Liberia: Congau vs. Country – Weah-led Govt Must Focus on Bread & Butter Issues; Stop Sowing Seeds of Division


TENSION IS RUNNING HIGH In the build-up to much-anticipated June 7, 2019 Save the State Protest in Liberia. Organizers are hoping to galvanize massive support in hopes of bringing the plight of the Liberian people languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder to the doorsteps of President George Manneh Weah and his CDC-led government.

IN RECENT WEEKS though, a handful of high-ranking officials of the administration have taken to social media in heated war-of-words and exchanges with organizers of the planned protest,
Council of Patriots.

IN FACT, ONE official, Mr. Eugene Fahngon, Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism is threatening to stage a protest of his own, one day after the June 7 protest on June 7, 2019.  “I will march from the ATS (Antoinette Tubman Stadium) to the SKD (Samuel Kanyon Doe) Sports complex on Saturday, June 8, 2019 alongside the Assembly of Country People (A C P) to show appreciation to president George Weah for the great job done in a year and half.  My regalia will be emblematic of our fallen heroes to the canons of Matilda Newport and the Patriotic Forces as seen above who made us kill each other in a senseless and brutal war, says Mr. Fahngon.

MR. FAHNGON IS TREADING a rather dangerous line that has serious historical repercussions for peace and stability in Liberia.

SINCE INDEPENDENCE IN 1847, Africa’s oldest republic has been struggling to wrestle the cloud of division between the indigenous or country people and the descendants of settlers, dubbed, Americo-Liberians, or Congau people

IN NEXT DOOR, SIERRA LEONE, the sister ethnic group of Americo-Liberians are called the Creole who share similar ancestry and related culture.  

AMERICO-LIBERIANS trace their ancestry to free-born and formerly enslaved African Americans who emigrated in the 19th century to become the founders of Liberia and identified themselves in the new-found territory as Americo-Liberians. 

FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, Americo-Liberians although in the minority, controlled and dominated the socio-economic and political life of Liberia. 

ALL THAT CHANGED on April 12, 1980, when Master Sargeant Samuel Kanyon Doe along with sixteen low-ranked military officers, led a violent military coup that brought an end to 133 years of the settler oligarchy. 

DOE AND HIS BAND of coup leaders accused the Tolbert government of corruption and established a tribunal. On 22 April 1980, exactly 10 days after the coup, finding thirteen officials of government guilty and placing them on the poles at South Beach for execution.

THE COUP OF 1980 was a liberation for those who branded themselves as the indigenous or country people. In tribute to the liberation, some chanted: “native woman born soldier and Congau [settler’s] woman born rogue”.

THIRTEEN NINE YEARS LATER, refrains of hate and division continue to linger in Liberia.

NIMBA COUNTY Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who led the breakaway National Patriotic Front of Liberia during the civil war started by Charles Taylor, and one of the most-feared warlords who killed scores of people during the war, has sought the presidency twice and each time, he is quick to remind Liberians of the great divide. “They (Congau) are always taking country boys to be vice presidents” (Re “Congau vs Country.

THE IRONY is as complexed as ever. Johnson actually is responsible for killing the first indigenous president of the Second Republic when he and his men tortured and killed President Doe at the height of the civil war.

EVEN AFTER MULTIPLE inter-marriages, three successive presidential and legislative elections and a successful democratic transition, Liberia’s governing hierarchy, now mostly dominated by indigenous Liberians are still towing lines of division and hate.

IN THE AFTERMATH of the April 12, 1980 coup, the officials of Tolbert government, branded as Congau were executed for among other things, corruption, nepotism and greed. 

HAD ALL gone according to plan, corruption should have died that day but it hasn’t; had all gone according to plan, nepotism should have died that did but it hasn’t; had all gone according to plan, greed should have actually died that day, but it remains more visible today than it ever was.

THIS BEGS THE QUESTION, why is Liberia and Liberians always shying away from the real problems causing it so much pain, suffering and nightmare? Are the Congau people really the main culprit? or the indigenous?

THE UNIFYING issue appears to be the lack of love and sincerity leaders both past and present have exhibited over those they claim to rule.

REGARDLESS OF TRIBE, all Liberians want is an opportunity for a better life, to be able to put food on the table and for daddy and mommy to come home and provide for the family.

CONGAU AND COUNTRY in our view is nothing but a distraction to take Liberians away from the reality of what is really unfolding and what has been for 172 years and counting.

THE MORE THINGS have changed, the more they appear to remain the same – regardless of tribe or religion. 

PRESIDENT WEAH and his team must take a cue from history and avoid the trappings that has crippled the legacy of those before. 

THE CONGAU MAN was never the cause of Liberia’s problems neither is the country man of its current debacle. Leaders, regardless of tribe or religion must put themselves in the position of putting the interest of the country ahead of their own. Towing the lines and seeds of division is recipe for disaster and must be discourage in every shape, size and form.

THE ISSUES being raised by those planning to protest on June 7, 2019 are valid and affects each and every Liberian, including the haves and the have-nots.

172 YEARS is such a long time for one nation to be entrapped in a sea of uncertainty.  The government of the day must seize its moment and make things right. Ignoring the writings on the wall was bad for King Belshazzar in the book of Daniel and it is also as bad for those at the helm of authority in Liberia today.