GOL: A Shameful, Fraudulent Misuse of Power, WFP in an Unholy Alliance

first_imgThe World Food Program (WFP), in flagrant (barefaced, unashamed) disregard for struggling Liberian businesses, recently awarded to a Guinean trucking firm a multimillion dollar contract for transport services to the WFP’s Ebola response to Liberia.How is that possible?  Does WFP or anyone else think that the Guinean government and people, more particularly Guinean businesspeople, would ever allow such a thing to happen in Guinea?  Definitely not!   The Guineans most certainly know better.  Though they are predominantly Muslim, they know fully well the Christian dictum that “Charity begins at home.”The big trouble is, NOT IN LIBERIA!Liberia is a friendly country, most probably the most friendly in Africa.  For which other African country so openly and so wholeheartedly welcomes foreigners and are prepared to give them every opportunity to do business and make tons of money here, while Liberians continue to live in abject poverty?This newspaper has always advocated, argued for, pleaded with the Liberian government, to do everything in its power, as a deliberate policy, to encourage and foster the development of a middle class.   Daily Observer publisher  Kenneth Y. Best, as a young Assistant Minister at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) in 1972, started urging the Liberian leaders to begin the process of developing a Liberian merchant class.  His point was that it was the quickest way to lift our people out of poverty, for that is where the money is—in business and commerce.  If Liberians controlled their own commerce, they would be in the driver’s seat of their economy.When Kenneth made that 1972 call during a speech at his alma mater, Booker Washington Institute (BWI), no less a person than the eminent former Liberian Secretary of State J. Rudolph Grimes told him, “You know, you are right.”Alas! The government has paid absolutely NO attention to this advice.  This advice has over the years been consistently rejected by successive Liberian administrations, including the current one.  The Tubman government started by enunciating (pronouncing) the Open Door Policy.  This was initially hailed as a great thing because it started attracting foreign investments to the country,   But from the very start, it became a totally foreign thing, the first being Lansdell K. Christe’s Liberia Mining Company (LMC) that mined iron ore from Bomi Hills (now Tubmanburg).  But 20 years before LMC came Harvey S. Firestone, Jr’s Firestone Rubber Plantations Company (FRPC).  That was Liberia’s first major foreign investment.  Like Firestone, LMC had no local investment participation. Then came LAMCO in the late 1950s, to mine the iron ore in Mount Nimba, Nimba County; and later Bong Mining Company.  All of these were overwhelmingly foreign-owned.The government did nothing to encourage Liberians to undertake ancillary (subsidiary, secondary) businesses, such as food supply,  transportation and other logistical services. Even as late as the 2000s, especially with the coming of the current government, major concession agreements have been signed, particularly in the iron ore, oil palm and now the petroleum sectors, with no Liberian participation.  The National Oil Company (NOCAL) has auctioned off most of the oil blocks, again with little or no Liberian participation, except a very few that have not been made public.  Who knows whether these are not reserved for people close to the powers that be?  If not, why are these Liberian owners so secretive?  Is that the few remain natural resources should be shared?There is another alarming, deeply distressing reality at play:  The government owes the media, most of them tiny business enterprises, well over half a million United States dollars, but has, over several years, consistently REFUSED to pay them.  Now the government is DEMANDING that the media houses accept far less than the amount due them!  How so fraudulent and unfair, how so shamefully a misuse of power!Worse yet, several Christmases have passed, and this one, too,  is about to pass, and GOL has not aroused its conscience — if it has one — to pay the media, so that our wives and children can say “Papa na come home.”So who can blame the WFP for ditching Liberian truckers in favor of Guinean truckers?    WFP has learned well the lesson the Liberian government has taught them— “to hell with Liberian businesses.  You can come to Liberia and do as you please.”Is this government then serious about poverty reduction, which it has preached, since coming to power?Ellen’s government has only two more years in power.  As eternal optimists, we don’t think it is too late for her to make a difference.  A good place to start is to PAY THE MEDIA WHAT YOU OWE THEM AND DEMAND THAT THE WFP AGREEMENT BE REVERSED.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

PREVAIL Admits Neglect in Promoting Vaccine Trials

