Vulgar Nationalism: the Refuge
of a Scoundrel
By H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr.
Oct 26, 2000
The vitriol unleashed by our pseudo-nationalists in Liberia over the treatment meted out to Liberian refugees in Guinea would have been comical had it not been for the plight of our compatriots who have been in camps in Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, La Cote d'Ivoire and Guinea for the past ten years. The last three years have witnessed all forms of scams to make money but no effort has been made to repatriate the thousands of Liberians who were driven from their country by the atrocities of the NPFL and the other armed gangs. Even if we were to make allowance for seven years of civil war and thus neglect, one would have to be irredeemably gullible to believe that the clique in Monrovia needed more than three years to attend to the repatriation of our compatriots.
Since the imposition of the Taylor clique in 1997, the repatriation of Liberian refugees has been at the bottom of the national agenda. Other activities, mainly geared towards swindling and hustling, have taken priority over the welfare of the Liberian people. This clique, through its callous neglect and reckless regional activities, has exposed the Liberian people to terrifying insults and danger. The refugees throughout West Africa have become unwanted guests, not because they have stayed in most places for ten years, but due to the fact that many of them are now perceived as fifth columnists of the deranged comedians who hold power in Liberia. Without the efforts of the various UN agencies, more serious harm would have befallen our compatriots who have now become victims of the irresponsible policies of the greedy rascals who sit in power in Monrovia.
The criminal irresponsibility of the clique is obvious not only in its regional activities but also in every aspect of national administration. In Monrovia, displaced compatriots still squat in abandoned houses three years after the fraud. In the countryside, thousands of peasants uprooted during the seven-year banditry are still scattered in hovels around provincial towns. In the main cities, the traumatized young children who were foot soldiers for this clique are hawking goods on the streets to make a living. Those in refugee camps have not even been considered simply because there has been no program to address their plight. These compatriots have been cynically abandoned while robbers and tricksters pillage the gold, rubber, logs and cocoa from the countryside. In reality, the clique now in power mirrors its antecedence - the moribund True Whig Party - which was noted for its neglect of the people and the mortgaging of the nation to foreign interests.
The issue as regards the refugees ought to be placed in its true context. Why were Liberian refugees in Guinea three years after the clique took power? Why are there Liberian refugees in Ghana, Nigeria, La Cote d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone three years after power was given to the NPFL? What programs have been devised for the refugees should they decide to return home? We ought not to forget that most Liberian refugees in West Africa have been living in fraternal countries for the past ten years. In Guinea, Liberian and Sierra Leoneon refugees have lived among the Guineans for the past decade without any molestation. At one time, it was reported that over 700,000 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia were living in Guinea. Throughout the decade of turmoil and massacres in these two countries, the refugees found sanctuary in the fraternal Republic of Guinea. While their own nationals in the NPFL and the RUF massacred, raped, maimed and brutalized them, the people of Guinea gave them succour. In major Guinean towns and in Conakry, many refugees blended in with the citizens. There was harmony in every aspect of interaction between the refugees and the fraternal people of Guinea.
Over the last six months, the security situation along the Guinean borders deteriorated because of the policy of the Taylor clique. The racketeering in the diamonds from Sierra Leone and gunrunning to the RUF exposed the Taylor clique to the entire world. This scandalous imposition, which has been masquerading as a government was exposed as a collection of greedy parasites with no aim to reconstruct and develop the Liberian nation. Even those in West Africa who wanted to see peace at any price realized that they had in their midst not a government but the social dregs from a dying society. What was even more revolting was the barefaced lies told by the clique to exonerate itself - lies so petty and stupid that the realization dawned that fools and clowns were playing at governance. Even before the students at the University of Liberia, where young minds are always critical and incisive, Taylor claimed that he does not smuggle diamonds. So a monkey does not eat bananas? Let us move to more serious issues!
Why would the world community want to discredit a Charles Taylor? Of what importance would the instability of Liberia be to any major western power? Did not the American, French, German, British and Italian governments welcome the triumph of Taylor and his NPFL in the fraudulent elections of 1997? So, why would they want to discredit him without any reason? These are questions that give the lie to the pretensions of the Taylor clique. This clique is resented internationally because it has been called before the judgement seat of reason and has been found wanting! No more, no less!! It has not only behaved irresponsibly in Sierra Leone where it allowed itself to be caught fuelling the carnage and banditry of the RUF, but has also allowed Guinean dissidents to train on Liberian territory long before there was any invasion of Lofa County. It is also known that some Ghanaians opposed to the Rawlings government are working in the NPFL security outfit. Again, intelligent reports from La Cote d'Ivoire revealed the movements of certain elements opposed to the military regime in and out of Liberia. It is obvious that Taylor's destabilization scheme has as its primary objective the making of money as payment for assisting dissidents. He sees himself as Mobutu in every respect - kleptomaniac, corrupt, greedy, godfather of reactionary elements in neighboring countries and chief patron of smuggling and pillaging in the region. But unlike Mobutu, he does not have a super power as protector. Herein lies his problem. Mobutu was a creature of the cold war and he used the anxiety of his patron to get away with murder and robbery. Taylor on the other hand is a creature of imperial disinterestedness in the wastelands of Africa; but even here, murder and robbery have their limitations. His recklessness and lies have brought back his sordid past - a fugitive conman - and he is avoided like a putrid cadaver.
