By James Kokulo Fasuekoi, Eden Prairie, Minn – It is very interesting to see that Edward Carter would go all out to accuse Native Liberians for “hampering growth and development” in Liberia through alleged “witchcraft” practices including the 133 years period when Carter’s Americo-Liberian grandfathers and granduncles ruled the country without providing a single tangible proof.
How unwise is Edward Carter to think so especially, when he cannot establish a compelling correlation between Indigenous Liberians (their cultures) and the practices of witchcraft? And he still thinks he can tie “witchcraft practices” to indigenes or say, make worthless claims that Native “witchcraft” and “traditional cultural practices” retarded development without being questioned by anyone? Such faulty assertion by Carter is nothing but a baloney and represents the new face in dirty Liberian politics and all a Carter can do is, try to excuse his ethnic Americo-Liberian group from the backwardness they caused the entire country and people during their misrules.
Assuming Mr. Carter is partly right for making such diabolic observation, what then can he say concerning highly influential Americo-Liberians like Allen Yancy, James Anderson en all who were found guilty for their 1978 ritualistic murder of little Moses Tewh of Harper, Maryland, for which they were put to death by hanging?
In fact, many locals believed that prior to little Tweh’s kidnap and subsequent murder, the same Yancy-Anderson group may have been responsible for scores of disappearances and killings of teenagers in the Harper area but it was the case of this 12 year-old that somehow turned the tide on the big fishes of Maryland that fateful year.
The Tweh episode became a landmark case in Liberia and caused other auxiliary ritualistic groups elsewhere in the country including the capital to have second thought regarding the sacrificing of blood of poor innocent children.
In the case of Tweh, it was discovered that his Americo-Liberian captors who were the masterminds, first had him kidnapped and kept him in captivity for a protracted period waiting so that community pressure could die down, before murdering and dismembering his body.
It created headline for international newspapers with some portraying Liberia as a country of “savagery” and that earned Liberia an odd look in the eyes of her neighbors. Such barbarism as murdering, extracting and trading human organs and blood for juju and voodoo ritual purposes should not be condoned by any group of people.
Equally, witchcraft in every form must be condemned and should not have a place in the life of civilized people in today’s world. While Mr. Carter is claiming that Native alleged “witchcraft practices” derailed “development” in Liberia for which he’s yet to prove, at least, on the other hand, Yancy and his co-conspirators were arrested, interrogated and found to be guilty in the Tweh’s murder based on solid evident. So what can Mr. Carter say about that?
Clearly, Native Liberians and their “traditional cultural practices” didn’t play a role in the ritual killing of little Tweh. But Mr. Carter prefers to gloss over this landmark murder case that involved settlers Liberians like him, perhaps, due to his own political-cultural expediency.
What a gross intellectual dishonesty! Of course, In could go on and provide countless more disturbing and disgraceful incidents of higher magnitude that involved members of Carter’s Americo-Liberian ethnicity but I will not waste my precious time on meaningless issues however provocative they may seem as this isn’t about a contest but to make a point.
In any case, let the word go forth that Native Liberian “traditional cultural practices” have never in any way impeded “growth and development” in Liberia beginning the time of its creation as a nation as blatantly falsified by Mr. Carter who seems to pretend to be someone he really isn’t.
Rather, Liberia’s backwardness that spins over centuries should be squarely blamed on the unlawful and cruel practices by Americo-Liberians such as nepotism, rampant corruption, greed for power and wealth, “who knows you” system, secret ritual killings, the marginalization of Native Liberians in terms of fair distribution of jobs and other educational opportunities including scholarships among its citizens. These are things Mr. Carter can’t deny because, he like other “Congos” benefited at the expense of Native Liberians from such immoral living in the past.
Until April 12, 1980, it is a well-documented fact that members of the so-called “Congo class” including Mr. Carter needed no required professional qualifications in order to work in any government or private institution throughout Liberia unlike a typical Native person like this writer.
By virtue of his Americo-Liberian ethnicity, someone like Carter automatically became qualified to work in any field and place of his choice and there was nothing to stop him under the infamous “who knows you” system which took hold of the country till the overthrow.
All one like Carter needed to do was to call or appear before an employer and voice out his wish for employment and it was granted immediately regardless whether there was a lineup of highly qualified none-settler Liberians vying for the post.
As a result of this kind of public cheating lifestyle many people from Mr. Carter’s background became lazy and got accustomed to earning almost everything free. Due to such behavior, following the overthrow of settlers’ dynasty, it became difficult for some to adjust into mainstream Liberian society.
In fact, at one point I was personally surprised when Dr. Gbessagee mentioned in several of his post that Mr. Carter once served as a “reporter” for the Liberia News Agency (LINA). Frankly, at the time the former mayor and I worked for the defunct Daily Star Newspaper in 1985-1987, Carter didn’t work in any reportorial capacity. He was only an advertising agent for that paper.
As much as I don’t doubt Mr. Carter’s capability to have served as “reporter” prior to 1980, I am certainly convinced that his joining LINA during Pres. Tolbert’s administration was based on privilege and connection under the “who knows you” system as presented earlier and not necessarily based on Carter’s “know how.” Indeed, my understanding is that Mr. Carter went to work for LINA at the time Mr. E. Reginald Townsend, an Americo-Liberian like Carter, served as Minister of Information, R.L.
