Crucifying Or Sustaining The Reconciliation: What Was Sherman Saying?

By Kaykay Toe

The Perspective
Monrovia, Liberia

August 12, 2002

When I read the response by Rudolph Sherman to a True Whig Party Partisan’s orchestrated statement of loyalty and support to him, (published in the July 31, 2002 edition of the Inquirer) I began to wonder whether God had condemned Liberia for good.I further wondered whether Mr. Sherman is a politician or an impressionist who is using the TWP for his narrow political ends. I also wonder if Mr. Sherman is megalomania as he has raised more questions than answers in his so-called response.

In politics, it is sometimes effective to ignore than to react. Mr. Sherman would have done well for the “Grand Old True Whig Party” and himself if he had kept quiet and let sleeping dog lie. By opening his mouth to address past and present political issues in Liberia, which he does not have the capacity to understand, he has exposed his inadequacies as a politician who lacks vision for the unity and development of his country. Mr. Sherman’s speech has further exposed his insatiable quest for raw power. For example, he said, “the Rudolph Sherman of 1997 is not the Rudolph Sherman of 2002”. The reasons for that he claims, “I now speak for thousands of partisans”. What an inflated image of himself!

Indeed, Sherman’s speech to the TWP Partisans was saturated with divisive tendencies and must be condemned by the government and well- meaning TWP Partisans. As a manifestation of his divisive nature, and the promotion of class system, which characterized the over century rule of the TWP, Mr. Sherman told the TWP Partisans that they knew what it meant to be afraid after the April 12, 1980 military take over. “Can you imagine what it meant, after April 12, 1980 to be identified as an official of the Defunct True Whig Party?” Sherman told his audience with a big applause. He further said, ask our partisans in Clay Ashland, Crozierville, Bensonville, Careysburg, Congo Town, White Plains, Arthington, and elsewhere only because they were members of the True Whig Party”. Why Mr. Sherman did not mention the Partisans of TWP in Cape Mount, Bomi, Lofa, Gbarpolu, Nimba, Bong, Margibi, Bassa, Rivercess, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Grand Kru, and Maryland, but only referred to partisans in other places as elsewhere? From time in memorial, the leadership philosophy of the TWP was based on class system. This style of leadership permeated the Liberian political system for over a century rule of the TWP. During the reign of the TWP, people occupied public offices not based on merit but purely based on family connections. It is therefore not surprising that in this advanced technological age, Mr. Sherman is still day dreaming by thinking that TWP Partisans in the “Congo Settlements” are better than those in the various counties. Is he truly the Rudolph Sherman of 2002 or the Rudolph Sherman of 1871? May I also ask Mr. Sherman do you know what it meant to be identified as a member of MOJA OR PAL/PPP, ITWP before 1980? Does he remember April 14, 1979? Does he remember how many persons were killed on that day by the TWP? Mr. Sherman let sleeping dog lie!

Mr. Sherman and his likes should be reminded that the misrule and bad governance provided by the TWP for a century is at the core of our social, economic, and political woes today. We can not reverse the wheels of history. If for example the 27 years of TWP rule under Tubman was prudently used to benefit the people socially, politically, and economically, the military take over of the government in 1980 would have been avoided. There were no conscious efforts to make political and economic reforms to improve the living standards of the people. Efforts were only made to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of the few Tubmans and Shermans to the detriment of the majority of the people.

Can you imagine during the 27 years rule of the TWP under Tubman the administration failed miserably to develop a road network throughout Liberia, which would had eased our transportation problems today? What was wrong with paving the road from Monrovia to Harper, the road from Totota to Voinjama and then to Mendekomai , the road from Kakata to Bong Mines, and the road from Ganta to Sanniquelle, or Ganta to Lugatou in spite of the economic boom Liberia was experiencing, which was only next to Japan? The selfishness and the lack of vision for development of Liberia, which was the trade mark of the long years of TWP rule, has brought untold suffering to the Liberian people. If Mr. Sherman has nothing to offer to enhance reconciliation, peace, and unity, it is better to remain quiet. Politics is a game for grown men, not showmen. The TWP’s long years of rule was saturated with showmen who smoked cigars and lavishly spent state resources on women and luxurious goods. While they were engaged in non-productive ventures, President Felix Houphouet Boigny of the next door neighbor Ivory Coast was modernizing his country with paved roads network, comprehensive agriculture program, and the construction of industrial plants and other infrastructures. What a shame!

