Distorted Circulatory Migration and Misgovernance in Tandem: The Liberia Scenario*

By Lawrence A. Zumo, MD

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 16, 2016




There is considerable literature and public discourse  about the impacts and benefits of circular migration, brain drain, brain circulation on underdeveloped and developing countries with particular reference to how brain circulation has helped transform and aided the rise of the “Asian tigers”.  There is also  considerable agreement that brain circulation amongst Chinese , Indian and Israeli engineers and venture capitalists (especially Silicon Valley, USA) have contributed to the technological and financial capital generations in erstwhile unlikely places like Taiwan, Indian and China mainland. On the other hand, in this article, we will demonstrate that for Liberia, this has not been the case- rather the contrary, ie. a distortion and perversion (some may say) of this circulatory migration, a form henceforth called” belly circulation” has been the order of the day since nearly 200 years of a failed experiment in self governance-one of the best  longest longitudinal studies in failed governance and misleadership anywhere in the world. From the review of Liberia’s historical, economic and governance performance indices, it is very clear that this sort of “belly” circulation, not brain circulation, has offered an aided and abetted platform for misgovernance , successive government failures, as well as civil wars and lingering postwar dysfunction despite persistent international “foreign aid” and myopic governmental praises. Liberia, a nation lying in the tropics of West Africa was founded and funded by the American Colonization Society for the forcible repatriation of Negros from American soil. Although Liberia’s constitution was modeled on that of the USA, the Liberia state and its political class did not practice democratic governance , instead relying on this “belly circulation” between USA and Liberia.

(*Part of Symposium of the 4th Pecs African Studies Conference,
African Globalities- Global Africans, 9-10 June 2016
University of Pecs, Hungary, European Union)


Brain drain, a darker perception of international mobility of well trained, higher intellectually endowed individuals to move from one country to another, usually from a less developed country (eg. Africa, Asia) to a more developed country, has been studied for quite a long time now. The origin of the term and concept is subject to debate but it is widely accepted that the term applied to the emigrants from post war Europe to North America after World War II. With the passage of time away from post World War II, it became quite apparent that brain drain was starkly more of a daunting problem for developing countries in Africa and Asia. At its peak, brain drain had threatened the very foundation of the higher educational , scientific and societal structures of many of these developing countries, as national insecurity worsened. The developed countries that benefited from this emigration of talent had a net brain gain.

Along this trajectory as things became more secure in the emigres” place of origin”, a new phenomenon- that of brain circulation- became more apparent. Brain circulation, after surpassing local cultural and intellectual hurdles, became a supplanting phenomenon in which the former emigrants after attaining a certain degree of higher educational and technical knowledge, knowhow and financial capital, returned to their original countries with know how and capital in hand to transfer some of this new found knowledge and wealth generating capacity. The current success (and rise) of the economies of the “Asian tigers” nations is often attributed to this phenomenon-brain circulation.

            Let’s look at an example to illustrate this phenomenon:

..Taiwanese immigrant Miin Wu, for example, arrived in the United States in the early 1970s to pursue graduate training in electrical engineering. After earning a doctorate from Stanford University in 1976, Wu saw little use for his new skills in economically backward Taiwan and chose to remain in the United States. He worked for more than a decade in senior positions at Silicon Valley-based semiconductor companies including Siliconix and Intel. He also gained entrepreneurial experience as one of the founding members of VLSI Technology.

By the late 1980s, Taiwan's economy had improved dramatically, and Wu decided to return. In 1989 he started one of Taiwan's first semiconductor companies, Macronix Co., in the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park. Wu also became an active participant in Silicon Valley's Monte Jade Science and Technology Association, which was building business links between the technical communities in Silicon Valley and Taiwan. Macronix went public on the Taiwan stock exchange in 1995 and the following year, in 1996, it became the first Taiwanese company to be listed on the Nasdaq (USA). Today, Macronix boasts annual sales above $300 million and hires more than 2800 employees- a very significant economic boost to the Taiwanese economy. (Saxenian, 2002)

Similarly, Indian counterparts became key middlemen linking US businesses to low cost software engineers in India, Chinese and Tiawanese engineers built vibrant two- way bridges between the US and their home countries in a largely win-win situation for both sides.

