A Step Back Before 1980 - The Untold Reasons Of The Liberian Civil War
Okay, the war spoiled Liberia and reduced it to nothing. That is how some people (precisely lineages of the Moronic True Wing Party) want us to interpret, believe and understand the history of Liberia. But, is that how things really work, that the people shouldn't consider the objective conditions and systematic straitjacket put in placed by the Establishment before 1980 that inevitably precipitated to the outburst of the crisis, absolutely no! In this month of April which entails a very rich moments of Liberia's pastimes it is very cogent we dig deep in the revealing accounts of History and the past of our country as we continue to search for the real causes and backgrounds of the fourteen years of Civil unrest in Liberia.
Firstly, the indisputable fact is that the crisis didn't come as a result of any cosmological or mysterious happenings. The country was long placed on the loom for a possible uprisings with the type of living options that majority of Liberians were subjected to before 1980. It was only the matter of time for the timidity of the people to transform and be energized by their actions and set in motion. The coup of 1980 told the people what actually needed to be done. As a result of this, it is very fair enough to give a throwback of what was Liberia before the coup of 1980. Liberia before this period (April 12 1980) is/remains the apex of the Principle Contradiction in the quest to obtain substantive facts that lead to the period of wars. The oligarchic and despotic Repatriates Conservative had ruled Liberia for 133 years counting since Independence and suddenly there was a military coup and the first Republic- that worked as a henchman for western imperialist and bent on subjugating the poor masses through forced labor, slavery, and ethnic and racial discrimination came to an end.
Unfortunately, how can one contribute the civil unrest to those that organized and masterminded the procession that lead to the violent overthrow of the Conservative Wings and attempt to vindicate the Conservative Wings elites who lead the republic for 133 years sharing power amongst their privilege class and lulling the country as a puppet territory that function as an annex of the imperialist operations in Africa? This would be the worst misjudgment in history. The moribund True Wing class whose early history says they were predominantly Christians but handled the Country to the very contrary of the Christian doctrine. Their actions were similar to the Pharisees and hypocrites of biblical times. They governed the republic with the only sense of enriching themselves, dominating the politics, and leeching on the resources of the country for the benefits of their offsprings. Is it because in 1980 power didn't change hands like its normal form ( at the convention of the True Wing Party) for which many of them are still around here panting for the unmerited privileges that had come to a sudden stop? Or is it because the native have made an unexpected attempt to come on scores with them for which today they are here finding makers and instigators of war?
We know how contradictions have been settled by oppressed people and their oppressors in many parts of the world; in Kenya for example the Mau Mau had to play it role, in South Africa the uMkhonto we Sizwe which was the Militant Wing of the ANC preserved the posture of the South African Liberation movement after the Shapeville massacre. On many more occasions we can go on and recount that the Oppressors have never given of their self-made privileges out of generosity or benevolence; the exploited people must always gain the courage to fight for their freedom and rights, and in such fight the urgency and the typed of institution being fought will dictate to the people what method to use. No one succeed to overthrow a ruthless Armed Government with civil movements and hands up. At every moments of the struggle decisive step must be instituted. The Liberia's scenario to this components of history has its own explanation both on its success and failures, its highs and lows and its thick and thin, but one thing that remains certain is that the lunatics of the ruling class in Liberia unfortunately believe that the people were going to dwell in perpetual silence and quietude. Therefore, it was strange to them that as early as 1980 a group of people would they least expected for once have risen to the occasion. One question I have for them is why will a Government even recruit people into the Army who were still at elementary and Junior high levels? This was the same people that had just excuted a mandate in Monrovia and painted the capitol with blood just a year ago( April 14 1979) under the direction of the Government that was packing so quickly ( April 12 1980) by the same monster it had created. You see, the Army was used to settle the crisis of rice and rights in Monrovia on April 14 1979 and this same Army has turned over to settle the crisis of native exploitation a year after and this time an entire hegemony was breaking and a new republic was about to be formed. From the words of Dr. H. Bioma Fahnbullah Jr. " When political circumstances are resolved by the guns it is more likely that historical circumstances will be resolved by the guns." Such was Monrovia on April 12 1980 but let's stick to our motive to keep steeping backward.
After 99 years since independence Indigenous Liberians and Women of property holdings just gained the right to vote in the 1951 elections. Imagine those times when the people could not have a say in the Leadership and political process and functionality of the state. They were reduced to tatters and flights. This has been eternalized by a group of minority who thought that Liberia was for their cooperate enterprise.
But this was not the only issue, imagine even in the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Liberia these lines were written " We the people of the Republic of Liberia were originally inhabitants of the United States of North America." This was penned down with profaned disregard for the indigenous who land they have come to settle on. This statement suggests that from the early point, they were cleared that Liberia was founded to only work for the handful of settlers who came from abroad and being supported by the ACS with the motivation to disparage the people and instigate discordance amongst the original natives of Liberia. Even today, most of the treaties and explanation of the methods used to acquire land from the indigenous rulers remains debated. Many wars were fought as they attempted on many occasions to encroach on the land of the people.
