PLOTTING IN THE DARK, PART II

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The author, Johnny Baryougar White

Again, the curtain rises and the floodlight dances across the stage revealing characters and scenes that the author has summoned for his plot. The audience continue to play their role, watching on. However, the length of the play has created mixed feelings and emotions within the mind of the audience. A segment of the audience has concluded the outcome of the plot – failure, while others establish a mind-set that the storyline is just about to get better. Nevertheless and without doubt, the contents of the plot are not the best that any author would envisage unravelling on a stage. One thing is thus obvious, the author, Mr. President, continues to write out his plot from the dark. The scenes and traits of the characters establish this reality, a plot written in the dark.


By Johnny Baryougar White


As the author unfolds the plot from the dark, there are elements being introduced that are obviously beyond the draft script, if there is any, of the author. For instance, a character has been introduced into the plot that the author does not have complete authority over and who has an intention to restructure the plot to his own liking, if he is given the chance to do so. The election of Abraham Darius Dillon to the Senate was evidently the discontent of a significant portion of the audience who thought that the plot was being written without a plan and headed for disaster. The introduction of a strange character by the audience was a rude awakening to the author to leave the dark if the plot must turn out successfully.

The new character, since his introduction to the plot, has seized upon the failure of the author to come to the light and thereby dubbed himself the light. There have been some visible impacts on the plot since the introduction of Senator Dillon; nevertheless, they are not sufficient to overturn the outcome of this plot if it continues to be written in the form and manner it is being written. The author has not taken lightly the introduction of this new character. It has been made clear, times without number, that the lifespan of this character in the plot is short-lived. The longer the character stays in the plot, the more disorganized the plot becomes for the author but the better it becomes for some of the audience. Howbeit, the author can harness the characteristics of this character to his advantage and conclude with a magnificent plot, if he so desires leaving the dark.

There comes a time when the author is compelled to introduce episodes and scenes to the plot because of several reasons: lack of adequate character, lack of proper costume, inadequate story content and so forth. In the instance, the author is playing out an episode that is a result of arguably force majeure. The entrance of COVID-19 in Liberia has created unexpected scenes in the plot. The conclusion of this episode has serious bearing on the rest of the episodes to be written. The Machiavellian concept of the end justifying the means will be used as a measuring tool for the success of this episode. As this episode plays out, the economy is running bad because of lockdown, the health system is once again being exposed and the porosity of the security sector is highlighted.

The author sits at a position where it is almost impossible for this episode to be a failure. It is a matter of compulsion that the audience and even those who think the author is unfit to write this plot join in with a collective effort and defeat this disease. Religious leaders, private individuals, business institutions and the opposition community are taking actions to complement the government’s effort. Paradoxically, the author is introducing ideas within the scenes that are bound to stall the success of the episode. The president who came in close contact with couple of infected persons refuse to undergo self-quarantine, an action that takes away from the credibility of the fight against the virus. The most appropriate line to this scene would have been self-isolation, for the incubation period of the virus, to demonstrate courage, will and preparedness to lead a national fight. Additionally, leading the government and at the same time establishing the “Weah Project” was an own goal in a game of soccer. As the author, whatever outcome from the plot will be attributed to you so what does it benefit you to setup an extra project for a fight that is the government’s priority? The only explanation here is that the darkness from which the author writes is negatively affecting the plot.

As though these missteps are not enough, the president engineered a crisis surrounding the integrity of the authorship, the presidency, credibility to the fight against the virus and overall credibility of the plot. First, the author and his heir had to decide who owns a particular piece of property thus bringing to public disrepute one of the characters. The author and the entire inner circle of characters should be walking in shame for making such error. The title to a property is not by feelings or word of mouth but by legal documents and as such, there should be absolutely no reason(s) why the ownership of a piece of property will be conflicting. Again, this is what happens when one scene in the earlier part of the plot is poorly written. Had the president publicly disclose his assets, such elementary scandal would not have occurred. Besides, that all non-essential works have been ordered stopped by the President (via the state of emergency), on what moral and legal grounds were construction works allowed to continue? Is it that the laws of the land are not applicable to the President and his properties? The darkness from which the author is plotting must be so intense that said script would be written. The earlier the author leaves the darkness, the better his chances for turning this plot into a masterpiece. Better still, he can remain where he is and wallow in a pool of disaster.

Howbeit, not all is lost. The audience have had moments of excitement come their way along the writing of this plot. The author successfully wrote a scene that had the support of almost the entire audience when he presented to the Legislature a State of Emergency package that had a purpose of saving lives and keeping everyone afloat. Stimulus aid and utilities subsidy were part of the package, a moment that Liberians gladly embrace. That moment of joy is though gradually dissipating as the reality of the stimulus is becoming elusive by the minute. In addition, the audience had a reason to smile again when the President brought into the country a consignment of the COVID Organics herbal treatment. The news of the African herbal anti-COVID19 drink ignited the hope of the audience that the author can write a successful plot. Yet again, that hope is fast eluding the public as the principle of fair disclosure surrounding that consignment has not been met. First, the consignment was not huge as the speculation was. Secondly, to date, the plan for this herbal treatment has not been released to the public. Not all hope is lost, the goal of defeating the virus remains in sight.

As the plot continues to be written, the audience is gradually getting weary and impatient. The author remains in the dark plotting. The ability to leave the darkness has been demonstrated. The case of Ndbusi Nwabudike is a classic example of the ability of the author to leave the dark but the willingness is lacking. The withdrawal of Nwabudike’s nomination was the ability but the inability to relieve him of his current post until the truth is sought speaks to his lack of willingness. There have been times where an author thought all was lost and that the plot was a failure but the ability and willingness to change course brought smile to their face. A case in point is the Spanish Television Series: Papel De La Casa or Money Heist. The plot became a failure after the first part was shown on Spanish networks, but soon came the revival when the Director encountered Netflix and sold off the series (Lejarreta & Alfaro, 2020). Today, the series is one of the most watched worldwide.

As indicated in the earlier part (https://frontpageafricaonline.com/opinion/plotting-in-the-dark-part-i/), the President/author still has an opportunity to rethink strategy, leave the dark and create a successful plot. The successful outcome of this plot is what matters most to the audience. Is the author prepared to come out of the dark and redirect the plot to a successful end? Time and season, they say, shall tell.

Written by: Johnny Baryougar White (MA, International Relations), a former President of the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), a Human Rights Practitioner and a Fellow with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

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