Posted July 8, 2009
“We need to tell our story, so that it is not forgotten”, says “President Barak H. Obama” at a recent celebration of the “65th Anniversary of D-Day in “Normandy, France”. The quotation manifests that it is both worldly and sacred reality that we explain our stories so that posterity unborn will know the pains, humiliation, and diabolical decimation Mandingoes under went during the despicable civil war tantamount to genocide. More besides, it unearths first hand accounts of our “Self defense Posture” which acts as a “Balance of power Calculus that serve as a deterrent to possible Aggressors”. In other words, being mindful, henceforth, attack on Mandingoes will not go with impunity.
Historians will concord that Mandingoes and other tribes have always live in harmony up to the time of Independence in the 1800s. Homogeneity and camaraderie were the other of the day helping the developmental progression of the indigenous community.
This growth was aborted following the arrival of the Ameico Liberians having been shipped from the United States of America. Upon arrival they realized the formidability of the Mandingo tribe which was considered as an impediment in their quest of enslaving the indigenous community. They succeeded in assimilating and co-opting other tribal elements with the exception of the Mandingo tribe. Many of them were given “Christian or Western names”. It must be noted that they were able to have initiated many indigenous in secret cults, like the “Masonic Society among others”.
More beside, they succeeded in Christianizing many of the folks at the same time inculcating moral decadent that Mandingoes couldn’t adhere to. This in it self led to rift and incompatibility that led to the total annihilation of the Mandingo man up to the 21st Century.
Islam has been a major guiding component of the “Mandingo Nation for time in-memorial”. Using Liberia as a case study, you will note with interest that Islam had existed in Liberia, two hundred years before the arrival of the Christianity. In short around the 12th Century Islam was already flourishing in Africa, with Liberia being of no exception. This was a major shift that led to dogmatic views on certain vices that were considered repugnant.
Mindful of this religious prescription, blended with our African traditional ways of life, Mandingoes saw commonality and compatibility necessitating refusal to capitulate. Mandingo learnt to say no to “Drinking, homosexuality, murder and other vicious crimes”. More besides, Mandingoes realizing the indispensable role of the family and the role of women in shifting the direction of a family, either positively or negatively, inter-marriages with non-Moslems became unthinkable. At the same time it is unrealistic that Mandingoes violated their own set philosophy by marrying non-Mandingoes who were Islamized.
Effects of the Paradigm:
Positively, Mandingoes were able to have adhered to the religion leading to the abhorrence of negative vices that have undermined the growth of others morally, socially, politically and economically. This brought a sense of proud leading to unimaginable dignity and positive upbringings and respect.
On the negative side, Mandingoes, refused to send their family to secular school, fearing that they would have become non-believers or infidels. This led to many of the families sending children to “Madirasa”, where, theology is taught. This brought about disparity academically, greatly affecting the development of the human resource potential of the community. This led to discrimination, repression, suppression, oppression, isolationism, marginalization and the decimation of the Mandingo Nation.
Elements of Conflict:
Deciphering history, one will note that Mandingoes in Liberia have always been law-abiding citizens respecting every successive leader since Independence. In line with this spirit, it was no mistake when Mandingoes in Liberia refused to concord with “Gios and Manos” in Nimba County in trying to overthrow Former President, “Samuel K. Doe”. Unlike others in the county, the Mandingoes refused to form part of the subversive activities against the constitutionally elected President, instead became politically passive. This passive means of responding was construed as “overt and covert supports” given to the late President regarded by some of our adversaries as one of the reasons for the genocide committed against the Mandingoes.
We are aware of the political journey between the “Late Samuel Doe and Thomas Quiowonpia” leading to the April 12th, 1980 ousting of the “Late President William R. Tolbert”, and its aftermath. Mandingoes were caught in the cross fire following the breeding of the seed of discord in the aftermath of the death of “General Thomas Quionwonpia”. We were in no way a party to the conflict. However, it must be noted that the “socio-politico and economic growth” of the Mandingo man was a source of worry as mentioned supra.
