In 1986 when the international wires announced that the Liberian government was contemplating offering sanctuary to Haitian dictator Baby Doc Duvalier, the world community turned its spotlight on ‘The Love of Liberty.’ African watchers (including Liberians – I being one) could not fathom why the Liberian government of the day wanted to welcome the much-hated Baby Doc on Liberian soil.
One African watcher who tacitly criticized the Liberian government for such contemplation was Liberian broadcaster Charlotte Mae Phelps. Her criticism was contained in the article A Good Run Is Better Than A Brave Stand in the now disbanded Footprints Magazine. This is what she wrote of Baby Doc, “If it is true that he has run away with four hundred million dollars plus, political crimes would seem to pay off…. It’s easy to understand now why some men kill to come to power and kill even more to stay in power.”
Phelps further referred to Baby Doc and his likes (CAR’s Bokassa, Uganda’s Amin and Obete, Iran’s Shah Plavate, Philippines’ Marcos, Sudan’s Numeiri and Nicaragua’s Samoza) as “robber lords,” adding, “This has been a decade of ROBBERS ON THE RUN.” In the end, Baby Doc did not come to Liberia because the late President Samuel Doe took a good run, fearing that a brave stand to welcome Baby Doc would have ignited a wave of opposition from Liberians.
Once more the spotlight is on Liberia. Again this time in the decade of 2000, ROBBERS ARE ON THE RUN. However, this time around the robbers are all Liberians. And what are they on the run for? The presidency, of course- the highest position in the land- is being contested.
Of late, these Liberian robbers also know as TATS (thieves and thugs), have been ‘speechmaking’ and ‘fanfaring’ about their ardent desire to contest the 2005 presidency. These TATS are really shameless/spineless as they go about denouncing and debunking former President Charles Taylor for dictatorship and debauchery! Today they all have ‘the resolve’ to accuse the former President of mismanaging the nation’s resources and mistreating his own kith and kin!
Wow, that must be the biggest joke of this century! When did these TATS graduate from thievery and thuggery? Did they graduate last August 11 when the former President went into involuntary exile? Or did they graduate last October 14 when the current Liberian government came into being?
Weren’t they the ones who revered the former President as ‘The Papay’ who couldn’t do anything evil? Weren’t they the ones who said the former President was chosen by God and called him such names as ‘The Beloved Leader,’ and ‘The Dear Leader?’ Weren’t they the ones who advised The Papay, urging him to ‘deal drastically with his opponents?’ Weren’t they the ones who globe trotted and procured arms for The Papay to prosecute his dream of a ‘West African Empire’ in which he would have been crowned ‘The Emperor?’
To now summersault 360 degrees, exonerating yourselves from the erstwhile Chief Executive in whose behalf you were executing the dream of a West African Empire reminds us of Saddam Hussein’s captured men who now vilify him (Saddam) as ‘Beelzebub.’ This act of somersaulting and exonerating yourselves from your former benevolent dictator ‘mindbuggles’ us, the rest of us against whom you once launched your tirades for and in his behalf.
You TATS must be fantasizing, thinking that Liberians have forgotten how like your former boss, you starved and stripped them of their genuine financial resources, becoming the ‘noveau riche.’ You TATS, you ‘smoking cigar devils,’ Liberians have not forgotten you vandalized the sanctity of their women, turning thousands of teenage girls into prostitutes.
Hence, how can we entrust this country into your hands again? You will not just be remote controlled from Calabar (Nigeria) where The Papay is involuntarily exiled, but also you will be brave to put our mothers to the poles and order your resurrected Gestapo styled Anti Terrorist Unit soldiers to shoot them to teach us a lesson for telling your benefactor “Go, Papay, go; go with your big, big lies!”
You TATS, you are in deeds and words like Uloko and his peers in Ifeoma Okoye’s Men Without Ears. In the novel, Uloko and his peers live lavishly from the chronic corruption and indecent actions that they carry. What is worst is that because of his outright drive for wealth at all cost, Nloko even negates the advise of his own father who concludes that Nloko is now part of “the people in the land of men without ears.”
Indeed, indeed, these TATS and the former Chief Executive were truly ‘men without ears’ when they officially ruled this country for the last six years. They shunned all pieces of advice and the cries of the downtrodden Liberians.
It is too late, TATS. You are asking us to do the impossible – to cheer you to win the race. We are like Chigo who tells his brother, “Uloko, you are asking me to do the impossible.” You TATS, you are like Uloko who is likened to a rat when Okoye writes, “The rat that joins the lizard for a frolic in the rain will remember only when it is too late that he will not dry himself as easily as the lizard.” So how can you TATS easily dry yourselves after you joined The Papay and partied in the ocean of wealth through misrule?
The best you TATS can do for yourselves is to take a good withdrawal now from the presidential race. This will help you from depleting your ‘knocked out’ (stolen) money and may assist you not to be like Uloko, whose brave run and stay in corruption led him first to hypertension, second to coma and third to death.
For the past twenty-five years, Liberia was ruled by ‘men without ears,’ men who wrecked the country and made Liberians to be part of Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth. This time around, Liberia needs ‘men with ears,’ not ‘men without ears!’ This time around, Liberia needs ‘men with ears,’ not ‘men without ears!’ Liberia needs men who will lift them up from wretchedness to richness, so that when the roll of well-to-do people is called, they will all answer present and thank the Good Old Lord for ‘taking them a mighty long way!’