Jeremiah M. Clayea has enrolled in DATI’s prestigious Playwright Apprenticeship Program. He is a DATI-Maryland Peace Advocate trainee and is a junior Health Science major in the College of Health Sciences at Tubman University in Harper, Maryland County, Republic of Liberia. Clayea joins two other colleagues (Statesman Alfred Nugba of the Maryland Chapter and Statesman Albert Ninneh of Montserrado Chapter). Besides them, there are fifty-seven other college students around Liberia who are part of the DATI and the Kukatonon Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, Inc. (KPRI) peace initiative in the Republic of Liberia.
Together, the DATI Peace Advocate trainees and the three apprentices in the Playwright Apprenticeship Program are shining examples of today’s Liberian youth who want to learn and serve their country diligently as patriotic statesmen and stateswomen. The management of DATI salutes our distinguished and patriotic youth leaders. We wish them good health, prosperity, and success in their service to the Liberian nation and People.
Background of DATI’s Peace Project in Liberia
Early this year the management of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI) and its Board of Directors in the United States approved the formation of DATI Chapters in Liberia. The purpose was to launch its peace and reconciliation and cultural awareness program, to promote peace and reconciliation among Liberians and to educate Liberians about their rich and diverse cultural and historical heritage. Thus, the result of this idea led to the establishment of two DATI chapters in the nation’s capital, Monrovia, and in Harper, Maryland, respectively.
The goal of DATI’s Peace and Reconciliation and Cultural Awareness Program is to train Liberian youth to serve as peace advocates in their communities and neighborhoods and to create cultural awareness through the performing and visual arts and literacy. Also, the peace program in Liberia is designed to give Liberians closure to the genocide they experienced and to help mend relationships among all Liberians irrespective of their ethnic, cultural, or political differences.
In response to the call to national duty, over sixty patriotic Liberian college students and graduates initially enrolled in the program. They received training in peace education and mediation and cultural awareness online under the professorship of Rabbi Joe Gbaba. Currently, the trainees have completed their training and are gearing up for the formal launching of their respective chapters in November this year.
DATI’s Peace Program in Liberia Is Research-Based and Results-Driven
DATI’s peace program in Liberia is research-based and results-driven. The theoretical lenses are based on literacy and postmodern learning theories and Pan African philosophy used in Dr. Joe Gbaba’s Chiandeh Afrocentric qualitative doctoral study and a survey conducted among Liberian youth by Professor Gbaba. According to a survey DATI management conducted, lack of self-knowledge is one of the root causes of the Liberian Genocide in which Liberians showed no love or feelings for their fellow compatriots and their homeland. Thus, this process has become systemic and chronic in Liberian culture.
The Systemic Nature of Liberia’s Hegemony
According to the survey, the systemic nature of Liberia’s hegemony and lack of self-knowledge stem from the inception and establishment of Liberia by free slaves whose mentality as Blacks or Africans was brainwashed and reshaped over the span of five hundred consecutive years. During this time frame, Africans in slave plantations in the western hemisphere were forced to think European and Western, even though the color of their skin was Black.
Against this backdrop, repatriated Blacks from the western hemisphere that settled in Liberia introduced a western educational system that laid more emphasis on westernizing Liberians rather than imbedding them in their own African and Liberian cultural roots. In addition, those who were in the upper echelon of the government of Liberia isolated themselves from the people they ruled. They treated the electorates as they were once treated by their ex-slave masters in the western hemisphere.
Today, most Liberian warlords and politicians and those in the upper echelon of the Liberian society are of Indigenous descent. They have been on and off in power since 1980 when the first Indigenous man, Samuel Kanyon Doe of the Krahn ethnic group of Liberia overthrew the Americo-Liberian and Congau elites who ruled Liberia for one hundred and thirty-three years prior to the military coup on April 12, 1980.
So, one would think that these new corps of Indigenous Liberian elites would treat their own Indigenous people with respect and dignity. Further one would think, among all things, that they would treat their Indigenous mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and all Liberians contrary to what they accused Americo-Liberian or Congau elites of ill-treating their Indigenous ancestors. Sadly, Indigenous Liberian elites continue to treat the electorates no differently from the way descendants of Settlers did to the Indigenous people of Liberia.
Consequently, this reflects that despite the change of regime and power from the Americo-Liberians to Native Liberians, the same problem exists systemically. Hence, DATI’s research shows that the root cause of self-hatred among Liberians is because most Liberians lack self-knowledge and appreciation of themselves and the others around them, as well as lack of adequate knowledge about the history and culture of Liberia. One of the attributing factors is due to the Eurocentric education they received.
Even as late as ten years ago, Kendeja, one of the great cradles for the preservation of indigenous Liberian history and culture, was demolished to build a brothel in its stead. Other great cultural foundations of the Liberian society, such as the Poro and Sande institutions of learning, are under heavy threats of being exterminated at the writing of this article.
Another reason is, Liberians still do not have a common national identity. Most of its citizens are confused. For the most part, they do not know who they are. Subsequently, most Liberians pledge allegiance to political parties, warlords, or standing Presidents of Liberia, instead of pledging allegiance to Liberia, their motherland, or to the Lone Star Flag which symbolizes the Republic of Liberia, Africa’s oldest Republic.
Changing the National Trajectory of Self-Hatred and Lack of Love for Country to Putting One’s Country and Compatriots First!
Based on the findings of DATI’s survey, it has become very clear there is a need to change the national trajectory of self-hatred and lack of love for country and fellow compatriots, to teaching Liberians to put their country and compatriots first! Further, the research revealed that during the Liberian Genocide, Liberian politicians and warlords recruited Liberian children and youth from eight up to twenty-five years of age, as child soldiers and combatants. These Liberian youth were forced to serve as ‘killing machines’ by Liberian warlords and politicians and after they accomplished their goal and regained political and economic power, Liberian politicians and warlords abandoned the youth they used as rungs to climb up the ladder of leadership in Liberia.
Over the period of thirty years, these Liberian children and youth are adults, grownups with children and some are even having grandchildren. They constitute the majority of the electorates of Liberia, yet most of them hardly have a fourth grade education because they were deprived access to equality of educational opportunities. Today, the youth who were forcibly conscripted to serve as child soldiers and were once referred to as “Freedom Fighters,” they are today called “Zogos” by their elite recruiters and “COs” (Commanding Rebel Officers)!
Preventing the Recruitment of Liberian Children and Youth as Combatants and Child Soldiers
DATI’s management launched its peace and reconciliation and cultural awareness project in Liberia to promote national peace and unity through the performing and visual arts and literacy. Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. initiated its peace and reconciliation program in Liberia to prevent the forced recruitment of Liberian children and youth as child soldiers and combatants in the future. Instead, the DATI’s peace project, including its Playwright Apprenticeship Program, is intended to train Liberian youth as peace advocates and as playwrights and theatre directors. Furthermore, the Playwright Apprenticeship Program is designed to empower Liberian youth to write and direct plays and produce Liberian literature that may eventually be used in Liberian schools to provide culturally relevant education for all Liberians.
Moreover, the aim of the Playwright Apprenticeship Program is to train Liberian youth to write plays and local literature that may educate and help Liberians become aware of themselves as Liberians and Africans, rather than to think they are Europeans or westerners. In view of the foregoing, the management of DATI and its Board of Directors congratulate all DATI Peace Advocate Trainees and those in the DATI Playwright Apprenticeship Program for their ardent desire to serve their country as patriotic statesmen and stateswomen.
Published by DATI Public Relations Section
September 15, 2019