first_imgPREVAIL, the Ebola trial vaccine team in Monrovia, has admitted that it failed to provide adequate public awareness before beginning to dispense the two trial vaccines early this week.Called Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia, PREVAIL is a Liberia-U.S. Joint Clinical Research Partnership aimed at studying common infectious diseases in Liberia and developing Liberian clinical research capacity. The vaccine study began in October last year when Liberia and the United States formed the partnership with the objective of learning more about Ebola, finding the vaccines to prevent it and accelerate their development as well as discovery of treatments to heal people who become infected with the deadly virus.The trial vaccines were first administered on Monday to only twelve of the initial 600 expected volunteers at the newly renovated clinical research unit of the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town.The two Ebola trial vaccines, ChAd-3 and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (rVSV), being administered in the country received limited public awareness, many people have observed.  The lack of widespread, effective promotion of the vaccine trials has triggered rumors, fears and suspicions about them.The vaccines ChAd3-ZEBOV, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, and the rVSV-ZEBOV by Merck/NewLink in Canada, have both been recognized by a panel of the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite the much desired objective of the vaccines to prevent future outbreaks of the Ebola virus and its devastation, the Liberian public has raised serious concerns about the trials.  In reaction, the Liberian co-principal Investigator for PREVAIL, Dr. Stephen B. Kennedy, admitted at a press conference in Monrovia Wednesday that several actions were missed along the way before the trials commenced.“We missed many steps along the way,” Dr. Kennedy said. “We failed to carry out (comprehensive) consultations. For example, we left out the media, the Legislature, women and other important groups in our consultation process during the planning stage.”“We are not politicians; we are medical people and so we were not sensitive enough to these procedures. We only took into consideration the medical community during the initial process. However, we will do all we can to meet those concerns that are being raised.” Dr. Kennedy, who is also the coordinator for the Ministry of Health’s Ebola Research, Incident Management System (NIMS) for the National Ebola Response, said despite the mistakes in promoting public awareness and dispelling doubts, the protocol being followed in trying the vaccines is internationally and scientifically acceptable. He meanwhile appealed to the general public to volunteer for the vaccine trials “because it will protect them from any future outbreak of the virus.” He also called on Liberians to remain calm because, said Dr. Kennedy, the international community’s eyes are on the country to learn the outcome of the trials.  Dr. Kennedy pointed out that a successful implementation of the trials will be Liberia’s major contribution to global public health. He refuted what he claimed to be widespread news that the trials have been halted. What has been halted is a clinical therapeutic drug called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), an experimental drug for the management of Ebola-positive patients, he said.  He said the drug was halted because the US Food and Drug Agency (FDA) withdrew PCR’s license as an Ebola trial drug. He did not say why PCR’s license was retracted.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more


first_imgToday’s topic marks the end of our series on self-care, school environment protocols, and community and work place protocols. However, and as it is Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia’s cardinal programme to promote sustainable peace, we will continue to focus on Ebola response efforts.The purpose of travel protocols, particularly during the Ebola pandemic, cannot be overemphasized, because and thankfully so, it was due to the lack of adherence to this travel protocols, that brought national as well as international attention to the urgent steps directed at curbing the Ebola Virus Disease.In our dialogue with peace messengers, travel protocols should focus on surveillance and the establishment/strengthening of port health facilities, with holding/isolation centers at every border crossing (land frontiers, sea ports and airports) in the country. The essence of travel protocols is to identify sick travelers so as to prevent travelers importing the Ebola virus into the country and other parts of the world.In the past, the yellow immunization card was used to: prepare travelers, advice and protect them from health risks associated to vector borne infections, food and water safety conditions. During this Ebola pandemic, travel protocols should improve on the use of the yellow card and provide health advisories on travel to and from Ebola affected countries. Guidance for monitoring the movement of persons with the possibility of EVD exposures should be pursued and member states should provide medical evacuation plans for their citizens.  On this note, we would like to commend Brussels airlines for their strong leadership in ensuring a bridge to the outside world during the Ebola crisis.  The courage of this airline to continue their services, against all odds and when other regional airlines deserted Liberia is exemplary and should be emulated. According to Dr. Peter Piot of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, (one of the doctors who discovered the Ebola virus in 1976); “The air-link provided by Brussels Airlines is vital for logistical supply. Without this strong support it would be impossible to battle the disease.”One message that comes across as we conclude our series on protocols necessary to prevent the spread of EVD, is the need for vigilance and strict adherence to the lessons learned from the strategies adopted during the Ebola epidemic. We need better coordination with partners, excellent contact tracing-the like the ones adopted by the USA and continuous education of all (survivors and the affected). Monitoring the implementation of all protocols should continue.Just when we are only weeks away from being declared “Ebola-free,” the country recorded a new case. We can’t rest on our amour. Until then and with an end in sight, we need to redouble our collective efforts to stop and eradicate Ebola from our country. We need to understand what went well and what we need to do better.Support the “Ebola Educates” Campaign in kind through your stories or with your generous cash donation.Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates- The Paradox of EVD,” Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Weah: ‘Ballon d’Or put me and Liberia on the map’

