The title I chose for this article is: ‘Never Badmouthed the Hands that Fed You: CDiCians’ Pro-Poor Government’. The title comes from the proverb that reads, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”. The following words: ridicule, scoff, put down, disparage, mock, scorn and disdain described the act of badmouthing. It simply means – to treat someone badly who has helped you. This term is believed to be of African origin, where the phrase bad mouth signifies a curse or evil spell.
Baseless argument made against Liberian Progressives
The practice of badmouthing the Liberian Progressives by claiming they are responsible for the FAILURE of our once SWEET LIBERIA; and that in fact, they DID NOT make any significant contributions to the Liberian people’s struggle, is like a child who claimed ‘as a matter of fact’, “My mother did not gave birth to me. I came into this world all by myself – without anybody’s help.”
Now, this brings me to the main reason I am writing this article: Never Badmouthed the Hands that Fed You: CDiCians’ Pro-Poor Government’. In this article, I intend to prove that “One bad or rotten apple does not spoil the whole bunch”.
One Bad Apple is found in all human endeavors; be it social club, revolutionary organizations or a government of a country; even one of Jesus’ twelve disciples – Judas was the One Bad Apple among the ‘twelve disciples’; yet, the rest along with Jesus made tremendous contributions in changing the
The Cold War, Stupid!
Besides The True Whig Party (TWP) and the ruling elites’ resistance to change, the most powerful enemies of the Liberian Progressives were external forces like the Untied States of America and her Cold War allies. These forces were engaged in spreading disinformation propaganda against pro-democracy organizations and oppressed people seeking liberation and independence. The Liberian Progressives were no exception. They were accused of promoting foreign ideologies in the country. These forces succeeded because the people on whose behalf the Progressives advocated believed the disinformation propaganda. They understood that the foreign ideologies (socialism) of the Progressives were accused of mean: “They want to take your properties, and share the hard earned (money) you work for with others.”
Cold War: East & West
Here how it got started!
At the end of World War II, the victories allied countries found themselves divided into distinct camps–led by the United States of America (USA) and the other led by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). As the USA and the USSR started to make nuclear weapons, the tension between the two camps became a matter of concern all around the world. The USA and the USSR fought through other countries–in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan. Both Superpowers tried their best to include more countries in their camps. They did not go to war against each other directly, which was why the state of affairs was described as a Cold War. The Cold War lasted till 1990, when the USSR collapsed into a number of independent countries and most of the countries in their camp chose to move toward a system of liberal democracy.
Cold War Factors
Washington's response to this adversity was a simplistic and unfortunate one. American leaders regarded any anti-communist regime, however repressive and undemocratic it might be towards its own people at home, as an "ally," a "force for stability," and even a "friend." At the same time, they viewed leftist governments–even those elected under democratic procedures–as little more than Soviet surrogates, or at least targets of opportunity for communist influence. This was the belief among U.S. policymakers. It surfaced during the earliest stages of the cold war. As a matter of fact, this is how President Harry Truman’s 1947 “Truman Doctrine” got started. This Doctrine proclaimed the willingness of the United States to assist friendly governments resisting not only external aggression but also "armed minorities" in their own midst. It was a warning that the United States was arrogating the right to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations to help preserve regimes deemed friendly to American interests. Although Washington had engaged in such conduct throughout Central America and the Caribbean for several decades, those incidents were a geographical aberration in what was otherwise a noninterventionist foreign policy. The Truman Doctrine raised the specter that America's meddlesome paternalism in one region might now be applied on a global basis. ()
Liberia being part of the geo-political system was not exempt from the superpowers’ fight. Simply put, what happens in the world had the tendency to affect Liberia in one way or the other. The period during which the Progressives fought for social justice was during the Cold War. Since the world was divided into two competing camps – the East represented by Communist ideology, and the West represented by Capitalist ideology; countries were placed into either one of the camps, not necessarily by choice, but by the imposed political ideologies of the East and the West. Liberia and most of the countries that were seeking independence and those fighting for human rights and economic independence were believed to favored Communism and not Capitalism.
President William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman took advantage of the conflict. Inother to consolidate and perpetuate his power, it appears he made a deal with the West, particularly, the United State of America of which Liberia was considered its “Stepchild”. Based on the support President Tubman provided the USA, he was supported despite his autocratic practices, and he Tubman & Kennedy
remained in power for 27 years.
