A Speech delivered at the Ceremonies in honor
Of the 59th Birth Anniversary of Samuel K. Doe
Mr. Alexander Barmon, President
Minnesota Chapter of the Grand Gedeh Association, USA,
Mr. Alec C. Deah, Program Planning Director
Ceremonies in Honor of the 59th Birth Anniversary of Samuel K. Doe,
Officials & Members of the Minnesota Chapter of the Grand Gedeh Association, Fellow Liberians, Ladies & Gentlemen:
I am grateful and deeply appreciate your kind and gracious invitation; for, it is not only an honor and privilege for me to participate in these ceremonies honoring the 59th Birth anniversary of our late, beloved Leader, but also to reflect on and share our thoughts with you - the energetic, patriotic and committed young Grand Gedeans, indeed Liberians, in whose hands the future of our people and country now rests.
Indeed, as we gather here to honor, memorialize and salute the birth anniversary of Samuel Kanyon Doe, it is befitting to reflect on His most profound, significant and historic legacy, the April 12, 1980 Event, a truly socio-political Revolution for many reasons. Although the 1980 event was tragic, in terms of the unfortunate loss of lives, deep sorrow and pain it brought upon the nation and people, the 1980 Revolution or “regime-change”if you will, awakened Liberia’s dormant, slumbering political, social and economic consciousness; it profoundly brought out and crystallized a new horizon of leadership challenges for change in our concept of nation-state; and the developed/developing, pro-democracy worldview and movement, now prevailing worldwide and in Liberia.
The Benefits of the Revolution
First and foremost, this change introduced a new era or an epoch into Liberia’s socio-political thought and practice, consistent with classical democratic principles and values by a Constitution. Among the many “firsts”,the 1986 Constitution provides a meaningful multi-party, pluralistic, competitive, peaceful, electoral process with a tenured president on the African continent then notorious for one-party states and life-time presidents.
Second, the significance and profound historic impact of the April 12, 1980 event upon the present and future of our country, was not only the socio-political emancipation of the indigenous peoples of our country, but also of our founding fathers, the so-called Congo- and Americo-Liberians. Today, Ethnic, Tribal and Gender Inclusion – or Diversity – has become a National policy, based upon merit. It is argued, reasonably, that almost all of our social, political and economic ills of the past, our national tragedy of the fifteen-year, civil war and the current “failed-state status” of our country are traceable to the past, irrational Policy of Ethnic/Tribal/Gender Exclusivity.
Third, there is now a marked increase/increasing vibrant, socio-political activism, with courage from this Change. For example, powerful political figures, who were “untouchables” in the past, are now the subjects of serious challenges for dishonest and other questionable, political activities.
Fourth, in the realm of freedom of movement and association; and independent, aggressive, fair and impartial newspaper reporting in the effort to inform, educate and entertain, all necessary requirements for a functioning democracy, have now become the Rule, rather than the Exception in our country.
And Fifth, there is an encouraging, marked increase/increasing in the number of energetic, dedicated, idealistic and determined young Liberians, who have acquired and are acquiring post graduate education in order to challenge the remaining elements or vestiges of the past, now seek to perfect our young, democratic process.
Ladies and Gentlemen, reflecting on the foregoing, noble achievements, it is deeply disappointing and extremely troubling to note the prevailing division and conflict, with increasing polarization within our Grand Gedeh Association USA, arising from a simple dispute in our 2009 Elections and court action, characterized by:
(a) Those members who support the results of the elections as declared and
the dismissal of the challenge by the Delaware County Court, while the case is on appeal; and,
(b) Those members who hold that since the court challenge is on appeal and that there is no final decision yet by the superior court, then the status quo obtains; that is, that the Glay administration should be and is still in charge.
Thus, this conflict or contradiction in ideas, form the basis for the planned, two “conventions” and two “administrations” in the same association of Krahn People.
Meanwhile, court action requires time and money – expensive attorneys, time-off from work, etc. The dispute went to court back in June 2009; it is now a year but the end is not in sight and uncertain.