Vivid Genocidal Accounts:
Even after twenty consecutive years, I can still recount the unfolding events day by day leading to the genocidal war of Mr. Taylor against the Mandingo People. “It will rain tomorrow, and if the rain touches you, you are dead”, says a friend of mine from the University of Liberia. Naïve, and not knowing what was coming, I had contemplated that it was the habitual rain that normally fall from the sky. Not knowing that, they were referring to bullets that would eventually killed thousands of Mandingoes. In fact, as a Political Science student at the University of Liberia, I can still remember many of my colleagues telling me to go to Guinea, in that I didn’t belong to Liberia. Many of them had been informed of the rebellion. It was an open secret that “Mr. Charles Taylor, Dr. H. Boima Fambullah, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. Harry Greave, among others” were planning to rain havoc that will turn our lives for the worst. What a tragedy that we were never fore warned that would have helped save the lives of many of the people that sought martyrdom? Probably, had it not been of my tribal affiliation, I would have been told about the plot. No one dare telling me what was about to happen. Buried in defenselessness and poised to die among those who are blind, deaf and dumb to compassion and human decency. Such was the case with the Mandingo nation.
There have been conflicting reports, as to the first group of people to have been killed by the Charles Taylor rebel on the first day of the invasion, in “butuo, Nimba County”. With the exception of the soldiers that were at the border, the rest of those killed were Mandingoes. From reliable and unimpeachable sources, that infamous December 24th 1989, marked the beginning of the inhumane and diabolical killing of our people. Several Mandingoes men, women, and children were killing unjustifiably with their properties looted amidst the sporadic gun fires. Hundreds got wounded and the rest tracked by foot fearful of their lives. What a tragedy.
From Butuo, hundred of Mandingoes were indiscriminately killed while in their homes, followed by the random shooting of Mandingoes insight. Mandingo experienced the worst form of cruelty with no one to run to for rescue;
In Bahn, Nimba County, similar stories were told of how men were shot point blank, women and children were put in well while others sodomized in broad day light. It was terrible ordeal that should never be forgotten. Mandingoes homes were ablaze in the pandemonium, while thousand fled in the bushes eaten by wild animals.
Request to arm the Mandingo in self defense was thwarted by Government, further exacerbating the plight of our people. The few, who had “Single barrel guns”, were able to have displayed their military superiority over coming Libyan trained rebels in Nimba County. In short, it shows that if the Mandingoes had been armed initially, the rebellion who had been crushed from the initial stage. In fact, the Late “President Samuel K. Doe” was requested to arm the Mandingoes, but refused. He had been told by the commander in Nimba County, that following the cessation of hostilities, Mandingoes would have ousted him. It was a superficial reasons crafted by the enemies to have him defeated.
In Ganta, a flourishing business heaven of the Mandingo, they faced similar fate. Hundreds were butchered in the day light by the satanic elements of Mr. Taylor. Those who couldn’t escape were arrested and tortured. Properties were confiscated and homes seized. Many of the ideal locations in the center of Ganta ideal for commercial purposes originally for Mandingoes were altered, building new structures. This is one of the reasons up to now they have refused to allow Mandingoes to return to Nimba County so that they don’t claim their properties.
In Gbarnga, Bong County, Mandingo fled even before the arrival of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, (NPFL); while in Bong mine, the Independent National Patriotic Front Leader (INPFL), of General Prince Y. Johnson established a “Kangaro Tribunal”, where the near by river turned bloody. Many of those fleeing Gbanga and other areas up to Kakata sought refuge in the area thinking that the rebels were not going to reach that far.
In Fendal, Caldway up to Monrovia, it was a feast for the advancing tugs. “We have killed them like chicken, while the rest have run away”, says the late “General Isaac Musa”, the battle front commander of the NPFL. He was bragging on the BBC, over the killing of the Mandingoes.
In Monrovia, many Mandingoes left even before the arrival of the rebel. Yet, ten of thousands got killed and properties damaged. There was no place to hide and no one to come to their rescue. The International community, civil society organizations, religious groupings, among others, all kept passive.
At the apex of the Military adventurism, the advancing killers of Mr. Taylor went to Lofa County, a major concentration of the Mandingoes, were, hundreds were killed in Barkidu on the fateful day of July 10th, 1990. In this barbaric attack they gathered men, women, children and the elderly under the palaver hut and shot them point blank. Those who couldn’t be killed instantly were slaughtered. Women were raped and others Brest slashed; while others thrown in crocodile infested water. They later desecrated the “Central Mosque” of the town. It was the worst and the mother of all genocide. These are true accounts that must never be forgotten.