The phrase, “Blaming the Victim” comes from the classic work of William Ryan which was a required text in Social Work (in the 70s) while I pursue my undergraduate degree at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. Ryan explains how and why we prefer to put the blame of poverty on its victims rather than on the inequalities of the American society. According to him, the generic formula of ‘Blaming the Victim’ is to justify inequality by finding defects in the victims. ‘Blaming the Victim’ is an ideological process by which a set of ideas and concepts are systematically manipulated with unintended distortions of reality. He stated further that ‘Blaming the Victim’ is not a process of intentional distortion, although it does serve the class interests of those who practice it. Karl Mannheim on the other hand, described it as “collective unconscious,” a state of mind rooted in a class-based interest intended to maintain the status quo.
Find below few examples:
officials; sometimes photocopies of official acts or transactions considered wrongful were printed as documentary evidence of their allegations. Cornered, Tolbert entered into a dialogue with PAL, then invited its leadership to Liberia for a ‘fact finding’ visit.
forces to prevent PPP and its supporters from demonstrating. The situation went out of control, and in the end, many innocent and peaceful demonstrators lost their lives and many others were seriously injured. The government and the local media referred to the event as “rice riots”, when actually it was a “Rice Massacre”.
Weah’s statement below was published in the article under the title (“‘Liberia: Enemies of State’ To Become Pres. Weah’s Advisors on Moving Country Forward.” It was published in the August 15, 2018 edition of FrontPage Africa.)
It reads: “My people don’t listen to those criticizing for lobbying for loans. Those doing so are enemies of the country. The loans I am taking will be able to complete the roads in three years. When I am asking partners for loans, any of them who tell me that they want complete the roads in six years, I can say no because I know in the next six years, if I don’t do anything for you, I will not be re-elected…”
What a shame?
The late Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis’ statement is appropriate at this juncture. It reads:
“We (Liberians) are in many instances insincere, dishonest, deceitful, and sycophantic. We have serious attitudinal problems. For the past two plus decades our society has been so replete with a culture of violence, a culture of deception, a culture of dishonesty, non-achievement and multifaceted negative social attitudes that moral decadence has become the order of the day. Archbishop Michael Kpakala Francis
There is now a looming fear that if this trend is not reversed our younger generation will grow up with negative attitudes and this country will suffer greatly. Just think, sixty percent of our population was born after 1979 – one understands the magnitude of the problem.
“We should address ourselves not only to healing the wounds of the past but also to dressing the open wounds of the present.” (From the speech delivered on August 28, 2002 at the Government Reconciliation Conference in Virginia, Liberia)
ULAA: Brief Examination
The Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) is the Diaspora organization I spent almost my entire life with. The organization played pivotal role, both in the Diaspora and Liberia. It was this organization the elites and the Liberian authorities feared the most. Why? It was untouchable! They couldn’t put the members in jail or have them killed. ULAA had the platform and made use of it in every way possible. All the Liberian government had at its disposal was to threaten members’ ‘guardians/parents at home to advice their children to “Leave the people’s thing alone.”
Professor K-Moses Nagbe, one of Liberia’s literary scholars posed the questions below in the first book of its kind about the ULAA to the membership. The title of the book is: My Compatriot Your Compatriot: Surveying Forces and Voices That Inspired the Union of Liberian Association in the Americas.
Find below some of his questions:
1. How did [Liberians] come to take interest in ULAA?
2. When did ULAA come about?
3. Why did it come about?
4. What was its original vision and mission?
5. Have such vision and mission changed or remained unchanged?
6. If unchanged, to what extent have the vision and mission remained unchanged?
7. If the vision and mission have changed, (a) When did the change occur? (b) Why did the change occur?
8. What has been the impact of the change?
9. How will this change affect the future of ULAA? (pp. 107-108}
Professor Nagbe is the first person to take the time and interest to write such a book about ULAA in its thirty-six years of existence (36 years at the time the book was written). He wrote:
Indeed, story after story of ULAA of old (the boldface is mine) has told of more camaraderie, more civil discussion, if not more camaraderie, than the pervasive present day, sordid language sprawling on the Internet. Why? In the early days, reasons for ingrained hatred seemed few. The number of Liberians abroad was small. As well, those Liberians’ goals were few–e.g. to get an education and return to serve the country of origin. Today, after the military coup and after the civil war, the situation has changed. Many more Liberians have entered America with multiple goals, and while some of those goals are decent and promotive of Liberia, many of them are far more sordid- (a) to scrape money from whatever source in whatever way and live large at the expense of other Liberians; (b) to careless about what goes on in Liberia as long as America continues to sustain the culture of work, buy, drink/eat and sleep; (c) to don the most flashy of dress forms and spread grinning photos on many Internet sites and thereby strengthen the mythology of Paradise America; (d) to perpetuate the generational thinking that uses someone travels to and lives in developed countries, America being at the top of the list for Liberians, such a person should never count or believe he/she has accomplished anything valuable; (e) to indulge in impressionism by traveling back and forth to Liberia, boasting of accomplishments in America without any concrete work and credentials to show.
It is the foregoing context that has helped define and aggravate the turbulent times in which ULAA operates today. (p. 50)
In addressing the issues raised by Professor Nagbe, I wrote a series entitled: “A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and its Chapters.” In these articles, I accused the ULAA new leadership of violating CHAPTER IV, Article 26 of its Constitution. This Article deals with Membership of the Union. It reads:
Member-organization status of the Union shall not be extended or opened to groups categorized as Liberian political parties as some of their activities may be in violation of Liberian Elections Law such as operating outside of Liberia.
The New ULAA
Article 25 of the Revised Constitution extended Membership status to Liberian county associations, which the founders debated and excluded. At the time, the founders’ believed county organizations had the propensity to encourage political tribalism which may cause divisions within the organization. I encourage readers of this article to read all five parts of: A Covenant Betrayed: Partisanship within ULAA and its Chapters.
Part I answered the first four questions posed by Professor Nagbe; Parts II and III addressed how ULAA has moved away from its original covenant, and Parts IV and V concluded the series by identifying some of the consequences the so-called “Restructuring” caused, and recommendations on how ULAA could once more regain its relevance.
Moreover, in order to fully comprehend what has happened and continues to happen in ULAA, readers will have to read the entire series. Also, I encourage readers to purchase copy of Professor K-Moses Nagbe’s book: My Compatriot Your Compatriot: Surveying Forces and Voices That Inspired the Union of Liberian Association in the Americas. It can be obtained from the Pentina Publishers, Inc. or contact: .
Many of us from the ULAA of yester-years feel that today’s ULAA, with its new breed of leaders and members, simply ignore Old ULAA’s contributions. For example, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, et al who are considered the founding fathers of this great experiment called America are men who were far from being perfect, yet today, they are being quoted as the source of the American democracy; a system of government that is second to none. The same can be said of the Founders of ULAA.
Today, the leadership of ULAA has refused to adhere to the founding Principles and Objectives of our once vibrant organization. The Founders limited membership to Liberian citizens and their spouses on the ground that extending membership to county, alumina associations, social clubs and political parties could create in the future the orientation of self interests as opposed to national interests, and would render the organization irrelevant in both the Diaspora and Liberia. While the goals and objectives of a national organization is broad and in-
Vamba Fofana, Natl. Pres. clusive; membership within the county, alumina associations, social clubs and political parties’ interests are limited and narrow in scope. The national organization addresses issues of the entire nation. However, by allowing membership to these groups created the problems the Founders envisioned. These problems led critics of the organization to accuse the New ULAA of “missing in action”.
ULAA Dual Citizenship Committee & the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship
I am in support of ULAA Dual Citizenship Committee’s campaign for Liberians in the Diaspora; but NOT SHERMAN’S BILL THAT IS BEFORE CONGRESS.
April 15, 2014, I wrote an article titled: “ULAA Puts All of Its Eggs in One Basket”. The article was published in ThePerspective.org online magazine. In my critique, I accused the organization of spending too much time and efforts on the singer issue of Dual Citizenship while other pressing issues in Liberia were left unattended to.
Excerpt from the article reads:
…The current leadership of ULAA has grossly failed to have its priorities together. It “puts all of its eggs in one basket”. The leadership is so obsessed with this Dual Citizenship thing that it is paying deaf ear to the current mismanagement of our nation’s resources by individuals who do not care for the ordinary people.