Of course despite the many pros of brain circulation that can be enumerated, there are underlying challenges. These include: unspoken perceptions and tinge of resentment and jealousy of the intellectuals and pseudointellectuals  based at home, incongruent diaspora aura of superiority (real or imagined), political roadblocks back at home, freedom of speech and open intellectual engagement without fear of persecution, etc (Teferra, 2004)

Now to the Liberian basket case:

For the nearly 200 years of its independence, given its ruling class significant exposure to the tenets of industrial, economic and technological abilities of the USA, this has not been the case for Liberia.. Examples of socioeconomic  and historical  data will be proffered to support this assertion.

Historical Background
Liberia, a small nation lying in the tropics of West Africa  which was founded and funded by the American Colonization Society  (an American quasi colonial, pseudohumanitarian association fomed and   governed by white American slave owners ) for the forcible repatriation of Negros( in some quarters, referred to as mostly” the illegitimate children” of {massa}) from American soil. Although Liberia’s constitution was modeled on that of the USA and that its leaders had ample opportunity to take advantage of the intellectual, technologic and industrial capabilities  of the United States of America- with which they have the most contact, and direct opportunities to observe and inculcate, and where they spend the most of their lives when not in Liberia, , the Liberian political class did not  practice democratic governance , instead relying on  “belly circulation”  (my coinage) between USA and Liberia- a distorted and perverted form of circulatory migration.. This is in direct tandem with the state of misgovernance and anemic economic performance that is the hallmark of that country even today nearly two centuries after its declared political independence. (Zumo, 2013).

Additionally, in their trepidation of a slave insurgency of Haitian proportion, and in their zeal to separate the races, the ACS (American Colonization Society) created Liberia as a homeland for free African-Americans, under the guise of philanthropy. The leading proponents of this back-to-Africa movement included: Presidents Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, Jackson; Chief Justice John Marshall, and Francis Scott Key. These men were not only slaveholders who refused to manumit their slaves, but they were also steadfast segregationists. Although the legislative efforts of the ACS facilitated the eventual suppression of the slave trade, the grand design of creating a permanent homeland in Africa for all African-Americans triggered the death of thousands of innocent Americans, and initiated the creation of a banana republic. From 1822, when the Liberian state was created, to its collapse in 2003, Liberian leaders never made a cogent attempt to establish and maintain democratic institutions.  Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, indigenous Liberians, most notably of the Gola, Bassa and Kru ethnic groups, believed that the Americo Liberian settlers should integrate with them than form a hostile competitive nation.

The Americo Liberian settlers flatly refused this proposition (knowing that they had the full backing of the ACS and by extension the military might of the United States and its Congress) and this along with the violent way that Captain Stockton and Eli Ayres on behalf of the ACS acquired the land mass at Cape Mesurado which would later be known as  Liberia, ‘the land of the free” (ie demanding at gun point that the natives hand over portion of their land for the returnees from the USA as well as other recaptured Africans at sea) as well as the constant unilateral military backing of these returnees by the might of the US military in any conflicts with the natives, from 1822 to present, became key sticking points that would haunt that nation until and beyond the 1980 coup d’etat including the ensuing  catastrophic Great Civil War from 1990 to 2003. The vestiges of these fundamental problems which were never solved adequately and stoked by the current leadership from 2005 to present is like a volcano ready to erupt at any time again.  The nation remains mired in a labyrinth of self-inflicted wounds, brought on by authoritarian rule, rampant corruption, ethnic hatred and intolerance, and anarchism. The political psychosis rose to a sadistic level by a bloody coup d’état in 1980, which claimed the lives of the top echelon of the government, and brought to power a brutal military dictatorship. A decade later, a series of full-blown civil wars from 1990 to 2003, inflicted fatality to over ten percent of the population, dislocated over three-quarters of the Liberian people as refugees, and wrecked the entire infrastructure of the country (Tellewoyan, 2005).

In their declaration of Independence, the Americo Liberian settlers who became the ruling elites for most of the two hundred years of Liberia’s existence (except for the period 1980-1990 rule by the first and only indigenous Liberian, Sgt Samuel K. Doe) wrote very flowery language with a benevolent and democratic tone but the practice was very different from the official rhetoric.

Here are some illustrative excerpts from the 1847 Declaration of Independence of Liberia:

…..”We, the people of the Republic of Liberia , were originally inhabitants of the United States of North America.
In some parts of that country we were debarred by law from all rights and privileges of man - in other parts, public sentiment, more powerful than law, frowned us down.

We were excluded from all participation in the government.

We were taxed without our consent.

We were compelled to contribute to the resources of a country which gave us no protection.

We were made a separate and distinct class, and against us every avenue of improvement was effectively closed. Strangers from other lands, of a color different from ours, were preferred before us.

