Tuesday 19th September 2017,

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Liberians struggle to learn from perpetual vacuum created by the war

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Despite efforts to unite those who were greatly affected by the senseless carnage in the first self-governing Republic in Africa, it is obvious that some Liberians have not learnt from the perpetual vacuum the war created between them and their love ones.

Mr. Bangalee Trawally

Mr. Bangalee Trawally

One does not need to be a scientist to develop such ideology; all it takes is attending a gathering of Liberians, especially during community functions where you get a glance at the so-called “educated people.”

Under normal condition, the “educated people” are usually chosen as representatives of ordinary citizens through community organizations, but many Liberian organizational heads reflect the ordinary, “me, myself, and I.”  Instead of striving in the interest of people they are elected to serve, they focus on personal greed.

This was recently noticeable in Dallas, Texas, when Bangalee Trawally, president of FELMAUSA, the Federation of Liberian Mandingo Associations in the USA, served as head of a negotiating team to aggrieved parties of Matex, the Mandingo Association of Texas.

Mr. Trawally in black, greets an elder in Dallas, TXAnalysts at the failed negotiation concluded that the process began on a corrupt fulcrum. The head of the negotiating team, Bangalee Trawally’s method of brokering peace was completely off track, he introduced what is similar to the controversial “English Only Movement” of California; “Only those who speak Mandingo will be allowed to address this forum.”  Interestingly, the organization Mr. Trawally serves conducts all of its meetings, including teleconferences in English. Elections of its officials, including the tinted one that brought Mr. Trawally to power were also conducted in English.

According to a search engine, Opposing Viewpoints, Sandra Del Valle, a civil rights attorney and senior staff attorney at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and also author of Language Rights and the Law in the United States: Finding Our Voices, said in one of her publications that “Fear is leading many to tie immigration and language together and push for laws that restrict minority languages or that require new immigrants to learn English.” Del Valle also said that language rights must be extended to protect those who speak minority languages. She cited this case as an example:

“In January of 2005, during a hearing on allegations of child abuse and neglect, Tennessee Judge Barry Tatum warned an 18-year-old mother originally from Oaxaca, Mexico to learn English or risk losing custody of her toddler daughter.”

Similarly, the “English Only Movement” in Pasadena, California introduced a bill that would not allow participation of minorities in government operated areas unless they spoke English.  The movement was wildly criticized for what others call racial profiling.

It is not clear if this is the trend Mr. Trawally was following, but Losoni Sanoe, a member of the Minnesota delegation who attended the negotiation at Ramada Hotel in northern Dallas, constantly reminded Mr. Trawally to stick to the rule of “Speaking Mandingo Only.”

The continual drifting off from Mandingo to English by Mr. Trawally, the chief negotiator became an embarrassment, as he could not speak the Mandingo language for more than two minutes without blending English.  As he was reminded for a third time, a service lady at Ramada Hotel and a man interrupted the meeting by demanding $200.00 dollars for the space.

The FELMAUSA boss who did not understand the amount requested by the Ramada employees vowed to pay, he handed $20.00 to the lady, and the money was in return deposited on the table before him, which brought in some laughter.  The delegation was later booted out of the lobby because attendees agreed that it would be wasteful spending if the amount was paid.    The meeting was later transferred to the parking lot where Mr. Trawally was again reminded to stick to speaking Mandingo instead of English.

Mr. Mamadee Sesay

Mr. Mamadee Sesay

At this point, it became clearer that the “Mandingo only” rule was targeted at the Executive Director of OLM, and visiting Guest Speaker at the Matex inauguration, Mamadee Bangalee Sesay.  Mr. Sesay, a Mandingo man, was the only one at the meeting who could not speak the famous West African language.

This became clearer when Mamadee tried unsuccessfully to contribute to the peace talk, but was denied a slot to speak. Losoni Sanoe at this point lashed at Mr. Bangalee Trawally for profiling Mamadee as a non-Mandingo speaker.

Some elders in Dallas who were also denied the right to speak agreed with Losoni’s analogy that Mamadee was profiled by the FELMAUSA boss.

It can be recalled that in 2013, the controversial election of Mr. Bangalee Trawally inflamed relations between FELMAUSA and its chapter, Minnesota. The situation which was much tensed at the time was resolved through peace talk, headed by Imam Mohamed Dukuly and Liberian Financial Minister, Amara Konneh.   At that meeting, Mr. Trawally said his mother was a non-Mandingo, something that came to the audience as a big surprise.