Patriotic Liberians must give their undivided attention to the current state of our nation. Last week, several articles appeared in FrontPageAfrica on line magazine; The Perspective.org on line magazine and The ANALYST magazine highlighting the stark disparities in society. These disparities have the propensity to derail the relative peace and stability in Liberia…
The New ULAA’s leadership Cherry-Pick which national issues to address; and it has turned our once august and revered organization into an employment agency for the Government of Liberia. And no wonder the young people disregard their opinions in public forum!
Prof. Amy S. Chua has it right in her book titled: Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations (2018). According to her:
Humans are tribal. We need to belong to groups. In many parts of the world, the group identities that matter most – the ones that people will kill and die for – are ethnic, religious, sectarian, or clan-based. But because America tends to see the world in terms of nation-states engaged in great ideological battles – Capitalism vs. Communism, Democracy vs. Authoritarianism, the “Free World” vs. the “Axis of Evil” – we are often spectacularly blind to the power of tribal politics…
Liberia’s Political Tribalism began when the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) came to power in 1980. Tribalism that was once dormant in the society began to show its ugly head both at home and in the Diaspora. ULAA’s whose goals and principles were to address and find solutions to Liberian national problems became preoccupied with sectional (county) and personal issues such as the problems in these members’ counties or supporting members of their ethnic group who were seeking leadership positions in ULAA; even if those individuals were not the most qualified. As a result, these members did not serve the interests of the organization. Some of them join the organization with hidden agenda such as to use the organization as their platform (practice ground) to land government positions in the future. Quite recently, some of these individuals went on a “job-seeking safari” to Liberia, only to return empty-handed. They returned to the US without being employed by the CDC government. All they did to render the organization irrelevant bear NO FRUITS. They became BIG TIME LOSERS. God can’t sleep!
Not Making Use of the Experience/Knowledge of Their Predecessors
A child who doesn’t listen to his parents’ advice will one day find him/her engaging in foolish practices. One such example is the practice of inviting guest speakers to address the organization’s annual celebration and at other important programs without making use of its experienced pool; which reminds me of the story about the man, who had diamonds in his backyard, yet went looking for diamonds all over the world. ULAA leadership on the national and local levels practiced similar behavior. Whenever they need a guest speaker for their programs, 8 out of 10 times they will invite former or current Liberian government official to serve as guest speaker. Those they select as speakers usually offered nothing new, rather retell old tales of Liberia’s Cinderella stories; stories that glorified Liberia’s ugly past.
Look out for a soon to be published book titled: Together, We Struggle For A Better Liberia: True Story & Critique of ULAA.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never
the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” (“The Porte-Tubman Combat,” The LIBERIAN ORBIT, Minneapolis, June 12, 2001).
Two Significant Contributions of the Progressives
There are several significant contributions made by the Progressives, however, for this article, I will only mention two. This is not to suggest that the Progressives did not make mistakes in the past or some of their members and leaders did not betray the struggle of Liberian people for their own self interests and that of their supporters; but history will Oldman Albert Porte judge them for betraying the Liberian people’s genuine struggle.
Two undisputed contributions of the Progressives are:
1.The Progressives of the 70s and 80s gave birth to multi-party democracy, free speech, civil and constitutional rights in Liberia, and
According to a recent article entitled: “The Politics of Humanism: Supporting Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act” which was written by Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor on March 29, 2018; it was published in the Liberian Daily Observer:
The World Bank’s report of 2012, relevant to global remittances, pointed out that Liberians in the Diaspora out-beat per GDP other Africans living abroad by “remitting $378 million in 2012, an increase of $18 million from 2011 remittance of $360 million, a more than 31% of global remittances and third of Liberia’s GDP in 2012” (The New dispensation, 6 February 2013).
The ‘USD Explorer’ also, provided its statistical information relevant to the remittances received by Liberia during the period of 2011 through 2015. Liberia accordingly, received $360 million in 2011, $516 million in 2012, $383 million in 2013, $495 million in 2014, and $693 million in 2015 as remittances from other countries (usdexplorer.com).
These statistics demonstrate and show that Liberia as a nation has benefited economically from its nationals in the diaspora; and this includes Liberians with dual nationality status.
