Under the banner, “Mass Action for Peace,” Liberian women have begun a two-week long period of fast and prayer with the central message being “Let’s Maintain the Peace.” The purpose of the fast and prayer, which started on May 25 and will continue until June 7, 2022, is to maintain peace in Liberia by paying attention to the early warning signs of violence and encouraging all Liberians to disarm their hearts.
The activities of the women are centered on fostering collaboration among all of the country’s citizens in order to make certain that Liberia’s peace is not jeopardized in any way. They are pleading with all Liberians to disarm their emotions in order to preserve the peace. Their action is being motivated by the discovery of early warning indicators that they have found.
The circumstances that led to the postponement of the by-election in Lofa County, the widespread spread of gender and sexual-based violence, the issue of mysterious killings, the rise in prices, and the hoarding of basic goods from the Liberian market are all things that have us just as concerned as the women.
The realities surrounding the 14-year Liberian Civil War, which claimed the lives of around 250,000 people, wrecked property valued at billions of dollars, and tore apart the moral fabric of the country, are the sources of our concern.
We would like to bring to your attention the fact that the majority of Liberians intended to fight for their civil and political rights, neither of which were guaranteed by the Liberian State at the time the civil war broke out.
In place of the intellectual and political competition that would have propelled Liberia to heroic heights, the Americo-Liberians who led the country to freedom became violently divided along racial and ethnic lines. This prevented the political and intellectual competition that would have propelled Liberia to heroic heights. People of a darker skin tone, who made up the bulk of the population, like Edward James Roye, were looked down upon and discriminated against by mulattos like Joseph Jerkins Roberts. Over the course of time, E.J. Roye and others like him were able to gain the upper hand and eventually dominate the country for more than a hundred years.
Surprisingly, the people with dark skin viewed the indigenous Liberians as people with poorer intelligence and an inferior culture. They also thought their culture was less advanced. They prevented them from participating in the administration of Liberia, made them pay taxes, and compelled them to work without representation in order to maintain the country’s infrastructure.
The American-Liberian Hegemony came to an end when President William R. Tolbert was overthrown in a military coup led by unsophisticated local Liberian soldiers. This marked the end of the hegemony. It was believed that President Samuel K. Doe, who had become president as a result of the coup, would be able to influence the path that events would take because the coup had widespread public support. On the contrary, he exacerbated the split by engaging in practices such as sectionalism, nepotism, corruption, despotism, and any other behavior that deprives people of their civil liberties and democratic rights. These and other factors led to the escalation of the conflict into a bloody civil war in the country.
It is important to note that during the height of the civil war in Liberia, the Liberian women’s Mass Action for Peace, which is a conglomeration of Christian and Muslim religions, would regularly gather at the airfield fish market, where they have gathered again, in order to pray for peace and demand an end to the fourteen years of civil strife that had been going on. ECOMIL, which later became UNNIL at the time, arrived in Liberia for the first time in August of 2003, shortly after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in Accra.
The international world, backed by ECOWAS and the United Nations, stepped in to put an end to the slaughter in 2003, following the resignation of previous President Charles G. Taylor. This, in turn, led to the election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. President Sirleaf carried out her duties effectively. She took a number of important measures, all of which can be made significantly better today.
We chose to exclude Taylor’s rule on purpose due to the fact that it had a negligible difference from the Doe dictatorship it had overthrown.
Even while the country has achieved a lot of progress, there is still a lot of work to be done before it can fully transform into a democracy that is functional and a government that listens to the people it serves.
Despite what we have seen, the executive branch continues to abuse the judiciary in order to exact revenge on its perceived or actual political foes; public officials continue to enjoy unexplainable levels of wealth or lifestyles; the budget process is still being manipulated for the benefit of political elites, even though the vast majority of the population lives in abject poverty; civil service jobs are no longer awarded based on merit but on political connections; public utilities are not available. In addition, as stated early, the prices of even the most fundamental goods have skyrocketed, violence against women is still going unchecked, and people are passing away for reasons that cannot be explained. These challenges are not hidden from anyone’s view. These are serious problems because they affect the people directly, and need to be addressed.
Regrettably, the public policy prescriptions to address them are woefully inadequate, and the government looks uninterested or unable to address them for the most part. The priority in the present national budget are not items that would help the people, but rather what each government official will obtain for their own benefits. This is despite the fact that an increase in the size of the national budget has been announced. These are replica of the things that made us to take arms against ourselves.
Therefore, the government and all Liberians should pay attention when the Women of Mass Action for Peace say that they see a potential threat to the peace in Liberia and that they have come up with a few steps to take in order to keep the peace.
The women announced that they would dedicate the Women’s Prayer Center for Peace; fast for 14 days; pray for peace; raise the flags of 15 countries, including Liberia and ECOWAS; participate in community engagement activities and present a resolution to key stakeholders.
Although we are unable to speculate on what will be included in the resolution,
we are certain that it will encourage the government to take actionable steps in order to solve the grave problems that have been detailed here. It is more likely that women, girls, and children will be abused when all hell breaks loose; for this reason, the government ought to pay attention to the cries of women.