Therefore, it should be quite easy for one to surmise that Mr. Carter got the job not necessarily based on his qualification as a trained reporter but simply due to the fact he is an Americo-Liberian. The deceptive and stereotypical attitudes exhibited by both Mr. Carter and reporter Menkor are by no means strange; they derived from the general negative portrayal of national cultural heritage in recent years by local government officials like Pres.Sirleaf, Grace Kpan and Duncan Cassell who waged a cultural war with the intent to demean and possibly eliminate our viable cultural institutions by use of falsehoods and stereotypes. However, what seems frightening in all this is when two individuals affiliated with the media blatantly disregard objectivity and simple truth, and join others by using similar derogatory and stereotypical phrases to describe certain group and its cultures.
How settlers’ faltering morality, ungodly acts hurt the Gospel in Liberia
Now that Mr. Carter has been first to open a Pandora box, (can of worms), it is fair enough to examine a few things about the lives of Americo-Liberians in general before closing this chapter and no one should dare blame me for my fair judgment but Carter who started it all. Despite the unending hospitality our Indigenous parents accorded Carter’s dejected grandparents who fled the yoke of slavery and enter Liberia, the settlers had always harbored sinister plans against Native Liberians from the onset. Registered on their minds have always been the “conquer and rule” tactics which isn’t different from the plantation slave mentality ingrained in their souls borrowed from their former slave masters in the U.S. Deep South.
In their new found heaven, Liberia, nothing the early settlers did that was without greed or tricks. For instance, the initial document created by the settlers to govern the newly established commonwealth of Liberia was heavily grounded in pure deception. The fraudulent document excluded Indigenous Liberians from being citizens of their own birth country. That wasn’t all; the original owners of the soil, Native Liberians, who sheltered the homeless “pioneers,” also hold no representation in the national emblem. It says the following in reference to Americo-Liberians: “The Love of Liberty brought us Here.” This, plus many more “deeds” of the settlers is now generating strong debate across the entire country. What kind of people on earth will reciprocate the kindness of another in this manner? Unless “people” with that spirit of Lucifer.
Many Liberians who don’t do research on ancient Liberian history know very little surrounding the circumstances that prompted in parts, or in general, the migration of the freed Black American slaves set for Liberia. Even though one of the reasons for the slaves’ relocation to Africa was to allow them gain liberty and have a place they could call home, another driving force behind the repatriation organized by the American Colonization Society (ACS) was the idea and encouragement that the freed Black slaves (Mr. Carter’s grandfathers) would help spread the Gospels of Jesus Christ throughout the country and beyond, wining souls for the Kingdom of God.
By all accounts, and as per several early writings on Liberia, the foreign sponsors of the settlers held strong negative perception about tribal Africans who lived in what would become Liberia and often described them as “barbaric.” Due to this reason plus more, the coming of the freed slaves to the coast presented a golden opportunity whereby the new comers thought then to be already “civilized” could now help to “civilize” and also “Christianize” the local “pagans.”
As it turned out the freed Black slaves proved to be more “barbarous” than the kindhearted Natives of Liberia, contrary to the perception of the former slaver masters. In fact, Carter’s forebears expected to assimilate into the local mainstream society opted instead to adopt cruel methods like segregation and suppression toward the indigenes. These wicked acts by Mr. Carter’s forefathers toward African Native Liberians didn’t only dissuaded a huge number Natives from adhering to the Gospels, they resulted occasionally into war.
Discriminatory practices by the settlers, according to “God’s Impatience In Liberia,” published 1968 by Lutheran Pastor Joseph Wold, “created mistrust” between indigenes and Americo-Liberians, thereby hurting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” In several communications with his Lutheran Archdiocese overseas, Evangelist Joseph Wold, situated in Zorzor District, Lofa County at the time gave vivid portrayal of what he described as the “ungodly behaviors” by the “Negros” (Americo-Liberians) toward the local “tribal people” and expressed great fear and warned such acts could turn “potential souls” away.
The evangelist-anthropologist further wrote that considering the tribulations “Negros” endured while in America, it didn’t cross his mind that they “freed slaves” would be the ones to subject another group elsewhere to all sorts of humiliations. Besides, who else can be blamed for the faltering morality weighing down our society today if not Americo-Liberians?
Absolutely, no one except Mr. Carter’s forebears who ought to be blamed for such deteriorating moral values in the Liberian society nowadays. Not that Indigenous Liberians are without faults in this area but bulk of the country’s problems, from stealing from national treasuries to amassing ill-gotten wealth from Liberia’s mineral resources; and from initiating bogus government contracts in the form of renting settlers’ private homes/buildings for GOL’s daily operations that partly led to the 1980 coup came from Americo-Liberians.
Another aspect of settlers’ immoral conducts toward indigenes rarely discussed is the TWP’s forced labor practices throughout Liberia during its rules. Mr. Carter’s forefathers, for over a century had indigenes subject to all forms of forced labors in all parts of the country except in the settlements of the so-called “Congo class” and this made scores of young Natives Liberians like my parents to flee upcountry for Firestone and later Monrovia, during the 1960s.
This barbaric situation led to the mass displacement of Natives Liberians in that many like my late father, Kokulo, strongly resisted the ideas of doing such duties as communal works, government militia, and paying the infamous annual or seasonal “hut taxes” that had no benefits for his own regional communities except to enrich the oppressive TWP regime members and their families and loved ones. In “Liberia: The Heart of Darkness,” for example, Mr. Williams cites the widespread mistreatment of Native Liberians who failed to pay the “hut taxes” at the hands of their fellow Natives enlisted in the PPF (a proxy army) on orders of settlers-tax collectors.
He explained that during the time he lived with foster parents in the coastal towns of “Negbeh” and “Kitizon,” he occasionally saw Native adults being humiliated and at times “flogged unmercifully” in the presence of their own women and children for failure to pay the “hut taxes,” monies he said were “used to support a government that marginalized” them. These things, Williams added, scared him growing up as a child in Rivercess. Related Story