We uttered our complaints, but they were unattended to, or only met by alleging the peculiar institutions of the country.
All hope of a favorable change in our country was thus wholly extinguished in our bosoms, and we looked with anxiety for some asylum from the deep degradation.

The western coast of Africa was the place selected by American benevolence and philanthropy for our future home. Removed beyond those influences which oppressed us in our native land, it was hoped we would be enabled to enjoy those rights and privileges and exercise and improve those faculties which the God of nature has given us in common with the rest of mankind.

Under the auspices of the American Colonization Society, we established ourselves here, on land, acquired by purchase from the lords of the soil.
In an original compact with this society, we, for important reasons, delegated to it certain political powers; while this institution stipulated that whenever the people should become capable of conducting the government, or whenever the people should desire it, this institution would resign the delegated power, peacefully withdraw its supervision, and leave the people to the government of themselves.

Under the auspices and guidance of this institution which has nobly and in perfect faith redeemed its pledge to the people, we have grown and prospered.
From time to time our number has been increased by immigration from America , and by accession from native tribes; and from time to time, as circumstances required it, we have extended our borders by the acquisition of land by honorable purchase from the natives of the country.

As our territory has extended and our population increased our commerce has also increased. The flags of most civilized nations of the earth float in our harbors, and their merchants are opening an honorable and profitable trade. Until recently, these visits have been of a uniformly harmonious character; but as they have become more frequent and to more numerous points of our extended coast, questions have arisen which, it is supposed, can be adjusted only by agreement between sovereign powers.

For years past, the American Colonization Society has virtually withdrawn from all direct and active part in the administration of the government, except in the appointment of the governor, who is also a colonist, for the apparent purpose of testing the ability of the people to conduct the affairs of government, and no complaint of crude legislation, nor of mismanagement, nor of mal-administration has yet been heard.

In view of these facts, this institution, the American Colonization Society, with that good faith which has uniformly marked all its dealings with us did by a set of resolutions in January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-six, dissolve all political connections with the people of this Republic, returned the power with which it was delegated, and left the people to the government of themselves.

The people of the Republic of Liberia, they, are of right, and in fact, a free, sovereign, and independent state, possessed of all the rights, powers, and functions of government.

In assuming the momentous responsibilities of the position they have taken, the people of this republic feel justified by the necessities of the case, and with this conviction they throw themselves with confidence upon the candid consideration of the civilization of the world.

Liberia is not the offspring of ambition, nor the tool of avaricious speculation.

No desire for territorial aggrandizement brought us to these shores; nor do we believe so sordid a motive entered into the high consideration of those who aided us in providing this asylum. Liberia is an asylum from the most grinding oppression.

In coming to the shores of Africa, we indulged the pleasing hope that we would be permitted to exercise and improve those faculties which impart to man his dignity; to nourish in our hearts the flame of honorable ambition; to cherish and indulge these aspirations which a beneficent Creator had implanted in every human heart, and to evince to all who despise, ridicule, and oppress our race that we possess with them a common nature; are with them susceptible of equal refinement, and capable to equal advancement in all that adorns and dignifies man. We were animated by the hope that here we should be at liberty to train up our children in the way that they should go; to inspire them with the love of an honorable fame; to kindle within them the flame of a lofty philanthropy, and to form strongly within them the principles of humanity, virtue, and religion.

Amongst the strongest motives to leave our native land - to abandon forever the scenes of our childhood and to sever the most endeared connections - was the desire for a retreat where, free from the agitation of fear and molestation, we could approach in worship the God of our fathers.

Thus far our highest hopes have been realized. Liberia is already the happy home of thousands who were once the doomed victims of oppressions; and, if left unmolested to go on with her natural and spontaneous growth, if her movements be left free from the paralyzing intrigues of jealous ambition and unscrupulous avarice, she will throw open wider and yet a wider door for thousands who are now looking with an anxious eye for some land of rest.
Our courts of justices are open equally to the stranger and the citizen for the redress of grievances, for the remedy of injuries, and for the punishment of crime.

Our numerous and well-attended schools attest our efforts and our desire for the improvement of our children. Our churches for the worship of our Creator, everywhere to be seen, bear testimony to our acknowledgment of His providence.
The native African bowing down with us before the altar of the living God, declares that from us, feeble as we are, the light of Christianity has gone forth, while upon that curse of curses, the slave trade, a deadly blight has fallen, as far as our influence extends….. (Liberian Declaration of Independence, July 26, 1847)

Observation of Self Governance in Liberia:

There were several visitors mainly from America who came to observe the self-governance, as promulgated by the new settlers of Liberia, the Americo- Liberians (an aided and abetted entrenched, decadent hereditary aristocracy).  Many such visitors were shocked by what they saw: mental lethargy, perpetuation of brutality against the natives of Liberia and worse, the total lack of initiative or drive to economically and industrially develop Liberia despite the abundance of umpteen natural resources and favorable weather conditions. One such visitor and observer was Mr Hughes M. Browne.