first_imgIn 1995 George Weah became the first – and to date only – African to win the highest individual award there is in world football: The Ballon d’Or. In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, the Liberian icon looks back at his remarkable career.Whenever football fans name the best players never to have played at the World Cup finals, Weah is one of the first to be mentioned. Although the big striker played for some of the biggest clubs in Europe (Monaco, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea), he had the ‘misfortune’ of being born in Liberia – a country without a strong football pedigree. Weah sees it very differently.“I am very proud to be Liberian. I love the country and I love the people,” he insisted. “Of course I would have liked to have played at the World Cup, but I achieved so much in my career as a footballer that I can’t have any complaints. The only thing that is disappointing is that so many other Lone Star players never got to play at the World Cup and did not have the personal success I had.”After winning the Liberian league with Mighty Barrolle and Invincible Eleven, Weah had a short stint in Cameroon, before joining AS Monaco in 1988. At the time the French club was coached by Arsene Wenger. It was the start of a relationship that has lasted to this day, and when Weah won the World Player award he called Wenger onto the stage and gave him the award, saying he deserved it more than he did. It was the mark of a footballer who, despite winning just about every individual award there is, has always put the team’s interests before his own. That famously even went to financially assisting his cash-strapped country for some of their World Cup qualifying matches.After playing at Monaco for four seasons, he joined PSG and stayed with them until 1995, which was the pinnacle of his career. Although his club did not win the French Ligue 1 title, they won the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue, and Weah picked up a slew of individual honors including the African Footballer of the Year, Champions League top scorer, European footballer of the Year and of course the two global awards existing at the time: the Ballon d’Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award.“Of course I would have liked to have played at the World Cup, but I achieved so much in my career as a footballer that I can’t have any complaints.“When I started out, my dream was to play professional football,” Weah reflected. “That was my dream. I did not dream of winning the Ballon d’Or or FIFA Player of the Year award. I wanted to play professionally and achieve as much as I could.“It was really about the love for the game. But then of course winning the awards was very special. I think it was recognition for all the work that I put in during my career. And I was particularly proud because I think it was important for my country. They celebrated with me and it put Liberia on the map,” he said.After his success in 1995, Weah moved to AC Milan, where he won two Scudettos and scored what is often considered one of the great individual goals of all time in 1996 against Verona. He added the FA Cup in England with Chelsea as he wound down his football career at the turn of the century and retired in 2003.A new careerAlready a leader and legend in his country, Weah turned to politics after hanging up his boots. In December 2014, he won election for a place on the Liberian Senate – becoming the first sportsman elected to the legislature in the African country. Asked if it was easier scoring goals than running a country, Weah laughs. “Whatever you do in life, you have to do it with commitment and perseverance.“That was my approach on the football field and that is my approach now in politics. I am committed to helping my people and my country, just as much as I was committed to helping my team when I was a player.”Although no longer in active football, Weah remains connected to the sport and the Liberian national team. Several of the players who played with Weah in the Lone Stars when they came within one point of qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup are now coaching the country’s various national teams and Weah often meets with them.“I will always be involved in sport, and I am the chair of the Sports Commission. Sport is so important to people. It can help people. I am where I am today because of football, and if I can give back something to the people of Liberia, then I want to do that,” he added.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Ex-Army Chief of Staff Vex with Gov’t

