- Published on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 07:22
- Written by Stephen B. Lavalah Cont’d from last edition
At the same time, political parties too have exacerbated invective campaigns among the Liberian populace through the use of speeches, slogans, battle cries, banners and other electioneering materials.
Instead of political parties campaigning on the basic of manifestos, platforms and deliverables so as to emancipate the people from the doldrums of impoverishment to a sanguine of hope and prosperity. Political parties in Liberia have resorted to insults, intimidation and commotion against people they intend to govern and among themselves all in the name of 'politics'.
It can be recalled that during the Presidential and General elections of 2011, the ruling Unity Party claimed to be 'Monkey' while the leading opposition party, Congress for Democratic Change professed to be 'Baboon'. Regrettably, scholastic and knowledgeable personalities joined the revelries with enormous enthusiasms chanting and dancing “ugly baboon wait small yah” and other educated and enlightened individuals decided to emulate their rival by singing and twirling “monkey come down de yo de yo”.
The ambiances of political parties' gatherings were marked with antagonistic messages and aggressive demeanor. To further aggravate the situation, some public officials who were paid by taxpayers' resources openly insulted members of the opposition bloc. For typical example, Jerelymick Piah, then Deputy Minister of Public Affairs (now Presidential Press Secretary), during the campaign period described three somewhat political competitors as “mere video club runner”, “mere farmer”, and “Nigerian 419 mafia”.
In spite of the justification emanating from moderate political scientists and all those who formulated the insults, one thing for sure is that these invectives printed another black image for the country and affected the younger generation morality, integrity and discipline.
Under the watchful eyes of a Harvard trained public administrator and an acclaimed political icon, profanity is becoming widespread and rampant on a daily basis through radio, television, newspapers and magazines as preferable mediums to channel offensiveness.
These trend of events continue to baffle most political commentators, reformists and a number of Liberians as well as foreigners, who are quite worry about the manner and form in which offensive terms are being used by individuals who have been compensated via taxpayers' resources.
More to the point, a lot of heads of public institutions and their deputies and supervisors, all too often rained insults on subordinates while adapting a posture of being superhuman. Of course, this tendency affects the psychological framework of lesser rank employees thereby derailing their outputs.
In fact, to further worsen the situation, some media outlets that supposed to serve as catalyst of change to unshackle and mould the minds of the emerging generation as it relates to morality and integrity have turned to broadcasting nude photos, pornographies and playing music with all sorts of rude and undemocratic lyrics.
So, what moral lesson can young people acquire from such disgruntle comportment on the part of some constituted authority. Consequently, many people tend to ponder anticipating appropriate responses from whosoever that has got the ethical and deferential characteristics.
Notwithstanding, many believe that the alarming level of derogatory remarks are counterproductive to the development, peace and stability for a post-war nation like Liberia. Still others are convinced that defamatory expressions are due to the aftermath of a prolonged strife which ruined every sector of the country and caused many people to be traumatized. In so doing, lots of people have resulted to the use of profanity and disgusting expression in words and actions.
Besides, there are several who hold the firm consideration that the use of invectives by some is designed as an avenue to seek political jobs, deceive people and pretend to be visualized as 'tough talking'. Hence, many so-called and self-styled radical and revolutionary individuals, who are so much eager for state power and public offices usually, tend to employ this old-fashioned tactic and technique that has become so far-flung in the country.
For a case in point, Lewis Brown, a staunch member of the former ruling National Patriotic Party and now Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism in January 2010 employed invectives as a means to capture attention. In a speech to react to President Johnson-Sirleaf's State of the Nation address in which she pronounced her ambition to contest for the second term of office, Brown noted: “No president, since the foundation of our Republic, has so diminished and disfigured the Office of the President and desecrated the sacredness of the duties thereunto assigned like President/Candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf”.
Some Liberians welcomed Brown's statement and termed him as a true “revolutionary comrade”, but to their utmost surprise; he joined the bandwagon on the verge of the presidential and general election in 2011 and is now a complete praise singer who is literally blind to see that all of the vices he spoke against are still alive and kicking.
Yet again, some people have accepted as true that the present-day verbal abuses are reciprocal of the past during which President Johnson-Sirleaf engaged in the use of abusive languages. The former campaigner of human rights and financial expert publicly referred to Master Sergeant Doe's government officials as “idiots” in 1985 after she refused to take her sit in the Senate. Besides, the President asserted in an interview on the voice of America that “Taylor is not foolish enough to arrest me”.
In addition, the president used invectives to describe her critics who called for her impeachment after she disclosed that some women stole their children voter's cards to prevent them from voting in the November 2011 run-off between the Congress for Democratic Change and Unity Party as speaking “absolute nonsense and ought to examine their heads”. Heartbreakingly, the President depicted her own citizens who voted for her as being “noisy minority”.
This statement on the part of the President clearly demonstrates that the country is heavily divided and reconciliation is far from reality.
Sadly, invectives among public officials still remain up to today's date a common practice and have been integrated into schools, hospitals, offices, markets, public gatherings and other settings throughout the entire country. Most often people rained insults and behave in rude manner that contravene the dignity and worth of a human person.