Mr. Hugh Mason Browne, borne into an entrepreneurial Negro family went to assess the growth and development of Liberia after 88 ex-slaves were sent to Africa to found the nation called Liberia, “Land of the Free” embarking on their journey from a  New York harbor on one frigid morning in February 1820. . Mr. H. Mason Browne went to Liberia in 1883 on a professorship in moral and intellectual philosophy at the then Liberia College, set up only for the settler Liberians and their off springs.  There he learned abundantly about the challenges involved in the assimilation of the former slaves (settler Liberians) into an African setting and about the myriad problems and cultural differences affecting Liberia’s social, economic, and educational development.

After 13 years of candid observation on the Liberia, the following is recalled from history.

In 1896 Browne commented that the Americo-Liberian education and economic development was totally dependent on U.S. paternalism and goodwill and other foreign influences and based primarily on outside interest in the country’s natural resources. He pointed to the lack of effective Liberian leadership in developing the country’s own cultural, political, and economic infrastructure to address ongoing issues and concerns-prophetic statements which were borne out in that country during the twentieth century. Although Browne addressed these problems by developing a plan to reorganize educational and administrative systems, his candor created personal difficulties. Edward Wilmot Blyden, principal of the college, distrusted Browne after he publicly criticized Liberian culture, which added to existing problems with the Liberian government. As a result, Blyden restricted Browne’s academic freedom by preventing him from teaching. After two years he had to return to the USA to teach at different high schools and institution as well as other intellectual endeavors until his retirement in 1913. 

Specifically in his 1896 public observations, Mr Browne described what manner of man the Americo-Liberian was : "He was a man who, in every line of life, was a non- producer. All that he possessed came to him as a gift, either from another race, or from the wild products of nature. A man who had memorized higher education of another race, without ever realizing the fact that knowledge is power..."(Browne, 1896)

Three other important observational reports are important to mention here. They are those from Mr. George Schulyer, S. Raymond Buell and Sundiata Keita – all from America who made meticulous reports on what they saw in Liberia.

George Schuyler who visited Liberia in the 1930s (the era's mistakes for which we are  paying for most  now and even beyond) and saw what he saw. As a  journalist, he posted his message in a controversial fictional form, in the book, Slaves Today….Excerpts… “…..Having disposed of the noble young couple at the center of his novel, Schuyler hammers home a political point. In a rigged election (a forte of Liberian government as in King vs. Faulkner, Barclay vs. King; Doe vs. Doe and more recently in Sirleaf vs. Weah- a bête noire to lasting peace), Sidney Cooper Johnson, Edwin Barclay's alter ego, defeats Tom Saunders, a reform minded lawyer and tribute to the indigenous majority, whose character is based on that of Thomas Faulkner. Corruption triumphs; the administration continues; the traffic in human flesh continues unabated and peace becomes more elusive...

S. Raymond Buell, of the US Foreign Policy Association, visited Liberia and wrote extensively on Liberia and foresaw this mayhem coming and warned against it but nothing substantial was done to break the chain cycle. Thirty five years after his warning, Liberians began their descent into the abyss. . For example, in this book,  Liberia:A Century of Survival, 1947, University of Penn Press,Raymond Buell wrote: “Unless something radical is done to narrow the growing gap between the governing oligarchy and the Liberian people, it is not impossible that within twenty five years ,fighting in Liberia will break out, as it has recently done in Java and Indo-China. Indeed, such fighting might have broken out except for the presence of American troops in Liberia…"

Prior to Mr. Buell’s warning, the historical archives showed  for example,: that the United States ( and United Kingdom), having sounded its alarm in 1929 about the conditions of Liberia’s indigenes, had by the mid-1934 begun to wash its hands off of them (A.E. Yapp to Foreign Office, October 22, 1934, press clipping from West African Review, October 1934, FO, 371/18043).