first_imgRetired Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Lieutenant General Kpenkpah Y. Konah, has expressed outrage with the government for what he described as “marginalization and neglect” of him from every day-to-day activity of the military.In an exclusive interview with the Daily Observer on Saturday, in Ganta, Nimba County, Gen. Konah said since his retirement from the army in 2004, he has been excluded from AFL events, particularly during military ceremonial activities, when former high profile military personnel are sometimes invited to and honored.He said there is nowhere in this world, especially in the United States of America, where retired generals are excluded from a ceremony such as the formation of the army or the just-ended 59th Armed Forces Day celebrations.Retired General Konah spent his Armed Forces Day attending the Lutheran Men’s Convention, February 10 to 14, in Ganta.“Even though I am a member of the Lutheran Church in Liberia and a part of the Men’s Department, if I were to be invited to attend the Armed Forces Day celebration, I would not have come to Ganta for this convention,” he said.According to him, every man is encouraged to start plaiting new mat by looking at the old one, adding, “If we the old forks are neglected because of other reasons, it does not in any way suggest that the government should forget about us, especially when we made significant contributions to the army during our day.” The 80 year old retired general joined the army in 1962 and rose to the rank of general under the regime of the late President Samuel K. Doe. He served as Brigadier General for several years prior to the December 24, 1989 civil uprising that toppled Doe in 1990. He was commissioned as a Major General in the position of Deputy Chief of Staff under the late General Prince C. Johnson during the regime of former President Charles G. Taylor.Gen. Konah recalled that upon the death of Gen. Johnson, which was the result of a car accident, he succeeded him as Chief of Staff (COS) and later became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.“I don’t like to undermine anybody in my life and I live quietly by minding my own affairs. I’ve always told my children to follow my example,”said retired Gen. Konah.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

25 Mandela Washington Fellows Return with Vigor

first_imgIf not just a euphoric mood for opportunity to travel to the United States, then the 25 fellows of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship will have much to impact Liberia as they have returned with great vigor and promise to share their experiences and fully exhibit what they learned at the six-week fellowship. The 25 Liberians, who left the country in June this year to participate in the fellowship with other Africans from across Africa, returned earlier this month with new skills in various areas of study including Business Entrepreneurship, Civil and Public Sector Management, Human Rights and other disciplines.Speaking on behalf of the group at a reception program organized by US Ambassador Christine Elders on August 23 in Monrovia, Patience Coleman-Beyan said, “We have returned with great vigor and experience, because during our stay for the six weeks in the United States, we saw people leaving their jobs during weekends to come and help us just by volunteering and we were inspired a lot.” In reference to the experience, Coleman-Beyan called on fellows to continue networking and liaise with one another in implementing any program a fellow wants to undertake, noting, “We are a team now; we should not let each other to go alone, but we should use the skills we learnt.” Coleman-Beyan, who works at the Civil Service Agency (CSA) as Director for Civil Service Reform Directorate said the training gives her the courage to take a new dimension by working with those in the public sector to reach the communities so the ordinary people will feel the impact of their work.She said she and her colleagues have decided to organize palava hut meetings to inform citizens on how government works, stressing that one challenge in the society is that people are not able to engage government and therefore do not know its functions.She added that ethical and moral challenges facing the country today are based on the roles of leaders.According to her, there are challenges in the United States just as there are in Africa, but when leaders are accountable to their citizens and setting good examples by their lives, Liberians will be able to deal with ethical issues.In an exclusive interview, one of the fellows, Daniel Riche said his experience in the United States showed him the importance of voluntarism as a way to promote community development.“Voluntarism is one thing that makes America great. People will volunteer their services to clean their cities on a weekend, and this helps the city authority to have the kind of city they want,” said Richie, who studied Civil Leadership during the MWF. “But in Liberia, we always want something in exchange before we volunteer our services.”Using his Civil Leadership training, he said he will be reaching his peers and others in his community to share his experience and embark on community projects through voluntarism.Expressing her excitement, US Ambassador to Liberia, Christine Elders, said the partnership between the Liberian Government and the Mandela Washington Fellowship is quite encouraging, and she was delighted to have the 25 fellows in the United States to share their experience and acquire another experience.She disclosed that some of the fellows could not return because they are there on internships and securing other project-related opportunities before returning home.She stressed that networking is essential to the program, and that fellows should always be reminded about getting together to network and share experience so as to meet the central objective of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.She said beneficiaries of the program were double during the 2016 fellowship, expressing the hope that it continues in successive fellowships to allow more Liberians to participate.The program began in 2010 under the name, “Young African Leaders Initiative” (YALI) during the first Administration of US President Barack H. Obama.At the 2014 edition, during a town hall meeting with participants, President Obama renamed the program, the “Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.”During that occasion, the charismatic President inspired the fellows to use the training to network and bring the change they want to see on their continent. He told them not to politically challenge their leaders, but share ideas and innovatively design programs that will help to develop their communities and families as well.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

