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What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians? By Elder Siahyonkron J. K. Nyanseor, Sr.
2018-08-06 01:10:49 -
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 Seal of the Republic of Liberia            

  LeftSeal of the Republic of Liberia                                Right: Seal Proposed by J. Patrick Flomo      

                                                          To the Dunn Commission in 2016

                                                                                      *Motto: Ku Ka Tonor (Kpelle)

Introduction:

I was born on July 22nd (1947), four days short of being born on Independence Day, July 26th. It is a “Big Holidaysecond to Christmas celebration in Liberia. Had I been born on Independence Day, I would have been named by my Bassa side of the family as Twenty-six. But that did not stop some of my Bassa relatives from referring to me as Centene(Centennial); because I was born on the 100 Anniversary of the independence of Liberia. My sister Jugbeh Menia Nyanseor almost suffered similar fate. She was born on December 1st, a day established to honor Matilda Newport. If it was not for our mothers intervention, her name would have been MATILDA, thats how many of us got these Kwii (civilized) names.

 

Image result for Bassa King KadasieLiberia, my country of birth is fond of replacing tribal names of places and persons with names like Compounds Number 1, Number 2, and Number 3 in Grand Bassa County; including traditional leaders names such as: Bassa King Kadasie (Bob Gray); Bassa King Zolu Duma (King Peter); Mandingo King Sao Boso (Chief Boatswain), etc. 

July 26 is celebrated by Liberians at home and throughout the world with picnic-like feasts, formal programs with guest speakers, fundraising activities, and dinner climaxed with aGrand March(dance). The celebration featured whos whoin these communities.

 

While writing this article, I came across several Liberians who professed to know Liberian History. However, to my surprise I found out they know very little about African History; and for that matter, world history. Some of them blamed the current problems of Liberia on the Progressives who advocated for democracy, human rights and social justice in the 70s and the 80s. I find their arguments quite interesting! Their line of argument is similar to the Jewish High Priests of the Sanhedrin’s accusation  brought against Jesus and his Twelve Disciples of causing trouble for speaking the truth that changed the corrupt world of the day. The French aristocrats accused the Black Jacobins led by Toussaint L‘Overture of Haiti for freeing the slaves from the French oppressors. This is a classic case of blaming the victim!

 

Critical Thinking

This July 26 holiday, I would like to know if Liberians who celebrate the Independence Day truly understand the purpose of the celebration. I did so by conducting a survey that included one-on-one conversations along with questions. The respondents were Liberians from all backgrounds who were asked to explain their understanding of the purpose or historical significance of the July 26 Independence Day holiday. My topic for this exercise is: What is July 26 Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberians?In order to truly arrive at the proper understanding by both groups, I decided to ask them the following questions:

 

1. From what country or organization did Liberia receive independence?

2. With whom did the Settlersfight to gain their independence?

a)       Was it America, the American Colonization Society (ACS)?

b)       Or was it the Indigenous tribes?

3. Were the Indigenous tribes included in the Declaration of Independence written by Hilary Teage; if not, why were they not included?

4. What does July 26th mean to the tribal people?

 

A question like Question Number 4was addressed by Abolitionist Frederick Douglass in his speech titled: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

 

“…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

 

“Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as a hart.”

 

“But, such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought life and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, lowering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrecoverable ruin!...

 

I similarly ask the question, as Frederick Douglass queried,What is the July 26th

Celebration to Americo-Liberians & Indigenous Liberiansto find out what Liberians think about the holiday. The general response, to my surprise, left me with the feeling that ignorance of history’ is an illness that can be cured only with education based on the true history. If not, individuals or groups will continue to pass on false narratives like mechanical robots.

 

 

RespondentsAnswers

Here are some of the answers provided by the respondents from my one-on-one conversations. A few of them said: My man, why are you asking such a question about 26 when you know very well that is our countrys Independence Day? Even babies born today know the answer!Another said to me, Nyanseor, what are you going do with the answer?To which I said I only want to know your opinion about the day! In summary, the majority of the respondents felt it is a holiday that patriotic Liberians celebrate. What really surprised me was most of them did not see anything wrong with celebrating the holiday. In fact, no one saw the July 26 celebration as only for the Settlers.

