When majority voters lack knowledge of historical and political antecedence, they turn to harm themselves by taking decision-based on fallacies such as “Educated people have failed us”. But as long as some of us remain active, we will continue to provide counters to their misconceptions that often lead them to take unpopular decision that affects everyone.
In the first place, Liberia was not ripe when she put in for her independence in 1847 (even though she was being threatened by other colonial masters like Great Britain and France). Equally, the leaders, most of whom were free slaves or offspring of slaves were not among the very best Americo Liberians in terms of state administration. Such a group cannot be considered as educated people in the category you mentioned during the election.
The Americo Liberians period of leadership saw the struggles between the light skin colors and dark skin colors. For example, those who drafted the Elizabeth Compact did not seek the inputs of the very free slaves they were about to repatriate. This campaign of who is in control lasted for several decades up to the end and beyond the Commonwealth era. Eventually, the high core white and dark skins politics led to the death of E J. Roye, a dark skin president who showed some determinations for good leadership. E.J. Roye’s death is still being described as the biggest political conspiracy in those days. Up to this time, educated people are yet to get power in Liberia.
Tribal wars and land grabs.
The period following the struggles of control between the white and dark skin colors’ settlers witnessed tribal wars and land grabs. This era witnessed the suppression of indigenous people and grabbing their lands. The tension of the six tribal wars involving the Kru and Grebo versus the government of the day has come a long way. Hence, elements of the government spent more time strategizing for control of land and properties than engaging in real development initiatives. All these while, Tubman spent 27 years in power with less vision for national development. The real educated indigenous elites are yet to come close to power. So how come you say educated people have failed us?
The emergence of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL).
Realizing the harm that has been done to the country and its indigenous people for over a hundred years, the sons and daughters of the people formed themselves into a group called Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL). This struggle, even though it germinated and became stronger, came in during the regime of President Tolbert who was well educated and informed of national challenges. Holding everything constant, Tolbert, as a degree holder showed great distinction in leadership between him and past leaders, most of whom were half or less educated. President Tolbert embarked on major civil service reforms for the first time, and ambitious national developments such as Matadi, Garnerville, and New Georgia estates were all built by him.
Although willing to deliver the poor from poverty under his: “from mat to mattress” mantra, Tolbert became a victim of national and international political circumstances (Cold war and campaign to end the Americo Liberian Hegemony). I describe this era for the indigenous activists as “Facaonism”. Meaning, the people’s sons and daughters were not willing to listen until there is a shift in power. Educated people are yet to get a chance to show their juice. So you cannot still say they let you down in the midst of control for legitimacy.
Fast-forward to 1980. Tolbert is finally overthrown in a bloody coup. Samuel Doe came to power with no experience and less education. Worst of all, they are military personnel with their head being a 6/9 grade dropout. First thing first, they killed 13 former government officials (the beginning of real physical blood share in Liberia by a single administration). Educated people are yet to get the chance to show their juice.
From 1980-1985, the military set the stage for the 1990 war. Of course, it was just a matter of time. However, from 1985, Liberia can now boast of having a Vice President with doctorate (Ph.D.) degree, Harry Fomba Moniba. Sadly, as the most educated man near the Executive Mansion, their powers and influence are limited, and hence, cannot change anything unless he is given instruction. Educated people are yet to get a chance to lead Liberia, and amongst some of the educated Liberians that tried to lead the state are Dr. Togbah Na Tipoteh, H. Boimah Fahnbulleh, D. Twe, amongst others.
In 1990, the anticipated big war headed by a self-inflated revolutionary Like Charles Taylor came and spoiled everything. Educated people are hunted, killed and exiled. I refer to this era as the era of revenge for the death of the 13 Americo Liberians during the Doe and Taylor eras. The few that survived fled the country and later became disabled due to old age. In 1997, we elected a notorious rebel leader as President of our country over two Ph.D. holders and a renowned economist. Honest educated people are yet to get the chance to show their leadership techniques. The aftermath of that election sparked another war. You are better suited to explain the consequence of the war on the country as a result of your decision.
As the saying goes, Monkey never leaves his black hand behind
From 2012-2017, the head of powerholder became extremely careless, perhaps a bit relaxed and allowed her son and several others to misbehave without any attempt to penalize them, which led to the resignation of several strategic government officials including; Tiawon Gongloe, Samuel Kofi Woods, Christiana Tarr, and Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan. In all fairness, you could not have used 2012-2017 to determine that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf would have failed us.
My fellow Liberians, no nation can develop without their best of leaders or educated technocrats. Let us take this piece of note into consideration ahead of the mid-term and 2023 elections to avoid giving birth to another “evil child”.
Written by: Paul M. Kanneh
Main Photo: Dr. Togbah Na Tipoteh