Ibrahim K. Sundiata who visited Liberia right before the 1980 coup wrote extensively about Liberia and its peculiar history, including the following prescient commentary: 

 ….The reform minded, unselfish Native intellectuals-men like Twe and Dr. F.W.M. Morias, etc-and the idea of a native republic received little support from any quarter (anywhere from the outside world). Yet it was here, the greatest possibility of change lay.  Had native home rule become successful, the 1930s would have seen a significant shifting of elites. An indigenous, Western educated elite with strong connections to the traditional rulers (eg. Senyo Juah Nimley) and political groupings could come to the fore. The political structure of Liberia would have come to resemble that of many African states in the postcolonial period. It is evident that, in the thirties, the idea of a West African Republic representing such a union of forces presented an anathema to a wide spectrum of outside opinion. Unfortunately, this attitude served to perpetuate a situation that eventuated in more than a decade of bloody civil war... (Sundiata, 2003).

From a historical-sociologic standpoint, Dr. Charles S. Johnson, of League of Nations investigative team fame, gave a rather moving historical-sociological account of the contradictions of Liberian society. What he saw when he visited Liberia was a nation conceived solely as a haven for freed American slaves to the detriment of the majority indigenes. (Johnson, 1987)

From a recent journalist account, James Ciment penned in his now classic book, examples of America’s ugly affair with slavery which produced an illegitimate yet potently abrasive  child named the Republic of Liberia, a nation-state with a very twisted approach and modus operandi which had freed slaves from America return to Africa on a freedom and civilizing mission but saw themselves rule over the natives for more than a century until they were ousted in a long and brutal uncivil war-- whose impact, challenges and reverberations continue to threaten regional, and by extension, nternational peace and economies (Ciment, 2013).

Below are detailed excerpts from the letter of Tom Woewiyu, former Liberian Defence Minister under Charles Taylor of Liberia to Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (current president of Liberia), key strategic and tactical architects of the Civil War that engulfed Liberia from 1990-2003. It also shows how the USA was and is  still largely used as a safe haven for these consummate “belly” circulators  of the ruling hereditary aristocracy and their minions for planning and implementing every evil machination to ensure that Liberia is always governed by them (albeit ineptly) or by no one else besides them or their offsprings:

…”At the beginning of the war, a meeting of all the political stakeholders was held in the home of Mr. Taylor Major, Virginia, USA, in February or March of 1990. We demanded the meeting because we suspected that you (Madame Sirleaf) were holding back from the other politicians as to the political alliance that was expected to be formed by you as was agreed upon in the beginning. At that meeting, Dr. Sawyer and others were surprised and angry because you had kept them in the dark for more than two years. Dr. Sawyer was particularly angry and vocal. Following a long hectic discourse from the beginning of the meeting, it was grudgingly agreed by the participants that the Alliance would take form and provide the political plan of action to be put in place when the regime was deposed.

But we discovered later on that the political alliance never took form because of your personal ambition to directly assume power when the regime was removed. Following that meeting at the home of Taylor Major in Virginia, USA, you invited me to another meeting with Clarence Simpson and Taylor Major in the home of the late Mr. Chris Maxwell. We spent the whole night with the four of you trying to convince me to agree that we should forget about the alliance idea and let the government be given to the Liberian Action Party because the party won the 1985 elections. I said it was a very bad idea. I maintained that these were the very types of maneuvers that always destroyed all of our efforts in the past.

A few months after the meeting in Virginia, in my absence, you went to the war front at Gborplay, Nimba County, where the NPFL still had its headquarters and told Charles Taylor and other leaders of the organization that you and I had agreed that the government would be given to Liberian Action Party once the Doe regime was deposed. Upon my arrival at that forest headquarters, I was confronted with a Court Marshall of a life threatening nature for supposedly selling out the revolution in advance while others were still fighting and dying. Only God and my friendship with Taylor saved me. I was able to walk away with my life.

I have always wondered as to what this careless and selfish statement of yours had to do with how Jackson Doe ended up when he crossed over to NPFL land. Did those people see Jackson Doe as the LAP you wanted the government turned over to? How come Jackson Doe’s disappearance was never really a big concern of yours until lately? When Jackson Doe crossed over from Fendell to Kakata in mid 1990, I was in Sierra Leone at a peace conference. Taylor told me it was a big day of jubilation in Greater Liberia. To let you know he was well; that he had been given a nice and fitting home in Buchanan. A month or so later, Jackson could not be found. I did not hear of your outrage as you were in the “Level Monrovia, we will rebuild it” mode. Say something to the Jackson F. Doe family.