 

Myths and History

From here on, let me make it indisputably clear that those of us who advocate to correct wrongs done in the past, and even today; do so NOT to change history; rather it is to correct injustices done to a group of people by those who held power and where those injustices violated the human and civil rights of others. However, due to continued advocacy throughout the world for justice, we are witnessing, for exemple, the amending of unjust laws such as removing Confederate flags, statues and renaming parks in the United States. Another case in point is former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League (NFL), who started a protest which was joined by other players to take a knee when the U.S. National Anthem is being played — a protest due to extrajudicial lynching and other injustices against African-Americans and other racial minorities.

 

According to historian Richard Poe, (World) History was designed to justify European domination;” and similar case can be made that Liberian history (Settlers) was written to promote antebellum southern plantation culture and religious heritage without regards to the indigenous population (natives) who first occupied the land.

 

As is evident, Liberias social and political systems are carbon copies of America. The sad thing about it is that subsequent governments continue to maintain these divisive practices that make it difficult or impossible for Liberians to unite due to the European racist Christian origin upon which country was established. The so-called Father of the Nation,” Hilary Teage and leaders of the infant colony are responsible for this divide. How could one who suffered indignities of exclusion under the Constitution of the United States write a Declaration of Independence for Liberia which then excludes the country’s indigenous people? The document reads:

 

“We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally the inhabitants of the United States of America. In some parts of that country, we were debarred by law from all the rights and privileges of men-in other parts, public sentiment more powerful than law frowned us down.

 

We were everywhere shut out from all civil office. We were excluded from all participation in the government. We were taxed without our consent. We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection. We were made a separate and distinct class and against us every avenue to improvement was officially closed.

 

Strangers from all lands of a different color from ours were preferred before us. We uttered our complaints but they were unattended to, or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country. All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety abroad for some asylum from the deep degradation.

 

The Western coast of Africa was the place selected by American benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond those influences, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges and exercise and improve those faculties, which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind”.

 

A more inclusive Declaration of Independencecould have been written to unite both groups. Instead, the Settlers copied the racist practices of their former slave masters to the exclusion of the Indigenous tribes in the Declaration of Independence written by Teage. Yet, they are portrayed by Liberian (Settlers) historians as Christians and humanitarians.

 

Falsehood and myth played a misleading role in recording and passing on history. According Arthur R. Thompson: History is not only written by the victors,but by the ignorant,’ ‘the biased,and the devious.’ …To the Victor Go the Myths and Monuments.

 

In the book, To the Victor Go the Myths & Monuments: The History; of the First 100 Years of the War Against God and the Constitution, 1776-1876, and Its Modern Impact, Thompson stated further:

 

History can also be restricted to selected portions of the true story because of an author's bias, his agenda, or because he is serving the agenda of others. A history in which facts are deliberately ignored or in which the author creates "facts" distorts the true picture of past events. Such distortions, built up over time, can have deadly effects on a people and on nations. As George Orwell (whom the author quotes on the title page) put it many years ago, "The most effective way to destroy a people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”

 

I intend to prove how Thompsons statement applied to the history written from the perspective of the Settlers of Liberia. To support my point, I draw from eminent historian Dr. John Henrik Clarkes description of history. To him:

 

History is the clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day. It is also a compass that people use to find themselves on the map of human geographyhistory tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, an understanding of history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.”

 

That being the case, we in Liberia were taught FALSE history (one-sided). The history we were taught in Liberia promoted ONLY the Settlersactivities. They did so as if the TRIBES were invisible or never existed. Let me cite here an account of an outsider.

 

An Outsiders View

David Lamb, author of The Africans in his description the early history of Liberia. He writes:

 

“The new settlers adopted the only desirable life style they knew - that of the ante-bellum whites who had ruled them - and they turned the sixteen indigenous tribes into an underprivileged majority, referring to them until the 1950s as ‘aborigines’. The pioneers and their ‘Americo-Liberian’ descendants became a black colonial aristocracy. They controlled the commerce, ran the government and sent their sons abroad to be educated. The men wore morning coats and top hats, drank bourbon, joined the Masons… They passed on to their children their American names such as Christian Maxwell, George Browne and Barton Bliss - army’s chief of staff in the late 1960s was General George Washington - and a member of their True Whig Party was as conservative as any Southern Republican back in the United States.

