Where is Liberia Heading?

By Wollor Topor

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

June 5, 2002

The Liberian people were made to believe that the True Whig Party (TWP) government was overthrown in order to improve their condition. As a result, we were fed with the slogan - "In the cause of the people, the struggle continues." But after two decades, the premium for which lives were lost and properties destroyed is far from being realized. The struggle continues in the midst of human suffering, underdevelopment, inequality, social injustice, environmental degradation and lawlessness. The nation is now operating under the rule of the jungle, with the man having the biggest and more sophisticated weapons in charge. These are indications that to change a government through violent means does not guarantee that in the end the people will be empowered.

Instead, "In the cause of the people" has taught us that violence breeds violence.

The Taylor government's total disregard for the nation and its people has led Liberia's precious and future builders - the youths- to roam dusty roads with "big bellies" obtained as a result of malnutrition, disease and the lack of proper education. And trapped in a vicious circle of violence and desperate for survival, the elderly population walked in search of peace and security. Those who can leave find their way to "who want work" (a Liberian expression for engaging in any kind of job for survival). They swallowed the bitter pills of being foreigners in other people's country but at lease they are better off - with some amount of peace away from the battlefield. And those who cannot leave are forced to pay tribute to the power on the ground in order to make ends meet. Few people take the take the law into their own hands; some seethe in anger, while others wait with little hope that the 2003 elections will redeem them from the yoke of the suffering caused by Taylor and his collaborators.

Regardless of which group is doing the right thing, the road to a stable Liberia is rocky, littered with dangers, and is far, far away as Taylor is determined to impose his will upon the people through terror. To this end, he is using the natural resources, i.e., forest, diamond, gold, etc., without any regards to the future of the country. And with the rate they are going, in record time, they will deplete our resources and turn the country into a wasteland, using, for example, AK-47s, to cow the people into submission to prevent them from protecting their resources and environment.

In short, these self-serving, dictatorial policies only breed resentment, fear, uncertainty and more violence. They contribute to, and fuel, the continuing national strife in our country with all the negative effects: family disruption and other social ills. Yet, the so-called "economist" turned president encourages violence and shows no concern for the plight of the people he is supposed to be leading. This leads me to conclude that President Taylor's only concern is to reward those who support him as he rains terror on his own people in order to entrench himself in power.

Where is Liberia heading? Is it in the direction of non-existence in order to satisfy his debtors? The people want to know! Are there some invisible hands controlling our President for which he is not moving the country in the way he would like to see it? The President has yet to reveal to the Liberian people the true story about the cost of his war, for which I want to believe he is still paying for in disguise based on the high premium the ordinary Liberians are paying in terms of the massive human suffering they are experiencing; despite the earnings from their natural resources.

While it is true that the politicians are parading West African capitals in search of peace and the international community continues to find amicable solutions to our problems, the voice of the ordinary people is not being heard. The ordinary people consist of poor hardworking and productive farmers, rubber tapers, streetpeddlers , market women. These people need to be heard, because they are the ones who are affected the most.

In my view, the future of our country looks bleak, but as Liberians we are not doomed. Despite our ups and downs there is a brighter future on the horizon. We need to develop a new approach in seeking genuine reconciliation and national unity. This calls for working together as a community under a single platform for sustainable change, rather then war. With a vision grounded in understanding that whatsoever undertaking there is - will be in the interest of the nation. As such, there is no need to be afraid of making tough decisions. In order words, this holistic approach requires honesty and dedication to deal with our common enemy - be it the so-called "Great Liberator" Charles G. M. Taylor. And with unity of purpose, we shall succeed.

God bless Liberia!

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