Analyzing his statement from the 2013 peace-talk, one would be left to wonder why he would question someone’s “Mandingo-ness,” especially at this time when he’s the president of all Mandingoes in the United States.

It can be recalled, that in 2011, Mamadee Bangalee Sesay, a then presidential candidate of FELMAUSA suffered similar profiling at the hands of his kinsmen at OneDSC_0355 Veteran Place in Silver Spring, Maryland, during a debate between him and the former president of FELMAUSA, Mohamed Bility.  His speech was interrupted when someone from the audience profiled him as not being a real Mandingo; this degenerated into heated argument between supporters of Mr. Sesay and Mr. Bility.   The delegation at that debate was again booted from the jam packed hall which was designed to withhold 60 to 75 participants.

What is interesting is that, despite efforts to unite Mandingoes who claim to have been greatly affected by the senseless carnage in Liberia, it is becoming glaring that some have not learnt from the perpetual vacuum the war created between them and their love ones.  During the 80’s through 2014, Liberian Mandingoes continue to claim ethnic profiling in the homeland, but what remains bleak is, Mandingoes profiling Mandingoes.

The one million dollars question that remains on the lips of bystanders is how are Mandingoes striving to curtail ethnic profiling in Liberia when those they claim to be their representatives are at the forefront of stereotyping their own due to personal interest instead of the collective interest of all?

 

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4 Comments

  • This is an interesting article and needs to be discussed so our community is addressing it’s core problems. We cannot afford to isolate or count out a single person in our community. How do we complain about what the outsiders are doing to us when we are actually doing it to ourselves.! Sensitivity#!inclusion#!
    Isiaka sidibay

  • It can be recalled, that in 2011, Mamadee Bangalee Sesay, a then presidential candidate of FELMAUSA suffered similar profiling at the hands of his kinsmen at One Veteran Place in Silver Spring, Maryland during a debate between him and the former president of FELMAUSA, Mohammed Bility. His speech was interrupted when someone from the audience profiled him as not being a real Mandingo; this degenerated into heated argument between supporters of Mr. Sesay and Mr. Bility. The delegation at that debate was again booted from the jam packed hall which was designed to withhold 60 to 75 participants. Lassana Bamba 3/31/14

    Mr. Bamba, with the above statement coming from you, I beg to differ. I am not aware of what might have transpired in Texas but at no point in time during our stay in Silver Spring that anyone profiled Hon. Mamadee Sesay as not being a Mandingo or a real Mandingo from the Bility’s camp. In fact, contrary to your claim that the debate was disrupted because of Hon. Sesay’s speech/response being interrupted and him being profiled, the case was about Bro. Lon Jo ( I wish him a speedy recovery, ameen) questioning/ heckling your candidate Hon. Sesay as to whether he had no regret for his then Campaign Adviser Bro. KD of Virginia fighting and bitting Bro Alieu Jabateh during one of his campaign events in PA?

    Hon. Sesay was questioned by the moderator Bro. Mohammed Sherif who is on this listerve and his going to read my message too because I am going to CC copy him that , ” Hon. Sesay, during your campaign event in PA, your campaign Adviser fought a member of the community for writing a story about those who opposed the medical mission, do you have any regrets?” Hon. Sesay beat about the bush, but he didn’t condemn the act of his Snr. Campaign Staff , expressed any regrets or rendered any apology.. It was at that point then, Bro. Lon Jo stood and shouted, ” no apologies?!!!”

    This infuriated you, president Dorley and the then Board’s PRO and one of Candidate Sesay’s campaign stalwarts Bro Ishmael Komara and you all decided to move on bro. Lon Jo militarily. It was at that point that the owners of the building asked us to leave. The matter had nothing to do with profiling Hon. Sesay as a non Mandingo or not being a real Mandingo. Many on this listserve are very surprised at the way you’ve played around this story and are wondering if you didn’t also play around the alleged Mandingo statement by President Trawally. I am not saying that President Trawally didn’t say any Mandingo thing but from the way you twisted the Silver Spring story while many of those who attended are still alive, one can clearly deduce that you’ve added your own style/twist to the Texas Mandingo comment by president Trawally.

    Hon. Duwana , Bro. Solomane Sackor, Bro. Alieu Jabateh, Hon. Frank Sanor, President Talata, his VP Bro. kafumba Kenneth, Bro. Vamusa Jabateh and a host of many who are on this forum can attest to what I am saying to be the truth. The debate wasn’t disrupted because of someone Mandingoness being questioned.