In addition, the consciousness displayed by the University of Liberia Student Union (ULSU), the Liberian National Student Union (LINSU), and especially, the Student Unification Party (SUP) of the University of Liberia and the entire high school organizations is evidence of the Progressives’ influence. Check out SUP’s tribute to the man they refer to as their Senior Comrade, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr.
We are student militants. We do not ascribe to the cult of the personality. We do not idol worship an individual. Like revolutionary icons before us, we are convinced “That men have a relative value in history and that noble causes cannot be defeated when men fall and that the uncontainable march of history does not stop nor will it stop because the commanders fall.” (Fidel 1967). We do not get indoctrinated or manipulated by individuals who pursue objectives or aims that do not encapsulate the aspiration and hope of suffering humanity. We write because we study. We act out of conviction. We celebrate subjective historical actors because they espouse noble causes that promote social justice and human dignity. It is on this basis that Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. forms part of the genre of men and women, whom we dignify, celebrate and honor!
So we pen these words recommitting to our leader and teacher, that we respect him not because of his education or proficiency in speech and writing. He detests the accumulation of wealth or material affluence. Therefore our respect for this noble character cannot be foundation on the fantasy that he owns houses, luxurious cars, and live the life of a millionaire. We respect him because of his long years of existence filled with struggle and historical significance. We are fond of him because of his refusal to compromise his values and principles on the altar of egoistical calculations. We hold him in high esteem for his involvement with noble causes that aim for the transformation of society and the advancement of man from a butchered life to a more exalted one. Like Fidel said of Che in 1967, our camaraderie and affection for this struggle icon have surpassed all possible description.
There is this Latin phrase I am fond of, it reads: "Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas", which is translated as "Plato is my friend, but the truth is more of a friend to me than Plato”.
At some point in our life when faced with issues of great magnitude where friendship and justice is involved; we are to make a choice either in favor of friendship or justice. But for me, it is the truth I am concern about. And we all should seek justice for the Liberian people and the victims of the evil Liberian Civil Wars.
Over 48 years, I have worked tirelessly with social and political organizations in the Diaspora and at home in order to bring about socio-economic and political change in Liberia – through education and by identifying the oppressors of the Liberian people, as well as expose them ‘BIG TIME’. But while we were making progress gradually, there were individuals amongst us who had different plans and motives other than the one we agreed to follow. For their selfish and personal greed, these individuals manufactured liberation schemes that betrayed the genuine struggle of our people. As the results, our country was destroyed and innocent Liberians and foreigners were killed. As long as I live, I am committed to seek justice for the killings of these innocent people and the destruction of our country. I believe both old and young people working together can have those responsible arrested, tried and if found guilty imprisoned. Justice will then be served!
Finally, I encourage Liberians at home and the Diaspora to support the Human and Civil Rights organizations, Victims of the Civil War, Liberian National Students Union, Liberian Media, Friends of Liberia, and the International Community, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee that call on the Liberian government to establish, as a matter of priority, a process of accountability for war and economic crimes.
Also, all of us should support the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights – the first of a kind soon to be established as the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. According to Liberia’s own, Cllr. Frederick A.B. Jayweh:
The African Court
The Court “will consist of two distinct divisions: i) The Civil Justice Division, and ii), the Criminal Justice Division. Under the Civil Justice Division, litigants may initiate, file and prosecute all matters that impact the Civil Justice System in Africa. That means that Financial and Economic Crimes committed in a Member State of the African Union (AU) can be filed and prosecuted at the Civil Justice Division of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights.
“Whereas under the Criminal Justice Division, complaints that have to do with War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity, the violation of the Rome Statute, and all accused Warlords and War Criminals can be indicted, arrested and brought before the Criminal Justice Division of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights and prosecuted for the crimes of war committed in a Member State, to include the Republic of Liberia.” Not too long ago, “… President Weah and the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio promised to ratify and deposit the Treaty and Regulation that created the African Court of Justice and Human Rights”.
This is a very encouraging sign! The chicken is finally coming home to rouse.
Gweh Feh Kpeh (the Struggle Continues!)
I remain, A Progressive yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever!
NOTE: A must read article: “The role ULAA (LCA) plays that most Liberians do not know, and are too proud to ask!” It can be found on ThePerspective.org website (September 18, 2006 edition) or request it from:
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