The former President of Liberian Association in the Americas, and former Managing Director of the Liberia FreeZone Authority, Mr. Sam-Mohammed Kromah recently put pen to paper by writing an open letter to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female President on countless number of issues relating to the growth and development of Liberia. Below is the full text of his letter:
Dear Mme President:
The deafening sound of silence is one of the most lethal weapons used by the most skilled verbal assassins, while their rambunctious adversaries use any and every opportunity to speak their piece. These unique individuals choose their battles very cleverly and wisely, speaking only when theyhave completely wielded the power to annihilate the enemy with their perfect words, forcing them to cease their loquacious mannerisms with one well though-out blow, and that’s a kill-shot.
As the teakettle whistles, the inhabitants of the kitchen realize that the temperature gauge has reached its boiling point. The atmosphere is filled with both joy and nervousness. The myopic minds expect the tea to be served at any moment, and the great minds know that if nothing is done about the whistling, the tea party could turn into a disaster. The three options suggested are: (1) reduce the temperature under the kettle, (2) remove the kettle from the burner, or (3) stuff the whistling hole. The last option could potentially lead to an explosion, and anyone who is in close proximity could get burned.
Last night, my home was burglarized. I was fortunate, thanks to the Almighty Allah, that no one was hurt, and nothing of importance was taken; only four plastic chairs. The compound was saved, and I don’t think anything happened to the burglars.
However, what I have not been able to digest since the incident is, what level of desperation could possess a person to climb over an eleven foot concrete wallto take nothing but four old plastic chairs?
When one adds all these multiple issues; armed robbery, burglary, phone and jewelry snatching, and other neighborhood and community ills, the only thing you smell is trouble. Also, one of the scary things I see around every neighborhood is the idle young men and women. Most of whom, are hunting for the next meal. In some areas, you see a young person with a little square table, approximately not more than $30.00 in value in scratch cards. Interestingly he/she has three to five other idle friends with folded arms, praying for someone to light the next match so they can burn the neighborhood or the town. If we continue to ignore, disregard, and compromise these sensitive issues and do not take proactive steps to address them, it has the propensity to result into a distasteful and disastrous social discontent, or could create a wedge between civility and decorum. Emotions will,indeed, shift into high gear and nine times out of ten,violence becomes inevitable.
I speak from experience, because I worked as a caseworker in Baltimore City, Foster Care System, a Staff Assistant in the Maryland Child Welfare System, and an Administrator for the Department of Human Resources for the State of Maryland for about two decades. I know what it is to have three idle youths, standing with no hope.
Right now, country is consumed by a complex web of inter-related social issues that require the involvement of every able Liberian. It is assumed that it is your sole responsibility, but this issue is far too big for your Excellency, only, to chew. This is everyone’s burden; not yours alone to carry. Expectations are not only high and complex,but conflicting. The moral fabric of our nation is threatened. Concern for community and compassion for fellow human beings are replaced by madness from greed, hatred, desperation, the lack of empathy and sympathy, the lack of impulse control and social deftness, deficit in emotion, and the general loss of civility and decorum, and finally the loss of inter-personal and social behaviors.
Most people might not know that I contested in the 2011 Legislative contest in District # 6 and lost. God first, but I contribute my lost to one major factor, being a Mandingo and a Muslim, the two titles that I am unapologetically proud to have. I remember one day, when my presidential aspirant,Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskin, called me and said “Sam, please do not let this discourage you. I just had two women, Kpelle and Bassa, say, though you speak Kpelle better than most people they know, they will not vote for you because you are Mandingo”. My campaign message was very strong, experience in administration was second to none, my international contacts were un-paralleled, and I visited more neighborhoods than any of the 10 candidates.
The lossin District #6 confirmed the message and was also a sobering declaration of the dialectic relationship that exists between Islam/Christianity and Mandingo/the rest of the tribes. When such happens to you, only prayers can protect you from being righteously indignant. That definitively reinforced my desire to push on to reconciliation. It is the only rational answer to our national problem. Efforts have to be made in order to develop a way of challenging the innumerable myths and misconceptions through a combined use of both historical analysis and micro-empirical assessment, not in theory, chicanery, or the usual shenanigans, but through sincerity. Strong recommendations have to be made by policy makers, scholars, and people of good-will to promote reconciliation in its purest sense.
Such a recommendation should suggest that we each re-examine our own attitudes as individuals, as ethnic groups, as religious groups and as a nation; for our attitudes are essential to our ultimate goal. It is noted that we do not respect others. We speak of other tribes as if they are nothing; yet, we expect respect from them. The bottom line is we do not respect ourselves as a nation. Foreign goods and items are always better. We should never think that reconciliation is impossible and unreal. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable and that we are doomed and gripped by forces we cannot control. We should not and will not accept that. Our problems are man-made. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Our focus should be on practical reconciliation; not on a sudden revolution in human nature, but on a gradual evolution in relevant institutions, and on a series of concrete actions, and effective and realistic agreements, which are in the best interest of all concerned.