Your break from the NPFL was not so much on account of what happened to your colleagues as you claim. You know, I know, and some of your people know that it was about your determination to take power directly from the war front. By late 1990, the NPFL controlled 90% of Liberia. At one of the peace talks in Sierra Leone, it was agreed by all the politicians and an agreement was signed that the NPFL should form an Interim Government and call for elections as soon as possible. The only exception was that Taylor should not lead that Interim Government; that he should run for President if he wanted to. Taylor asked me to go to Washington and convince you for us to convene an All Liberian Conference in Greater Liberia to determine the issue of who should head the next government. I spent a week in Washington. You invited several persons to that meeting. They included Dr. Gaywhea Macintosh, Dr. Edward Clinton, and Dr. Byron Tarr who was then working in Lesotho. Doctors Clinton and Macintosh and I made it to the Ivory Coast in anticipation of your arrival for us to proceed to Liberia.

While waiting for your arrival in the Ivory Coast, you called to say that the venue of the meeting had been changed to Banjul, The Gambia. I found out later that after I left, you had another meeting with some people including Randall Cooper who then represented the NPFL in the U.S. at the home of Ethelbert Cooper. At that gathering you masterminded a petition to President Jarwara of The Gambia to host the meeting. Randall, not realizing that this was a double cross, signed the document on behalf of the NPFL.

Dr. Gaywhea, Clinton and I advised that you come with us to meet with Taylor and the men so that we could convince them to move the meeting to Banjul since you said this was what the African Leaders wanted. You refused. In anger, Dr. Gaywhea continued his journey to Greater Liberia and helped to form the National Patriotic Reconstruction Government, and Clinton returned to Ethiopia. You thought that the Banjul meeting would have given the government to you as the sole heir of Liberian Action Party. When it did not appear likely, you decided to skip the meeting.

From a distance in Washington, D.C., you did the next best thing which was to maneuver to give the interim leadership to “Moose,” Amos Sawyer. Liberians say, “You scratch my back I will scratch your back.” It should not be a surprise that Moose is scratching your back today with his support for your presidency despite your history.

Let me refresh your memory on the financial contributions to the Taylor war efforts from you and your sources. Twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000.00) was the initial amount by your consortium (Clarence Simpson and Taylor Major), when the war started. I am the founding Chairman of the Association for Constitutional Democracy of Liberia (ACDL).

I do not recall any of the two persons named above being members. I do not also remember any money coming to the NPFL from ACDL. What I recall is that you asked me to let Dr. Sawyer take over ACDL so that he could revive it since he was doing nothing. I did. Yet, you keep saying that you and some ACDL friends made a $10,000.00 contribution to the NPFL. Come to think about it, maybe the $10,000.00 you gave one time came from ACDL. That says even what became the Doctor’s Club also supported your NPFL war efforts.

Let me not forget the $50,000.00 contribution that you passed through Mr. Allen Brown Sr. who was then running an insurance business in the Ivory Coast. You had earmarked the money to specifically buy rice for the fighting men and it was done. Another $150.000.00 was contributed by some of your friends and delivered to Dew Mayson, Ethelbert Cooper and Emmanuel Shaw to be forwarded to the NPFL. If you recall, those bad boys ate the money and we were only able to recover $75,000.00 of it six months later. Needless to mention your other undocumented financial and personal contributions made before and during the wars. The trip to Paris by you and me to meet with Charles Taylor must have cost you a pretty penny. Several trips you made to the Liberian boarder to meet with Taylor and the fighting men should add up to a substantial sum.

Monies you gave Taylor in Paris and on each of the trips you made to the frontline should also be far substantial. A conservative estimate of your contribution to the NPFL should be about half of million United States dollars. How you managed to reduced that to $10,000.00 is perhaps one of you “stupid comments,” but I hope that this letter clears it up for the public.

The account of events above should clarify your involvement and contribution to the two NPFL wars. The following are other events that involved a series of your “callous and stupid comments” and behavior that you must include in your apology to your fellow Liberians if you wish to be taken seriously:

” Between 1983 and 1987, I was President of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); 1988-1990 I was Chairman of the Board of ULAA. It was I who invited you to Philadelphia to deliver the keynote address during our annual conference in 1984 when you called the President and officials of Government in the Doe regime a bunch of “fools and idiots”; another one of your series of “stupid comments.” With a Harvard degree, I am sure you could have said the same thing without using those street words to make the point. Liberians should be able to recall the financial, emotional and human lives it cost to free you from that lion’s den. (Woewiyu, 2005).

