We cannot ignore the fact that remnants of the conservative Americo-Liberian caste not only dominate social media platforms but have also embarked on a vigorous campaign of slander and calumny against those we call the Progressive class. Each day that passes by, these apologists of the former ruling caste bombard us with loads of anti-progressive diatribes. And the most interesting but also appalling thing is, they have taken solace in revisionist falsification of our political history to airbrush Liberian history against those who took part in the struggle during the black apartheid in Liberia while at the same time sanitizing the despicable record of forces that foisted on the Liberian masses the system of control and domination. These elements, in their arrogance and nostalgia, have embarked on an awful project to rewrite history in its most shameful way by telling terrible lies, tall tales, and myths about what took place in the 70s and what caused the April 14 Rice Demonstration and April 12, 1980, military putsch.
The consensus among these people is that Liberia was on a progressive path under Tolbert. And had it not been because of the agitation of citizens Tipoteh, Sawyer, Fahnbulleh, Matthews, Mayson and others who they say misled the Liberian people, Tolbert and the old guards in the True Whig Party would have created a paradise for the Liberian masses – what their conservative Americo-Liberian forebears deliberately did not deliver for more than 130years. The purpose of such backward narrative which has no scientific basis is to exonerate their elitist, conservative and arrogant social formation and present revolutionary patriots as historical villains and not as courageous and decent brothers and sisters who struggled in solidarity with an oppressed people and placed before them the agenda of changing the Liberian society from a reactionary settler state to a prosperous black republic that encompasses the history, cultures, hopes, and aspirations of all and sundry.
Further, they hold the shortsighted view that by sentencing the forces of social justice whose struggle ushered in a paradigm shift in the homeland, it would disarm young social forces who have placed on the agenda a struggle for economic dignity, and also it is a treacherous attempt to discourage revolutionary ideas and thus render it dangerous while elevating the crude conservative ideals as neo-liberal capitalism and market economy as the magic wand that can transform the country. Also, these elements have elected to spew out these childish absurdities with the aim of brainwashing our unsuspecting people and thus justify the widespread plunder and the use of brute force by the TWP oligarchy against the vast majority of the Liberian masses– the means through which the discredited oligarchy sustained the concentration of privileges, wealth, and political power.
These very toxic commentaries popularized on social media forums have been the staple of most offspring of such reactionary social caste who are bankrupt enough to realize that the dialectics of lordship and bondage produce rebellion and revolution. That the 133year old oligarchy refused to build a black republic which fires the imagination of all our people irrespective of one’s tribal, religious or social origin but elected to exclude the vast majority of the people and fashioned a settler state after the antebellum South of the US, and are yet to be apologetic about the human cost of their misrule but would garner the spine to play the victim and counterbalance their epoch of misrule against the present time says they understand nothing about social contradictions and what led to them being ransacked.
Thus, it is not a surprise to us that they have flooded social media platforms and embarked on slandering of those we call the progressive class. We know that these people, in their shortsightedness have not forgiven: Tipoteh, Sawyer, Matthews, Fahnbulleh, Mayson, etc. for helping to raise the political consciousness of the people against the accumulated social contradictions as the result of more than a century of conservative Americo-Liberian misrule. And they expect us (those who appreciate the revolutionary heroism of the conscious vanguard) to sit with indifference as they carry out this wholesale butchering of history. Not! We have a task to dispel these historical distortions and stand in defense of the progressives’ struggle.
For us, in defense of our class origin and position, we consider the material roots of historical events as opposed to considering social eruptions as the machination of a few men and women. To resort to the latter is to be rigid and mechanical in thoughts. Such rigidity of thought leads to the production of falsehoods and guess works. The general anger that erupted among the people in the late 70s was never the consequence of the agitation of PAL and MOJA. Suffice this to mean that MOJA and PAL did not create a revolutionary situation. The revolutionary situation created MOJA and PAL. The societal ferment of the late 70s was a product of more than a century of misrule, bigotry, the economic and political marginalization of our people by a backward minority elite social formation–the conservative Americo-Liberian social caste.
This level of political consciousness among the exploited layers of the society developed through a slow accumulation of discontent. That the people were inert for so many decades did not mean they would have tolerated the TWP oligarchy perpetually. Changes were taking place below the surface and could not be seen with the naked eyes. Dialectically, a large quantity of such discontent produced a qualitative leap in the consciousness of the Liberia people; and things turned into the opposite. Hence, the people began to question long-held taboos and lies that were told to subjugate them. They began to question institutions they were told are unchangeable and individuals who they once regarded as overlords.
The qualitative level of the people’s consciousness led to their refusal to be ruled in the same old ways by a retrograde social caste that sold them into slavery; deprived them of voting rights because they did not own properties, but had to pay hut taxes; denied them the rights to education, healthcare, housing, roads, water, sanitation and other basic social services. The people could no longer tolerate a ruling political class that made a mockery of their culture and tradition, entrenched the established churches, the elite families and the masonic temple in the political culture of the state; formulated national symbols (seal, flag, national anthem, the declaration of independence, etc.)that reflect only the history, culture and aspiration of the minority and excluded the history, culture, and hopes of the vast majority. By the late 1970s, the people could no longer stomach those who regarded them not as historical subjects but as social objects or expandable cannon fodders.
These contradictions reached a critical tipping point and culminated in a social explosion on April 14, 1979. The people’s entry on the scene of history on that faithful Saturday was a demonstration of their disapproval of more than a century of assault on their dignity as opposed to just an opposition to the proposed increment in the price of the country’s staple. The increment in the price of rice was the last straw that broke the back of the camel. This was a historical necessity (the stampede of the people against the oligarchy) that expressed itself through accident (increment in the price of rice). Hence, MOJA or no MOJA; PAL or no PAL; April 14 or no April 14, the stage at which the Liberian society was in the late 1970s, even a little scuffle between a taxi driver and a police officer would have created a social explosion of the Liberian people. Take it as the insoluble contradictions in the country had reached a nodal point, what they needed was a spur to throw the people into resistance. Nature does not tolerate a vacuum. So, even if we did not have PAL and MOJA, other subjective factors would have emerged to direct the anger of the people.
The society was in a state of ferment that the people were unwilling to gamble with the sterile reforms of Tolbert which were expressed mostly through slogans and rhetoric as opposed to concrete material reality. Here, we are dealing with a group of people who cannot tolerate two years of bad governance, corruption, and misrule under George Weah but they argue that our people should have continued being subjected to such backward social order that distributed poverty, disease, and ignorance on the vast majority for 133years. What a vulgar logic! In the final analysis, it is only out of arrogance or ignorance to disregard the social forces that were conjured up by 133year of conservative Americo-Liberian rule and place the blame of Liberia’s malady on the shoulders of revolutionary patriots who studied the society, and decisively intervened to influence the outcome of the social forces in tension but were usurped by other antagonistic interest.
——-By M. Uneh Yahmia