Sweet Land of Liberty - Freedom to do What?

By James F. Kollie, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 16, 2004

Liberty, I believe, means FREEDOM. But just how free our country is troubles me most of the time. Or better yet, just what is meant by FREEDOM in Liberia requires a different kind of dictionary that we have never had the time to study, and rightly so.

When I look at Liberia’s recent history and see how corruption and other forms of moral justices have permeated, survived and flourished in that society without any single person ever been prosecuted, I am forced to think of the definition of “FREEDOM” in the Liberian context. Is it that people who commit these immoral acts against their fellow countrymen are “FREE” to go and return to commit more? Is this freedom? Because over and over again we see people come to power and repeat what previous administration did and most time in ways that are more fraustrating because the Liberian people may have had high expectation that things would have changed for the better. This reminds me of what my Aunt (an old unschooled but intelligent woman) told me when she came from behind ULIMO’s line right after they drove Taylor from Bomi Hills (and may I add with the help of ECOMOG) that “it was the same yellow taxi but just a different driver.” She was right. The situation in Liberia remains the same, just different people.

Chairman Bryant came to power after Taylor, one of Africa’s renounce killer and dictator, left office after being forced to do so (it is important that whenever someone mentions that Taylor left office, that they also state, for the record, that he was forced to do so because he did not do it in the interest of peace or that his term was over). When the Chairman came, the Liberian people hopes were raised again, as is always and why shouldn’t it. Only hope keeps us alive and when we lose hope, there is no logical reason for being around. But Bryant and his team of corrupt officials, most of whom had been complaining for years about corruption, started to show their true color, the Liberian people can only but ask: Are we a group of cursed people placed in this part of the world? Why us?

When a government starts to make choices between educating 12,000 university students (future leaders) and buying expensive cars, you can only wonder: Are they FREE to do it or Can they do it and go FREE, because we are a Sweet Land of Freedom? I think someone needs to answer to the Liberia people. We need to question how decisions are being made about the use of the public funds. Who sets the priority and are they FREE to exclude the Liberia people?

Charles Bennie is busy trying to expose the corrupt practices of the present regime but no one seems to be listening to the poor man because he is not FREE to do so. He is an exception, and not the rule and the rule must take its course.

I loss all faith and confidence in the ability of the present regime to do the right thing when the Chairman fired the first government official for “corruption” but failed to prosecute that person and restitute stolen funds. May be, the Chairman was been smart because he knew that if “you haul rope, rope will haul bush”. I think this guy was fired because he was rushing things too much and did not want to include other people.

This article is not intended to mean that I don’t believe that Liberia should be a FREE country. It is just showing how people have been free to make all kinds of choices that have negatively affected the country and its people and have also been FREE not to make any account. One could argue that maybe, the Liberian people are partly responsible for this because they have never taken elections (the only time they are free to say what they think) seriously and as a result of that the wrong people have been put in places to consistently make bad decisions. This would have been a valid argument if the Liberian people have, in the first place, been free to exercise their vote and second, if their votes were really ever counted.

But all is not lost. With the international community watching again and no one player having an absolute advantage with respect to anything, it is time for us to say NO to anyone who thinks they are FREE to violate us or violate us and go FREE. There are many of them around here who want us to give them power again but we need to look amongst them carefully and prayerfully, so that we don’t chose people who are FREE to prefer cars for themselves to education for the underprivileged

Election day will come and we will be FREE to say NO!!! And we will mean NO!!