By Alfred Kiadii & Moses Yamiah
The population of urban Liberia in 1979 was more Educated than it is today. Men and women in the hamlets of poverty like the West Point, New Kru Town, and Clara Town were the bedrock of the progressive movement. Ask your mothers and fathers. If they are truthful, you will understand the story. How dare you insult the people once again. If the progressives were not set to win any election why were the two most populous parties [United Peoples Party and Liberian People Party] banned from participating in the ’85 elections? Dillon could not have been more than 13years old in 79. Pray tell me what did he know? What did he read about it? I know it’s a bit embarrassing to many who hold power today to give the progressives credit for this multiparty democracy we are learning to balance with our own culture and tradition, but for heaven’s sake don’t cry them down and yet enjoying the fruits of their labor. That’s the epitome of HYPOCRISY.
Here Darius Dillion has once more shown his historical naivety and ideological bias. He is a wiseacre pretending at understanding what triggered the rice demonstration. Not only is he unsophisticated to analyze the context and social forces surrounding the rice demonstration, but he also cluelessly presents his shallow logic as historical truth!
Firstly, the rice situation was the spur. Beneath it, other undercurrents were pointing to inherent contradictions in our society. It is the accumulation of these contradictions that found expression in the rice situation that led to the social explosion. This idea of analyzing the rice situation exclusive of the historical context and the ideological positions of the contending social forces is the staple of historical revisionists and vestiges of the True Whig Party who are still stuck at the graveyard of the 1980s.
It is downright dishonest! It does not take into consideration context, structure, and agency.
The question is, who were the beneficiaries of the policy change? What triggered the change? While the public presentation of supporting local rice production sounded seductive, the homegrown policy does not mean the policy was in favor of the popular masses and working people. Nkrumah told us, “domestic capitalism is a form of colonialism.”
And we ask, how was the policy going to affect the working people and broad masses of the people? How was it going to affect poor communities? This idea that being robbed by your fellow compatriot is worthwhile is sickening. Whereas by foreigners is wrong is the kind of right-wing patriotism suited to the taste of the reactionary forces.
On these debates, Dillon comes out very poorly and lazily. He is the kind of person who dabbled in hackneyed lines parroted by the right to tar progressive forces with the brush of guilt. He is also fond of taking half-baked ideas and running around with them. I am referring to that nonsense of generational change employed to thrust him into the political limelight.
I have never taken that chap seriously. He has no discernible skill, talent, and brilliance. He is, by historical accident, a senator today of Montserado County who only speaks to perfunctory stuff lacking the insights to deal with complexities. Liberia is in a big mess with people like Dillion, Weah, Koijee, Tweah, Mcgill as public servants!
Let’s take Abe Darius Dillon’s argument at face value and agree with him that PAL and MOJA were wrong for calling the people out on April 14, 1979, to express their political grievances. Is this Abe Darius Dillon’s justification for the unarmed workers, students, market women, professionals, etc that were killed by the forces of repression unleashed on them by the Tolbert regime?
So if Weah had killed many protesters on June 7, 2019, and buried them in mass and unmarked graves would it be the right interpretation of history to turn a blind eye on the mayhem of the Weah regime and blame Costa, Dillon, and the COP for calling out the people to protest against corruption, economic hardship, etc? In a democracy, it is never wrong for the people to come out en masse to petition the government of the day or express their political grievances. The 1847 Constitution guaranteed such democratic rights just as the 1986 Constitution does. So why did the Tolbert regime massacre our people on April 14, 1979, for coming out to protest against the increment in the price of rice?
Has Dillon read the official report submitted to the Tolbert government by the Brownell’s Commission to know who is responsible for the bloodbath of April 14, 1979? Has he read Albert Porte’s “The Day Monrovia Stood Still.”? I think he has but chose to hide the truth and peddle a distorted narrative to smear the progressive politicos.
In the final analysis, no one should expect a mentee of a Brumskine and a TC Gould – two descendants of the TWP Oligarchy – to say what truly went wrong on April 14, 1979. These ones have not gotten over the fact that the ancien regime was overthrown and the people wouldn’t slide back to pre-1980. There are social contradictions today but history doesn’t pose problems for which there are no solutions. And the solutions to today’s anomalies cannot be found in the moribund TWP neither can they be found in a political formation consisting of its remnants.
Just as the contradictions of the 70s were resolved, the contradictions of today would be resolved by the forces in tension! Our task is to intervene and direct the radical energy of the people towards a social revolution as opposed to this politics of the musical chair where lousy charlatans mount the political stage through Ponzi schemes, drama, and lose rhetorics!
Main Photo: Abraham Dillion /Smart News