Belly” Circulation.
Having given the above mentioned detailed historical background, I posit that all the reliance of the ruling elites of Liberia on “belly” circulation, a distorted, perverted form of circular migration (made possible in the environment of no rule of law in Liberia in contrast to the rule of law in the USA with the circular migrator making no tangible contribution to the USA nor Liberia but rather depleting the natural resources of the weakened Liberia to the US for only purposes of hedonistic pleasures but no intellectual contribution whatsoever, i.e. no rise in the scientific ,academic or political governance structure in the USA despite overall favorable conditions for them as compared to those blacks who stayed back in America and had to make do whichever way possible often in grinding poverty , segregation and deprivation. Instead they obtained only bombastic honorary titles in the US and a few studied subjects very far from the ones that an enterprising engineering culture would demand. These of course had no tangible production capacity indices and ultimately negatively affected the growth and development of Liberia as a nation. Through series of events these precipitated into and worked in tandem with the  colossal misgovernance that led to Liberian state collapse in 1980 and  then to the post- Great Civil War (1990-2003) extending to and including  the current political administration of Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2005-2017).

          I propose, that all these distortions, incompetence and national decadence can be explained by a unique subset of circular migration, -heretofore called “belly” circulation for lack of a more adept definition.

In short, belly circulation is the periodic circulation of the gastrointestinal apparatus only, not cerebral apparatus, of these individuals aforementioned as they availed themselves to the best of gastronomy only (not the best of technology nor industrial know how) in the USA and Liberia without any significant intellectual efforts at any levels in both countries. For example after nearly 200 years of the most exposure to the USA and what is has to offer nations, Liberia remains one of the poorest countries on earth with an unemployment rate of 85% and with the third lowest GDP in the world. There are no national nor regional or intercontinental institutions or headquarters. The easy but lazy argument often made is that Liberia is postwar and its infrastructure was totally destroyed. This is a false argument as pre War there was nothing much of tangible developmental values in the first place. Serious students of history and economics can easily verify the number. During the era of President Tubman (1945-1971) there was an Open Door Policy, a rather backward one that allowed foreign multinational companies like Firestone Rubber Company, LAMCO to reap very handsome returns on their investments but little or no national development- which led the world economists at the time coin the term “growth without development” to describe Liberia’s unique, ostrich economic policies.

Catastrophes such as the Ebola crisis, civil strife, etc then are easy scapegoats for the national leaders of the hereditary aristocracy to blame all their ineptitude and incompetence on while shielding the fact that the absence of no concrete institutional development strategies before these events as well as maliciously defunded public sectors services such as public health, public education, social security , public housing are conveniently shielded away from regional and international scrutiny.

Pathomechanisms: Socioeconomic and Scientific

How can we explain the “belly circulation” phenomenon and its perpetuation?

Firstly, the absence of the rule of law and then the lack of self-knowledge and self-pride and mental lethargy of the ruling class can be invoked here. Secondly,  the attributes of “belly circulation” and the attendant national  dependency syndrome and their perpetuation thru successive generations scientifically  can be explained  theoretically by  thought experiments and via biophysicogenetic analyses- starting from the Mueller experiment of 1927  (Mueller, 1927)  extending it to the more recent prokaryotic (now adapted to eukaryotic) gene editing, yea permanent gene modification by the  CRISPR-Ca9 gene probe  mechanisms  (Ran et al, 2013) as well as via other enzymatic postulates (Zumo, 2013).Once these changes are effectuated, they become permanent and are then passed on to successive generations of offsprings.

The  1927 Mueller experiment showed that with sustained xray bombardment, gene mutations could be obtained in Drosophila. In our case, sustained sociologic induced states could lead to phenotypic changes which then ultimately  influence the human organism at the genotypic level. This cascading of events then set a motion a series of enzymatic changes that either sustain mental lethargy and nonproductivity or other such situations. It has been found from studies involving gamblers and all sorts of addiction ie to drugs, alcohol, gambling, indolence, “freebies”,etc, several enzymatic and neurotransmitter system have been implicated. These include but are not limited to: dopaminergic, serotoninergic, opiodergic and norepinephrenergic systems as well as cannabinoid/endogenous ligands. At the enzymatic level, monacyclglycerol lipase, TMP-1, MMP-9 (metalloproteinase –9) have all been implicated. Obviously more scientific experiments are needed to conclusively rule these in and firmly elucidate the pathways but suffice it to say at present that a tentative basis for “belly circulation” can be proffered.


