Hopefully the information posted here will also provide insight into the challenge one faces when seeking elected office in an underdeveloped, highly corrupt African nation such as present day Liberia – a country struggling to emerge from a brutal internecine war, where the vast majority of the population lives far below the poverty line and rule of law is non-existent.
Last time I attempted this endeavor [in 1997] it was emotionally draining to say the least. The process was a grind…during the campaign I lost about 20 pounds and I wasn’t even aware. Having to deal on a daily basis with extreme human suffering – the deep, deep poverty and seeming lifelessness of people appearing at campaign rallies…seeing those hollow eyes that seemed to suck the life out of a person was unbelievable. Never will I forget this experience; it was unlike anything I had ever encountered.
No less disturbing was the level of dishonesty and lack of integrity exhibited by men whom the people respected and looked up to…these were the leaders, but their behavior said otherwise. This also was a shocker!!
At times it boggled the mind to realize that I was seeking the second highest office in this 150-year old nation (founded in 1847). Again, it was 1997 and this was the Capital. With piped water no where to be found – thanks to the warlords; even taking a bath posed a challenge. I had to use a bucket in which water heated on an open fire was combined with cold water drawn from a well. After mixing to a comfortable temperature, I cupped and held my hands together, scooping and splashing the water unto my body. The final rinse involved lifting the bucket over my head and pouring the remaining water down my body. Interestingly, moments after completing this primitive bathing ritual people would greet me as, Your Excellency! It was surreal.
Most nights this vice presidential candidate and his staff sat in a dark room strategizing by flickering candle light. When there was a lantern available, it seemed as though something miraculous had happened…you could see the excitement on the faces of those present. If nothing else, this proved that light does elevate the human spirit.
Occasionally when the tiny gas generator which provided brief moments of electric light was working, it had to be brought inside the residence running full throttle or else someone might steal it. Imagine the noise of this engine, smoke and fumes filling the enclosed space. But no one complained. Rather, we shouted above the noise because light provided by the generator was far better than candles.
I don’t know for sure what exactly the experiences this time will be, but I’m not expecting much of a difference. There’s been hardly any improvement in the country within the past 13 years. And the last round of fighting (1999 – 2003) only made the situation worse.
What’s most important now is to rid Liberia of heartless individuals that are responsible for the mayhem. We have decided to pursue a change of leadership through democratic means; and this we are going to do regardless of hardship and inconveniences!! A decisive victory at the polls in 2011 will end lawlessness and impunity and create the right conditions for Liberians to rebuild their lives.
I hope you will visit this site from time to time and post your questions and comments. I look forward to reading them.
Finally, as you are well aware, MONEY is the mother’s milk of politics – the fuel that drives success! There is no way we can bring about the change Liberia needs without money, especially knowing the character of the people we are up against. They have total access to the national treasury and, you can bet, they will use it with reckless abandon in order to stay in power. Holding on to power at all cost is how they have succeeded in delaying justice and forestalling Liberia’s recovery. This must end now!!!
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