The reaction of the people of Guinea - though unfortunate - must be considered against the background of the extreme provocation from the clique in Monrovia. It was sad that the frustration of the Guinean authorities and people could not be directed towards the hustlers who hold power in Monrovia. Our compatriots have bled and will continue to bleed throughout West Africa because of the irresponsible behavior of the Taylor clique. The resort to vulgar nationalism - and its attendant consequences of fanning the flames of bitterness and hatred between the fraternal people of Liberia and Guinea - shows the level of opportunism and debasement to which the scoundrels in Monrovia will sink in order to divert the people's attention from the true meaning of the tragedy in the sub-region. And then pathetically we see the formation of an unholy alliance among all Liberian pseudo-patriots - from NPFL death squad commanders to chatter-boxes who desecrate the National Assembly; to deadweight 'progressive' grandees who do not have the stamina to deal with the historical necessity; and even to religious hypocrites, swindling the masses in the name of some arcane spirituality - with the sole objective of inflaming the passion of a frustrated people and directing their seething anger towards the people of Guinea and their government.
In the bitterness of the moment, it has been forgotten that Guinea sacrificed some of her finest sons during ECOMOG's operations in Liberia to save our compatriots from the bloody rampage of the NPFL. The questions that demand immediate answers are: Who has been and is responsible for the brutality, mayhem, genocide, mutilation and destruction in the sub-region? Why is it that since 1997, the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea have not known any peace? What is to be done to spare the fraternal people of the Mano River Union countries from the traumas of destabilization, murder and pillage?
The accusation against Guinea as regards the situation in Lofa is designed to conceal the activities of the Taylor clique in its destabilization of Sierra Leone and Guinea. The authorities in Guinea have repeated on countless occasions that they are not responsible for what is occurring in Lofa. It is known that the dissidents in Lofa are fighting with small arms and that their sources of financial support are to be found in certain exiled quarters in the United States. Recently, many of the dissidents' sympathisers who have been living as refugees in Guinea were arrested in Conakry and other towns. Had it not been for the intervention of the UNHCR, many of them would have been sent back to Liberia. Is it conceivable that the Guinean government would imprison people who were working with it to destabilize the Taylor clique? Many of those in West Africa who are supporters of the dissidents are destitute and have to beg for a few dollars to send to the fighters. Would the Guinean government, with the resources at its disposal, allow the dissidents and their supporters to be begging for money in the sub-region from anybody who sits to listen to them? More lies have been told by the Taylor clique in the last month than were parleyed by the Nazi propaganda machine. Taylor wants evidence from the British and Americans linking him to diamond smuggling and gunrunning. He has forgotten that apart from what the British and Americans know, the entire senior leadership of the RUF is in prison and reports from Freetown indicate that Corporal Sankoh and the others have been singing like canaries to save their necks.
The stupidity of the Taylor clique is so obvious that one wonders about the sanity of those who support this regime. The threats and utterances against Guinea only serve to isolate the Taylor clique and expose its cynicism and recklessness. The dissidents in Lofa County, fighting from a narrow base, are even smarter as they capitalize on the lies of the Taylor clique to make exaggerated claims of success. It is becoming obvious that Liberians at home and abroad are becoming tired, not of efforts to remove the Taylor clique, but of exaggerated claims by men who called themselves "wild dogs." And this is where the doubts begin to creep in! Under whose banner are these people fighting? Is it the banner of Blyden, Barclay, Juah Nimley, T. R. Bracewell, Nelson Toe, Henry Zuo, Robert Sumo, Wuo Gabbie Tappiah, Thomas Weh-Syen, etc. etc.? Who are the martyrs whose blood inspires these people? Robert Phillips? Thomas Quiwonkpa? Major Dennis, Wiwi Debbah, Marcus Bobeh? To define a struggle in terms of martyrdom is politically correct as it attracts true patriots; but to do so in terms of wildness and bestiality is to create doubts in the minds of people and to put oneself in the same position as the vulgar nationalists who prey on the people's frustration to mask the reality of recklessness.
The tragedy in our country is not that we are unaware of what is happening, but that we have allowed this treacherous and irresponsible clique - wrapped in abysmal stupidity - to define the agenda of our people's interaction in the sub-region and the world. The resort to vulgar nationalism is a desperate attempt to incite the passion of a distraught people and deflect their attention from the actual situation in the country. It is possible that we will see more of this flag-waving and chest beating as Taylor wraps himself in the national emblem to avoid being drag before the International War Crimes Tribunal on Sierra Leone as an accomplice to genocide and crimes against humanity.