In this paper, a historical backdrop to  brain drain, brain circulation has been offered. Then the unique form of circular migration, “belly circulation” , quite unique to Liberia despite 200 years of exposure to the technologically and economically advanced society of the United States of America, has been described along with several examples. It is speaking to this sad and sorry state of misgovernance in the historical context of the “belly circulation” in Liberia, described above that Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State (2005-2009), one of the key architects of the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rise and international persona (ie Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went on to be the first female president of Liberia for two consecutive terms; became a recipient of the coveted US Congressional Medal of Freedom Award(2007), the Nobel Peace Prize(2011) etc) in a rather yet perplexing very, very rare public  utterance and –perhaps an admission of some sort- when Secretary Rice speaking to the Ukrainians recently bluntly said: “Just be glad you aren’t Liberian! (Kiikushin, 2016).

Finally a summarized theoretical socioeconomic and scientific basis of this phenomenon has been tentatively proffered as well.

Thank you for your attention.

Koszonjuk szepen, tisztelt hölgyeim es Uraim!

About the Author:
Member, American & European
Academ(ies) of Neurology;
Clinical Associate Professor,
Neurology and Neuroscience
Cheverly, Maryland, USA


Browne, H.M. (1896)-Educator, civil rights activist, minister: Critiques Liberian Systems and Experiences Controversy - Washington, School, Education and African- JRank Articles, www.encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4144/Browne-Hughes-M-1851-1923

Buell, S. R. (1947), Liberia:A Century of Survival, 1947, University of Penn Press

Ciment, James, 2013, Another America: The Story of Liberia and the former slaves who ruled it

Johnson, Charles S. 1987 Bitter Canaan: The Story of the Negro Republic

Kiikushin, M. (2016): Condoleezza Rice to the people of Ukraine: Just be glad you are not Liberian!, Observer Opinion, 3/11/16. www. Observer.com/2016/03/Condoleezza –to-the-people-of-Ukraine

Muller, H.J. (1927): Artificial Transmutation of the gene, Science, 66(1699). 84-87

Ran, F.A. et al. (2013). Genome Engineering using the CRISPR-Cas 9 system, Nat Protoc. Nov 8(11): 2281-2308.

Saxenian, A. (2002). Brain Circulation: How High Skill Immigration Makes Everyone Better Off. The Brookings Review 20 (1). 28-31.

Sundiata, Ibrahim  2003, Brothers and Strangers: Black Zion, Black Slavery, 1914-1940

Teferra, D. (2004). Brain Circulation: Unparalled Opportunities, Underlying Challenges, and Outmoded Presumptions. Symposium on International Labour and Academic Mobility : Emerging Trends and  Implications for Public Policy. World Education Services. October 21-22,2004. Toronto, Canada.

Tellewoyan, J. (2005), The Years the Locust Have Eaten, www.xlibris.com

Woewiyu, T. (2005). Open Letter to Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, bloju nation blog post.

Zumo, L. (2013). The Nobody Manifesto & You. www.authorhouse.com. pp.8-27

cooper kweme
A great piece, Dr Zumo. It has everything that has kept and is keeping the people and the country in the abyss of poverty and degradation.
cooper kweme at 03:05PM, 2016/06/16.
sylvester moses
The “Just be glad you aren’t Liberian!" comment mirrors nearly two centuries of malevolent misgovernance, and Laurence Zumo doesn't want us to forget; no wonder that memorable quote comes before the curtain falls on a magnificient presentation. And in addition to a sense of form which dictated where Ms Rice's embarrassing bon mot should be placed for effect, a dispassionate tone is evident through out. Indeed, on such a controversial subject, his elegant take would've been inflammatory in the hands of less skilled writers.

Candidly, apart from our author's confessed coinage of the term "belly circulation", nothing seems new here; yet, therein lies his originality: the ability to make stale stories sparkle and mesmerize an audience. Although we would be crazy to hazard any comparism, an English playwright demonstrates the highest level of that craftmanship in "Macbeth", "Julius Caesar", "Anthony and Cleopatra", "Twelfth Night", "The Taming of the Shrew", and other spell - binding dramatic tragdies and comedies: his name, William Shakespeare.
sylvester moses at 05:23PM, 2016/06/16.
Andrew Worth
Hi Lawrence, I thought I'd better mention that I've been using my wifes, facebook account when commenting at the Liberian Observer, I don't usually use facebook and no alternate means of commenting were appearing.
I was in Liberia in '87, and have retained an interest in the country, Liberia and New Zealand are similar in some ways, both small English speaking countries of around 4.5 million people with big potential in agriculture (my area of expertise), similar, yet obviously very different in terms of prosperity and stability.
Andrew Worth at 03:26PM, 2016/09/09.
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