Working With The Hand We Have Been Dealt

By Gbe Sneh


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 24, 2003

The die is cast, the deck of cards was stacked, the aces and other face-cards have been dealt to the gun toters, right before our very eyes, as the brokers of peace sought the easy way out through appeasement, and there was virtually nothing we could do, but to take what is placed at our end of the table. We have witnessed a skewed allocation of jobs favoring the gun toters. The NTLA has a total of seventy-six (76) members. The allocation of seats is as follows: The Government of Liberia has 12, the LURD has 12, the MODEL has 12, the 18 Political Parties have a seat each, the Civil Society Organizations have 7, and the fifteen Counties have a seat each. We have to come to the realization that such a partitioning of the offices of government was effected with a willful disregard of any democratic principles. It was simply the only way out from the standpoint of the peace brokers. It had been a long day for them (brokers), the night was fast approaching and they had do whatever it took to ensure themselves some rest at the end of the day. Those with the guns over our heads had to be favored in order to get them to ease up on the trigger. To term such a decision a prelude to a democratic transition is ironic, an outright farce. Constituency was never given any consideration in this matter.

We now have in place a system of Government by Minority rule. After all, who are the constituents of LURD, MODEL, and NPP? Each of these groups comprises about a few thousand child dominated militias, with an aggregate of the three not exceeding fifty thousand. Any doubt about this estimate? Just hit the streets of Monrovia, the refugee camps, and other parts of the Diaspora, use the crudest method of polling available, and you would have a doubt no longer. Yet, these groups are appointing and placing in nominations, names of some people with skeletons dangling loudly in their closets. All this is being carried out amid a contending public outcry.

This is the hand we have been dealt, the hand we must play. The only consolation for the people is that, it is not a sprint, for the gun toters would win, blowing dust in our faces. It is a marathon, my people! We have to exercise good judgment, conserve our energies, mount and sustain some pressure to let them know that we are still on their trail, and that we are not just going to drop out. There will come that time when the playing field is leveled, a time when the gun toting would change hands, but this time, in responsible hands, to keep peace and order, their rightful purpose. At that time, there would be a need to reshuffle to deck. And mind you, it is going to be stacked again - but this time in favor of the people.

So, Let The Campaign Begin!
We have two years of work ahead of us. When the voter registration starts, make a personal commitment to exercise your CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT. REGISTER TO VOTE! Once you secure your card to vote, the next thing is to pay very close attention to the candidates. Make sure that you watch the news - on the radio, in the newspapers, on TV, on the Internet. Our media has been empowered, thanks to Mr. Bryant, and rest assured, our journalists are poised to scrutinize every candidate for public office. Let your free mind and experiences guide you. This is very important. Why? The reason is that you wouldn’t want to vote for someone just because he or she gives you a few cups of rice. If you feel that the person used stolen public money to buy the rice, just take the rice, cook some palm butter or some cassava leaves, pour it on the rice, and chop it free. Don’t vote for him or her. Another thing, if that person killed your ma or your pa, don’t vote for him!

We are calling on the Liberian Council of Churches not to let up now, for the task is just beginning. Its moral guidance has been instrumental in getting us where we are today. We need them more than ever, now. From the pulpits should reverberate words to nourish not only our souls, but our bodies, as well.

This is the only opportunity we have to free ourselves from this seemingly endless hostage. It is our chance now to silence the guns, the only tools they have to keep us at bay against our wishes, FOREVER. Let’s make sure that come 2005 we will be sitting with a better hand.