As The Beatings Continue for Answers: Let's Hear From George Weah

By Lawrence Hoff


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

December 9, 2004

Over the months that have followed the discussion surrounding the George Weah presidential ambition, I have watched with enthusiastic interest as most of our contemporary writers draw their daggers to destroy while others sprint to save a son of the soil. In most of their deliberations, I have come to realize that we Liberians are separated on the basis of objectivity and selfishness.

It is necessary to state grounds for this scrutiny so as to serve the purpose of extenuating why I am of the conviction that indeed there are those who love and want to prevent a perceived “calamity’ and those who believe that they can show love for the sake of personal interest. And it is also interesting to understand that some of our brothers have even decided to bury their rationality and common sense at the cross road of pretense and greed that they tend to criticize with no justification and to also support Weah’s bid for the presidency with no sense of consciousness. This is bad news for us as Liberians.

Another analysis I have drawn from this debate is that one, most Liberians know Oppong, but that Oppong does not know most Liberians. Why do I say this? Most of those who have been advising George through verbal and written articles not to contest are far from his inner circle connections. Meaning that they only know him as a remarkable Liberian soccer star with notable laurels from the international world. Now for those who are writing in favor of the young man are either his new or strange bedfellows or an infinitesimal minority who had knew him in the past.

The above analysis pencils in the question of love. Who are those who love George Weah? Is it those Liberians who are closer to him or those farther apart from his circle? Debatable.

I read Dynosious Sogbie piece and it was critical and not advisable. It had embedded in it some bone of truth. John Morlu’s piece was an advise cautioning George about the genetic make up of his team. Theodore Hodge was objective from the start but at the end he took side with a less than relevant juxtaposition. Omari Jackson was traditionally critical and sharp. For Andrew, his was also like that of John Morlu’s counsel to Oppong. The rejoinders, rebuttals and analysis by other writers have either been critical, bias or to the point. But, be that as it may, there are two things that come to mind. Only God Almighty knows the heart of a man, and man by nature knows his limitation.

Since it is Oppong who is under the spotlight, I think it is only wise that I do an analysis on those who have been deflating and pumping up George Weah’s quest for the presidency before approaching the main character himself.

In comparative politics, people draw on those virtues that are practiced in other characters or nation- states. People do not and should not copy the vices of other countries because by doing so, it could damage the individual or the nation involved in a comparative politics. The fundamental nature of comparative politics is to bring out the best values, practices and culture that are observed in peoples and nations. Comparative politics sometimes lead to comparative advantage in terms of general or individual benefits.

In nearly all of their attempts to defeat the common argument that Oppong is a high school drop out, most of his new found friends have recklessly deviated from the mean by bringing in a comparative analysis of other characters. It is useless to dangle in pretense by evading the truth.

They argue about Lula D’ Silva, and consider him as a former shoeshine boy, Tony Blair, a man with only a secondary education, Margaret Thatcher, Jerry Rawlings, (Samuel Tweah considers him as a mere flight lieutenant) Yayah Jama, (a ninth grade drop out) Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, an unschooled leader and the late master Sergeant, Samuel Doe and just to name a few.

Whether it is an established harmony that these living and deceased characters do not have or never had a secondary education, should in no way exclude Oppong from not completing high school. Oppong and the rest of the named persons do not have the same qualities and attributes, so why should we dangle the discourse by mentioning the names of other people? By extension, they do not live in the same society, and I think this is sufficient to throw this issue out of the window. This is the bad side of comparative analysis and should not be preached by those running to the defense of their candidate.

On the other hand, there are those who claimed that Oppong has a college degree in Sports Administration. This ambivalence in the spread of support creates more distractions. The same class of supporters that are asserting that college education is not a necessary factor are also saying that the former soccer star has a college education. So where are we headed?

Secondly, the activists of Weah have argued that Oppong has love for his country. Have they out of soberness asked themselves whether they too love their country? I guess that they have also asked themselves secretly and have realized that they too love Liberia even more than George Weah does. It is corrupt for a man to not do that which he knows is right.

Some of the guys working with King George know that when they say Oppong loves his country, they are not actually talking about real love but the money he has got. What has happened is that some of his confidants have a huge eye on Oppong’s pocket and in order to justify their intents, they have all agreed to a common statement; Oppong loves Liberia. To prove this, upon his arrival in the country, all that spluttered from the lips of the young man was: “I love my country and I have this country at heart”.

But given some of the things I hear around the corner, it scares me as to whether Oppong Weah really loves his country, even though most of his investments are outside of the country. And by extension, some families have disowned their children because of their attachment with the King of soccer. On the other hand some have benefited from their children’s association with the former soccer star.