‘We’ll Fight for Trademark Rights’

first_imgA day before Judge Chan-Chan Peagar of the Commercial Court is expected to make public the full text of his “pop drink” trademark infringement ruling, BAF Trading Corporation, which filed the lawsuit against H.K. Enterprise owned by Lebanese national Houssan Kafiel, has promised to use all of its resources to challenge the court’s decision, even up to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court.Last Monday, Judge Peagar, in his three-minute ruling, said, “The two parties, BAF and H.K. Enterprise, failed to register trademark in the country, according to the Intellectual Property Law.”He also ruled that the Lebanese-owned entity has the legal right to the disputed pop drink trademark, while in the same breath admitting that they obtained the trademark certificate in 2014, as opposed to BAF, which obtained it in 2010 for a ten-year period.In an interview with journalists yesterday at his Vai Town office in Monrovia, BAF’s Import Manager Boubacar S. Balde said they acquired the trademark legally from the Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) responsible for the protection and promotion of intellectual property rights in the country, as well as the Ministry of Commence (MOC).“We are not going to allow both government institutions with support of the court to deny us of our right,” Balde said.According to him, they thought that they were doing the right thing when they took their case to the Commercial Court, where the case went the wrong way.“We will not allow the influence of money to make this foreigner to take away our legitimate business right,” he added.Even if the Supreme Court fails to give his company justice, the BAF import manger promised they would run to the ECOWAS Court for redress.“If it will cause us to close down our business for the case, we are prepared to do so,” Balde insisted. Tearfully recounting the effort and financial difficulty they incurred to promote pop drink in the market, Balde said when they got the permission from the manufacturer of the product in Indonesia to import pop drink, they traveled to every part of the country to introduce it.“We promoted the product to the extent that people were getting interested in it, before the Lebanese man with the help of LIPO and MOC got involved in 2014,” BAF Import manager emphasized.According to him, they were approached by LIPO in 2009 to register the trademark for their own protection.“We accepted their proposal and thought we were doing the right thing, but they duplicated our trademark certificate and issued it to H.K. Enterprise, which has caused us damages,” said a tearful Balde.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Superintendent’s Residence Lies in Ruins in Gbarnga

first_imgBack view of the building-Residents raise concernThe official residence of the Superintendent of Bong County lies in ruins as it seems that no attention is reportedly being given the building since a violent rainstorm devastated the structure early March of this year.The building which is the official home of  the Superintendent of Bong County, was constructed during the administration of President William V. S. Tubman; it was, however, badly damaged during the long years of civil war in the country.Speaking to this paper via mobile former Bong County Legislative Caucus Chairman and former Representative, George Sylvester Mulbah, said the county expended a little over US$82,000 from the County Social Development Funds (CSDF) to renovate the building in 2009 in order to give the Superintendent of the county a befitting residence .“The building, lying in ruins at this time seems to be a glaring manifestation that the local county leadership is reneging to renovate the compound possibly for political reasons”, former Representative Mulbah intoned.Following the reconditioning, it played home to former superintendents Ranney B. Jackson, Lucia Herbert and Selena Polson Mappy.For his part, Bong County Assistant Superintendent for Development Anthony Sheriff informed this reporter that his office made assessment on the damage to the building in early March and it was estimated that the county leadership will need US$65,000 to recondition the entire building.He said the assessment report was forwarded to the Superintendent Madam Esther N. Walker for implementation.Mr. Sheriff said the county leadership has been making frantic efforts as well as SOS appeals to people of good will and companies including the MNG-Gold to help renovate the building.