I have always run with a revolutionary idea of Che Guevara which he postulated in his “Motorcycle Diary”. The icon of the Latin American Revolution argued that “Whether a revolution will take place peacefully or through painful labor is not determined by the revolutionaries.
This is determined by the reactionaries of the old society who will either choose to accept or reject the projection of a new society engendered by contradictions carried in the womb of the old and backward order”.
In the context of the Latin American Revolution, Che, Fidel, Raul, and other revolutionaries struggled through painful labor due to the refusal of the reactionary forces to accept the rabid revolutionary transformation which was envisaged as the results of the moribund status quo.
I premised this weekend piece from the work of a man I religiously study because I want to provide a little analysis of the recent Henry Costa and supporters’ assembly at the National legislature – an assembly which was held for the purpose of petitioning the First Branch of Government to prevail upon the Executive to reopen two critical opposition owned and operated radio stations that were shut down due to quote on quote tax evasion, illegal transfer of frequency, and refusal to regularize status.
Let it be noted that I believe the action of the LTA to shot down radio stations does not augur well for our democracy. You cannot close down radio stations in the name of tax evasion and at the same time waive thousands of dollars in taxes in the interest of mobile companies.
On that faithful and beautiful Tuesday of August 16, 2016, Mr. Costa, a controversial talk-show host and his supporters peacefully assembled in their numbers in front of the Capitol Building chanting and singing anti-government slogans and songs without intimidation and harassment from state securities. The petition was read and delivered to the national legislature, and Mr. Costa and his many supporters returned to their catacombs peacefully.
I want to bring to your attention that the peaceful conduct of such process was not determined or did not depend on Mr. Costa and his supporters. The peaceful nature of that assembly was determined by the willingness of the captains of a political system that has within its fabric chromosome the tenet of democracy which gives the people’s right to assemble and petition the government of the day or to express their grievances without being bullied or brutally overwhelmed by state securities.
Have you wondered what would have happened had the state ruthlessly rejected the people’s aspiration to assemble and petition their lawmakers? Our society would have plunged once again into a catastrophe.
The people angered by the closure of two outlets that they feel articulated their misery, poverty, diseases and ignorance distributed by a backward socio-economic system would have taken matter into their hands had the state responded barbarically to their peaceful assembly. Although I do not agree with the government’s decision to shut down two radio stations with strong alternative voices, I must commend it for understanding that gone are the days when the masses of our people were shot dead because they demanded the benefits of political freedom.
The tolerance of the state toward Mr. Costa and his supporters’ assembly is what was expected of the True Whig Party’s Tolbert led regime on April 14, 1979 when the people led by the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) and Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) assembled to peacefully protest against the increment in the price of rice- Liberia’s stable food. Had the military not opened fire, and killed over 200 Liberians for exercising their democratic franchise, the date April 14, 1979 would not have been written in the annals of Liberia’s history as the day the True Whig Party, in its quest to continuously dominate the political and economic landscape of the motherland, introduce arm violence in our political history. Had the status quo then treated with dignity the pursuit of the people to express their grievances against the increment in the price of rice, the same military that was sent to kill the people’s children would not have been influenced by internal and external forces to have overthrown the government on April 12, 1980.
I am elated to be living in an era of Liberia’s existence as a democratic independent and sovereign nation, that some of our brothers have learned from history, and are committed not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Today, even remnants of the True Whig Party can assemble people to petition the government of the day without being persecuted. That is the space our forefathers fought tirelessly with their sweat and blood to establish. And we will always be around to “together uphold the trillium of freedom, and at our feet, will be the dead body of tyranny”.