Liberia: You Eat, I Eat, A Society Of Self-Agony


It is intriguing to live in a society where its people sing praises to thieves and criminals. A society of impunity and loot. A place where; You Eat, I Eat, is not a slogan, but a way of life that has saturated its fabric, and is shaking its moral compass.

When I think of Liberia, it is as if we enjoy things the way they are. We seem to be a people of self-agony. A society of self-agony is one that shelters a broad range of feats. It is consciously causing pain and inflicting damage to itself and the ones unborn. It can be suicidal or non-suicidal in intent.

Why is our society this way? Why are we not angrier than we are? Why do we settle for less? There are just too many questions than answers, it would seem. Such attitudes have, to a larger extend exploited generations upon generations. It is as if we are swimming in a sea of lies, deceit, dishonesty, etc. And with each stroke, the tides assault us with more of these vices; soaking us until when we do get ashore, we are overcooked in vices.

How else does one rationalize the situation where a pick pocketer would get mauled by a mob but a public servant would get votes for doing the same thing-stealing? How else does one explain how people that killed us and actively ravaged this nation, now have licenses to pillage legally?

The trends of events happening in our society today, depict a sense of willfulness. It would seem a conscious effort on our part is made to dwell in this agony. It feels as though we are superficially, swimming in a river of dishonesty and complete deception- to its highest degree. When we do something, it often starts and ends with lies. We seek out to get others, at every chance. Sometimes even when there is none, we manufacture it just to get it. Sadly, the ‘you eat, I eat’ stated as far back before the 1800s. As we mirror the country we so loved, one can infer the negative foundation upon which our country Liberia originates.

Today, we have continued to experience complete dishonesty in Liberia. So, I ask, is it true that love of Liberty brought the settlers here?

We remain living in a society of self-agony. The You Eat syndrome shows up when our leaders trade up our God giving resources for little or nothing, thus leaving the vast majority of our people to living in abject poverty. It shows up when the ones we elect as our leaders, continue to lord over our us. They create special class citizens (themselves), who ply express lanes (on tiny outdated roads and plenty traffic). It shows when they successfully siphon larger portions of our land and resources for themselves, while the majority can’t afford enough to buy a plot of land.

I thought, You eat, and I eat, meant just that? You get to eat, then we get to do same. Apparently, there is no place in the “I” for us. Obviously, there is none in the “You”, as is evident. But to take away the “I” is more than unfair.

As it is, “You Eat, You Eat,” or “You Eat, I don’t Eat” because I never get to eat. When will we recover from this dead dream? When will we wake to the reality of greed and hand out of our leaders, as they make big and unrealistic promises that never materialize? When is this going to end?

It looks as if it is far from being over, as election upon election, we keep electing the same people. When we seem to prefer picking murderers, criminals, incompetents, corrupt individuals and every variant of unworthy persons to lead us.

Our sweet land of Liberty is now the host of criminals and immoralist running a complete spoil system that is seemingly irreversible. A society of self-agony. Impunity runs high, violence is amuck, merit and education are mocked and denigrated to nothingness- Da book we wey eat? A society of self-agony.

Despite, I am convicted that only Liberians can change Liberia. If Liberians decide to have an honest Country, it will be. But this change must start from the family, the homes, to schools and religious institutions. It must begin with self. We must change us first, then our families and all the way to our country.

Until we consider sincere and realistic change as country, we will remain with a concept of living a life of you eat I eat. If we continue in this path, our children will follow same. “You eat, I eat” is symbolic to you kill me, I kill you. You eat, I eat is equivalent to you steal, and I steal, you eat, I eat is the same as the criminal is going to be a judge of another criminal where justice will never be realized.

Eric A.B. Fredericks, MPA Candidate,

University of Liberia Graduate School

[email protected]