Therefore, we have argued and recommended that as community leaders -Board of Directors and Elders - it is our private/public duty and responsibility to get together, carefully look into the allegations that gave rise to the dispute, confront wrong-doing and come up with a reasonable decision in an open, free and fair forum that will unify the membership and, later, inform the superior court that the dispute has been amicably resolved.
Elsewhere (Parallel “Administrations” & Polarization . . . April 28, 2010”) we observed that conflicts arising from disagreements/disputes – household, tribal, national and international – characterized the socio-political activities of mankind throughout human history; indeed, conflicts/disagreements are intrinsic to human nature; they also offer opportunities for rational, peaceful change.
However, the challenge lies in the socio-political will tobuild and submit to enabling capacities for the resolution of conflicts through rational, peaceful approaches. Modern, self-achieving, democratic societies provide mechanisms or institutions such as efficient/effective police; transparent courts; free, fair and open electoral systems, etc. to manage and resolve conflicts, maintain law and order in the effort to promote justice, peace, unity and national security.
Critical to the success of this approach within the Grand Gedeh Association, indeed the Republic of Liberia, is that we should and must disabuse ourselves of the historic hostility, driven by age/generation, gender, socio-economic and ethnic/tribal considerations, on the part of some citizens in this demographic group. This group tends to be fiercely anti-the so-called “informed” or, “book people” and now the “re-cycled, old-age politicians” who must “sit down” andblamed for all the historic ills that earned our country the designation of a “failed state”. This younger group tends to reject or refuse to accept and be guided by our traditional, moral code of behavior which requires or demands humility, cooperation with and respect for elders and their advice or counsel, based upon years of training, experience and wisdom, a subject that is not taught at any school – college or university.
Some of this group’s socio-political “leadership” is beholden to the belief systems of our old Traditional Society (characterized by superstitions, secrecy, rumors, fear, jealousy, antagonism, discrimination, etc.) and dominated by “fire-brands”, some of whom were child-soldiers and graduates of our civil war who became “men & women” over night, came from refugee camps and now “educated, socio-political activist-politicians”. It is apparent that these young, “new breeds” lack or refuse to accept or study the history of our nation for comprehensive knowledge, understanding and appreciation of our turbulent past, its significance and relevance to the present and future of our nation, people and generations yet unborn.
Meanwhile, the present Modern Society, in which we find ourselves, is deeply grounded upon transparency, facts, evidence, the search for truth, concern of and care for one’s fellow human beings and society, the Rule of Law and educated decision-making.
In this context, we have often wondered, in the light of our apparent, prevailing political activities, whether we still have one foot in the old traditional society and the other foot in the new, modern society.
Some Liberians tend NOT to confine debate or critical analysis to issues raised or at hand – the precise premise of a given ideological encounter. They confuse arguments by irrelevant grand-standing – personal attacks, character assassinations, mud-slinging, ethnic-tribal profiling, guilt-by-association, etc.
Opposition is indispensable (according to my high school, English Literature). This adage is a rational concept not only because opposition contributes clarity of thought, but also because it exposes one’s possible murky-thought process and fallacious reasoning. Notwithstanding the reality of these truths, Liberians tend to regard opposition, political or otherwise,as an “eternal enemy”.
Moreover, some Liberians will not even meet, face-to-face, with ideological opponents for engagement in an unrestrained, candid dialogue to discuss and resolve, quite possibly, ideological disagreements. In our opinion, this hard-line, closed-door approach is unreasonable; for, whoever one is or whatever is one’s level of socio-economic and political standing, all of us want and have the same objective in life – freedom, justice, equal treatment and opportunity for growth and advancement. Therefore, by getting together in a friendly, close and free exchange of ideas, it is often possible to eliminate or eradicate deep-seated differences through educated discourse.
And finally, Ladies and gentlemen, in the light of this occasion – honoring, memorializing and saluting the Birth Anniversary of our Beloved, departed Leader – we appeal and call upon you all - Mr. President, community leaders and members of the Grand Gedeh Association USA - to join the Grand Gedeh County Council of Elders USA, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 28, 2010, so that we, together, will find a peaceful resolution of the dispute, unify the membership and hold ONE CONVENTION.
Thank you so very much for this opportunity to be heard.