For good or bad, Liberia is noted for setting world records. In 1847 we became the first black African nation to gain independence. From whom? It’s difficult to tell; and even today, that question remains highly contestable, especially for aboriginal historians like Dr. Guanna who believe that the “Grain Coast” was already a well formed kingdom long before the conquistadors had landed.
In 1927, Liberia entered the Guinness Book of Records, when incumbent President Charles D.B. King, running for the third term on the True Whig Party ticket, won the most rigged elections with 243,000 votes, despite the National Elections Commission registering a paltry 15,000 voters. The True Whig Party would end up ruling the tattered West African nation for decades until April 12, 1980. Fast forward April 12, 1980. Liberia killed President Willie Tolbert and 13 of his cabinet members to rid the country of “rampant corruption”. Nine years later, Charles Taylor, a former director in Samuel Doe’s government invaded the country, waging a war that was heralded by international and local media as the most gruesome since Hitler’s Jewish purging. Again, fast forward 2005 to 2011, Liberia sets another world record by electing and reelecting Ellen Johnson Sirelaf as the country and Africa’s first female president. Sirleaf would declare corruption as “public enemy number one” in January 2006 during her first inauguration, and later upgrade the nemesis’ status to a “vampire” in 2012. By now, with more than 10 years of relative peace and stability, one would be prone to believe that the nation state Liberia would have somehow recovered from the ravages of war, and that its peoples would have garnered sufficient gems of truths from the harsh lessons learned. But sadly, this is not the case. We are 170 years today, but look where we are. Can we honestly showcase achievements over the last decade that point to our progress as a nation? Politics aside, do you as a citizen feel as a stakeholder in the national decision making process? We killed one another for nearly two decades because the lot of us felt marginalized by the minority elites. And so, from 1980 to 2017, what is the difference between the minority few elites and majority poor? Truth be told, it is just a matter of change of nomenclature. Congau or Country; the ruling class has changed garments to reside over and plunder the state coffers. Before the coup it was the Congau. From 2005 to now, it is us. So when we listen to the 170th National Independence Day Orator flogging the media as publishing tabloid and airing sensational news bereft of the “good tidings” of government, we are really taken aback that a man of God would stoop so low to bury his head in the sand, stick his hinny to the elements and forget the travails of the poor people. If Liberia is to move beyond its present lethargic state, we all as citizens must confront our devils squarely and shame them back to hell.