"How Much Does My Vote Cost?"

By Obed Dolo, MD.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
September 30, 2005


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Dear Editor:

Your site no doubt continues to play a huge role in the political process in Liberia. Thanks to the medium, the hunger for discourse has intensified. We hope it can also diversify.

I am therefore pleading for a slot for few lines I wrote on the situation with a sitirical bite on the vote-buying phenomen. It is a poem called "How Much Does My Vote Costs". I am inclined to present my thoughts in a literary form because I believe creative writing makes a stronger impact on the mind and emotions...

"How Much Does My Vote Cost?"
Please tell me Mr. Vote-buying Politician
How much do you offer for my vote?
A whole bag of rice or just a cup or two?
Is it a sack full of empty promises and blatant lies?
Or your one night lavished campaign party?
Tonight you let me wine and dine for free
Please tell me tomorrow just what will I eat?
How much, Mr. Desperate Politician?
A few days’ ride in your party pick-up?
When the campaign is over then what?
Will you give me lift in your fancy car?
Or will I have to go back to trekking on foot
Once again from Paynesville to Broad Street?
How much are you offering Mr. Politician?
Don’t tell me just a few lousy dollars.
Why, are you that cheap Mr. Politician?
Just how did you get your money?
How hard did you work, how much did you steal?
Did you have to kill to get rich?
How many, how loud did they cry?
Did you borrow all that money Mr. Politician?
How and when will you pay them back?
If you buy my vote will you sell it?
How much profit will that be Mr. Politician?
Will you stay with your party?
If you don’t win what will you do?
Will you stick around to prove your worth?
Or is your plane ticket already in your pocket?
What are your principles Mr. Politician?
What do you believe in, what do you dream?
If I were to sell my vote Mr. Politician,
They would cost you a lot more -- your very soul.
But you see my vote’s not for sale.
Just look around and you’ll understand.
Monrovia’s streets are dark and broken
Its desecrated soil washed by the tears of heaven
That connived with the winds of the ocean to conceal
The footprints of the devils that once walked here
In the crevices of the broken tarmac look closely
You will see specks of my brothers’ blood
They were slaughtered on these very streets
Just look under those overgrown rubbles beneath the rock
The broken skull of my bosom friend lies there unburied.
Deep in the muddy waters beyond Duport Road
You’ll see the bones of a man, his, wife and children;
Scattered in the cold belly of the creepy swamp.
One foot of the little girl’s shoes is still lying there
Turn your eyes a little bit to the left side
You won’t miss the cutlass that mercilessly hacked
Their shivering fleshes as they screamed to be spared;
It’s all rusted now and lying there innocently
You wouldn’t guess what abominations
Its wielder wrecked on those hapless souls.
Are you feeling sad yet Mr. Politician?
One last look under the sands of Coconut Plantation
You will see pieces of my sister’s hair
Once beautifully braided but now carelessly
Woven with the rot and dust of time.
Her cry for mercy has long been snuffled
By the angry ocean winds but the bullet
Is still lodged in the coconut tree nearby.
Do you now see why I don’t sell my vote?
They’ve long paid for it with their blood,
With their last breath of terror and agony.
If I should do justice to their memory,
I will choose to rise beyond self and mediocrity
To vote for a Liberia different from what we’ve known.
My vote is free and I will cast it for Liberia Mr. Politician.
Don’t patronize me with your endless smooth answers
Tell me we, all Liberia, will search for answers together.
Don’t only promise to make Liberia live again
Please tell me exactly how hard you hope to try.
And don’t you ever forget what you saw Mr. Politician!
And don’t you ever let it happen again Mr. Politician!

Obed W. Dolo is a Liberian doctor working in Ghana.