April 12, 1980, brought the bloody bursting of Liberia’s longest span of unbroken peace. Outright war was stayed; but, unlike in Apartheid South Africa, with which Liberia was often compared; inappropriately, because Liberia had no Mandela, the long predicted explosion did occur, dispersing Liberians throughout their homeland, West Africa and beyond. Wherever they found themselves, many groped at ways of saving their only country. But injustice, not the absence of peace had caused the coup.
Therefore, although personally spared the horrors at home by being the Liberian Ambassador and later on an official of the United Nations in New York, my ceaseless concerns about the woes at home and among my scattered compatriots caused me to establish: LIBERIANS UNITING FOR PEACE, an NGO dedicated to halting the carnage convulsing Liberia, whilst preparing for the first chance to provide leadership for stability, peace and prosperity; in short, to establish elusive justice, particularly the equitable sharing of the nation’s wealth among all its citizens in a unified Liberia.
The general response to my meager measures consistently caused uplifting, passionate and crowded meetings in communities all across Southern and North Eastern United States. At such gatherings, conflicts common among Liberians in the pre-coup years and more so since, found parlous place as Liberians of all counties, gender and generations embraced one another, exerting themselves to birth a better Liberian future.
That future aroused worldwide sympathy causing enormous efforts culminating in international peacekeeping which primed Liberia for nation building. Then, LIBERIANS UNITING FOR PEACE, having served its purpose in the Diaspora declined relocation to Liberia.
Instead, unbeknownst to me a new, almost miraculous movement: LIBERIANS FOR WINSTON (LIBWIN), with its motto: THE GREAT RECONCILER and my photo displayed on its membership card, suddenly sprung up; calling for reconciliation among Liberians with the aim to convert itself into a political party.
National unity being the prerequisite for nation building, LIBWIN’S success required that efforts commence within the NDPL Government; whose draconian birth pangs notwithstanding, produced history’s first elected indigenous President of Liberia. But, a horse brought to water cannot be forced to drink! Thus, unifying Liberia from within a flawed NDPL proved a nonstarter.
Nevertheless, my Liberian compatriots sympathized with, forgave and stuck with us as we continued our reconciliation crusade into: the LIBERIAN NATIONAL UNION (LINU) political party; afterwards, as part of efforts to combine as many opposition parties as feasible into a single entity for electorally confronting the ruling UNITY PARTY Government; until finally, from a field quietly comprising most Liberian politicians, we were transparently elected Flag Bearer of Liberia’s biggest, youths dominated political party: the Congress For Democratic Change (CDC)! In which capacity, during the 2011 General Election, the Presidency of Liberia disputably fell to us; but for complex reasons, too good to be true, it eluded our grasp. But later, when Liberia teetered on the brink of returning to war, hind sight shows that by losing the election then, fate had saved me for a Mandela moment which saved the country.
Later, after two Presidential terms: the first originating in electoral fraud, the second continuing amidst unconstitutional and illegal force backed by self-seeking foreigners, the Unity Party Government failed to heal and unite the nation just as the NDPL Government had earlier failed, and for the same reason: sub coming to neocolonial manipulation. Liberia remained dangerous and divided, papa never came home with the goodies as corruption soared and rampant nepotism was brazenly practiced and justified.
As UN peacekeepers prepared to withdraw, gruesome unsolved homicides and outrages left Liberians fearful for the future. Too many crimes and criminals were exposed, causing contagious impunity, spurning posses, not parties, bound to hold the nation hostage, in chaos and bondage. Once again, Liberians needed to unite; but not unity as an end in itself but rather as a means to the end of a united, successful and stable state.
Therefore unless Liberians, appropriately uniting, make their nation whole; with unity, like fire, serving as a force for good, they can conflagrate their country. This is why the Liberian electorates would shirk patriotic responsibilities if in Election 2017 they bartered or sold their votes.
Wealthy Liberians in their wealth already gained their reward, often at the expense of nation and people whose wellbeing would retard, their liberties lost if they made Liberia’s wealthy the country’s masters.
Patriots, particularly wealthy ones selflessly serve rather than milk their nation. If therefore ordinary people make masters of the rich and famous this could destroy democracy, resulting in government by the few, of the few and for the few! Liberty, God’s gift to mankind, unless always enhanced must be replaced by chains and slavery. Liberians must remember this next year!
Because mercy and forgiveness are attributes even to God, they are more enhancing in humans. We must therefore show mercy and forgiveness towards fellow Liberians who, having harmed our country and us show remorse. But our forgiveness will not qualify them to rule. Free people rule themselves but led by persons possessing purpose passion wisdom and love. Leadership, a gift from the Creator cannot be a reward from citizens to one another.
That is why the greatest leaders, people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Churchill, Mother Theresa and Mandela were great teachers who eternally inspire all people by word and deed to be self reliant; how to fish rather than be docile dependants on their fellow human beings in order to live! This axiom is true of individuals, all classes including the much mentioned middle class; indeed it’s true of all nations and peoples.
President Lincoln once said: “God must love the common man. He made so many of them.” President Kennedy later added: “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it will not save the few who are rich.” Because the many are thus mandated to save humanity, they must begin in Liberia Election 2017.
Winston Abraham Tubman, Contributing Writer