OP-ED: Poor and Powerless Liberians Must Vote No on December Referendum

Liberia’s 173rd Independence Day celebration is four days away and the government has been campaigning for a Dec. 8, 2020 referendum for citizens to vote to allow dual citizenship, reduce the presidential and representative terms from six to five years, and to reduce the senatorial terms from nine to seven years.

I call on all Liberian voters to reject and vote ‘No’ on all questions within the 2020 referendum because not a single one of the ballot questions aims to address the urgent concerns of citizens, such as the root causes of abject poverty, war crimes, endemic corruption, excessive salaries, and benefits of politicians.

The omitted citizens’ concerns have reduced our mineral-rich nation to the poorest country on Earth. Meanwhile, America, which enslaved Africans and colonized Liberia, is the richest country on Earth. In Liberia’s corrupt system of governance, politicians become instant millionaires.

To address citizens’ concerns for the very first time in 200 years, I call on all Liberians to urgently demand a public hearing into the original purpose for which Liberia was founded, the origins of systemic corruption, and 200 years of American slave masters’ deception. We have written to all three branches of the Liberian government on this urgent citizens’ concern and await their response as paid public servants.

It is an uttermost disgrace for Africans in general and Liberians in particular that for 200 years, the first republic in Africa proudly bears the insignia of American slave masters as well as the emblems that honor slave masters and Liberia’s white supremacists founding fathers.

It’s time to demand a new authentic African nation designed by African citizens to empower the citizens and guarantee equal opportunities for all before worrying about the non-issues of the 2020 referendum that favors only politicians and foreigners.

The 2020 referendum, like all previous historical ballots, are poison pills designed to empower and enrich politicians and it is not what the citizens want. The process is controlled by the servants (politicians), not the masters, the citizens. Like the politician-favored referendum, politicians also set excessive salaries and benefits. Liberian citizens will remain powerless and in bondage if they keep voting the politicians’ agenda.

A public hearing is necessary because our research proves that the Republic of Liberia was designed by foreign slave masters, not citizens. General Robert Goodloe Harper, a white American who supported the removal and colonization of free African Americans in Africa but not freedom for African Americans in America, described free Blacks as “…greater nuisance than even slaves themselves.”

Harper coined the deceptive name ‘Liberia.’ Harper also suggested the name change of the colonial capital city from Christopolis (city of Christ) to Monrovia (city of Monroe – a white slave owner who never freed his slaves).

If the free African Americans were truly free, why couldn’t they be allowed to name their own country or choose their leaders in ‘Liberia’? The names Liberia, Monrovia, Buchanan, Bushrod Island, and Clay-Ashland are all relics of white supremacy that should have been swept away since 1847 if Liberia was truly an independent African country.

Not a single African nationalist or Black or White American abolitionist’s name (Douglass, Stowe, Garrison, or Sojourner Truth) appears on anything significant in Liberia. Only slave masters and Americans who protected slavery are our heroes. From General Harper in the East to Monroe and Bushrod in the West, Liberia treasures only American slave masters, not Africans or abolitionists.

When the winds of change started blowing across Africa, the Gold Coast, named by Europeans for what they most valued, the natural resources, not the people, became independent Ghana. Leopoldville was changed to Kinshasa. Upper Volta became Burkina Faso. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe and Salsbury was changed to Harare. Liberia, on the other hand, remained branded by slave masters before and after independence – corrupt, poor, and bankrupt economically, morally, culturally, and educationally.

In the words of the American slave masters who founded Liberia, “…the colonization of the free people of color, will render the slave who remains in America more obedient, more faithful, more honest, and, consequently, more useful to his master, is it proper to regard this happy consequence to both, as the sole object which the Society hope to attain…”

In 2020, Liberia is sinking under skyrocketing unemployment for college graduates, our roads are impassable, our bridges broken, and our schools and health delivery systems are broken or nonexistent. Yet the salaries and benefits of Liberian politicians are higher than most American politicians. Consistent with the Liberian saying, “99 days for rogues, but one day for the master.”

The floodgates have opened. Frederick Douglass said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” It’s time we demand that the U.S. Congress, the only surviving partner in crimes against humanity with the defunct American Colonization Society, who initiated, financed, provided security, in sustaining oppression, slavery, and racism in Liberia, pay damages for ongoing theft of lands, torture, and atrocities committed in Liberia including ritualistic killings, impassable roads, endemic corruption by Liberian politicians who are also American citizens and American persons with green cards.

Featured photo by Tumisu

Torli Krua

A pastor and human rights activist, Torli was instrumental in lobbying with US congressmen and policymakers to increase the quota of refugees from Africa being allowed into the US. He has also worked tirelessly in the New England region and beyond to champion the rights of refugees and immigrants. His organization, Universal Human Rights International, worked with thousands of immigrants from 38 different countries over the span of 20 years. He has been honored by the National Peace Corps Association and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.

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