By Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
In a recent article (The Perspective, April 8, 2015), Mr. Moe Nyei cautioned/advised Liberians, including himself, about the need for religious tolerance.
The Way Forward
Specifically, he wrote that Religious Tolerance provides the only way for peaceful co-existence for Liberia as a nation and people, because:
1. “Religion is a belief on which people measure the standard of their ethics. It (religion) sharpens and gives direction to the way people think and, most importantly (religion is) a reservoir of hope and spiritual deliverance. Therefore, people take their religion very sacrosanct and (that) others must show, at least, some degree of respect”.
2. “The world’s hotspots, trouble regions (of) today have a religious undertone . . . religion is the latent cause of their sufferings . . .” and gave examples.
3. “I laughed at news of a certain group in Liberian, namely, the delegates at the Conference organized by the Constitutional Review Commission, voting in favor of a proposal to Christianize Liberia . . . (also because) What Liberia needs most is not immaterial issue(s) that will divide us the more”.
4. “The idea that the Muslim (Islamic) community (in Liberia) is a minority is . . . preposterous and baseless (because) . . . Be reminded that Liberia has a percentage of traditional believers (Christians, etc.,) and group of non-believers, which, if put together, is less than half the number of Muslims (in Liberia)”.
5. “In Liberia, Ramadan (the Muslim-Islamic Holy Month) is the month of dirtiness, many Liberians . . . say the ‘Mandingo people are about to spitting all around’. Even prostitutes, in Sierra Leone, go on break willingly during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan”.
“We (the Muslims) have been silent for too long”, Mr. Nyei says and warns:
a. “That is why our religious festivities are not recognized or given a holiday. We say keep your holiday”
b. “That is why we have been mocked at and disrespected, and that the number of Muslims in the Cabinet is easily counted. We say keep your respect and your jobs. We have been referred to as Guineans and aliens. We say introduce the National ID System”.
“We stand united, firm, peaceful and resolute that this proposal (or whatever it might be termed) disguised to marginalize us further will be killed in parliament and a national memorial service be held to bury it six feet deep in the Central Street Grave Yard”.
“All Hail Liberia Hail!!!!! All Hail Liberia!!!!!!! All Hail Liberia Hail!!!!! All Hail Liberia Hail”!!
Mr. Moe Nyei’s analysis and conclusions left me wondering about his recommended Muslim-Islamic, religious tolerance as the only way for peaceful and secured forward in our country. He came through with a reasonable sermon on the virtues of religion, with particular emphasis on Muslim-Islamic religion of which he is member, but ends with boasts, arrogance and implied threat of violence, couched in the subtlety of, but recognizable, language.
Mr. Nyei began with that which religion is about – “a belief on (and by) which people measure the standard of their ethics”; a code that determines their socio-cultural, economic and political behavior; “a reservoir of hope” for the present and future; and indeed, for mutual understanding, respect and peaceful co-existence, but decried hostility and disrespect of Muslims by Liberians.
On this issue of respect and hostility, historical experience shows, quite clearly, that ball has been, always, in the court of the Muslims-Islamists. Respect and understanding for peaceful co-existence are a two-way, “mutual” requirement, as Mr. Nyei noted earlier. The phenomenal growth and expansion of the Muslim-Islamist religion in Africa and elsewhere, including Liberia, as Mr. Nyei pointed out, has been and is a function of non-Muslim-Islamist acceptance (see Ali Mazrui). The evidence, in Liberia, is everywhere in the villages, towns and cities throughout the country, thus:
Southwestern/Northwestern Liberia of Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties – the citizens of African-American, Vai, Gola, Mende and Lorma; Central, Southern Liberia of Bong, Margibi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa, River Cess Counties – the citizens of the Kpelle, Dey, Bassa, African-American; Northeastern Liberia of Nimba County – the citizens of the Dan (Gio) and Mahn; and Southeastern Liberia of Maryland, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru and Sinoe Counties – the citizens of the Grebo, African-Amrican, Kru, Krahn, Sarpo.
In all of these counties, there are hundreds of thousands of grown children, grand and great-grand children of non-Muslim-Islamist mothers married to Muslim-Islamist fathers (Perhaps, Mr. Nyei is a product of such union and condition).This has been and is a continuing fact and expanded evidence, above and beyond any and all reasonable doubts, a personal, religious, socio-cultural, economic and political respect and acceptance of the Muslim-Islamists by Liberians.
On the other hand, until quite recently, it was openly forbidden, an unwritten law, by and among the Muslim-Islamists, for Muslim-Islamist female to cohabit, let alone be married, to non-Muslim-Islamist male.
From personal experience, for example, an incident comes to mind. In the City of Saniquellie, Nimba County, in 1960, a young Mining Agent dated (secretly, of course) a half-Mandingo, Muslim-Islamist girl whose mother was a Dan (Gio), non-Muslim-Islamist woman. The father, an ethnic Mandingo and Muslim-Islamist diamond dealer, became so furious that he threatened to send the young lady out of Liberia to the neighboring, Republic of Guinea. Today, I am the proud grandfather of a bouncy, beautiful granddaughter fathered by a young, Mandingo, Muslim-Islamist male!!
After our tragedy of the civil war that introduced deadly weapons of mass destruction, mind-boggling plunder, destruction, summary executions, massacres and large-scale human suffering and death into our small country of less than 4 million; the on-going, international “trouble spots” of Muslim-Islamists atop anti-aircraft artillery preaching Islamic state, a single person-rule, sharia law of beheadings and stonings to death in a state that does not recognize women’s rights; other trouble spots on our African continent that include Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, North Sudan, South Sudan and Somalia, all dominated by demand for Islamic State, Muslims-Islamists; the newest, dangerous sensation operating in Nigeria and Cameroons of Boko Haran - of sectarian violence of abductions, rape and murders, Liberians, therefore, have reasons to be worried and suspicious of Muslims-Islamists, who, evidently, have no regard for human life!!
For ourselves, our children, grand, great-grandchildren and generations yet unborn, let us confine religion – any religion – to the churches, mosques, temples, etc, out of politics. We underscored this point in an article (“On ULIMO Ethnic Feud”, The Perspective, April 10, 2015) in memory of April 6, 1996 of the men who tried, but failed, to ride to state power and the wealth perceived to be associated.