Friday, May 1, 2015

What do the people want? Demands for expansion of rights and a Christian state through constitutional reform in Liberia

The most comprehensive review of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia is coming close to its final stage with the completion of the Constitutional Conference in Gbarnga, where delegates from across the country reviewed and voted on issues to be addressed through constitutional reform. Since the promulgation of the 1986 Constitution, the Gbarnga Conference and the extensive consultation process leading to it have formed the most comprehensive public debate on the Constitution. For the first time, Liberians have engaged on the constitution from all walks of life. Even though the Conference had no legal authority to make binding decisions on the constitution, it engaged a mosaic of Liberians from different regions and sectors. Read more...


Amjad M. Nyei

Europe in the 1600s recognized it regressions and unwanted division was because of religious differences- in their case, same religion in principle but different doctrines. This is what led to the Westphalia Treaty, 1618-1848. Westphalia united Europe and ironed their religious differences in a way no emperor or king was able. At that time in Europe you have Catholics against Presbyterians, Lutherans antagonizing Methodist and the likes of many of those kinds of wrangling if you will. But let us ask ourselves. What has come out of Europe today? Four in the world’s top ten peaceful countries are European states; Europe has in addition, more countries ranking high in the world happiness index survey. On top of these, Europe is one of the world’s largest economic zones with an integration of 28 countries, clearly trashing out political, religious and social differences. This is how strong Europe has become today.

Religion is a belief on which people measure the standard of their ethics. It sharpens and gives direction to the way people think and most importantly a reservoir of hope and spiritual deliverance. Therefore people take their religion very sacrosanct and others must show at least some degree of respect. The world’s hotspot trouble regions today have a religious undertone, if you will; religion is the latent cause of their sufferings. Belfast in Northern Ireland, Yemen, and part of Iraq and Syria are examples of how religious disputes should be avoided length particularly in Liberia.

I laughed at the news of a certain group in Liberian, namely, the delegates at the Conference organized by the Constitution Review Committee, voting in favor of a proposal to Christianize Liberia- even though without a clear definition. Initially the idea was laughable but reflecting on the premise I just told, a spare hit me in the chest for fear of the Mother Land. I acknowledge that it is a smart idea for a country to decide or outline plans of action and direction the country should proceed. What Liberia needs most is not immaterial issue(s) that will divide us the more; Liberia rather needs real deals, for instance, “Five Years Economic Plan”, “Five Years Education Plan”, or “Five Years Foreign Relations Plan”. This is what other civilized societies do, China for example.
It is hard for me to imagine that we will remain to be the architect of our own failure. We are not through with wiping off the tears Ebola put on our face and here are we trying to inflict more injury on our self. The proposers of this divisive idea must know or agree with me that Christian state or Secular state, Liberia has still got to face its real “Kilimanjaro size” problems in education, health, infrastructure and employment.

The Muslim community is regarded a minority but I want to get the language right. Minority according the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is the group that is the smallest part of a large group. Be reminded that Liberia has a percentage of traditional believers and group of non believers (religion less) which if put together is less than half the number of Muslims. The idea that the Muslims community is a minority is therefore preposterous and baseless.

Oh dear! I am a very private man, mostly keep away from the public domain but I have decided to come public on this because I feel a deep responsibility for our unborn generation. Bad things happen when good people remain silent and so this is the time I spoke with my heart on my sleeve. Not only that I am a private man I am also very tolerant, a man who believes in the existence of God in all true religion. I did part of my primary education in Freetown- at the King Hammar Preparatory School, a school firm in the Christian faith. I eventually graduated from the Seventh Day Adventist, a very respectable group of Christian believers. I attended Sabbath Services on couple of occasions and attended Chapel Services every Monday morning. Never mind, I was unwavering to my Islamic upbringing and still believe strongly in the “Loneliness of God” and that Muhammed (SHW) is his messenger and I performed my daily swalate (prayers). This is the kind of Liberia we dream about, the kind of Liberia that will bring unity and prosperity.

I learned one thing from Sierra Leone even at my teenage and I instantly knew it was something right and honorable. Sierra Leone is a very religious tolerant country in fact it ranks number one in Africa. I saw Non Muslims dress modestly during Ramadan, being cautious not to alter abusive language or eat before a Muslim who is fasting; all these to try as much as possible to show respect to their compatriots.

Contrarily, in Liberia, Ramadan is the month of dirtiness- many Liberians will say the Madingo people are about to be spitting all around. This is a shame. Liberia must grow. We have been silent for too long, that is why our religious
festivities are not recognized or given a holiday. We say keep your holiday! We been silent too long, that is why we have been mocked at and disrespected. We say keep your respect. We been silent too long, that is why number of Muslims in the cabinet is easily counted. We say keep your jobs. We have been referred to as Guineans and aliens. We say introduce the National ID System.

Oh dear! We stand united, firm peaceful and resolute that this proposal ( or whatever it might be termed) disguised to marginalize us further will be killed in parliament and a national memorial service be held to bury it six feet deep in the Central Street Grave Yard.

All Hail Liberia Hail!!!!! All Hail Liberia!!!!!!! All Hail Liberia Hail!!!!! All Hail Liberia Hail!!