 

“Even today, urban Liberia seems more like William Faulkner’s South than Africa. The official currency is the U.S. dollar bills used in New York or Chicago - though they are faded and wrinkled and long were taken out of circulation by American banks. Policemen wear summer uniforms discarded by New York City Police Department, and townships have names such as Louisiana, New Georgia and Maryland. On Sundays, when the strip joints on Broad Street and Gurley streets in Monrovia are closed, American gospel music fills the radio stations, and the accents in the packed Baptist Church on Center Street are distinctly Deep South.

 

“For a long time Africans poked fun at Liberia, disparaging it for adopting attitudes and importing values not in keeping with African tradition.” (David Lamb, The Africans, New York: Vintage Books, 1987, pp. 124-125).

 Related image

Mr. Ossie Davis, an African-American who was assigned to the all-black 25th Station Hospital stationed in Liberia at Robertsfield during World War II, made the following observation:

 

“The Americo-Liberians, black though they were, tended to live like Europeans or Americans, and that surprised me. They had new cars; they regularly sent their children off to Europe or America to college, and they fraternized with their peers at Firestone. They seldom mixed with the natives, with whom I had already bonded, who were authentic Africans and much more fun. I was not only uneasy with the class conflict I felt was brewing in Liberia, I was disturbed by it. But most of the soldiers on the post were not. They, too, quite easily, took to treating all the natives, not as brothers and comrades, but like servants, in much the same way white folks treated black folks down in Georgia.

 

“This arrogance disturbed me, too, and I began to entertain a horrible suspicion. For most of my life, I had believed that black folks were in many ways morally superior to white forks, especially in our dealings with each other. I was profoundly disappointed that the Americo-Liberians, the children of slaves themselves, would come to Africa and behave as if they themselves were the slaveholders now” (Davis, Ossie & Dee, Ruby (2000). With Ossie And Ruby In This Life Together). New York, U.S.A

 

There is this account by a noted Liberian historian, Abayomi Karnga. In 1923, he classified the status divisions among Liberians into four distinct caste systems.

 

“At the top were the Americo-Liberian officials, consisting largely of light-complexioned people of mixed Black and White ancestry. They were followed by darker skinned Americo-Liberians, consisting mostly of laborers and small farmers. Then the recaptives, Africans who had been rescued by the U.S. Navy while aboard U.S.-bound slave ships and brought to Liberia (referred to as Congoes). The indigenous African Liberians were at the bottom of the hierarchy. These divisions led to de facto segregation amongst the various groups, specifically affected were the indigenous population.” (Donald A Ranard, editor, Liberians: An Introduction to their History and Culture, Culture Profile No. 19, April 2005).

 

President Arthur Barclay’s Native Plan

President Arthur Barclay had a ‘Native Plan’ with certain requirements and qualifications that an indigenous person had to meet before he or she could be accepted as citizen of Liberia. These requirements were:

 

The willingness of applicants to qualify for Liberian citizen by adopting the Christian faith, Western living conditions, and Western standards of conduct, dress, and general appearance.  An African, in effect, would have to detach himself from his own customs by completely accepting the Americo-Liberian set of values.  Citizenship and voting rights might then follow.” (Gershoni, Yekutiel (1985) Black Colonialism: The Americo-Liberian Scramble for the Hinterland, 1985, pp. 37-38).

 

It was based on these requirements and conditions the indigenous population was allowed to become citizens in their own land. Citizenship was extended to them in 1904; 57 years after independence.

 

Liberia Had False Start

Someone once said anything that had a false start has the tendency to remain in a false state. Perhaps, this is the curse that is haunting Liberia. The history of Liberia had a false start and, I find, a painful similarity between Lord Macaulay, an Englishman, and Hilary Teage who wrote Liberias Declaration of Independence.

 

On February 2, 1835, Lord Macaulay addressed the British Parliament on how to deal with African people. Find below excerpts of his address:

 “I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such caliber, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

 

I cannot help but to conclude that Hilary Teage might have gotten some of the racist divide from Lord Macaulays address to the British Parliament which served as the basis of the Settlerstreatment of the Indigenous people of Liberia.