    As journalist, your duty should be to report stories as they happened not the other way around. If this is a way to gain sentiment for whatever PR that you want to engage in, I can tell you that this one fell and failed flat as many still have fresh memories of what happened in Silver Spring. Hon. Sesay was defeated hands down by Hon. Bility. There was nothing like a real and fake Mandingo case. You just need to accept the facts and stop mourning for something that happened about 3 years ago. President Bility had a superior campaign team and that’s why he won.

    Have a nice night!!

  • Manyou, your account about Silver Spring is as bent as your support was for the Bility Led Administration when he was awarded the presidency of FELMAUSA. You know very well that when Mohamed Bility was given the opportunity to address the gathering, the first thing he said was” it was customary that when Mandingo people meet, the first thing we say is “I ni wu la”, which was to drive home the notion that his opponent was not one of us. Right after his divisive statement, he went ahead to address the gathering in English, and not Mandingo. The question is, why remind anyone that a FELMAUSA gathering is a Mandingo gathering when it’s obvious as it was.

    This is the same thing that took place in Texas because if at no times has FELMAUSA conducted her affairs in Mandingo, not at the convention, not the board of directors at their board meeting, not our teleconferences and not even our chapter organizations at their general meeting, why this rule from nowhere if it had no intended target?

    To your celebration and self-serving narration about Silver Spring, throughout that election period, except you pay deaf ear or blind yourself to the unethical utterance that was coming from your side, every other person you spoke to will ask you the ‘Mandingoness’ question about Mamadee Sesay because of what they have been told about him. Tell me who coined the word ‘Mediyan’ during that election?

    It is also not true that Mamadee Sesay refused to answer the question asked by Mohamed Sheriff regarding the incident that took place in Philadelphia. He was very clear in saying that as an individual, he controls no one else’s behavior but his; and went on further that the incident took place after his event and not during his presentation. Besides, Mamadee Sesay also told the audience that a statement was released addressing that situation as unfortunate and regrettable. But Mr. Sheriff had a position and conclusion about what happened and wanted to further his point by pressing on an issue that was already settled. What you did not say was that the moderator was so eager to ask that particular question that he did not even have time to introduce Mamadee Sesay as a candidate as he did the other candidate, and did only after being reminded according to people on the down in Silver Spring.

    On the issue of winning because you had a superior campaign team is just as laughable as the two years that followed after the award ceremony that ushered in that administration. Do you really think that your campaign chairman can be compared to Professor Momo Dudu? Do you really think that your candidate can be compared to our candidate in running any institution? How about the election rules that was twisted to give your Uncle advantage over Mamadee Sesay? This was done by denying individuals from New York, North Dakota, and Arizona from voting for bogus reasons. Also it was done by changing the Education requirement to be President of FELMAUSA. The superior campaign you ran brought in people to vote from Chicago when we all knew they were from Milwaukee. Today, the end has justified the means because you campaign for something you had no idea about leading it.

    You can appease yourself as much as you can, the fact remains that we did not forfeit that election because we did anything wrong, we forfeited that election because we did everything right as a show of respect for a system that failed to live up to the rules and guidelines that was setup by those we trusted and respected highly.

    For sure Hon. Bility won hands down to use your words, and he also led hands down as we all can see the impact he left on our community. Thanks to his superior campaign, we lost our 501 c 3, no accountability and look where FELMAUSA is today.

    Do you really believe this community can be fooled or go back to the days when people use tribe to divide us and leave us in a place of no progress and development? This article was never about your Uncle and I really do not know why you took an important issue and try to trivialize it.

    Moreover, our community or Organizations will lose some of our brilliant minds to other communities or organizations because we refuse to embrace those that can’t speak the Mandingo dialect which is no fault of their own. Even I, if it wasn’t because of the Liberian Civil War that brought me to Guinea where I learnt how to speak Mandingo, by now I wouldn’t have been able to speak it too. Therefore, speaking Mandingo should not be a prerequisite for anything in our community.

    My hope is that we can learn from this and stop once and for because it will never take us anywhere, has never taken us anywhere and we seem to yet learn the truth about the negative effect of division.

    Hopefully, we all will have the chance to read the speech delivered by Honorable Mamadee Sesay and agree to come together to build this community once and for all.
    Dutee Komara
    Brooklyn Park MN
    763-732-8743
    Sent from my iPhone

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