Howbeit the perpetuation of forced labor, slavery, ritualistic killing conducted the President King, Allen Yency in a deal with Firestone Liberia and the Spanish Island of Fernando Poo. Poor and powerless Liberians were violently recruited and sold as slaves for the interest and financial gains of the sitting President of the republic of Liberia. The Christy Report of 1930 says a lot to this effect. These were the decadence and despotic manner in which the country was being govern. Even with the issues of hinterland and the Government in Monrovia, their were many cases of summary killings by the Liberia Frontier Force and other top government officials. People and their settlements who usually disagreed with the dictates of the conservative in Monrovia were subjected to instant death with no trial. Young Girls were raped by goverment officials who were protected by the central Government in Monrovia and there were many reports of ritualistic killings that even up to today in Maryland county the name " Yancy" from Vice President Allen Yancy is still associated with the onerous crime.
Also, for the Monrovia and its development. It is also good we look at the outlook of Monrovia and its development before the civil crisis. Today, if one take a fair look of the neighboring communities in central Monrovia you can dichotomized how myopic the state were being handled. Imagine a look at Gardnersville which is just a few kilometres from Capitol Hill, it was just after the civil crisis that such area became habitable. Gardnersville since Liberia's independence has survived with only four public schools for more then 100 communities. What is the development? No public hospital, no liberary, no water, no current, where is the scientific research centers, the packs, stadiums, gyms, industries, laboratories that the war destroyed. The area was a complete bush with tall grasses.. The Somalia Drive road was meant as an alternative route to the Port. This same underdevelopment can be attributed to West Point, Clara town, Sinkor, Paynesville, Brewville, Caldwell, Logan Town. They only care to develop a portion of Mamba Point and built few private condominiums that their government leased to conduct formal businesses.
With the way neighboring environments around Monrovia have been governed what more can we say about the counties. What was the benefit of all the concessions agreement to the lives of the people except for the cliquish elites who sat on the wealth of the state. Look at the University of Liberia (Est. 1862) the second oldest University in West Africa next to Forah Bay University (Est. 1827) in Sierra Leone. The University of Liberia continues to be a substandard institution since its establishment. It was the only public University providing tertiary Education to Liberians until madam Serleaf had to upgrade the Tubman College to Tubman University. Up to date, the country can only boost of a single International airport. Wow. So what did we get from the once Paradise the war destroyed?
With this, it is no doubt that the country has never been a country until after the civil crisis. What was here was a hegemony where the elites fought amongst themselves based on the color of their skin (the Roye Era in Liberia's history is a clear reference). Ignorantly, I have read a few wake remnants intellectual of the Wings trying to derate the Progressive of Liberia as those who destroyed the country. To me this is either someone suffreing from temporary insanity or a person bittered from artificial induced jealousy. Those who have read the Truth and Reconciliation Documents will understand in the most clearer form that unmatch emphasis was placed on the following as the causes of the war; a complete distrust in the judicial system of the country, long term subjugation of the people of the hinterland, racial and ethnic discrimination instituted by the Ruling Amearico Librarians, Wanton Unemployment amongst Liberians, lack of educational opportunities and perpetuation of gross human rights violation. How can one argued that all these were not the tenants of the True Wing Party. Remember, Blayden had to flee, the election of Mr. Faulkner and King, the rice and rights riot of April 14 1979 and many more.
As we all anticipate and embrace National Healing and Reconciliation but this can not be achieved when children and beneficiaries of the True Wing Party do not want to recognize the historical maltreatments of the native majority in Liberia for more then a century. We can never achieved peace and justice when the real doers of the wrongs want to shield under the vile of their arrogance and still purporting to be unapologetic. Moving forward the real causes of the war are very clear. The people had endured more then a century of suffering and indignation, they were kept in shanty towns and used as miscreants in their own country. The people over times were only useful for taxes( hut tax a typical example), forced labour, slavery, errand and many backwater hustles. These long period of inherited suffering of the people from one generation to another set the country on the tunnel for a possible turning point. Whether through wars or whatever, at that time the people were the ones suffering and so only them could determine what method was more effective to assuage their sufferings. The native were victims of black apartheid in Liberia. They wanted a way out of this. And because of this they got solace from every move that seeks to break the chain of the Wings exploitation. That is history and no one person has an authority over how to direct the radical energy of the people.
About the Author
Lawrence S. Tuah is a youth and student advocate. He is a student at the University of Liberia and a Militant of the Student Unification Party (SUP). He can be reached through these means: email- [email protected], cell-0770563002
Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."