THE IMPERATIVES FOR POLITICAL UNITY AMONG THE LIBERIAN MANDINGOS
The central argument of this paper is that the Liberian Mandingos, despite constitutional recognition of their citizenship and huge contributions towards social, economic and political development of Liberia, continue to suffer from discrimination and marginalization mainly by certain powerful forces within the establishments as well as low key individuals who have always regarded the Mandingos as foreigners or second class citizens. During elections, Mandingos are subjected to rigorous scrutiny while their fellow citizens with multiple lineages from across the region are given free access to participate in such exercises without hindrances.
Liberia’s failed educational system and the adulterated cultural adherence account partly for the distortion of historical facts that tend to ignore the immense contributions of many indigenous people including the Mandingos towards the social and economic development of Liberia. The truth is that the Liberian State has failed miserably to reconcile its people on many fronts including the incessant land disputes, political marginalization, tribalism and poverty.
Considering this undesirable development, it becomes necessary for a group such as the Mandingos, who have been placed at the most disadvantaged position by these anomalies, to adopt pragmatic steps not for the purpose of relinquishing the union, but to promote and preserve their rights and identity threatened by the enemies of progress. Consequently, the focus of the Mandingo Agenda is to consolidate political unity among the Mandingos and to give relevance to their existence as a people whose ancestral contributions to the survival of the Liberian nation remained undiminished.
In this context, as Mandingos, we must break the jinks of disunity caused by politics because what unites us is far more than the political establishments that divide us. On this account, it would have been desirable for the establishment of an All Mandingos Party with a mission to include all ethnic Groups. However, this will defeat the purpose of inclusivity which has been the bane of the Liberian society. Instead, our aim is to spread our tentacle across the social-political divide of our country and to ensure that our people (the Mandingos) are adequately represented at all levels of our national life. Therefore, we must redefine our priorities and know when to speak about politics and the time to speak as Mandingos.
Accordingly, efforts should be made with a sense of urgency, to unite the Mandingo political class and to ensure that the goals of our various elites in different political or social organizations are aligned for the total benefits of our people. We know that this is a huge task and may sound impossible to achieve, but with our collective efforts and resilience, we shall overcome all difficulties in the way of Mandingo unity and prosperity. In discussing Mandingo Agenda, it is important to realize that a house divided against itself is bound to fall. Hence, we must first and foremost ensure the total unity of our people. It is an undeniable fact that when we speak with one voice, we become omnipotent. We saw this during the war. Had we continued that path, the story would have been different today. Instead, we set out to pull each other down, and allowed the forces of division to intercede between us. The end result was “Baboon works, Monkey chops”, an euphemism for describing disparity between those who do the real work and get less for their labor or nothing as compared to those who make no input, but benefit most. Such is the situation of the Mandingos in today’s Liberia. It is an established fact that had it not been the heroic efforts by the Mandingo men and women who stood up to the dictator Mr. Charles Taylor and his associates, probably Liberia wouldn’t have witnessed peace by now. But look around you and see what do we really have to boast of in post war Liberia? Regrettably, due to our failure to consolidate that unity and to identify priorities for our own benefit and the future generation of Mandingo youths, we squandered the chances that were available to us, and soon became least important in the political equation of the country.
The solutions to our problems are not found in one single recommendation but multitudes of recommendations. First, we need to come to the realization that no matter the costs, we must speak with one voice in matters of interests to the Mandingo people. We must develop plans and achievable goals on both short-term and long-term bases. Our long-term goals should include but not limited to massive investment in education. We must establish a flawless scholarship scheme, to be preferably unapologetically named, The Mandingo Education Endowment Fund. The Fund should be supervised by a competent Board of Directors of Mandingo men and women from diverse educational backgrounds. The awarding criteria of scholarships by that establishment should be clearly spelt out and should be based on academic qualification and loyalty to the Mandingo Agenda.
In the short run, such as the pending 2017 elections, the Mandingos should be guided by the recent developments and watch out for the manifestos of all political parties with the view of scrutinizing them for the purpose of selecting those that have sympathy to our cause. This must not only be said on paper, but must be shown and seen as a genuine attempt to embrace our people and to allow the qualified Mandingo men and women to participate competitively like other Liberians in the processes of their chosen parties. We should avoid being pulled by interest groups posing as representatives of the Mandingos. Any deal reached between our people and any interest group must be based on a give-and-take spirit free from all dubious persuasions. We must avoid the mistakes of the past and consider the future with a notion to correcting the past.
Overtime, it has been observed that our major problem is the lack of leadership. Those who have made attempts to lead our people, on several occasions, have fallen short of delivering us to the promised land. One plausible explanation for their failure is putting their pecuniary interest first, which they pay the most attention to at the expense of the people. This must change if we are to succeed as a people. Therefore, our Agenda should address the leadership question and see this as the bedrock for the survival of our community. Speaking of leaders, we must insist not only on paper qualification, which is admittedly crucial in selecting leaders, but we must also assess the moral integrity as well as the commitment of individuals desirous to lead us in any capacity. None of the above-mentioned goals and objectives can be achieved without the relevant education backed by the conscious efforts to sensitize the Mandingo youths about the immense benefits to be derived from unity, out of which all things are possible.
By: Mr. Mohammed Jommandy