The Fula Community Request and Liberia: A Nation Violated By Immigrants’ Conduct

By Concerned Liberian.

Truth be told, Liberia has not been governed well over the past few years if not decades. From the standpoint of a functioning, well-regulated and progressive society, nothing seems to work properly in the country.  The economy is acutely struggling, poverty has transcended visibility, unemployment is now a way of life, greed and corruption are entrenched more than ever before, and incompetence in all its forms and shapes has sadly become an established reality. This is not the sole making and responsibility of the Liberian government; it reflects the Liberian society at large because unless Liberians collectively re-orient their mindset, these things will continue to exist.  Despite all these ill features which are also found in other African countries, every nation like Liberia has and should have people who protect its historical relevance and structure. In most cases, these people are the legislators, members of the judiciary, and the presidency. These are the people who should espouse constructive patriotism, dynamic nationalism, and mutual security in the country and amongst their compatriots to prevent contempt and national caricatures such as the deviant requisition from the Fula Community of Liberia.

In a FrontPage Africa article published on July 19, 2022, the headline states: Fula Community Want National Recognition; Calls for Legislating Fula As An Official Ethnic Group in Liberia – FrontPageAfrica (frontpageafricaonline.com).  First, the Fula Community’s request makes no sense.  Second, from all magnitudes, this is one of the most outlandish immigrant-friendly open-door policy violations epitomized by an immigrant community in Liberia.  Primarily, this is an unsuitable request and Liberians need to scrutinize the psych of any Liberian lawmaker who gives audience to these measures and declarations. Tribal ties and localization to any country are not based on the mere fact that citizens from other countries are permitted to naturalize there. Tribal ties to a country are rooted in pre-existing geographical location mechanisms. By naturalization, a Fula and anyone from any part of Sub-Sahara Africa may choose to become a Liberian citizen, and Liberians are welcoming of immigrants.  However, in no way does it or should it grant the said individuals and their associates the right to request for their entire ethnicity to become by law a part of Liberia.  For example, Liberians, especially the Kru ethnic group contributed meaningfully to Ghana in every way. Ghana’s first and independent president Kwame Nkrumah was from the Kru ethnic group of Liberia.  The fact Ghana and Ghanaians welcomed Nkrumah and other Liberians as Ghanaians in no way wired those Liberians to lobby the Ghanaian parliament to make the Kru ethnic group an official tribal group in Ghana. Yes, Liberians who are naturalized in other countries are citizens of those countries, they do not however impose recognition of their Liberian tribal groups on those countries. So, what gives the Fula Community in Liberia the guts to insult the combined intelligence of Liberians with this bald-faced request?

According to FrontPage Africa’s news reports, “Speaking on behalf of the group [Fula Community of Liberia] at the launch of a book titled: “From Babylon to Fuuta Jalloh” a [self-proclaimed] Fulani Historian Alhaji Surmoroe said any refusal to grant the Fula Community the right of being a tribal group in the country [Liberia] would be a clear violation of their fundamental rights.

“With comparative analysis to other West African nations, we Fula see it as a clear violation of our fundamental right to be a tribal group; whereas others are recognized while we are not,” Surmoroe said.  Really! Mr. Fula Historian. Those ethnic groups that are recognized in Liberia are Liberian ethnic groups just like those ethnic groups that are recognized in Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Niger, Nigeria, and other places where the Fula Community comes from are ethnic groups that hailed from there based on pre-existing geographic location mechanisms. If immigrants come to Liberia and want to become Liberian citizens, they should embrace being Liberians rather than foist their ethnicity and country of origin on Liberians. Fula is not a historically recognized tribal group in Liberia and should never be.  No country including Liberia should alter its history and maquillage through an artificial accommodation process. It is a terrible thing to do, and it will be problematic soon if done for the sake of political, social, and economic appeasement. This does not, however, mean a Fula who has naturalized as a Liberian is not a citizen of Liberia.

Welcoming immigrants with open arms have, indeed, become a good thing universally and Liberians should always embrace immigrants as part of the Liberian society.  However, Liberians and especially those in authority should establish basic behavioral norms and protocols that would provide for some respect for the country.  What a few people from other parts of West Africa do in Liberia can never be done by a Liberian in their original country of origin – falsifying Liberian citizenship or claiming to have one parent who is/was a Liberian, disrespecting and harassing native Liberians in their own country, and engaging in unfolded criminal tendencies at every level cannot be condoned in other African nations where Liberians live. On the contrary, there are posters from other West African nations who can do anything they want in Liberia and against native Liberians. Some of these people are protected and supported by Liberians in authority against their own native Liberians.

To wrap up, Liberia is a free country, and our Fula brothers and sisters who have naturalized as Liberians and those that want to become Liberians are welcomed and should be given that opportunity. But the reckless notion and backward logic that since a few Fula people live and work in Liberia or are granted the privileged to become naturalized Liberians out of the goodwill of Liberians implies making the Fula ethnic group one of Liberia’s nationally recognized tribal groups is claptrap or gibberish. No lawmaker should entertain this proposal no matter how much bribery it wears on its face. One bad implication of this unreasonable entreaty is every Fula who jumps into Liberia can claim Liberian citizenship by the presence and national recognition of his or her ethnic group. It also means a non-Liberian Fula individual can vote just because he or she is Fula and Fula from anywhere can be driven into Liberia to engage in political and economic processes.  Wherever the Fula community in Liberia comes from, they need to tell their native countries and governments to give national recognition to all the tribes in Liberia as well.  The Fula Community should not ask Liberia to do what their native countries cannot and will not do.

Immigrants disrespect Liberia and Liberians because of the reckless way we govern ourselves.  The Liberian legislature must, with immediate effect, toss out the bizarre request from the Fula Community because of its political and long-term structural consequences. In addition, if this is allowed, we should expect to give national recognition to the Fantis from Ghana, and the Igbos and Yorubas from Nigeria as national ethnic groups in Liberia. These groups have had treasured impacts on Liberia, too including President Edwin James Roye,  an Igbo man of Nigerian origin who served as the fifth President of Liberia (February 3, 1815 – February 11, 1872). It is time for Liberians to say enough is enough to the disrespect shown by its immigrant community.

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About Cholo Brooks 17508 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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