“Right now the county does not have money, to repair that building; it will take us some time,” Assistant Superintendent Sheriff admitted.The roof of the building was destroyed in early March of this year by a violent rainstorm and since then it has not been rehabilitated.Ceiling destroyed by rainwaterAccording to the Daily Observer the ceiling of the building is being forced down by rain water and the floor soaked with rainwater could damage the structure if the roof is not replaced ahead of the usually heavy August and September downpours.It was established by this paper that the entire compound is without watchman/security guard and some of the air conditioners as well as doors have been taken away reportedly by criminals.Jerry Flomo a resident of the Civil Compound community a community in which the Superintendent’s Residence is located said on Tuesday July 31, 2018 at about 9pm unknown persons attacked him and made away with his smartphone and ran in the building.Another person Esther Dunn who was victimized by the purported criminals said her computer and other valuables were taken away in the same place on her way home at about 8pm.“If the county leadership does not renovate the building or assign security guards, nobody would dare pass that area at night hours” the victims maintained.Front view of the buildingShare this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Dual Citizenship Debate: A Moral and Ethical Dilemma

first_imgThe author, Rev. Dr. Samuel E. VansieaBy Rev. Dr. Samuel E. VansieaLiberia was founded as a Dual Citizenship nation. In the early 1800s almost all of Africa was colonized except the land now called Liberia. The natives traded with Europeans but did not allow them to own land. They however agreed to share land with Negro settlers from the United States of America in the spirit of Negro solidarity. It was through the political genius of the settlers that Liberia became a sovereign state in 1847.According to The American Journal of International Law (Vol. 4), former U.S. Secretary of State Williams Evarts affirmed in a February 2, 1880 communication that the settlers sent to Liberia were actual United States citizens.Several former presidents and government officials were foreign born. For example, President Joseph J. Roberts was born in the United States and President Arthur Barclay was of West Indian origin. Considering all that and, including the natives, it can be argued that Liberia was founded as a republic of Dual Citizenry. Therefore, the creation of the anti-dual citizenship law in 1956 (amended in 1973) raises some fundamental questions such as:What prompted the government of President William V. S. Tubman to make that law in 1956?Why would the Americo-Liberian ruling class for the first 133 (1847-1980) years reject Dual Citizenship when being called Americo-Liberians signifies dual nationality and their own children were going to school, getting married, and having children abroad?To understand that phenomenon, we need to look at events of the1900s.During the period between World War II and the Cold War, European powers were extremely protective of their interests in the countries they colonized. One way to protect that interest was to make the colonies adopt citizenship laws similar to laws of the colonizing country.The U.S. did likewise in Liberia. According to Harrison Akingbade, author of U.S. Liberian Relations During World War II, the U.S. exerted much influence on the Liberian government during that time to protect the Firestone Rubber Company and their military bases at Roberts International Airport and the Freeport of Monrovia. Though Liberia initially maintained a policy of neutrality in the war, the U.S. pressured her to declare war on The Axis Powers of Germany, Italy, and Japan on January 27, 1944.In early 1950, in what seemed like diplomatic pressure to prove further loyalty to the Liberia-America relationship, President Tubman had to ensure that no Liberian will bear arms for any other country except the U.S. and Liberia. In 1952 the U.S. Ambassador to Liberia Mr. Edward R. Dudley, acting on behalf of President Tubman, solicited the expertise of Cornell University professor Milton R. Konvitz to create a legal document for Liberia which included the Title 3 Citizenship and Naturalization Law of the Republic of Liberia of 1956 (amended in 1973) that is in question today.In 1943, Edward Richard Dudley (1911-2005) and Milton Ridbas Konvitz (1906-2003) both served as Assistant General Counsels for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, then headed by Thurgood Marshall. Konvitz later became professor of law at Cornell University, while Dudley went on to become the first African American to lead a U.S. Mission abroad, accredited to Monrovia with the rank of US Envoy and Minister (1948) and promoted to Ambassador (1949). Amb. Dudley then recruited his scholarly colleague, who for decades later worked with the Republic of Liberia as it established its laws. Konvitz also edited opinions of the Supreme Court of Liberia.Of cause they used American naturalization law as template and included what looked like an “anti-dual citizens” section. The original term used in the 1956 law was “Repatriation.” It stated that any Liberian who transfer residence to another country or join another army will be punished. Thus, it is fair to state that the citizenship law seems more like a cold war strategy to secure America’s interest more so than to deprive Liberians of citizenship. This is significant because there were no needs for such laws for the first 111 years (1847-1956) of Liberia’s existence and beyond.Citizenship Laws and African GovernmentsKenneth Kaunda, first president of the Republic of ZambiaAs mentioned earlier, colonial powers imposed their citizenship laws on their colonies of which the interpretation became problematic for the Africans. After independence, instead of fixing the laws for national unity, most African governments used the laws as a tool to silence and ostracize other citizens who they suspected of threatening their political ambitions. Two classical examples are when the Zambia Movement for Multiparty Democracy Government construed their citizenship law in 1996 in what was openly known as a strategy to disqualify their own first and former president Kenneth Kaunda (president from 1964-1991) from contesting in the 1996 election because his parents were missionaries in Malawi. He was deemed no longer a citizen of Zambia until the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights intervened.  