In Bong: Kpelle, Mandingo Smoke Peace Pipe, But…

By: Our Correspondent in Bong Co.

Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted February 15, 2005

The day was Saturday, February 5, 2005, when all citizens big or small from all over Bong County and even Monrovia assembled at the County Administrative Building to grace an historic occasion marking the beginning of peace for the county.

The main purpose of the assembly was to hold development and reconciliation meting aimed at possibly drawing the attention of all stakeholders of Bong County especially those with political ambitions that it is now time for them to resolve their differences.

The meeting, which is the first in its kind, brought together representatives of the Mandingo ethnic group and the Kpelles for their full participation in the development of the county.

The two groups during the occasion raised an amount of five thousand United States dollars with an additional six thousand Liberian dollars including pledges to be collected.

At the development meeting, the Kpelle people agreed to open their arms to the Mandingoes whom they (Kpelle) consider as their brothers and sisters based on long standing traditional relationship. They chose to work together in the supreme interest of the county and do away with ethnic cleansing which has the propensity to destroy the fabric of any developing nation, which Liberia is of no exception.

However, what appeared paradoxical and astonishing to the Kpelle people occurred when the Mandingo elements, joined by their fellow kinsmen who had come from Monrovia to climax the rally with the celebration of what they (Mandingo) described as “Tasbaski Day,” meaning the day Almighty God, instructed Abraham to take his son (Isaac) to the alter to offer him as a sacrifice started making some anti-peace statements.

The Mandingoes, expressing their views at the rally, maintained that by virtue of their position (citizens), they are noble sons and daughters of the land, as such, no Kpelle man has the right to distinguish among them, a statement which nearly sparked off tension that partly disrupted the occasion at the end.

The Kpelle people also argued that the development meeting which started during the morning hours was not attended by the Mandingoes until at the eleventh hour when a convoy headed by NTLA member Bangalee Sirleaf arrived lately and entered the hall with heavy sound of drum beat, something which they (Kpelleh) described as “noisy” in the building.

Some Mandingo elements were seen jumping in the air with their fists saying, “We are here to engage them, no matter what they do, this is our mother land” as they formed a circle with various dancing groups marching through the principal streets of Gbarnga.

At the close of the meeting, a senior citizen of Bong County, S. Tarnarla Varpilah, was appointed chairman of an ad- hoc committee to reconcile the two tribes that have antagonized each other since the LURD attacks on the people of Bong County during the hay days of the war.

The two tribes described Mr. Varpillah as a true son of the land whose dream is to see peace and reconciliation to the people of Bong County

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by the Forum newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.