What we need to understand is that love and leadership are two distinguishable elements. Though it is good that the two go together but they should not be misconstrued to mean the same. There is nothing special about the love that Mannah has for Liberia that James Debah, Frank Seator, Alexander Freeman, Arthur Farh or even Jonathan Sogbie do not have for Liberia. For short, the love that Oppong has for Liberia is a generalized love and has no extra ordinary attributes as is been perceived and talked about by some of our brothers. Maybe, it is safe to say that Bishop Michael Francis or Sheik Kafumba Konneh does have real love for Liberia as weigh against some of us living in and outside the country. Love is kind, patience, long suffering and temperamental. Love knows no hate, love does not pay evil with evil, love does not envy, it is not jealous. Whether Oppong has any of these tenets remains the unanswered question.

On the other hand, leadership has to do with your ability to manage, to look after, and to show concern always. Your ability to withstand the criticisms and insults that are characteristics of a traumatic society, your intestinal bravery in times of decision making during a period of crisis and so forth. Good leadership is borne out of a natural likeness for the people; a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in the interest of the people, not being selfish, rule, disobedient, childish by paying heed to small- small talks.

Good leadership has to do with the over protection of your character, your moral up bringing, your religion and philosophy in life. A good leader must not be petty, must not be pompous, he must have the power of clear decision and must be able to at all times inspire confidence in his flocks. Lastly, a leader must be a great asset and not a grumpy old liability to his people.

Now, having addressed some of the missing facts, it is good that I face up with Oppong himself since he is the only man who can rightly defend himself. Mr. Weah, now that you have finally accepted the petition from your supporters it is now safe to call you a presidential aspirant and congratulations for forming a part of the role call. But indeed, if you must gain equality and relevance in the field of politics, then you must brave your self to answer the many questions from all quarters of life.

Few of the writers have accused you of being indeterminate when it comes to what you want to achieve in life since you no longer have a profession. First you attempted becoming president of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) through the back door. By interpretation you accepted an illegal offer from one Mr. Jeremy Russell to serve as president of the Bassa Defender Football Association. However, you got scared away by Miss. Izetta Wesley who threatened to expose you since in fact the laws of the Football House did not qualify you to contest the position. Reports had it that you ran up to Ghana to lobby for a coaching job and was also not accepted due to your shortcomings.

Mr. Weah, you must also clarify the doubts lingering on the minds of many Liberians regarding the African Cup of Nations games in South Africa and Mali. A man wanting to be a leader must be honest with his people, else he could easily be destroyed for lack of trust. It is reported that the National Team, sported the DIADORA jersey in South Africa during the games and most Liberians are going to be watching and waiting for explanations on the proceeds generated from the advertisement. Many Liberians including your supporters will also be demanding an answer on what was earned from advertising your “WEAH” jersey in Mali. If you are who you consider yourself to be, then you must come clean with the explanation or else you will be doomed before Liberians go to the pools next year.

The issue of your religion will also be a serious stumbling block to your political relevance, less to talk about your chances. Once upon a time, you got converted to the Islamic Faith, when one Mr. Sidiby was your manager. In view of this conversion, you were later named and called Ousman.

Most Liberians are going to make their decision to vote in 2005 based on their religions and if you must make any impact, then you must explain to your members the reasons while you join the Islamic religion and later got reconverted to Christianity. Though this act of inconsistency comes with the territory but the intent can also have different meaning and dangerous consequences when not done in good faith. The recent violence in Liberia is a clear indication of what the result of the general and presidential elections is going to be like. So, there is a need for you to take the genie out of the jar and explain to your would-be followers why it was placed there in the first place. The core of the issue, as far as Liberians are concerned, is not about religion, but how you go about providing reasons regarding your conversion.

With all of these sticky issues at your doorstep, it is only prudent that you skillfully respond to them with good explanations so as to settle the scorecard. Because you see, character is an immeasurable asset of one’s life and what Liberia needs during this transitional period is good character, integrity, commitment and a sense of sincerity. While it is true that most Liberians are of the illiterate stock, it would be a safeguard to the future were they to be circumspect enough about the George Weah riddle, so as not to allow peace, stability and reform to elude them this time around.

In the 80’s, we sang:” Congo Woman born rogue but native woman borne soldier.” During the 97 elections we sang: “You kill my ma, you kill my pa, I will vote for you.” By 2003, the latest song was: “Go papay go.” And quite recently we have started to sing lines such as: “You know book, or you na no book, I will vote for you.”

As I close, it is important to note that the lyrics mentioned above have one thing in common. Liberians and mainly the youths sang these songs. Their songs were successful in making and destroying leaders. But most importantly, their songs have always had a negative impart on the growth of the state. However, the only uncertainty about this new song is that it has begun to echo too soon and whether it will sustain itself and have any bearing on the elections is something we need to look at.