His citizenship was restored, but elections were over. Likewise in 2001 and 2006 the Tanzanian government used nationality laws to terminate the citizenship of several journalists and the country’s own ambassador to Nigeria, Timothy Bandora all because the ruling party felt they were threats to their regime (Bronwen Manby, The Struggle for Citizenship in Africa).Toward Dual Citizenship Progressive countries in Africa, Europe, and Central and South America embraced the dual citizenship concept. According to the International Migration Review, more than half of all African countries have accepted and permitted their citizens to naturalize abroad without losing original citizenship. Those countries have the edge for economic prosperity and political stability compared to countries that do not. They also see dual citizenship as an extension of their influence beyond their borders. They use that influence as leverage in fostering tangible international relationship and partnership in a cost-effective manner. It also enhances the country’s presence on the modern globalization platform.Examples: Senegal’s first President, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was a French citizen.Senegal: Senegalese embraced dual citizenship from independence in 1960. Their first president Leopold Sedar Senghor was a French citizen. Senegalese don’t lose citizenship when they naturalize abroad. In 1995 the government created the High Commission for Senegalese Abroad to ensure the best interest of Senegalese diaspora. It is established that this approach to Dual Citizenship is contributive to the peace, stability, and economic prosperity of Senegal (The International Migration Review, Vol. 45).Israel: Martin Edelman, author of Who Is An Israeli said Israel automatically welcomes returning Jews, their children, grandchildren, spouses, etc. to full citizenship status.Middle East: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia, all of which encourage Dual Citizenship, rely on economic support from their diaspora citizens to save the country in time of financial crisis. In 2008 when investment dropped by $22 billion, support from diaspora citizens went up $328 billion (Sameera Fazili, Middle East Report).Democracy: Dual Citizenship helps to strengthen democracy especially in developing countries. Acceptance of Dual Citizenship is viewed as a sign of mature democracy (Beth Elise Whitaker, The Politics of Home: Dual Citizenship and the African Diaspora).Historians have observed that Africans are strongly connected at the foot of the family tree than at the height of political affiliation. Most of the instability in Africa have been fueled by unequal privileges between citizen groups. The events of the last 40 years in Liberia attest to that. Historian Edmond J. Keller states that “Disputes over . . . differing conceptions of citizenship are at the heart of the most intractable conflicts in Africa. De-nationalizing Africans from their land of origin is a very slippery concept (Keller, Identity, Citizenship, and Political Conflict in Africa).International Concerns:Since 2013 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been working on a protocol whereby all African countries will move toward the international norm that citizens and their descendants should continue to have equal rights of nationality in their native land (Manby, Citizenship Law in Africa).Moral and Ethical Implications for LiberiaCommenting on the anti-dual citizenship law, Mr. Augustine Ngafuan argued that the law is the law and ignorance of the law is no excuse. But the Volume of Sacred Law, the Holy Bible warns that not everything that is lawful is expedient (1 Corinthians 10:23). This debate is one instance where “expediency” outweighs “legality.”Furthermore, this debate is a golden opportunity in the hand of the current government to champion unity, unless it chooses to go down in history for effectuating divisiveness.History will judge us that under Americo-Liberian rule for 133 years, (despite the 1973 law) no one dreamed about terminating another Liberian’s citizenship simply because he/she held another passport and neither did that happen under the military/civilian rule of the 1980s.I remember during the struggles for democracy in the 1970s, how G. Baccus Matthews, Togba Nah Tipoteh, Amos Sawyer, H. Boima Fahnbulleh, and others rallied Liberians against corruption and one-party system. In fact, the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) which was the precursor to multiparty democracy were based in America. At that time no one cared about which passport another Liberian had. We saw each other as one big family fighting for democracy.Finally, we’ve got the democracy and we can go to the polls to vote for the leaders we want. Then now, we want to tear each other apart for political gains, forgetting that those who we want to reject equally fought for this same democracy. They, too, lost families, friends and loved ones just the same. Whether at home or abroad, no Liberian