Indeed, let sleeping dog lie Mr. Sherman. Remember, if you haul rope, the rope will certainly haul the bush. Mr. Sherman further went on to castigate those Great sons and daughters of Liberia who fought for change prior to 1980. He accused them of indoctrinating the young people in the 70s, which affected their future today. Sherman further blamed the intellectuals for telling the young people “that castigating Tubman, brutally killing Tolbert and others would usher in a new day of happiness forever”. What an irony! Who has affected the future of the young people in Liberia more than the TWP’s long years of despotic and nepotistic rule? Who has affected the future of the young people more than the TWP, which presided over political power for over a century without making calculated efforts to put into place mechanisms for a sound and an achievable educational program to reduce illiteracy and poverty? Who has affected the future of the young people other than the TWP, which have failed deliberately to make political reforms thus introducing violence into Liberian politics?

Indeed, it is a moral responsibility to advocate for change, which is in the best interest of the people. Was it then wrong for the intellectuals to advocate for change when the country was being led by a one party oligarch? Are you saying, you blame the brutal killings of Tolbert and others on those who advocated for change? Who do you blame for the killing of over 200,000 people during the Liberian civil crisis? Mr. Sherman, do not open a Pandora box. The TWP is responsible for the political, social and economic backwardness of Liberia. These are undeniable historical facts.

In politics, (as any other venture) what you sow is what you reap. Prior to 1990, nothing was heard of the True Whig Party. Most of its members had joined other political parties forgetting the “Grand old True Whig Party” that brought them to prominence. That is why the TWP was not included in the interim government. The interim government was a conglomeration of political parties and civil society organizations that were active prior to 1990 and the warring factions. It was because of the tolerant political space that the Interim Government provided, that Col. Arthur Bedell and others seize upon to reorganize the discredited TWP.

It is interesting to note that the “out spoken and famous” Rudolph Sherman who is knocking his chest as a stalwart of TWP was elected on the ticket of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) as Representative of Cape Mount during a bi-election prior to 1990. What a colorful politician! Sherman has a history of going

where ever the win blows. During the 1997 elections, Mr. Sherman broke away from the Alliance of Political Parties, after Mr. Wortorson failed to offer him the vice presidential slot, to collaborate with the Unity Party of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. In supporting Mrs. Sirleaf he had hoped to achieve his objective of becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives. What a greed for power!

Mr. Sherman further brought into focus how soldiers were used in 1984 to collect taxes. “I remember seeing reputable businessmen walking the streets of Monrovia with soldiers behind them as they attempted to raise taxes to avoid going to jail”, Sherman lamented. The method used in 1984 to collect taxes was more civil as compared to the one used during the TWP dictatorship. Do you remember during the

TWP era, what happened when soldiers went walking along with tax collectors from village to village to collect tax? In the process, anyone who did not pay the taxes, his two hands were tied behind his back (tabied) and put on the ground facing the sun until the taxes were paid. What a humiliation! Having collected the taxes nothing was done to benefit the people.

Most of their villages remain inaccessible. No schools, hospitals, and pipe borne water.

Access to equal opportunities was lacking while economic and educational opportunities were skewed in favor of the tiny minority ruling class. Should a Sherman speak?

In these critical times of our national life when almost every fabric of our society is deeply wounded, we need men of vision, wisdom, integrity and sober mindedness to bring sanity to our nation. The likes of Sherman will further tear this country apart.

Recently, he castigated the organizers of the July 2002 Burkina Faso Liberian Leadership Forum for not providing him an opportunity on the agenda to speak at the Forum as Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). The necessary adjustments were

made for the CPP to make remarks at the Forum. Sherman, with his sinister motive still refused to go to Ouagadougou and made conscious efforts to discourage other parties not to attend. He miserably failed. More civil society organizations and political parties from Monrovia attended the conference. The resolution of the meeting has been acclaimed nationally and internationally as a blue print for lasting peace in Liberia. Indeed, Sherman has dug a pit for his own irrelevance.

As efforts are made to heal the wounds of our battered society, the Shermans should either stop being divisive and concentrate on managing their ill-gotten wealth they inherited from their parents or redirect their missiles to more productive ends. Let those who have ears take heed.

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