Liberia Is Not A Throwback Jersey: Time To Move Past Taylor Mystique
FORMER LIBERIAN PRESIDENT Charles Taylor used the celebration of his 69th Birth anniversary last Saturday, as a call to arms and the perfect opportunity to rally his troops ahead of the 2017 presidential and legislative elections.
THE FORMER PRESIDENT is heard telling his supporters via phone from his prison cell last Saturday: “I am appealing to all of my friends to return to their base, the base? The NPP. The NPP grew out of the NPFL. Return to your base – and everything will be alright.”
MR. TAYLOR’S PARTY, the National Patriotic Party recently formed a coalition with the Congress for Democratic Change of football legend George Weah; the Liberian Destiny Party of his former Finance Minister Nathaniel Barnes and the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) of former Speaker Alex Tyler.
ON APRIL 26, 2012, MR. TAYLOR was found guilty of all 11 counts of “aiding and abetting” war crimes and crimes against humanity, making him the first head of state to be convicted by an international tribunal since Karl Donitz at the Nuremburg Trials.
THE SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE, sentenced the former Liberian president to 50 years’ imprisonment for aiding and abetting war crimes in Sierra Leone.
He is currently serving his sentence in a high security prison in the United Kingdom for his role in the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone, which claimed about 50,000 lives.
IT WAS FROM THERE that Mr. Taylor spoke to his followers, forgetting to know that the real reason he has been sent there was out of fear that he is still a threat to the destabilisation of the West African region.
IN PASSING JUDGEMENT, Justice Richard Lussick, in 2012, noted that the court viewed Taylor’s crimes with “the utmost gravity”. It rejected a number of defence pleas for mitigation, among them that Taylor had played a substantial role in the peace process and had secured the release of peacekeepers and other hostages during the war. The court said that while Taylor publicly professed to work for peace, he was secretly instigating conflict, and his help with hostages was not a significant mitigating factor.
TAYLOR WAS FORCED out of Liberia because so many people were dying, chaos, confusion and heartaches, had become the order of the day forcing Mr. Taylor succumb to pressure and agreed to leave Liberia.
BY JULY 2003, he was under siege amid several bloody battles that killed brothers, sisters, husbands, wives and every imaginable tie that held families together had beenbroken.
IT WAS US PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH who dealt the final blow when he warned that Taylor “must leave Liberia”.
ON JULY 9, 2003, NIGERIAN President Olusegun Obasanjo offered Taylor exile in his country on the condition that Taylor stay out of Liberian politics.
EVEN AFTER TAYLOR insisted that he would resign only if U.S. peacekeeping troops were deployed to Liberia, Bush was having none of it and publicly called upon Taylor to resign and leave the country in order for any American involvement to be considered.
ON AUGUST 10, 2003, Taylor finally bowed and announce that he would resign the following day and hand power to Vice President Blah.
DURING HIS REIGN, Liberia was shut out from the world. Many stakeholders were uncomfortable dealing with him because his men had killed so many people and he simply had no control over them.
TRUE, LIBERIANS had put aside those gruesome killings and campaigned on the notorious slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him,” but they eventually paid the price of being shut out from the rest of the world all because Mr. Taylor was not accepted.
TRUE, AS HE WAS EXITING, he created the famous, “God Willing, I Will Be Back”, slogan and true he has escaped from a high-security prison before.
BUT LIBERIA HAS MOVED from those ugly periods of fear and must continue on the route to post-war stability.
THINGS MAY NOT BE all that rosy now, but Rome was not built overnight.
THIS IS WHY IT IS important for us as a nation to remove ourselves from the thought of welcoming back Mr. Taylor in any reincarnate form.
IT WILL SIMPLY NOT be well for Liberia and will send the wrong message to our international stakeholders who spent millions of dollars and resources to get Liberia back on track.
FOR MANY WHO endured the civil war, there were days without food, days when the dead piled up and days when hope seemed lost with no sign of light being at the end of the tunnel.
THINGS ARE NOT all rosy but they are not so bad either, that any well-meaning Liberian should advocate for the return of the man who pulled the trigger on one of the darkest chapters in our history.
WHERE ARE WE AS a nation since the rice riots of April 14, 1979? What happened to the promises of the progressives? Many of them are today in government, remaining silent while the poor continue to languish at the bottom of the economic ladder?
WHERE ARE WE as a nation since the death of Tubman who bought yachts instead of improving our health system? Where are we as a nation since the gruesome death of Tolbert, who trumpeted an open-door policy that offered little in terms of benefits of the young band of soldiers who would end his reign later and slay thirteen members of his government?
WHERE ARE WE as a nation since Prince Johnson and his soldiers chopped off the ears of Samuel Doe who wept bitterly in pain as his executors laughed and Johnson sipped his Budweiser beer down his throat?
THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER is we are stuck because we continue to make the same mistakes, treading down the same paths and refusing to close one chapter and move on to the next.
WE ARE A PEOPLE TRAPPED in the twilight zone waiting for the world to save us but refusing to help ourselves.
MR. TAYLOR’s travelled a path of vengeance we must work toward moving past as we aim to foster reconciliation and implement the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
“You better read those, you better read those very carefully because that will be the consequence.” Mr. Taylor says: Ezekiel Chapter 25: 6-12 read: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because Edom took revenge on Judah and became very guilty by doing so, 13 therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will stretch out my hand against Edom and kill both man and beast. I will lay it waste, and from Teman to Dedan they will fall by the sword.
VERSE 14: I WILL take vengeance on Edom by the hand of my people Israel, and they will deal with Edom in accordance with my anger and my wrath; they will know my vengeance, declares the Sovereign Lord.’
VERSE 15: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘Because the Philistines acted in vengeance and took revenge with malice in their hearts, and with ancient hostility sought to destroy Judah, 16 therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to stretch out my hand against the Philistines, and I will wipe out the Kerethites and destroy those remaining along the coast.
REALLY LIBERIA? Is this how far we have come that we are willing to erase the strides made to satisfy the reincarnate tendencies of a failed dictator now serving the remainder of his time behind bars?
GOD WILL NEVER come down from heaven to save us. We must stop depending on everyone but ourselves to help us and start relying more and adopt an ability to learn from the lessons of history.
TURNING BACK THE CLOCK is not an option, this is not an NBA game and we definitely are not a nation ready to embrace a throwback jersey that has outlived its time.