Chasing Enemies Back into their "Mothers' Wombs"
By Siahyonkron Nyanseor
May 17, 2002
As a child growing up in Africa, the only fight I remembered fighting, which did not warrant the pretence of taking my adversary's hair, placing it on my head and in my rear end and blowing it into the air, or drawing a territorial line and daring my adversary to cross it before engaging him into a FIGHT, was when he "cursed my mother." The cursing of one's mother provoked such anger, it even caused a 3 feet midget to fight a 7½-foot giant without thinking of the bodily harm it would do to his person. However, Charles Taylor changed the script of this old-aged art form into what is known today in Liberia as - chasing one into his "mother's womb"; something most Africans find too offensive to think about - much more talk about in public. But with Taylor, anything goes!
It is a common human tendency to follow patterns set by one's leader, but in Charles Taylor's Liberia corruption, the pillaging of national forest and natural resources for personal enrichment, is as endemic as the political murders and assassinations of perceived political enemies and critics wrapped in the euphemism "chasing enemies into their mothers' wombs." Indeed, if you are a political enemy or critic and Taylor promises to "chase you into your mother's womb", you should beware because you have been targeted for elimination by Taylor's notorious ATU and other security apparatus.
But I often wonder why, of all the human organs, the womb¾a delicate and sacred part of the female anatomy¾is referred to in such careless fashion? To me, the womb is too sacred for someone who is not "Craky" (insane in Liberian parlance) to talk about chasing another person into his or her mother's womb. Yet, it is the preoccupation of this man we called president in Liberia.
God created the womb as a "special" place to preserve LIFE, and not to destroy it. The womb is described in medical science as the female organ that holds and nourishes the developing mammal after fertilization until birth. This hollow, pear-shaped organ in women is about 8 cm (3 in) long, weighs about 1.4 kg (3 lb), and has thick, muscular walls. It is suspended by ligaments between the bladder and the rectum. The uterus consists of a broad upper portion (fundus); a middle, narrower portion (body); and a neck (cervix) that protrudes into the vagina. The cervical canal links the vagina with the interior of the uterus. Of course, if you are confused by this complex description of the womb, don't be because it is here that each of us was conceived and nurtured to become the persons were are today, and it is inconceivable that we could return to the womb even if we wanted to out of stupidity or curiosity.
Yet, It is this sacred place that Mr. Taylor talks so lightly about, and has been successful in chasing his perceived and imaginary enemies to their mothers' wombs or graves. Taylor in 1996 warned his NPFL colleague and erstwhile opposition politician, Samuel Dokie in a BBC interview: "If I catch him, I will kill him?" A year later, in 1997, the charred and mutilated bodies of Samuel Dokie, his wife, and two family members were found after apparently being executed or "chased into their mothers' wombs"
Vice President, Enoch Dogolea was chase to his mother's womb after it was alleged that he sent a letter to Libya's Col. Gadaffi along with others telling the Libyan ruler that Taylor was a disaster for Liberia. As a result, Dogolea died under mysterious circumstances. Taylor promised an autopsy to ascertain the cause of Dogolea's death, but instead promise has a 24-hour security quadroon was posted around the man's grave to deter reported attempts by some person to exhuming the body and perform a secret autopsy. Taylor's promised autopsy is still forthcoming.
Mannah Zekay, a former commander of ULIMO-J was seized by police from his New Krutown residence in Monrovia in the early morning of January. 9, 1998, only for his skull to be hammered out and his body placed on display at the national police headquarters as an "unidentified ex-ULIMO fighter." Mannah Zekay's body was later identified by police director Joe Tate who concocted the story that Zekay had been among a group of armed robbers killed while resisting police arrest.
On July 10, 1998, Madam Nowai Flomo, an influential and vocal marketer, was abducted near her home in the suburb of Monrovia by nine members of the Special Security Unit (SSU), the notorious presidential guard created by President Taylor, and has since been missing. When civil and human rights groups agitated for the persecution of the SSU officers who had abducted Nowai Flomo, President Taylor went on his private television and stated that once the corpse of the market woman had not been found, there was no evidence to prosecute the suspects. The suspects, who had been in custody all this time, were immediately released following the president's televised statement of defense.
A presidential security officer, David Toe, died in the underground jail of the Executive Mansion, the official residence of the President. There were credible reports that a hammer was used to smash his skull while in detention. Local newspapers reported the incident, yet no investigation was instituted. When a journalist asked President Taylor during a news conference to comment on the circumstances of Toe's death, the President sarcastically said people died in security cells around the world each day, and Liberia should not be any exception. He then discovered that the government had already given the equivalent of $US250 to the Toe family as compensation for his death.