The impoliteness shown to veteran singer, humanitarian and closed associate of the ruling establishment, Miatta Fahnbulleh on the grounds of the Capitol Building vividly revealed that lawlessness and disrespect for women, older folks and constituted authority are taking center-stage and becoming prevalent.
It is imperative that invectives, lawlessness, violence and the complete disregard for constituted authority have got to stop before the country becomes doom!
Time to Change
Make no mistake, it is an obvious fact that there cannot be a perfect state, but the alarming confrontations, insults, commotion, stage-managed protests have got to stop. The National Legislature, members of the Executive and Judiciary branches should now begin to behave in a responsible manner and demonstrate full compliance to protect, defend and safeguard Liberia's societal norms for this generation and posterity.
Public officials in Liberia must begin to rethink and put the country's interest first above the sum of their individual ambition or greed or wealth. Senior officials of the Executive and members of the Legislature should do the most respectable thing to desist from antagonistic attacks against each other.
Decision and policy makers must change the status quo of insults, disrespect and power struggle to wholeheartedly work together so as to ensure the optimum goals and objectives are achieved for the common good of all. Likewise, the Executive and Legislative branches, which are two distinct and well-defined components of a single government should forge ahead and disregard the petty jealousy and recrimination to offset adversities and adversaries.
Through a more cohesive and patriotic spirit, the Executive and Legislative branches of government can defeat poverty, disease and hunger. Both branches can go beyond the ordinary to ensure that every family, community, village, town, district and county are part of the developmental agenda and help in whatsoever way possible to drive the change Liberia most desire.
With the belief that this country has tasted the bitter swill of civil conflict, all officials of government and citizens and foreigners alike residing in the territorial boundaries of Liberia should and must begin to work together to transform the country to become better than what is it now.
As Africa's oldest Republic which was in the limelight and citadel of topnotch education, quality health care delivery system, innovative businesses, state-of-the-art facilities, indispensable agricultural products and exploration of minerals, Liberia has got to regain and take its rightful place among the comity of nations. From this moment upward, Liberians must begin to work assiduously so as to resolve the issues of knowledge gap and social injustices which are recipes to breed conflict. The country can no longer afford to have a more educated older generation while bulk of the young people who constitute over half of the entire population are basically playing lotteries with 'Winner' and 'Premier Sports' and yet still others are busy enjoying 'Super Friday'. The country can no longer afford to have foreigners predominantly controlling every sector of the society, most especially the private sector. The country can simply not afford to continue begging for handouts and bailouts. Now is the time, for every Liberian, no matter the name or color or age or sex or religion or social status to wake-up, shakeup and standup to begin the work of remaking Liberia. There should and must be absolutely no turning back to the yesterday's status quo.
The time has come for Liberians to begin to advocate for the change in the system of governance so as to ensure accessible, affordable, effective, efficient and premium education for all. With education for all, young minds would be harnessed to build new roads, bridges, schools, hospitals among others across the country. Education for all would ensure the construction of factories and production of high-tech industrial equipment. Education for all would also create avenue for the erection of basic infrastructural facilities to better the standards of living and improve clean energy and water. In addition, education for all would fill the knowledge gap through the development of human resource capacity of young people thereby yielding more medical practitioners, engineers, business tycoons, entrepreneurs, social workers, educationalists, agriculturalists, scientists and other specialists.
In this 21st Century when most nations are significantly improving in all aspects of development, Liberia's portion cannot and should not be lawlessness, invectives in public domain, violence and disrespect for Constituted authority. This generation of young Liberians should stop stage-managed protests and demonstrations in the name of freedom of expression and assembly. This generation of young Liberians should not only be concerned about and focused on political leadership and forget urgent and essential national issues that have to be addressed by young people. And, this generation of young Liberians ought to be involved and resolved to begin the work of remaking Liberia.
Media institutions have got to play pivotal role in ensuring public officials who constantly use invectives are given media blackout. Since journalists are perceived as “watchdog” of society, Liberian journalists should create more awareness and sensitization programs that would discourage the use of insults, lawlessness and disrespect for constituted authority. Accordingly, the Press Union of Liberia and Publisher Association should muster the courage and be in the forefront of scrutinizing information being disseminated to the public. The Government and other entities indebted to media outlets must begin to settle their arrears and avoid “Golden Handshake” so as to make the media more professional, independent and up to the task to broadcast credible, reliable and balanced news and information.
Now is the time for Liberians to stop the scramble over state resources and begin to emulate the country's historic and longtime partner that explores the talents and skills of every human race and ethnic group residing within its borders and even beyond. The United States of America has capitalized on African-American to demonstrate their might in sports, Jewish-American to play a leading and prominent role in industries such as finance, merchandising, apparel, textiles, entertainment, media and publication. Mohawk Indian-American to construct skyscrapers and so on. From this classic example, Liberians should now begin to move upward and utilize its rich and diverse culture of over sixteen ethnic groups to become a stronger nation to compete and surpass other countries. Every segment of the population matters a lot and is more important in this quest to further gravitate from a fragile state to a more consolidated nation, where the court system works, hospital functions, living standards improve, workers get their just benefits in a timely manner, and education is up to standard.