fighting corruption, and consolidating democracy, but it has now extended to a fight for survival with an adversary that has a full built-in potential. So Liberian civil society, unite and stand strong!!!

-In the Cause of Democracy and Social Justice, the Pen shall never Run Dry-
And There Goes Conteh:
From Academia to Diplomacy
By:Ibrahim Al-bakri Nyei

It is December 2004. Dr. Al-Hassan Conteh, former Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Liberia and former Chairman of the Department of Geography at Pennsylvania University in the United States is being inducted as President of the University of Liberia . UNMIL military personnel and artilleries have sandwiched the Capitol Hill to ensure the success of this occasion. He had taken over and had spent four years, though in a rough terrain and under tumultuous conditions, he leaves with pride and unfadable records to take over as Liberia ’s Ambassador to the Federal republic of Nigeria with oversight responsibility on Benin and Togo and Permanent Representative to ECOWAS.

Many knew just a little about his individual charisma and professionalism. So in 2004 upon his appointment by the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia, they protested unsuspectingly, demanding the Chairman to withdraw his appointment and forge for another person to head the state-owned University of Liberia . Through the turbulence of institutional collapse at the University itself, weak state bureaucracy, inadequate financial and logistical support, traumatized citizenry, and with much condemnation, he braved the storm, surmounted the hilly terrains and took over the University. For some, he should have given up since in fact, he was inducted as President of the University of Liberia like a military leader because the vicinity of the University was surrounded with maximum fortification against protestors. But as a patriot harboring a strong vision for the recovery of his native land, as he had chosen to leave the prestigious University of Pennsylvania , nothing could weaken his resolve to serve the people in the revitalization of the education sector, mainly the University of Liberia . And so amidst the criticism and bullies he was inducted and he took over with enthusiasm presaging by exemplary leadership that he would prove his critics wrong. This he did and all have been united working with him successfully.

For the four years, Conteh was tempted by all that could make an ordinary caretaker to leave the University in disdain, but as a leader and true administrator, he successfully managed every temptation and hurdles to restore the credibility and professional status of the University. For many, an ordinary man could not just achieve what he achieved except with extraordinary characteristics with resilience, emotion control, tolerance, efficiency and credibility. His administration witnessed protests from all ends directly against his person - from students as well as from faculty members. But at all times there was no protest that directly pointed out any malfeasance or malpractice as a result of his leadership. Nearly all demanded his resignation or his removal, but all declined to expose his ‘shortcomings’. The fact that he could serve all the years under a transitional Government and the first half of a sitting government appraised for democracy and fight against corruption proves his innocence to the allegations against him at the University, and further strengthens his national status as a statesman.

The University of Liberia , like any other public institution that survived the civil war, was a relic of a collapsed body, with all previously functional centers decrepit. But Conteh’s reform package backed by the genuineness of his desire to serve, and the support of some men who see far ahead, resurrected the University and classes began effectively. Realizing the immediate human resource need of the country to fill the gap of brain drain created by the civil crisis, Conteh and his team introduced a trimester system to enable students complete degree programs in about three years. This system is still at the University, and only needs to be effective that this dream may be realized.

As a leader understanding that the capacity of students needs to be built by men who are by themselves fully capacitated, he introduced a program to ensure that professors and lecturers are well qualified to be at the University, and to strengthen the capacity of the lecturers, Conteh immediately intervened to increase salaries, allowances and benefits.

Under his leadership at the University of Liberia , the graduate programs at the University have been standardized with efficiency and more graduate programs have been initiated to address the professional needs of the country. The University of Liberia for the first time now has a Master Degree Program in Business Administration and a post-graduate diploma in peace studies and conflict resolution. The latter is soon to be elevated to a full master’s degree program.

Since the civil war spew its destructive venoms on the people of Liberia , the University of Liberia ’s Fendall Campus was in terrible ruins. This congested nearly 20,000 students on the capitol Hill campus, thereby creating problems in enrollment and even space for effective operation. But as a visionary leader, he and his team reopened Fendall Campus starting with the Science students utilizing the facilities and with a bilateral agreement with the Chinese to build and rehabilitate the facilities that it may accommodate as mush students as possible. He was also instrumental as an administrator to establish a US $ 1.4 million endowment fund for the University.

To enter into an art of just chronologically outlining Conteh’s four years achievements at the University, may take but another four years. But there he goes now in active diplomacy as Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary to the Federal Republic of Nigeria. If indeed one must attempt to calculate his accomplishments at the University of Liberia, his grade must not be limited to the University as a unit, but what the country will be in the years to come, because his service at the University was to make men that will restore, recover and rebuild this country with a united and educated people. This has already taken root, as we can see many Liberians (mainly young ones) taken over professional and leadership roles in both the public and private sectors.

One wonders as to what a man who has spent all of his time in the academia researching, teaching, and writing texts and policy papers for institutions could do in a diplomatic career and actualize the interest of his nation out there. But the strength of his imagination and the sharpness of his intellect give him the charismatic posture and administrative eloquence to fulfill that mission. He is going as an Ambassador whose understanding of leadership and administration can immensely contribute to the problems of the sub-region as he goes on to discharge multiple functions also as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to ECOWAS and with oversight responsibility over Benin and Togo.

As he always call for collaborative effort in achieving his objectives and visions as an administrator, like he called on government and international partners for support to the University and today the University is one of the institution with bright post war success story, Conteh has called for support as he takes on this new Herculean task: “I wish to request, Madam President, our Government’s unflinching and timely support in discharging my duties”. He had made this timely request as he takes the challenge after giving a historical overview of Liberia ’s relationship with Nigeria and ECOWAS. He declared: “In this context, my priorities will include implementing our country’s foreign policy by working with the Government of Nigeria to promote regional integration and the implementation of internationally Agreed Development within the context of the African Union (AU) and ECOWAS for the benefit of our people”.

Conteh leaves with a reputation and passion to work and teach in a way that all who know him will miss his service, but as a statesman, he must go where his country wants him to go. And so there he goes, the die had been cast, all has been done, the academician has been metamorphosed into a diplomat.