As the old millennium gave way to the new and 1999 changed to 2000, Liberians were unsettled by the rumors that peace was not truly here, and in fact strange armed men were walking the nation’s jungles.
By 2003, it became clear to all that the peace Liberians thought we obtained in 1997 was just a mirage and that a nation with hatred, inequality and multiple overlapping deprivations cannot be truly at peace if a dramatic new start was made that rejected violence and privilege based on class status.
A gathering of minds began to run over the options available to lead Liberia from its malaise. Without reservations, some names were rejected as too divisive, too tarnished or totally intoxicated with chronic arrogance intolerable. But a few lips began to mutter, “can we ask Amb. George Weah to consider the challenge of leading this war torn land from notoriety to nobility?”
And so the men, women and youth from the slums to the suburbs, from the city center to the countryside, from the mountaintops to the valleys low made two epoch defining decisions: to engage the paragon of peace and embodiment of neutrality, Ambassador George Manneh Weah to forever change the nation’s body politic and the other being to form the political party known as the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC).
But the malignant cabal at the heart of national power has not been idle. Since its accreditation by the National Elections Commission, this has been a party prosecuted. Its members have been called illiterates, miscreants and “growna” boys, only to be declared angels when they leave to bow before the golden image of betrayal.
So former Vice Chairman and later Acting Chairman of CDC, J. Cole Bangalu has served as Vice Chairman for the misruling Unity Party, while Eugene Nagbe swapped being Secretary General of CDC with being Secretary General of the soon to be buried Unity Party.
Yet, even in their departure, the CDC achieves a victory. Persons who were anonymous through decadence were elevated by the CDC to prominence. Individuals who were never valued before become assets, as long as they can denigrate the masses struggle, as oppressors are not content to enslave the body but also seek to subjugate the mind.
Yet the party has grown stronger with each day, maintaining and expanding a core of valiant men and women, committed to the purpose of making Liberia better, even if it does not begin with them. The likes of Samuel D. Tweah, founding Chair of CDC-USA served as Keynote Speaker of the first National Convention of the CDC and set a tone for intellectual debate and frank exchange of opinion in the movement, a legacy that continues today.
The likes of Moses Saah Tandapollie, Thomas Fallah and others formed the bedrock of the CDC first legislative caucus, some of them still with us, while a few who gone from labor to reward. Persons like Mulbah K. Morlu, Acarous Moses Gray, Archie Sarnor and myself have had tasted the bitter leaves of political imprisonment handed out by this regime. But still, like Ceasar we remain constant. Danger knows surely well, we are his elders. When he sees our faces, he varnishes.
There can be uncertainty as to whether the CDC has evolved and grown. Indeed in time past, the CDC did not lose representative aspirants. It lost actual legislators, persons who were place at the high table of national recognition by the collective endeavor of our partisans. Today, what do we only see aspirants leaving.
In the play Julius Ceasar, the soothsayer Artemidorus told the hero, “Beware the ides of March.” When Ceasar responded that “the Ides of March have come”, he was told “that they have not yet gone.”
In the CDC, history tells us that we should look beyond what looks good about a new day and every new face. Those traumatic divorces were once blissful love affairs, lavish ceremonies and happy homes. It is better to end a political affair, than to engage in a legislative divorce.
After all, the CDC knows the pain all too well. In 2005, we were the ones looking for legislative candidates and we voted our entire party ticket in cadence. However, within two years some of those we struggled for, strived to elevate and devoted our attention to departed.
The likes of Kettehkuhmuehn E. Murray and Elmond Tatius Barclay of Montserrado County, Charles Bardyl of River Gee and Jackson Flindor of Nimba quickly changed sides, and began to sing evil of the hands that lifted them.
In 2011, we noticed a failure of streamlining, where gatekeepers manipulated the people will and presented them, in some cases persons whose loyalty they doubted.
But there are whistles that blow only once. There is a winnowing process going on now. And the cleaning process began in-house. Those who believe they could hold ramshackle primaries and gave them the tagged CDC have since either being booted out or are no more in Executive Committee positions.
Persons who felt we would believe just anything anybody says or think that everyone who says the CDC is good would be considered a Messiah, are finding out that we ask the most difficult question.
That question is simply: Are you for us or for yourself?
Some persons have passed that test. The smaller CDC contingent we had elected to the House in 2011 has grown larger from additions, rather than gotten smaller. We have gotten new members and faces from independents, Unity Party and other blocs.
There are even others who have not joined the CDC but associate with it to the exclusion of other political blocs. This time we are not a net loser of seats. We are a net gainer.
Does this bring challenges - Yes it does. Only persons of discipline and commitment will understand that not only is the CDC growing internally, we also have to consider the concerns and wishes of a number of institutions which are in coalition and will be collaborating.
The CDC’s and the collective agenda of the people cannot be anyone’s Plan B if they are to become the faces that would represent them.
The blood of Moses Saah Tandapollie, James Gray, Papie Solo and Hannah Brent speak loudly, that this battle is something for which we must be willing to sacrifice our all if we are to count ourselves worthy of the honor of being a CDCian.
Jefferson T. Koijee, Contributing Writer