No group of people is so evil that they are considered lacking in virtue. We are each different in one way or another. I am not asking or suggesting that we be blind to our differences. What I am saying is that we must direct our attention to our common interests, and to the means, by which, those differences can be resolved and/or transformed into a useful finished product. Diversity is a source of power and enrichment. No two things are identical, in its purest sense, God created diversity for strength and enrichment. Because we are simple, we use that as reason to discriminate and try to reduce God to our size.
It is our duty to our nation to diversify if we yearn for her to flourish. For in the final analysis, our most common link is that we all inhabit this land. We all breathe the same air. We all want our children to say, “Papa nah come”. We all cherish our children’s futures and we are all mortal. We have to sharpen our national spirit and leadership skills and remember that leaders must create harmony from discord by changing destructive forces around us and transforming them into positive pursuits, which will benefit us all. We should remember that great leaders show their greatness by the powerof their examples , not by the example of their power and by the way they treat the opposition and the less fortunate.
If we define our goals more clearly (from clarity comes understanding and from understanding comes knowledge) by making it more manageable and less remote, we can help everyone to visualize it, to draw hope from it, and to move irresistible towards it. Reconciliation is peace and peace restores hope and hope is the standard bearer of life. In the absence of hope, life degenerates.
Our failure to focus on the reconciliatory process has led us on the path of dangerous ethnic loyalty above our national interests. It has fueled greed, hatred, intolerance, vengeance, and tricks, among others. We need not be reminded that these and some of the cultural values we each endear are repulsive and repugnant to all democratic values and nation building. It was not always like that. We co-existed with respect and tolerance. Today, many of us see nothing in the dignity and glory ofthis great nation to protect. If given the chance, a typical Liberian could sell anything of this nation if they can find a buyer. A typical Liberian will do anything to a fellow Liberian or institution just to prove a point. We destroyed the Sandi and the Poro Schools, burned Mosques and Churches, and damaged the Masonic Temple. If we add it all together, the sum translates to understanding the reasoning behind why the country and the people are in this current state of disarray. Most of us do not think beyond our little selves and our tribes to protect Liberia. Our failure as people to put Liberia first could be the actual cause of the collapse of this Republic. The biggest tragedy of this madness we called “the civil war” is, we did not learn anything from it.
One could remain aloof if the lives and the future of this country were not sliding towards an abyss of violence. The saddest reality that continues to dawn on some of us is that we do not find enough people on our side to fulfill God’s will for the final reconciliation for all Liberians.
If we fail as a people to live together in unity and harmony, we will definitely die together as fools. However, I do find consolation in the Marxian interpretation of reality, Dialectical Materialism, viewing matter as a sole subject of change and all change as the product of constant conflict between opposites arising fromthe internal contradiction inherent ion all things. Maybe out of our extraordinary human and material disasters, for the past decades must be born a brighter Liberia of which all humanity will be proud. Our attitudes must produce an actual national reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all. I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to this land as the other. Each time anyone of us touches this soil we feel a sense of personal renewal. We are all moved by a sense of joy and sadness when our national anthem is played. That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carry in our hearts as we see our beloved Liberia that once was the beacon of Africa, tearing itself apart due to madness.
TODAY I CHALLENGE EACH AND EVERYONE OF US TO MAKE ACOMMITMENT TO BUILD A PEACEFUL, DEMOCRATIC, AND RECONCILIATORY LIBERIA, AND NEVER AGAIN WILL WE RESOLVE TO VIOLENCE.
Madam President, let this message be taken to the high plains of MountNimba. Let it be sent to the thick and virgin forest of Grand Gedeh. Let it be heard by the meandering rivers of Grand Kruand River Cess. Let it be echoed by the riverbanks of St. Paul, the St. John, and the Cavaller. Let it be transmitted by the beautiful banks of Lake Piso and the shining beaches of Monrovia and Buchannan. Let it be celebrated on the fertile land of Bong and Lofa. And let it reach to every place in Liberia and to every Liberian everywhere.
Fellow Liberians, let us enter into a covenant that we will build a Liberia, in which, all of us will be able to walk tall without any fear in our hearts, assured of our inalienable rights of human dignity. My brothers and sisters, we are decedents of pyramid builders and builders of empires. Do what ever it takes to protect our posterity and patrimony (Liberia). Do not wallow into a state of complacency, and pity. Do anything, conspire, inspire,perspire,aspire but please, do not ever retire!!!!