In Voinjama Lofa County, Liberia, similar fate befitted the Mandingoes, although many escaped having heard the news from Barkidu. Even with that they continue their carnage chasing Mandingoes up to the borders with Guinea, while violated International law by violating the sovereignty of Guinea by killing fleeing Mandingoes in that neighboring Country. Similar incident occurred at the border with “Sierra Leone”.
Decisive Moment in the carnage:
With no stop to the mayhem against the Mandingoes, Mr. Taylor transcended boundaries by invading Guinea and Serra Leone simultaneously. Unlike Guinea, Sierra Leone allowed the Mandingoes to form a militia in Kenema, Sierra Leone. This happened at a time when the NPFL along with the RUF had over run “Bo Water Side” killing hundred of people. At the same time similar incident were going on in Guinea, with “Jomandu, Mansadu, Koyama among other areas under attack. With no hope it became glaring that the only way out was to fight the belligerent forces of Mr. Taylor. It was the last resort.
Like the African National Congress (ANC), of “Mr. Nelson Mandela”, Mandingoes and Krahns fought only having exhausted all peaceful avenues. It was after three years before the real military struggle started. It was a union between Liberia United Defense Force (LUDF), and the Movement for the Redemption of Liberian Moslem (MRM), that eventually transformed to the, United Liberation Movement for Democracy in Liberia (ULIMO). This formation marked the beginning of the liberation of Liberia.
The onslaught on Mr. Taylor went unabated up to the Monrovia where it became necessary to cease hostilities and formed an “Interim Government of National Unity”. Eventually, Mr. Taylor through threat won the election and again continues his diabolical attack against the Mandingoes and the West African sub-region. Liberia, Guinea, Ivory Coast were destabilized, while the International community threatened.
Another phase of the Struggle:
Having been exiled again for the second times, while Guinea under attack and Sierra Leone under his firmed control, this times, the late “President Lassana Conteh” gave the “Mandingoes and Krahns”, all the support that led to the defeat of Mr. Taylor. Had it not been for the Mandingoes mainly, Mr. Taylor would have remained in power indefinitely. I am proud that history is on our side for the work done by these great men and women that are sources of proud.
Balance of Power Calculus:
Deterrent is a major element that stops an enemy from attacking. In other words, with the heroism displayed by the Mandingoes never again will any one attack Mandingoes. Today, as a result of the military potency of the Mandingo people our adversaries are all afraid to attack or throw profanity. Militarily we are proud to note that Mandingoes have the single largest trained man power when it comes to warfare. Never again will any one repeat history.
Today, our detractors maintain that Mandingoes are killers, which manifest that, we are a force to reckon with, credited to our Leaders, like “Alhaji Kromah, Sekou Damate Konneh among others”. These are source of inspiration for today and posterity to come. Had it not been for them, we would have remained in perpetual slavery. Despite not being in the helm of power, but we are optimistic that the future is bright. Today, we have freedom association, worship and the restoration of our lost sense of dignity and proud.
Eulogizing our Dead:
If martyrdom is true, then the hundreds of brothers and sisters that died during the struggle are all martyrs. They brave the storm amidst gun fires, when no one dares attack. They face hard core Libyan trained men with smiles while they were being bayoneted; they endured pains from wound from the “AK-47 weapon, Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG), G-3, barrater, with out any consternation. They chased the enemies with their bare foot even with no hope of living. This is the untold story of the men and women that died leading to the liberation of our people from perpetual slavery and abject poverty.
While others may be mourning for their home going, I am of the opinion, that we must be celebrating their demise for a just cause. We say bravo to the following fallen heroes: The “Late Mohammed Dumbuya; Ousman Konneh, Mamie Wata, Lucky Dubbie, Deku, Farah Addie, Small Mohammed, Philip Kamara, Haja Kromah, Small Donzo, Gen. Cobra, Ayatollah, Steven Dolleh,…………….
Lesson to Learn:
Never again, should we allow blind divisiveness to over shadow the brightness of our characters; never again, should we allow the enemies to bridge discrimination and other negative vices that have over the years undermine our productivities. We must learn to build on old edifice and not to destroy old ones. More besides we must forge unity and be the brother keepers at all times at the same time remembering never to forget to explain our stories so that it will always remain a wake up call to act aggressively when ever necessary.