What in the World Are Liberians Waiting For?
My Fellow Countrymen: I bring you family greetings. I am not a long speechwriter and I do not “sugarcoat” whenever I write. That means I will get right to the point.
Given the vast knowledge I have acquired over the years especially as it relates to nemesis that stand in the way of unifying our people, it is paramount that I write to you concerning some underlining factors that are responsible in my opinion.
If we must survive as a people, we must be willing to identify all factors and put some measures in place to minimize the possibility of them reoccurring. As such, I insist that you read this entire document to the end.
But before you proceed, allow me to express my appreciation to the Government of the United States of America for the kind hospitality bestow upon all Nimbains and Grand Gedeans that dwell in this country.
Permit me to also express my deepest gratitude to you all for your endless love for our beloved two counties. I want to pay my respect to all who suffered and all who perished from Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties during the Liberian civil war.
It is my hope that through this communication, from now on, the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh Counties will be reminded; that decades ago in our dear country Liberia, a clear and conscious decision was made by those then in power influenced by the so-called intellectual class that the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh would not live side by side in peace.
They put a wedge between Nimbains and Grand Gedeians and this has caused suspicions, distrust and disunity amongst the people of these two counties. They created a situation that planted a kind of enemy mentality within the minds of the old and young people in the two counties.
During those decades of unbearable catastrophes perpetrated by those who want to see our people divided, The people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties experienced the most intensive lost of lives, investment and property.
Families murdered in their home, people were hunted down as they fled from soldiers and militia, through towns, villages, farmland and forest as if they were animals.
From Monrovia, to Ganta, From Ganta to Toe Town passing through dwengee Town, Zleh Town, Tuzon, all the way to Konobo, people gathered seeking refuge in churches by the thousands, in hospitals, in schools. And when they were found, the old and the sick, women and children alike, were killed.
They were killed only because their identity card said they were Gio, or Krahn, or Mano or because they had a Gio or Krahn parent, or because someone thought they looked like a Gio or like a Krahn, or they look like a Mano.
Thousands were killed only because they hid a krahn person or a Gio or Mano person in their houses. Some were even killed only because they disagree with a policy that sought to wipe out Gio, Mano or Krahn people whom just the day before, and for years before, had been their friends and neighbors.
The So-called intellectual class at that time backed by those who sought to avenged the 1980 coup that toppled the Tolbert government led an effort to exterminate the people of Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties by means of divide and rule. According to statistics, at least 250,000 lives were lost in the process.
Unfortunately to our own detriment, documented evidence suggests that most of the killers were in fact our own sons and daughters from both Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties. I would like to point out here that the killings that took place within the past 25 plus years were not spontaneous or accidental.
They were most certainly not the result of ancient tribal struggles between the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties. Grand Gedeans and Nimbains had lived together for centuries before the ugly events began to unfold in Liberia.
These events grew from a calculated intention crafted by those who ruled our people for hundred plus years. And their intention was and is solely aimed at the systematic destruction of the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties.
The ground for violence was carefully prepared, the airwaves poisoned with hate, Gios castigating the Krahns as scapegoats for the problems of Liberia, Krahn casting the Gios as scapegoats for the problem of Liberia, and one tribe denying the other humanity and the right to live.
All of this was done clearly, to make it easy for otherwise reluctant people from the rest of the 14 tribes of Liberia to participate in wholesale slaughter of our people. Lists of victims especially the educated ones from Grand Gedeh and Nimba counties, name by name, were actually drawn up in advance and earmarked to be eliminated.
Most of our educated sons and daughters at the time who could distinguish right from wrong, as well as our traditional elders who know our traditional values must all bear share of responsibility for the level of tragedy that visited our people. They as well did not act quickly enough to halt the killings.
We as a people should not have allowed Liberians especially the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh County to be called refugee in any part of the world. And when our people were displaced in their own country, we should not have allowed displaced centers such as carter center, the Lutheran Church, the public works building, the BTC, the Freeport of Monrovia, etc to be used as killing zone. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide.
Most of our people whether educated or not, took sizes they did not understand. And such action, they regret today. We cannot change the past. But we can and must do everything in our powers to help build the future of the unborn generation of Nimba, Grand Gedeh and the whole of Liberia without fear, and full of hope.
I say in this public manner that we… all of us… owe to those who died and to those who survived, our every effort to increase our vigilance and strengthen our stand against those who calculated and influenced such atrocities whether in Nimba, Grand Gedeh or elsewhere in Liberia.
Our people are still at risk because those who hastened yesteryears to reduced Nimba and Grand Gedeh to nothing, have began again but this time, they are using clandestine maneuvers to divide our people. They are using whatever means, be a political or otherwise, to degrade human life in these two counties.
Should they succeed, violence will become tolerated again, and the unimaginable will become more conceivable. This we must not allow to happen on our watch this time.
Our best effort is to organize ourselves so that we can minimize the chances of what took place yesteryears. And where they cannot be prevented, we can move more quickly to retard whatever calculated plan(s) that may derive at dividing our people until at such time when we shall have uncovered all actors connected to it. But we cannot do this if we are divided. We cannot do so if the people of Nimba and Grand Gedeh are not united.
We must challenge ourselves to build our two counties in which no branch of humanity, because of tribe, or ethnic origin, is again threatened with destruction. Let us work together as a community to strengthen our ability to prevent and, if necessary, to stop the level of hate as well as the divide and rule that is going on between the two counties.
For our detractors are aware that the moment the two counties unit, the moment the two counties hold together, progress begins and they will be outside looking in. I do not recount these events to sadden your hearts, but to remind you of the unwanted past struggles that visited our people and awaken us all about the future of our two counties.
Fellow Brothers and Sisters, though the road is hard and uncertain, and there are many difficulties ahead, and like everything, no one county can singlehandedly undo the contrapositive ideology that has been planted into the minds of our people by those who inhumanely run the affairs of our people right now in Liberia.
All of us might not be able to do everything we would like to see happened in the two counties, but there are things we can do to begin the reconciliation and reunification process. We have already begun the process by agreeing to come together as I have seen from the numerous online exchanges of developmental ideas between sons and daughters from both counties on various social media.
And if we set about the business of uniting and reconciling our people together, we can overcome the awful burden that our people have endured over the years. We can make our people believe once again that they can live side by side as it has been for centuries.
That is what I believe.
That is what I have to say.
And that is what I wish for the people of Nimba, Grand Gedeh Counties.
Bernard Gbayee Goah, Countributing Writer