 

It was in 1835 that Lord Macaulay came up with the ‘racist proposal’ on how to treat Africans. In the same 1835, Teage became secretary for the colony. Four years (1839) later, “he became clerk of the convention that presented the settlerspositions to the American Colonization Society (ACS) regarding constitutional reforms He was later an instrumental figure at the Constitutional Convention of 1847 representing Montserrado County in both debating and ratifying Liberias constitution, and wrote the countrys Declaration of Independence. Although Teage, in 1853, was the countrys first Secretary of State after Liberia declared independence, he served as attorney general as well.”

 

He established the nations first newspaper known as Liberia Herald. He used the newspaper as a platform to advocate for independence. Teage knew what he was doing when he wrote the Declaration of Independence that excluded the Indigenous population. I believe, he was a segregationist like Abraham Lincoln!

 

It was based on a philosophy of segregation, the Settlers referred to themselves as Americo-Liberians; took on the behavior of their slave masters; ran the country as their personal property. Everything in the country was named to honor them. For example, a mountain was named Finley; rivers, cities, counties, national symbols, honors, monuments, etc. How then can the celebration of July 26 Independence Day be meaningful to the tribal people?

 

Failure to form a more perfect union

For a moment, let us take a look at Hilary Teage within a historical context as it relates to his role in establishing the nation of Liberia. Teage and the leadership of the Settlers missed a golden opportunity to have established a united nation. Instead, they chose the racist European colonial approach, Master-Servant: subjugating the Indigenous population to the position of servants in their own native land.

 

I agree Hilary Teage made tremendous contributions to the Republic of Liberia; but his contributions benefited to the larger extent the Settlers and not the Indigenous people.  Until this missed opportunity is accepted, I find it difficult to celebrate and even glorify Teage’s contributions. Teage and leaders of the colony had the opportunity to ‘form a perfect union’, but failed.

 

On this 171st anniversary of ‘Liberia’s Independence, instead of Liberians of diverse backgrounds coming together to find solutions to the reason(s) we are still divided or questioning the philosophy of Hilary Teage’s who is credited with the divide, his colonial legacy is being promoted. There is something wrong with this picture. Although, there have been some improvements between the Settlers and Nativesrelationship, much has not been done in these 171 years. The little that has been achieved is not enough to warrant the continued glorifying of the Settlerscontributions when those of Clan Chief Madame Suakoko (Suacoco), Chief WonderfulJuah Seyon Nimene (Nimley), or Didwho Welleh Twe (D. Twe), and others roles are assigned to the dustbin of history.

 

In the stage play titled, Citizen Teage: A Historical Drama,” Mr. Owusu Dahnsaw, the actor who plays Hilary Teage states:

 

Every Liberian has a lot to learn from Hilary Teage. It is outstanding and outclasses all stage performances I have ever acted in. It is in a class of its own totally It is intriguing, informative, emotionally enticing and renewing. Hilary Teage was a great example of what it means to be a citizen. He was a servant-leader.”

 

Really???

 

There is the tendency to accuse those of us who speak of the pregnant problems of Liberians with passion as practicing tribalism or ‘pushing up fire’. I honestly believe by presenting and discussing these issues in the open will free our people from historical amnesia.

 

Efforts Made In The Past To Unite Liberians Were Not Genuine

I believe efforts made in the past were not genuine. Leaders of the country did not make fundamental changes to resolve the age-old conflict between the two major groups; the Americo-Liberians and the Natives.” Yet, succeeding governments of Liberia continue to repeat similar mistakes by enacting policies that benefit those who trace their ancestral roots to North America, some through receptive Africans, emigrants from the Caribbean, and other African countries — specifically, West Africa — at the expense of the vast majority—  indigenous African Liberians. For example, William V.S. Tubman's policy of "Unification and Image result for tolbert liberiaIntegration" was nothing more than an extension of the cult of the presidency and Monrovia rule and dominance over the hinterland. No real changes were made after the death of Tubman. William R. Tolbert continue Tubmans policy but added his, such as "Total Involvement for Higher Heights" or "Mat-to-Mattress", which were mere window dressing, immersed more in rhetoric than in reality. Under c, the socio-economic gap widened. While he preached "Total Involvement", the country's wealth and power remained concentrated in the hands of a few families, friends, and the Americo-Liberian elite. Since the system did not undergo any major change, Samuel K. Doe came up with his version of the rhetoric, "In the cause of the people" by providing for his ethnic Krahn members with positions and power; while Taylor and Bryant followed the path of what in Liberian parlance, we refer to as What Monkey see, Monkey do; a tradition of accumulating power and wealth for personal use. As for Ellen, she did more harm than all the presidents put together.” . . . and if Weah does not cut his ties from Ellen and company, his downfall will come soon.

