By: Varney Cruz Hilton
Liberia today is at a crossroads — The crossroads of reinventing itself out of “an old country” and “a troubled society” into a diverse and modern nation-state heralding a new era of peace, equality, justice, and the assurance of every citizen’s full participation in our common destiny and prosperity. To move forward in a positive direction, we must acknowledge the sins of our past and stop living in denial. Our history confirms that Liberia was born out of crises – The crisis of the inhumane acts embedded in slavery –The crisis of the clash of cultures and values emanating from the western republican form of government brought by the settlers from the United States and imposed on the indigenous population without regard to their systems of government that had sustained them for centuries – The crisis of social discrimination adopted from the slave society of the antebellum south coupled with the superiority complexes of some ethnic groups over others – The crisis of inter-ethnic conflict within indigenous groups resulting in fratricide. And, most profoundly, the crisis of denial. We allowed ourselves to settle into denial so deep that we failed to recognize that Liberia was teetering on the brink of a crisis so immense that catastrophic consequences lurked on our national horizon.
Brothers and Sisters of this glorious generation, we are in denial when we continue the mindset and practices of the unjust past while claiming reform. If there is to be a rebirth in Liberia, we must be explicit about changing course and keeping true faith in ourselves. I say unequivocally that it is not reformed when we say a new day has dawned politically and at the same time allows ourselves to be used as political tools for one’s personal gains to ascend to leadership in what is supposed to be a pluralistic, democratic Liberia. It is not reformed when we say corruption is “public enemy #1”, and at the same time show decided reluctance in taking action against clearly documented instances. It is not reformed when we say we have made a clean break with the past and at the same time revel in the symbols of that past. It is not reformed when we say that we are building a nation of liberty and justice for all when the inclusiveness of all continues to elude us.
Abraham Lincoln once said, “It is true that you may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all the time.” We, Liberians, have attempted to prove Abraham Lincoln wrong. We have deluded ourselves for 175 years; with nothing to be shown. And At what point will we wake up from the slumber of self-deception to the dawn of realistic national awareness? My dear Comrades and compatriots, The time is now.
Human history is replete with instances of the truism that “in chaos, there is an opportunity”. If there has been any doubt about this axiom, our particular history has served to indisputably remove it. Over the generations of crises, there have been opportunities. However, those opportunities were purposefully created by and limited to a diabolical, calculatingly ruthless few, who exploited the chaos for their personal gains. Throughout our history, from early to recent times, these individuals and small groups have systematically executed an agenda of dominance and exploitation. Through fear, intimidation, and manipulation of the emotions and sentiments of ethnicity and sectionalism they effectively carved up our national wealth among themselves with no regard for the needs, hopes, and aspirations of the vast majority of our people. In several instances in our history, these exploitations have resulted in national shame, global isolation, and a threat to our very sovereignty. All this is the result of consciously and unconsciously building our society on a faulty foundation of denial, yea, and our failure to keep true faith in ourselves.
Comrades of this glorious generation, we have experienced our national catharsis. It has cost us very dearly: massive loss of life and destruction of property and infrastructure; displacement of a significant portion of our people; disease and epidemics; illiteracy; marginalization and violence against women and children; an uneducated, untrained, violent, corps of youths and countless other ills. I fervently believe that now is the time to heal our wounds and build a future as one nation and one people, keeping true faith in ourselves. I believe that we are now ready to keep true faith in ourselves rather than being propelled by political sycophancy, buttressed by personal aggrandizement, fettered by an inordinate desire to turn back the democratic gains that we have made through the blood, sweat, and tears of thousands of Liberians and that of our west African neighbors.
Liberia now enjoys a multi-party democratic system. This came about because of the undying courage of the PROGRESSIVE FORCES. KUDOS! Thanks to a vibrant free press our evolving democracy is being monitored and sustained. Above all, thanks to a vigilant civil society, buttressed and sustained by an awakened populace, there is now real hope that this newfound democracy will take root in our country and grow.
Fellow Comrades: there is a dangerous threat to our newfound democracy. This threat is emanating from local officials who are appointed by the government and serve at the will and pleasure of the president. We must unequivocally call for the immediate cessation of the presentation of petitions to the ruling party on behalf of entire political sub-regions including districts, counties, chiefdoms, clans, and townships. Such acts of political sophistry undermine the basic tenants of democracy and a multi-party system. If every political party in Liberia must have divergent membership in keeping with the requirements of the national elections commission, it is difficult to conceptualize a complete regional monopoly by any one political party. When county officials, who are members of the ruling party, orchestrate these political charades in the names of entire counties, they are, in essence, suggesting that opposition parties have ceased to exist in the county. Therefore, in furtherance of the democratic process and to ensure free and fair elections in Liberia, I am calling on all patriotic Liberians to write to their elected representative to sanction any such practices which are remnants of the one political party era that plagued us in the past.
It was against this backdrop that the Indomitable Ruling Vanguard Student Unification Party was founded on October 20, 1970. The Progressive agenda of the Vanguard Party remains unbending. No man has thwarted the Progressive agenda of the Vanguard Party. Regimes had come and go yet the party remains supreme and stayed around to champion the cause of social justice, academic freedom, and peace. This glorious generation of youngsters with undying love and courage for the motherland has chosen a path of history ( the Vanguard Party) for a better future – a future of a classless society.
Like we always say, “SUP was, SUP is, and SUP forever.” The Vanguard Party lives forever and it will never die. The party will triumph for another 52 years.
Finally, I would like to remind us of all of the words of the great African intellectual, Frantz Fanon, who said, “Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it…” this is our generation! Our mission must be to ensure that we create a society of freedom, justice, equality, and prosperity for all.
It is our time to lead in this new dawn of a glorious generation!!!
Main Photo: Cdes Hilton Cuz and Sisulu Sivili