Report by: James Fasuekoi
Continue from last edition:
First, it appeared everything has been put under control after much palavering among listserv discussants. That’s after the new LINA boss; J. Nagbe Sloh announced that elders of the Grebo-Kru-Krahn region of Gedepo and Gbeapo in southeast Liberia have reached a compromise with the host of “Issues In the Press Reloaded,” Mr. Al Jerome Chede. Mr. Sloh’s quick move came in the wake of tenacious rumors that the man, Al Jerome, earlier expected to host Min. Konneh on a radio show was in fact allegedly siding with the would-be protesters. The announcement by Sloh now meant Mr. Chede and the TMZ would denounce the protest and stand with Min. Konneh.
Though the atmosphere still appeared shaky, Mr. Sloh’s timely intervention had almost everyone holding his breath with the belief that things could turn around in favor of the minister. Whether Mr. Sloh, aka Bobotuo, along with southeastern elders actually met Reporter Chede and the TMZ and reached a common ground, it was difficult to tell. But the fact that neither Mr. Chede nor the TMZ International Radio immediately refuted Sloh’s claims, readers were tempted to believe Sloh’s version.
In Liberia, tradition isn’t taken lightly among elders. And in rural Liberia where elders are the supreme rulers, the way people live, talk, dress and eat, are all dictated by tradition. In such unique environment, elders hold sway over the young men and women and rarely was there a time when a young man or woman rejected pleas by elders for a settlement over an issue no matter how grave the magnitude. Hence, the reason for which Mr. Sloh’s abrupt announcement of a compromise didn’t take many especially, traditionalists by surprise. Sloh’s adopted Senator “Kekura Kpoto” style Liberian politics of the 80s to suddenly “turn things around” seemed to work.
By July 17th in the late evening, a day following Sloh’s announcement, things appeared to be slowly working in favor of the Minister Amara Konneh’s many supporters who were certainly at the head of the debate. The sun set over the Minneapolis and Brooklyn City Center’s skyline, seemed peaceful as the two cities dawned for another new day. But as chicken crowed, the ‘levee’ finally succumbed to the gushing ‘Mississippi River’ which flows through both cities.
That morning, July 18th, the day began with what looked like a demeaning letter from Liberian Journal’s producer Mr. Abdullah Kiatamba, addressed to Mr. Al Jerome Chede and his radio program, Issues In The Press Reloaded. In it, the OLM maintained: “Meanwhile, the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM) has rejected a request by Issues In the Press Reloaded, a struggling online program, to conduct an extensive interview with the accomplished young Liberian leader.”
In an equally strong-worded press statement published by the OLM Listserv, TMZ Radio International for its part, warned: “Tmz CEO has made it clear that Tmz Radio will not be intimidated by cheap community smear campaign amidst circulating rumors by some members of the OLM and Abdullah Kiatamba of The Liberia Journal online magazine.”
“The allegation that “officials of Issues in the Press Reloaded,” a Tmz Radio International program aired every Saturday, are the instigators behind the planned demonstration against the Key Note Speaker of the July 26th Independence Day Celebration, is irresponsibly unfounded,” it said.
In another related listserv posting, a MOLAC spokesperson, Mr. Kirkpatrick Weah wrote and refuted what he called, claims by OLM officials that “OLM has rejected a request by Issues In the Press Reloaded, to conduct an extensive interview” with Min. Konneh. Weah maintained, it was in fact “Minister Konneh” and not the TMZ, as claimed who wrote an email letter and requested to be interviewed by the station. But before this remark by Weah, the station had posted an evening bulletin a day earlier and it read: “Issues in the Press Reloaded shuts the door on Finance Minsiter Amara Konneh; stands in Solidarity with Front Page Africa.”
When this writer on Sunday questioned Mr. Weah via phone as to the authenticity of claims that Min. Konneh’s office wrote TMZ a letter and making such request, he maintained “TMZ got it on its web file,” assuring us he would call later to further explain since he was in a meeting. He didn’t return a call back.