 

History makes strange bedfellows! With the passage of time, the elites many of whom are indigenous Liberians have failed to depart from Liberias ugly tradition - the master-servant relationship brought over from the antebellum south. As the result, several opportunities have been missed to change the system. The failures which eventually led to the 1980 overthrowing of the True Whig Party oligarchy, and subsequently brought about the civil wars, are still intact. It is new wine in old bottles.”

 

This brings me to ask the question: What is the purpose of July 26 Independence Day National Orations when these oratorsrecommendations are not given serious consideration? These orators can be classified into two categories: the first group consists of speakers who regurgitate the same old one-sided scripted history without making any meaningful recommendations; whereas, the second group engages in indisputable evaluation of Liberian history, leadership, and government policies as they impact the people, and go on to suggest ways they can be improved. Yet, nothing is done about the recommendations offered. As a result, the entire exercise is useless and waste of resources.

 

National Awards

Other areas of concern are Liberias National Awards, and the Liberian National Anthem. The  awards are named only in honor of the Pioneers!  None are named in honor of the Indigenous tribes. For example, the highest award, The Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneers with the Grade of Grand Cordon”, etc., is awarded each year. Descendants of Indigenous Liberians cannot continue to celebrate July 26 Independence Day each year accepting awards that does  not recognize the Indigenous peoples contributions. The National Anthem is another area of concern. The tribal people cannot continue to sing the National Anthem that makes reference only to the struggle of the Settlers. But every July 26 Independence Day, National Orator takes good for nothing pridein repeating so-called achievements such as:

 

We were at the founding of the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity, now African Union, and hosted its annual meeting in 1979.  We were at the founding of the African Development Bank. We inspired the formation of the Mano River Union and the Economic Community of West African States. It was President William V. S. Tubman who proposed an Economic Union of West Africa. 

 

“A beacon of black self-Government, we did battle alongside with black brothers in South Africa to dismantle the gargoyle of Apartheid. We were a haven for peoples all over Africa: Sudanese, Ethiopians, Gambians, Ghanaians and many more even long before they opened their doors to our people fleeing the collapse of our nation-state…” (Tweah)

 

How can most of the orators continue to mention what Liberia has done for others when at home there is a practice of black apartheid — division between the Settlers and the Indigenous population? Yet, we pretend it is not a serious problem! What is more disturbing is that the political and economic systems continue to give exclusive rights and privileges to a few at the expense of the rest of the society. This practice has undermined economic growth, replaced it with never-ending poverty, social injustice, discrimination, oppression ridden by greed, and corruption for the sole attainment of ill-gotten material wealth for a select few.

 

Correctly so, we have had national indigenous leaders, including presidents. Currently, we have an indigenous president who is from Grand Kru County. Nothing, however, has changed significantly in terms of the political system and structure. Fundamental change is not possible if the system that creates the problems remains in place; it becomes like putting new wine in old bottle”.

 

This brings us to the troublesome issue of our countrys National Motto: The Love Of Liberty Brought Us Here. J. Patrick Flomo makes a good argument why the symbols should be revisited. According to him,

 

“A motto is considered an apothegm, adopted as a guiding principle or the summarization of the general conviction or purpose of an organized entity, whether it is a society, corporation, or social organization. Every nation has a motto; each nations motto defines the conscience of its people. The motto expresses, defines, and intertwines the collective sense of oneness and direction. Moreover, a motto seems to project an intellectual soul and conscience. For example, the American motto is, “E pluribus Unum,” or “Out of Many, One;the French motto is, “Liberté’, Egalite’, Fraternité’,” or “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity;the Ghana Motto is Freedom and Justice.” These three examples express a sense of oneness and purpose for each country. Liberia’s motto seems to lack soul, conscience, or the spirit of intellectualism. Moreover, the motto expresses no sense of oneness or a collective purpose. In fact, it continues to express a divided people: the descendants of former American slaves (Americo-Liberians) and the indigenous population (natives).”   (J. Patrick Flomo, The Love of Liberty Brought Us Herepublished in August 23, 2013 edition of TheLiberianJournal

 

The Civil Wars

If history is any guide to understanding the genesis of a countrys vexed-palaver and how such major national concerns as ethnicity, reconciliation and national unity have been addressed, the Liberian experience leaves much to be desired or appreciated.

