With close reference to the caption of this article, ponder about the end result or what will happen whenever a society or nation has forgotten its history? Reasonably, it is sure that the repeat of destruction, backwardness, conflict, fragmented society and so on will reflect the responses. Arguably, these responses are the byproducts of conscious actions taken in the past by controllers of the political system or state powers. For contemporary example, Burundi has a history of ethno-political conflict that not only caused destruction or backwardness but also fragmentation of the society.
To any reasonable or right thinking person, this simply means that the ethno-political conflict as part of the embodiment of Burundi history has important lesson for their present and future. As such, controllers of state power or political system will be meticulous about any action that will plunge their nation into the repeat of destruction.
Unfortunately, the recent injudicious decision in April 2015 by President Pierre Nkurunziza to secure a third term over the objections of his opponents, both Hutu and Tutsi, who argued that doing so violated Burundi's post-civil war constitution, unequivocally suggests that Burundi as a nation is yet to learn important lesson from its history of ethno-political conflict. The same way in which the ethno-political conflict between the Hutu and Tutsi caused destruction, displaced many, refugee crisis, so it is the same as the current political crisis that at least killed 240 and caused more than 180,000 Burundians to flee to neighboring countries. This is the reason why Sir Winston Churchill once said “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Let’s come to the nation Liberia as the crux of this article. Similar to Burundi and other countries in Africa, Liberia has a history of not only the fourteen years civil conflict that fragmented our society, but what is also called “The Christians and Muslims Conflict” that saw the destruction of lives and properties. Precisely, the Jehovah Witness Chapel, the Ark of God church and mosquitos were burned in Jacob Town & Black Jinnee, Paynesville on 29 October 2004. Many of us that were around saw the level or kind of destruction and mayhem. Without empirical evidence as a crutch to advance the assertion, it can be argued that since then, our society is still fragmented religiously. Lofa County is also on record for similar religious violence between Christians and Muslims that happened in Zorzor 2013 and Voinjamin 2014.
Irrespective of the magnitude of this kind of history as any person might want to think, it worth arguing that Liberia as a post conflict nation whose peace still seen as fragile is yet to learn important lesson from the fourteen-year conflict neither the so called “Christians and Muslims Conflict”
The reason for this assertion stems from some segment of the Christian community quest to Christianize Liberia by law that ironically opposed by some Christians whose fears of the repercussion reflects lesson learned from the fourteen years conflict and perhaps the consequences of not only the 2004 “Christians and Muslims Conflict” in Paynesville, Liberia but also religious conflicts in the world. For example, the 2010 Jos riots that saw clashes between Muslim herders against Christian farmers near the volatile city of Jos, Nigeria resulted into hundreds of casualties that estimated the massacred of 500 people in night-time raids by rampaging Muslim gangs. The Central Africa Republic ethno-religious conflict between Muslim and Christian communities.
At the time of the 2004 infamous Christians and Muslims Conflict” in Paynesville, it can be argued that quest to Christianize Liberia by law was not publically heard. Since the pronouncement or proposal has surfaced, there have been series of protest actions by those to be affected. (The Muslims). These protest actions alone are enough to remind us about the bitter lesson learned from the history of the civil war caused by conscious human actions.
Against this backdrop, imagine what will happen to our fragile peace and already religiously fragmented society when controllers of state power or political system consciously behave like their counterparts in Burundi? This is the time to have a sober reflection on Winston Churchill assertions “A nation that forgets its past has no future” and “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
From our history, we have seen enough destruction and loss of lives that still lingers on our memories because of conflict. It is ironical to continue to criticize the government about the bleak future of Liberia and at the same time advancing action or social change (Christianize Liberia) that has recipe for the same bleak future.
It worth saying that the Church as the conscience of the Liberian society that has the moral or religious obligation to foster peace and unity in diversity will want to engage into action that will deepen our already fragmented society. Where are heading? Don’t we smell another violent conflict? Have we forgotten about what ideological conflict that has religious under tone continues to do to other societies? We need to ponder about the future of Liberia. We need to think about the possibility of fragmenting our security apparatus that significant comprised of both Christians and Muslims officers. In short, the consequences for such action will be far reaching. Now is the time to rethink.
About the Author:
Mr. Ambrues M. Nebo holds MSc in the top 5 % of the graduating Class in Peace and Conflict studies with specialty in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies form University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Post Graduate Certificate with distinction in Public Administration from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration Ghana, BA Hon (Magna Cum Laude) in Sociology from African Methodist Episcopal Zion University College in Liberia and various International Certificates in peacekeeping operations from Kofi Anna International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana. He has authored a dozen of articles dealing with contemporary issues in Africa and Liberia in which some of his articles (Stop Pointing Fingers at the West for Political Problems in Africa, Is Prolonged Regime, a Recipe for Potential Problems in Africa? and Instead of the International Criminal Court, blame our Leaders) can be accessed online at google search.