All this time, the debate continued heatedly on the OLM Listserv with Mr. Sayku Kromah at the center stage, strongly frowning at Minister Konneh’s visit, plus the reported “missing 13 million.” “My issue with this trip and all other frivolous travels by officials of this Government is the cost benefit ration to the ‘task’ [tax] payers of Liberia who have been reduced to scavengers” Mr. Sayku Kromah was very adamant and demanding that Min. Konneh act briskly to clear himself of alleged corruption charges being made against him.
In no time, Kromah’s comments swiftly got scores of responses from Liberians around the world, most of them, Mandingos. While none-Mandingo participants in the debate cheered Mr. Kromah for taking such stance, other participants with Mandingo background, out-numbering the rest, sharply scolded Mr. Kromah, in some instances, attempting to discredit his Kromah’s reputation. Mr. Morris Sekou Konneh, one of Amara Konneh’s supporters no doubt will be remembered by listserv audiences for his constant bombardment, but sometimes amusing remarks against Mr. Kromah.
Mr. Morris Konneh, who may probably have family relations with Mr. Kromah, began by quoting from Kromah’s post, the followings in italics “He (the minister) needs not take money from the national coffer to fly way over to the US to explain what has really happened to the money.”
To that, Mr. Morris Konneh then replied: “Beside, it is just so laughable to see those who are beneficiaries of government trips to The United States to be the most vociferous in this whole thing. But again, try their heads in the ministerial garment and see whether they will prefer visiting the hinterland to that of traveling to the US on 100% government money.”
All this time, Kromah was drowning in deep argument between him and pro Amara supporters with barely time to respond to fresh posts.
“But I am surprise why mouths have been sealed all through those days except for Amara’s Most recent trip,” Mr. Morris Konneh remarked in another post.
For the hours that followed, Mr. Morris Konneh kept firing back at his brother, using every means possible including discrediting Mr. kromah, a former diplomat as a way exhaust his Kromah’s energy to back off.
Then the following came from Mr. Varfley Dolleh, a staunched Amara supporter who announced he had arrived to New Jersey and was preparing to head to Minnesota to lend support to the pro Amara group: “Gauging the trend Of events one is obliged to surmise Whether or not this is about Amara’s culpability in financial crime or an insulation of despotic racial hatred? I am of the opinion that it is other way around.”
“In my judgment,” he continued, “history is repeating it self. If this is not die hard ethnicity in post war Liberia, then, what it is? It is an open secret that they are hiding under the canopy of fighting financial transgression to achieve their insatiable hatred for Amara and the Mandingoes collectively.”
Meantime, Mr. Patrick Oliver Sawyer, said to be an assistant to Min. Konneh managed to share the following lines with readers which was directed at Mr. Weah in the short interval. “Kirkpatrick all your points are legitimate. There’s no need to call for a protest march against our Independent Day Orator. you, and folks who share your view, should allow the Finance Minister (FM) to come to Minnesota and let’s give him his day in court.”
An attempt by Mr. Sawyer to seek a dialogue with the “opposition” was further buttressed by longtime UL political activist, Mr. Dempster Yallah. Yallah who seems quite mellowed when it comes to the issues of ‘waste and abuses” by the present administration, wrote this:
“My only qualm in all of this apparent “stand-your-ground” posture of the would be demonstrators, is as if Min. Konneh is already guilty of impropriety in their book for all the concerns they may have, way before the man even gets the opportunity to clarify or explain anything, much more defend his name. In the interest of fair play, could the demonstrators therefore give the minister the benefit of the doubt by hearing him out on these concerns before indicting him? That is the rule!”
Soon, the debate resumed with its old posture, and it was Mr. Manyou Bility’s term. In support of Amara, he wrote: “Hon. Konneh’s is coming here [in Minnesota] to fulfill some [of] his constitutional duties and responsibilities under Chapter three of our 1986 constitution Captioned “Fundamental Rights” as long as his trip is about coming to speak to Liberians about our government and its functionaries.” He quoted Article 15, a, b & c to support his statement.
This was followed by Mr. P.Morris Kromah, another of Amara’s admirer who asked: “So why must the assumption be made that min. Konneh’s trip is state funded? Why are you assuming that every time a government official travels, it is out of state coffers such travel is funded??? I’m troubled by these kinds of faulty assumptions with little or no basis. Unless there is compelling evidence to prove that Min. Konneh’s trip is state funded, please avoid assuming.”