 

The Civil wars have left deep scars on all of us due to the indiscriminate and ruthless nature of the perpetrators. Therefore, to find lasting solutions to the many problems we are faced with, we must do so by bring the perpetrators to justice. Even former President Johnson Sirleaf is on record: Our nation cannot afford to evade justice and protection of human rights throughoutThat myths, mysteries, and the individualized arrogation of truth will serve no useful purpose; rather, it will reinforce divisions, suspicions, and smoldering anger.”

 

The greatest challenge confronting us today is to face the truth in order to do the right thing; failure to do so will continue to haunt us into the future. As Liberians, the right thing is to correct the wrongs in the society that continue to divide us. The place to start is with our national symbols and awards. They remain roadblocks to the belief we profess: One people under God, with Liberty and Justice for All.”

 

Conclusion & Recommendations

Conclusion: Today, there are calls being made in Liberia and the Diaspora to forget the past so as to reconcile our differences. There are those who go as far to say we should forgive those that committed these heinous crimes against the Liberian people in the name of peace. Also, there are others who feel the Weah administration should concentrate on present issues and let sleeping dog lie. This position brought back memories of what we were told in the late 50s and the 60s by our parents and older folks to mind our business and to leave the peoples thing alone.

 

But I am convinced it was the culture of leave the peoples thing alonethat led our country into the present deplorable state. This culture of mere expression of concern about a social, economic or political issue was like committing a cardinal sin.  And those that had the guts to question the ills that exist in the society were dismissed as being Craky a Liberian expression, which means –crazy.

 

I honestly believe the past cannot be forgotten because the past gave birth to the future. To reconcile our differences, those who commit wrongs against others must confess and repent because reconciliation without confession and repentance is meaningless. In fact, reconciliation is good, but confession and repentance for doing wrong to others is better. It is regarding this approach, history serves as a constant reminder of a peoples past and present events; and without finding resolutions to our national divide such as INJUSTICE and INEQUALITY; we will not be able to achieve UNITY. Based on all of these concerns and issues, I call upon the Almighty God to touch our hearts and direct our path to do what is pleasing to Him, alone and beneficial to His people.

 

Recommendations: Previous governments realized the Matilda Newport story was a myth laced with lies; therefore, the holiday (December 1st) in her honor was discontinued, including Pioneer Day; a day set aside to celebrate the arrival of Settlers.

 

I recommend the following to be amended or changed:

 

1.  The Seal and the motto: The Love of Liberty Brought Us Hereto be replaced with the Seal *J. Patrick Flomo presented to the D. Elwood Dunn Commission; and the motto to read: “Ku Ka Tonor”- ‘We are Onein Kpelle.

 

2. When the Liberian National Anthem was written, the Natives were not citizens, therefore, the phrase that reads: In Union Strong, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Failwas about the Settlers and not the Natives. It should be replaced with: In Unity, Success Is Sure, We Cannot Fail”.

 

3. Construct monuments to honor indigenous Clan Chief like Madam Suakoko, and Paramount Juah Nimely Senyon, etc.

 

4. There are twelve persons who signed the Declaration of Independence not eleven as it stated in Liberian History. It should be corrected.

 

5. The name Kru should be changed in Liberian History; evidence shows that the three ethnic groups, Klao (Kru), Bassa and Grebo worked with European traders as far as 1793. They were employed as crews (laborers) on these European ships. The name KROO or KRU is derived from the word CREW. (Coombs (1993), The Black Experience in America –p. 26).

 

6.  Based on a story written by Rodney D. Sieh, published in FrontPage Africa on July 19, 2017:

 Kendeja National Cultural Center.

…In April 2008, police forcibly disbursed students of Kendeja high school, which had been demolished to make room for the hotel.

 

The Kendeja Culture Center was established in the early 1960's as a means of showcasing Liberia’s rich cultural heritage through performing arts.

 

For years, it was the home of the Liberian National Cultural Troupe (LNCT) till 2008 when the RLJ & Companies demolished the shrine to build a hotel resort there.