is more Liberian than another Liberian.It is argued that diaspora Liberians are corrupt. That argument, like all other arguments against diaspora Liberians, is just another façade. In the1970s and 1980s when students of the University of Liberia protested even to death against corruption, they were not protesting against diaspora Liberians.This issue of Dual Citizenship has put us at the crossroads of a moral and ethical dilemma: to choose national unity by approving Dual Citizenship or choose divisiveness by rejecting Dual Citizenship.Conclusion Let me conclude with my fictional story of “Jay-beah-muo” Island (Jay-beah-muo is a Bassa expression meaning, “Your lets go!”).Jay-beah-muo was a beautiful island off the coast of West Africa. The inhabitants of hundreds of years accomplished nothing but mud houses and dirt roads. Eventually they got an innovative leadership that wanted to transform the island into a modern attraction. So they held meetings, made plans, and raised funds successfully. It seems they would soon begin their project.But the demons of the sea did not want development on the island. So the chief demon called a conference of devils to discuss how to destroy the dream of the remote island people. Some said to destroy their farms and flood their island, etc. But all was quiet when one little devil said, “Give them what they want, and they will have no need for each other.” “What do you mean?” asked the chief devil. The little devil went on,Give them Development and they will Devalue each other,Give them Power and they will Paralyze each other,Give them Fortunes and they will Forsake each other,Give them Democracy and they will Demonize each other.“How did you know all that?” the chief demon asked.  “I have been working among them a long time” said the little devil.I hope this is not where Liberia is headed.God bless the Republic of Liberia.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Anti-Corruption Children’s Book Jaadeh! Translated into Bassa Language

first_imgAlthough the Bassa language is not widely taught in Liberia, it is, however, taught at Spiritan Academy, one of Monrovia’s elite schools, which sent student and faculty representatives to the official launch of Jaadeh! at the University of Liberia on 10 May. (Photo courtesy: Front Row Media Liberia)Renowned Liberian academician and author Robtel Neajai Pailey has done it again. This time around with the translation of the Pan-African anti-corruption children’s book Jaadeh! into one of Liberia’s most spoken local languages, Bassa.Released in January 2019, Jaadeh! is a dual language sequel to the critically acclaimed anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba. Both books were illustrated by Liberian visual artist Chase Walker and published by One Moore Book. While gbagba loosely translates as trickery or corruption in Bassa, jaadeh is its opposite. And so, the eight-year-old twin main characters Sundaymah and Sundaygar encounter examples of the opposite of corruption in the second book. In a telephone interview with the Daily Observer, Dr. Pailey explained that she commissioned Bassa prelate and linguist, Bishop Amos W. Gbaa, Sr., to translate Jaadeh! into Bassa to honor the language and to have it taught in schools in Liberia and elsewhere.“It is sad that many Liberians do not value their local languages and the situation is getting worse with many young people unable to speak any of the country’s 16 languages—myself included”, said Dr. Pailey.She continued: “In response to this situation, I decided to collaborate with Bishop Gbaa to have Jaadeh! translated into Bassa to encourage its use in schools, homes, churches, mosques, etc.” Released in January 2019, Jaadeh! is a dual language sequel to the critically acclaimed anti-corruption children’s book Gbagba.Although the Bassa language is not widely taught in Liberia, it is, however, taught at Spiritan Academy, one of Monrovia’s elite schools, which sent student and faculty representatives to the official launch of Jaadeh! at the University of Liberia on 10 May.According to Dr. Pailey, the translation of Jaadeh! into Bassa is the start of her quest to have both anti-corruption children’s books translated into the most widely spoken local languages in Liberia and Africa, including Kpelle and Hausa in West Africa, Swahili in East Africa, Zulu in Southern Africa, and Berber in Northern Africa.She said: “I look forward to piloting Gbagba and Jaadeh! throughout Africa, collaborating with linguists for translations into other languages, and co-producing more multi-media tools, including TV animations.”According to Dr. Pailey, the inspiration for writing Gbagba and Jaadeh! came from working in Liberia’s highest political office and experiencing corruption first-hand in every sector of society.Since its publication in 2013, Gbagba has been adopted as a supplemental reader for 3rd through 5th grades in Liberia and for Primary 3 in Ghana. Through a grant from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the book has also been adapted into a radio drama and full-length stage play by the legendary Flomo Theater as well as a song and music video by prominent Liberian rapper Takun J. Jaadeh! has similarly been adapted into a song and music video featuring Takun J and US-based vocalist Ella Mankon Pailey, Dr. Pailey’s younger sister. There are plans to produce other multi-media adaptations of Jaadeh!, including a Youtube video of the book being read in English and Bassa by Dr. Pailey and Bishop Gbaa.Visit www.gbagba-jaadeh.com for more information about both books. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more