The Triumphant Return Of Manneh Weah: Reasons For All The Celebration
Analysis By Sherman C. Seequeh
Jerbeh Massaquoi and a throng of other young men and women now appear sobered from the ecstasy of ululation. They are exhausted, far from home, catching their breath on the side of the tarmac highway. Should they go further or should they go backward–homeward? All the vehicles face Monrovia, practically none for Firestone.
“Let us reach Monrovia, once for all,” Jerbeh, the apparent leader of the frenzied group of youngsters finally breaks the silence. No answer. Beaten by the scourge of a long journey already trekked, none can say a word immediately.
No doubt, they are stranded. They can neither walk back nor move frontwards anymore. Towel Hill is just a huge distance for both ends. Run of any option, they sit, some lie, helplessly by the roadside.That’s how the euphoria of welcoming President George Forky KlonJlaleh Gbakugbeh Tarpeh Tanyonoh MannehWeah went for some Liberians. For some Liberians, supporters of the President and the government, the emotions and joys of the day were too much to control. They perspired profusely, dancing and singing. Some wept.
That was yesterday, September 30, 2018, when Liberians turned out in their droves to welcome their President—Liberia’s 24th President—from the United States. The turnout refreshed fond memories of the 2017 elections, which witnessed sporadic human tsunami—others call it “Blue tsunami” after the official blue color of the Coalition for Democratic Change.
Those short and memorable days of elections saw the excessive expression and demonstration of Liberian people’s clamor for change, Change for Hope—change from the dominance of economic and political power by a few elite to the rule of the masses.
The moments of the elections were reminisced Sunday morning. While the chanting of revolutionary songs and catchphrases yesterday must have given President Weah the assurance that his popularity hasn’t shrunk, it also demonstrated a self-reminder of the people, particularly the avalanche of devotees of the Change for Hope Revolution, that the inspiration which drove them into choosing a new president and a government of their own is neither diminished, faded nor forgotten. It was a deviant way of saying, “we are not distracted from our bond with our Messiah and our government by any force or any condition.”
Just nine months in office, many devilish ploys have been afoot, perpetrated by vicious propagandists, to make both President George Weah and his government look like they had been around for five years or more. They have tried to turn every redemptive move by the President into evil as to peter out if not obliterate the support and solidarity of the people who elected him. They continue to frighten the populace with conspiracy theories and politics of doom and gloom. The propaganda war which they could not win on the electoral battlefield is what these people, nursing the deep wounds of the waterloo of December 26, 2017, want to win in post-electoral times.
However, it seems the likes of Jerbeh Massaquoi—hundreds of thousands of Liberians—wanted to send out a clear, unequivocal message to distractors and doomsters yesterday. And the message expressed in the slogans and pet songs of day was emphatic: “We are with Manneh. We’re on the side of Liberia’s progress. No turning back. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will subtract from and distract our devotion to our Leader and Government.” In other words, as a band of youth sang, “Opposition, don’t waste your time. You have 24 years to wait—and lament.”
But that was not the only reason wrapped in the incredibly stunning reception by Liberians of their Leader and delegation from the United Nations General Assembly. As moststalwarts and supportersof the Coalition for Democratic Change put it, much of the celebration had to do with how the President’s visit to the United States has demystified and negated a horde of mischievous conspiracy theories about the President and his relations with the United States.
The President visit’s to the United States has disproven many of the things that detractors had said about the President during the 2017 campaign and even after the decisive victory. Many detractors had floated the hoopla that the President was a suspect of US laws and that he wouldn’t pass US immigrationcheckpoint, to foot on American land. ‘How can we have a president who can’t visit the US, Liberia’s founder and quasi colonizer?’ the opposition was saying. Second, it was also contended that the CDC Standard Bearer did not have the intellectual wherewithal to deliver a speech before world leaders such as at the UN General Assembly without Liberians bowing in shame. Even recently before he left for the Assembly, the detractors of the President and his Government had said the President was given a restricted visa, as if he were an international pariah.
Conversely, instead of supporters of the President bowing in shame, it is rather the anti-Weah propagandists and naysayers that that are woefully shamed by the visit. Because all we have seen from this visit is a comprehensive negation and demystification ofthenegative narratives coined against and heaped on the President. We have all seen the President triumphantly entering the borders of the United States, sharing hotel with that country’s President, Donald Trump; we saw the President in selfie with the US first family; we saw the President confidently and eloquently speaking at two iconic events at the United Nations headquarters—first at Nelson Mandela Peace Summit and at the General Assembly of the United Nations; we saw the President venturing outside of New York to visit West Point and Michigan. West Point is 55.6 miles from the UN Headquarters and Michigan is 641 miles from New York. Where is the mystic restricted visa?
“Where is the benefit of the trip?” cynics may still ask. The first benefit is public confidence maintained in the Government and the President by contradicting and ravishing naysayers’ gossips, horrible insinuations and odd perceptions about the President. It maintains and even ups the President’s popularity rating, which he badly needs to help himself and the population to remain focused and undistracted from the country’s development agenda. If he did not win over these political and psychological odds by attending the UNGA and performing splendidly, the noise would be too much and impugn on the President. In fact, what is more beneficial than disproving your enemies, making them to lick the wounds of defeat and shame?
It may not make sense to some people when one tries to establish the falsity of the trivial politics of the day, chasing every negative narrative of critics and detractors. But in a gullible society such as ours, where most of the people are persistently confronted with and susceptible to negative narratives, undercutting the myths and rallying the people behind the positives and appealing to their patriotic sensitivities of the people is the strategic thing to do.
And thank God Jerbeh Massaquoi and all the people who gave this government 65 per cent national suffrage are not yet consumed and bemused by the ferocity of propaganda fire ignited and inflicted upon an infantile regime. The mammoth turnout on Sunday to welcome the leader of Liberia expressed in the huge display of patriotic spirit is all that suggeststhe undiminishing popularity of George Forky KlonJlaleh GbakugbehTarpeh Tanyonoh Manneh Weah and the Government.
They danced. They sang their hearts out. They hooted slogans. They noised with cars’ horns. They thronged roadsides. Some, like Jerbeh and colleagues, walked long distances, escorting their leader and entourage. Choked by joy, some wept.
Secondly, the President’s presence and display of oratory prowess and diplomatic acumen have doubtlessly assured the international community, some of which might have been on a wait-and-see with things in Liberia after the election, that Liberia is in capable hands and ripe for business as ever before. Indeed, the clamor to see the Liberian president by countless world powers and international partners, the eloquently forceful articulation of Liberia’s case and the resultant expression of willingness and commitment to Liberia’s development agenda by many developed countries are a momentous breakthrough in Liberia’s rapid recovery. That’s the benefit.
Or did we want the President to bring down California, or Paris or Wall Street to Liberia before the visit amounts to benefit?