 

A year earlier, in early 2007, Johnson visited Liberia, and Johnson Sirleaf asked him to consider building a hotel. 

 

"Given the long historical relationship between our two countries," Johnson was quoted by the Post, "I believe passionately that African Americans have a responsibility to support Liberia much like Jewish Americans back Israel."

 

The Sirleaf administration was instrumental in finding the site at Kendeja which was greeted by a fiery storm.

 

The government through Andrew Tehmeh, an Assistant Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism(MICAT) during a 2009 visit to US, defended the move at the time by stating that the “RLJ & Companies” owner of Kendeja Hotel Resort would pay an annual fee of “US$800.000 to the government of Liberia” for a period of 50 years, beginning the year 2008, meaning the first contract is expected to end 2057, with a possibility for renewal just like the case with Liberia and the Firestone Rubber Plantation Company in Margibi.

 

It is unclear whether the new management will follow through on the deal as the reported sale has been conducted under a cloud of secrecy. But in 2015, several artists from Liberia residing in the U.S., threatened begin a legal process aimed at recovering the country’s National Cultural Shrine – Kendeja, sold to the US billionaire.

 

The hotel was reportedly sold previously to a South African company a few years ago, also under a cloud of secrecy, although FrontPageAfrica has been unable to verify as management and the government has remained tight-lipped.

 

The Concordia Academy based in Roseville, Minnesota has been trying to start the process by filing a petition against Johnson-Sirleaf’s government.

 

James Fasuekoi, one of the advocates for the suit told FrontPageAfrica Wednesday that organizers are waiting to get the group’s next festival underway and put things together. Fasuekoi says a lot of former artists who were brought up at Kendeja including Fatu Gayflor and Tarloh Quiwonkpa have expressed their support.

 

As part of an arrangement, the government agreed to build a new cultural center but that project in Boys’ Town has reportedly been abandoned…

 

While the Pioneers’ Providence Island is preserved, the Indigenous people’s National Cultural Shrine was demolished in other Image result for President Ellen Johnson Sirleafto build a hotel resort. This is a total disregard to Indigenous Liberians by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the National Legislature. ‘The palava is NOT OVER yet’! We will soon renew our efforts by initiating a lawsuit against the Liberian government to restore our National Cultural Shrine.

 

Furthermore, efforts to pursue and bring to justice perpetrators of war and economic crimes will continue until every one of them is persecuted. They have not shown any remorse whatsoever for their barbaric acts against innocent civilians; instead, they want Liberians to ignore them while they occupied decision making positions in the government and go on enjoying the wealth of the nation.

 

Finally, all of us should speak with one voice to fight INJUSTICE and have the leaders of our country to make the right decisions that will benefit the entire population. I believe it can be done through the collective efforts of the citizenry. With united front, leaders of our country will bow to our wishes; and will not ignore or denial the will of the people.

 

Until these issues are fully addressed, we cannot see ourselves as part of the: One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. On this note, let me close with a poem titled, Liberia, the Beautiful:

 

Liberia the Beautiful

 

I

 

In search of freedom and liberty

The Settlers returned

United with their brethren

At Cape Montserrado

This glorious reunion

Gave birth to Liberia

The land of diverse people

Like its natural resources

So when we think of home

We think of Liberia

The beautiful.

 

II

 

Oh home, sweet home

Of thee we sing these praises!

To the land both old and young

But yet indivisible

Where the love of liberty

Will unite all of our people

For in complete unity

Our progress is assured

For our land of beauty

And pride for which we long

Long live Liberia, the beautiful

Forever and ever!

 

III

 

In spite of the many problems

That has hurt our national pride

We have finally resolved

Never again to fight one another

Also, agreed to live together

Under the Lone Star forever

United in purpose

To protect the land

That is God given

So when we talk about home

We talk about Liberia

The beautiful.

IV

 

Oh home, sweet home

Of thee we sing these praises!

To the land both old and young

But yet indivisible

Where the love of liberty

Will unite all of our people

For in complete unity

Our progress is assured

For our land of beauty

And pride for which we long

Long live Liberia, the beautiful

Forever and ever!