In September 1998, opposition politician Madison Wion was killed by the government forces at the gate of the U.S. embassy in Monrovia. Wion's body rotted in the sun while the United States and the Taylor government traded diplomatic notes about who should claim Wion's body. The United State capitulated and Wion's body was buried on the U.S. embassy ground. At least with honor, unlike the rest of Taylor's victims.
Then there was the contradictory accounts surrounding the death of Sports Minister Francois Massaquoi, who was reportedly killed by LURD dissidents. It was said LURD opened fire on the helicopter Massaquoi and others were in. According to the Ministry of Information, Minister Massaquoi was en route to Voinjama, where dissidents had been battling Taylor's troops, on a humanitarian mission to deliver supplies to citizens and young people affected by the fighting in northern Lofa County.
The Ministry of Information also said the civilian helicopter in which the minister was flying came under a surprise attack as it was descending at the Voinjama airstrip. The helicopter reportedly escaped without incident but Minister Massaquoi was the only person to sustain gunshot wounds serious enough to die later in Phebe Hospital near Gbarnga, the president's wartime headquarters. Later in a nationwide radio address, the president contradicted the Information Ministry's accounts that the minister was flying in a civilian helicopter. He said the minister was flying in a "police helicopter" and not civilian helicopter. But it was Taylor's assertion at funeral parlor where Minister Massaquoi's body was deposited for embalming that the helicopter was "bullet raided" that prompted the following remarks by a priest who prefers to be anonymous:
"If the Government believes that the Minister was shot in the helicopter and no one else was injured, why is the President naming a commission to investigate? Investigate what? We have not heard from the commission named to probe the death of the Vice President Enoch Dogolea. The Commission of ex-police director Joe Tate, who also died in a plane clash under mysterious conditions, is silent. The killers of Samuel Dokie remain at large. The Government promised to bring the killers of Madam Nowai Flomo to justice but they remain unknown. And now there is a commission of the Sports Minister death? This is a joke!"
An opposition politician and critic of the Taylor government added:
"To say that the Taylor regime undertakes 'humanitarian missions' is the funniest thing I have heard. From the days of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) to now, they have no record of humanitarianism. Their record is to take away from their victims, to loot and plunder".
Of course, the list of persons who have been returned to their mothers' wombs or executed also includes Emmet Ross, Taylor's deputy national security chief whose mysterious death in December 2001 is unresolved, though there are credible reports that the deputy minister was executed by government security forces.
Henry Cooper, a local chair of the opposition Unity Party (UP), is another horrible murder linked to the government. The Government has not denied killing Mr. Cooper, but they insisted the Henry Cooper they killed was not the Henry Cooper of the Unity Party. The UP has denounced the government's explanation as nonsense and challenged it to produce the living body of Henry Cooper of UP, but the government has yet to produce it.
Taylor continues to made good on his threats against opposition politicians and Liberians critical of his rule at home and abroad. A recent assassination of General Alfred T. Glay, one of the many Liberian exiles that the Taylor government blamed for the UN sanctions on his government. "You would be followed even in your mother's womb. If you think you can hide, we will show that you cannot hide," Taylor has boasted on numerous occasion. Indeed, Gen. Glay was chased into his 81-yeay-old mother's womb by Taylor's security men on April 25, 2002 in Ghana, West Africa.
The alleged assassins of General Glay were Charles Wrotee and Christopher Wesseh. Charles Wrotee fought along with Charles Taylor in the 1980's in his campaign to overthrow the Samuel K. Doe government. During that period, he was known as "Ranger". Both Charles Wrotee and Christopher Wesseh are members of Taylor's security network. The network, the January 10, 1999 edition of The Washington Post referenced as: ".... an obsession with security among Taylor and his people that is leading his government to build a heavily policed state in which overlapping security agencies show too little respect for law and human rights."
While I may not subscribe to the idea of chasing people into their mothers' womb, for the simple fact that the womb is where LIFE begins, I empathized with an older Liberian lady whom I met recently that said to me: "My child, Taylor talks too much about womb. He talks as if he is a 'test tube' experiment; but since he talks that much about chasing people into their mothers' womb, it won't be such a bad idea for LURD to hand him that experience. Perhaps, then he would act like a normal human being." I couldn't help but laugh. She was dead serious! That's how affected we have become - longing for HOME, instead of our mothers' womb. I hope he too doesn't fall prey to the Liberian adage that warn us to "watch out, 'cause the hole you dig, may someday be your own."