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Fellow cpmrades and the progressive class, "We can't be taking pleasure from the poverty-stricken condition and abject misery of our people then we say the struggle must end. We can't be in haste to get rich and pretend that the struggle is coming to an end. On our side, the struggle is just beginning" —Prof. Alaric Tokpa. Op-ed 

Liberia’s Redemption & Struggle: Progressives Are Not To Blame

 

The Editor,

 

With all due respect, some Liberians have miserably failed to come to the realization that “every generation out of relative obscurity must discover its mission, fulfill it betray or it” as propounded by the black existentialist and revolutionary – Frantz Fanon. The progressive forces in the 70s, 80s, and 90s and today in Liberia have struggled within the context of their time just as many other revolutionaries.

These men struggled with all the fibber of their bodies to redeem the people from the shackles and yoke of oppression and massive poverty that enveloped the society where the masses of the people lacked political and economic freedom but were duped into believing that they could elect their own representatives. For years the masses of our people were held under the chains of corrupt regimes that treated them as colossal servants and pitiful echo-chambers and cannon folders.

The progressive forces were inspired by what was happening in pre and post-colonial Africa, whereby citizens were agitating to redeem themselves. They admired Amica Cabral and his revolution in Guinea Bissau, Moses Samora Machel and his revolution in Mozambique, Che Guevara and his revolution in Cuba, Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Modibo Keita in Mali, Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso,Patrice Lumumba in Congo etc. etc. The progressives came home after years of study to struggle not in search of jobs but the emancipation of the suppressed and maligned people of Liberia which is a true embodiment of every man who feels the injustices perpetrated against his people.

The history of Liberia or so that were written by subjective and right wing elements, to smear the progressive struggle is done in accordance with their personal view and opinions as propaganda, plastered with misconceptions and false vilifications of the men and women who ensured that the sons of the people could have a voice in the political space of our country.

Many conservatives over the years have had the guts to tell the Liberian people that the progressives are responsible for the chaos and destruction of the Liberian society, this false assertion must and will be countered.

It would be unrealistic and a dishonor to blame the progressive class for radically confronting tyranny in Liberia, for “whenever there is injustice, there will be young men and women conscious enough to confront injustice” to quote Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh Jr. It would be a disservice to call men of conscience who struggled for our socio-economic redemption, “failures”; men who struggled for the liberation of our people from the dungeon of economic stasis and skulduggery but were never afforded the opportunity of taking state power by the very people they fought for!

In the 1997 General and Presidential Elections, Dr. H.Boima Fahnbulleh Jr, who became an avowed revolutionary and dedicated his struggle for the restoration of the lost heritage and dignity of his people contested elections, but the Liberian people out of ignorance told Charles Taylor “you killed my ma, you killed my pa but I will vote for you” We refused to give this young nationalist and convinced follower of  Kwame Nkrumah the opportunity of transforming the country but voted a fugitive bandit with no ideological orientation and no history of revolutionary struggle in our national history and body politic.

In 2005, Tipoteh who had been the leader of the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA); a vocal institution that was critical in sharpening the contradictions in the country contested but again, yet the Liberian people were seen in paraffin gear and speed voting for George Weah and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. We must refine our thinking and stop shifting blames on the progressive intellectuals that fought for Liberia’s multi-party democracy.

The Cubans over the years after the July 26 movement have honored their national heroes; Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raul Castro including the peasant guerrillas, the Americans do honor theirs: Patrick Henry, George Washington, etc. And, the Congolese pay homages to Lumumba, the Egyptian to Nasser, the Guinea Bissauans to Cabral, the Tanzanians to Nyerere, the Ghanaians to Nkrumah and so on.

The necessity of revolutionary agitation in Liberia

In history, no terror and injustice against the people have gone with impunity. The masses of the oppressed people across the world have always from the dawn of human history been the liberators of themselves drawing from the fact that none but ourselves are the makers of our own history. Injustice to the peasants is historically a heresy that must be resisted by any means necessary for they have “nothing to lose but their chains”.

The masses have always marched in history with valiant sense of resuscitating and restoring their God-given rights (freedom) as the fundamental backbone of any society.

Considering the African scenario where for centuries blacks were subjected, pillaged, tortured, humiliated, raped and mishandled, it took men and women with courage to take arms and redeem their people from the stasis that had been created by white colonialists and imperialists.

HBF: It was my way of delineating social classes and their reactions to the questions of patriotism and nationalism in a situation of political crisis. Again, the attempt was to draw our attention to that facet of our history which some ethnicists were trying to deny after the coup: that there ever were progressive and enlightened members of that social group called Americo-Liberians. This perception was ahistorical and downright reactionary. There have always been enlightened and progressive members of that group as one could see from the works of Blyden, Barclay, Bracewell, etc. Joe Benson was a symbol of that progressive tendency within this group which had maintained power after Barclay, would have altered the history of our country in a very positive direction.
Professor Boimah Fahnbulleh

The Liberian society since independence had remained retrogressive as it had been for years with power in the hands of a minority that treated the majority with disdain— to the extent it became unbearable to their sons and daughters who were conscious, saw the contradictions and acted to redeem the wrongs.

Many Liberian patriots, including the scholar H. Boima Fahnbulleh Sr., was persecuted including D. Tweh, Juah Nimely, Kollie Tamba for daring to participate in the political life of their country. The imprisonment and intimidation of student leaders, the muzzling of the press and the hounding and victimization of pan African progressive intellectuals are still fresh in the minds of the progressive forces in this country.

In establishment of the facts relative to the agitation of the progressive forces, the struggle that led to the death and overthrow of the wretched oligarchy was initiated by students who themselves were fed-up with the conditions of the people on various campuses of the University of Liberia and the Cuttington University, amongst these gallant patriots and nationalists are Alaric Tokpa, Ezekiel Pajibo, Chris Dougbeh Nyan and many others.

The progressives struggled for state power as a means of transforming the objective conditions of our people will still continue. knowing that transformation comes only from the helm of power. That is in accordance with positive societal betterment and transformation. This is a struggle geared towards the upliftment of the masses.

Unfortunately, the quest for power has been met by machinations from the right-wing conservatives that have no plans to govern our people and give them better lives, greedy for state power they subscribed to that ideology wherein they and only they ALONE must continuously be the rulers of our peoples. Tyrants are fools and that is why they never outgrow their narrow beliefs!

The progressives in Liberia have been consistent in pursuing their positive goals and are undaunted by setbacks and obstacles placed in their way for-the total emancipation of our people. Even today, they hold such belief of throwing their lot with the people in times of uncertainty.

They are reliable ideologically, logical, authentic in their assertions, well-adjusted and emotionally stable.

like in biblical times, Babylon was warned but the city didn’t listen and destruction was last the only alternative and so it was. The Oligarchy warnings came from courageous men who had been inspired by patriotism and nationalism and this is the only way forward for this oldest African Republic to put in place a genuine sense of belonging to liberate the body politics of our common patrimony-Liberia.

Edward Wilmot Blyden warned: that the only necessary means for raising the country from economic backwardness and the protection of our national boundaries was to fraternize with the collective interests of the nation. That assertion says the nation must hold hands in hands as one people where we could “rise and fall together” so that this country can live to the “true meaning of its creed”

About The Author:
Ansumana Konneh is a young Pan-African nationalist who believes in the elimination of the colonial boundaries in Africa. He’s a devoted and convinced follower of revolutionary struggles and movements meant for the emancipation of the black race. ansumana.konneh96@gmail.com

 

Main Photo: Cde. Professor Alaric Tokpa

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