 

V

 

Oh God Almighty

Please forgive us

For our many misgivings

And restore our native land

To its intended grace and beauty

To let freedom ring

From Cape Mount, to Cape Palmas

And throughout Cape Montserrado

For the land so sacred

And dear to us

To be at peace forever

And remain a national monument

For us to love, cherish

And protect.

 

VI

 

Oh home, sweet home

Of thee we sing these praises!

To the land both old and young

But yet indivisible

Where the love of liberty

Will unite all of our people

For in complete unity

Our progress is assured

For our land of beauty

And pride for which we long

Long live Liberia, the beautiful

Forever and ever!

 

Copyright © August 19, 1985, Siahyonkron Nyanseor – All Rights Reserved.

 

Gweh Feh Kpeh (the Struggle Continues!)

 

I remain a Progressive today, tomorrow and forever!

 

 

 About The Author: Siahyonkron Jglay Kpa-kay Nyanseor, Sr. is a life-long activist (*troublemaker) in researching the true history of Africa, the people of African origin in the Diaspora. He had dedicated his teaching of African culture; spent over 45 years advocating for human, civil and constitutional rights of all people, especially, the Liberian masses. He is a Griot, poet, journalist and an ordained Minister of the Gospel. Mr. Nyanseor is the Chairman of the Liberian Democratic Future (LDF), publisher of theperspective.org online newsmagazine that was established in June 1996.  In 2012, he Co-authored Djogbachiachuwa: The Liberian Literature Anthology; his current book of poems: TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut is on the market. He can be reached at: siah1947@gmail.com

 

 

Recommended Readings to Acquaint Readers with Liberia’s Insurmountable Issues:

1. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The Liberian Flag, Designed or Copied?”

    ThePerspective, September 4, 2015

2.  Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Putting the Matilda Newport Myth to Rest, Parts I & II”

     ThePerspective, December 1, 2003

3. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Peace Was In Heaven Until Kru People Got There”:

    ThePerspective, February 12, 2018

4. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “The African Slave Trade: Driven By Racism, Greed and

    Economics”, Parts I & II: February 20 & 28, 2004

5. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Colonialism is the Same Anywhere, No Matter its Many

    Disguises” ThePerspective July 3, 2018

6. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Americo-Liberians: The 17th Tribe of Liberia, Parts I & II”

    The Liberian Dialogue, May 22, 2013

7. Johnson, Joseph: “Liberia’s 170th Independence Day Oration, ‘Sustaining the

    Peace’” by Herman Brown, ThePerspective August 14, 2017

8. Twe, Didwho (“D. Twe”) July 26, 1944 National Independence Day Oration at the

       Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia – Nyanseor’s Archive

9. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Elements of Permanent Influence” Discourse

      Delivered in the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C.,

      February 16, 1890 – Nyanseor’s Archive

10. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “Liberia as She is; and the Present Duty of her Citizens”,

      An Independence Day Address given in Monrovia, July 27, 1857 – Nyanseor’s Archive 

11. Blyden, Dr. Edward Wilmot: “The Three Needs of Liberia”, Lecture Delivered in

      Grand Bassa County, January 26, 1908 – Nyanseor’s Archive

12. Karnga, Abayomi Wilfrid (1926). History of Liberia. Virginia: Publisher D. H. Tyte

13.  Taryor, Sr., Nya Kwiawon (1985). Justice, Justice: A Cry of My People. Chicago, ILL,

       U.S.A.: Strugglers’ Community Press

14.  Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Liberian Supreme Court And Legislature: ‘Bulldogs

       With No Teeth’, Globe Afrique, December 23, 2017

15. Lindberg, Tod (2007). The Political Teachings of Jesus. New York, NY:  HarperCollins

      Publishers

16. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron: “Continuing Liberia’s Ugly Past”, ThePerspective September 14,

      2017

17. Nyanseor, Siahyonkron (2014). TIPOSAH: Message from the Palava Hut. Providence, RI:

      Kiiton Press

18. Tipoteh, Togba-Nah (1981). Democracy, the Call of the Liberian People: The Struggle for

      Economic Progress and Social Justice in Liberia During the 1970s. Monrovia, Liberia:

      Publisher, Susukuu Corporation

19. Fahnbulleh, H. Boima (2004). Voices of Protest: Liberia on the Edge, 1974 – 1980.

      United Kingdom: Universal-Publisher, Inc.

 

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