Sometime we take comfort in the fact that based on our collective experience of the war and the hardship it has brought upon us as a people and nation and the fact that many Liberians, more than ever before, have traveled widely and have become much more enlightened about the issue of hate and bigotry and therefore embracing of the values of tribal and religious diversity. But whenever a Mandingo person is appointed to a key position in Liberia, tribal hatred and bigotry have always raised their ugly heads. We see this with the publication of malicious and hateful propaganda piece written by Lee H. William of the African Standard website. According to William, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf “named Amara Konneh a Mandingo from the Kankan region of Guinea as the new finance Minister of the Republic of Liberia.”
Going on further, the writer wrote: Minister Konneh’s family is reported to have settled in the mineral rich region of Bopolu after crossing from Guinea in the mid-fifties. Trading in precious stones is one of the major businesses of members of the mandinka ethnic group. According to a source that refused to be named, Minister Konneh family settled in the diamond rich region of the country without any legal paper to legitimize their stay in the country and started mining from that part of the country. According to the source Minister Konneh’s family did not seek any naturalization papers from the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization of the Republic of Liberia until he became surfacing in the political life of the country.”
Did Lee William really interview people who know Amara Konneh? I doubt it. If he did he wouldn’t have written that “Minister Konneh’s family did not seek any naturalization papers from the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization of the Republic of Liberia until he became surfacing in the political life of the country.” Given the fact that Amara Konneh became known within the political circle of Liberia in 2004 when he became Chairman of LIFE (Liberians for Ellen) in the US, can we say then that it was in 2004 or 2005 that his parents became Liberians through naturalization? This is contrary to the fact about Amara Konneh. If Lee William had done his research properly, he would have discovered that the parents of Amara Konneh were among the hundreds of thousands of Liberians that were murdered in cold blood by the rebels supported by the like of Lee William. Both Amara Konneh’s father and mother were killed by the rebels in Wasua simply because they were Mandingo. If Lee William can prove that Amara’s parents resurrected from their graves to “seek naturalization papers from the Bureau of Immigration” in support of their son’s political ambition, then we will give him credit for writing a well-researched document. Other than that we can conclude that this effort of his is nothing but a malicious, hateful, and bigoted piece of propaganda intended to derail’s Minister Amara Konneh’s confirmation as the next Finance Minister of the Republic of Liberia. No doubt, Minister Amara Konneh merits this position.
We thought we had dealt with the issue of tribal and religious hatred in the past, but what we are seeing or hearing now from the likes of Lee William regarding the nomination of Minister Amara Konneh as Finance Minister has reminded us once again that hatred and bigotry are still alive and kicking when it comes to the Mandingoes in Liberia. We dealt with it when Dr. Al Hassan Conteh was nominated as the president of the University of Liberia. We dealt with it when Cllr. KabinehJanneh was nominated to the Supreme Court Bench. Minister Amara Konneh is now the latest Mandingo personality to have been attacked on account of his ethnicity. This simply means we have lot more works to do to make Liberia a discrimination-free society. If it took a vigorous fight even in enlightened societies like Europe and America to defeat racial hate, bigotry or prejudice, the fight has to be much more vigorous in an under-developed third world country like Liberia. This anti-Mandingo sentiment against the nomination of Minister Amara Konneh should remind us that we should continue the fight to make Liberia a better society, where there should be no place for hate and bigotry of any kind. If Martin Lurther King, Malcolm X and others could defeat racism in America to make America a better society, we must continue to fight to make Liberia a better society to reflect its pluralistic ethnic and religious values. Those who think the 1980 military coup and the developments since then have addressed social inequality in Liberia are in deep slumber and need to wake.