SOURCE: NAT BAYJAY (NBAYJAY2010@GMAIL.COM
If Liberians have never shown any appreciation to God Almighty for
anything, thanking Him this time for a decade of stable peace would be
greatest testimony ever by us Liberians probably since the foundation of
this great nation for the past 191 years of existence (1822 till
That our 166th Independence Anniversary coincides with 10 uninterrupted years of peace is awesome!!!!
Though others prefer to refer to it as “fragile”, the hard earned peace is worth testifying to God. Yes, others are branding it as a “muted war” with just “silenced guns”, but the truth remains that our peace is an enviable one that the likes of Somalia, Syria, and other war-raged nations are yearning to have, probably just a minute of “Cease Fire” that would allow them breath a while, find food and better shelter before their respective wars can resume.
That is why the greatest testimony of all Liberians-in and out of the nation-at this point in time is this God-given peace that enabled the nation to get back on its feet. The over 250,000 Liberians that lost their precious lives during the 14 years of devastating, senseless and unnecessary war would have hoped to see our country celebrating 10 years of stability.
And so, as glad as I am and all other Liberians and friends of Liberia are, I am also proud to present to you a roll-call of those who deserve to be decorated for our ‘Medals of Peace’.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in her this year’s Independence Day remarks, couldn’t help but admitted to the fact that Liberia’s peace wouldn’t have been possible without the combined efforts of both Liberians and friends of Liberia, as she stated: “Thanks go in no small measure to the regional and international support we have long enjoyed, and also because we, Liberians, a resilient people, have declared, “No More War,” and have committed ourselves to peace and reconciliation to develop this gift that God has given to us.”
As the President went to add that “we are indebted to so many individuals and organizations, and we thank them for the tremendous effort” for our country’s earned peace, let me now take this time to make a little roll-call of those brothers and sisters of who helped us to be proud celebrants today’s 10 years of peace:
‘Thank God For ECOMOG’: Recognizing ECOWAS’ Pioneer Role
Every process begins with what I refer to as the pioneering stage, the stage where only a brave few take the initiative to begin what seems to be an impossible task for the majority, usually evidenced by the many onlookers and those standing on the fence.
But it took the gallantry of the sub regional body, ECOWAS who deserve to wear our first ‘Medal of Peace’. That was when Nigeria truly showed its West African ‘super power’ nature when it led the initiative, backed by Ghana who too felt it was time to repay a country that has rendered so much help to it, and other West African neighbors including Sierra Leone, Guinea, Senegal and others as they joined in the hot Liberian battles under the name ECOMOG in August of 1990 amidst Charles Taylor’s “refusal” and Prince Johnson’s “acceptance”. (Both men led the two powerful rebel groups of NPFL and INPFL respectively.)
No wonder the slogan of the early ‘90’s THANK GOD FOR ECOMOG!!!! A picture backed with an ECOMOG soldier saving a little Liberian Girl from what seemed an embattled house, that slogan was made popular with Charles Snetter’s Radio Monrovia (his first station on Randall Street at the time).
It was the same West African solidarity that again played the pioneering role in 2003 after the world’s back seemed turned to Liberia’s damaging but last round of civil war when West African troops arrived under the name ECOMIL who arrived to save the day. ECOMIL was later transformed into the UNMIL, the United Nation’s largest peacekeeping force at the time of about 15,000.
The UN, Indeed!
While others initially blamed the global body for doing ‘nothing’ during the early stages of the civil war for its non-direct combat role, the UN has since 2003 fully taken up that role and even beyond.
Established by a UN Security Council Resolution 1509 in September 2003 to support the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and the peace process, UNMIL has gone on to serve as the major guidance of our preserved peace; key among which is its support to the country’s security reform including the police and contribution to the new army, supporting humanitarian and human rights activities, among others.
HOME-FRONT: TAYLOR’S SACRIFICE
But one person whose huge contribution to the peace being celebrated is being swept under the carpet is former President Taylor. Unlike a stubborn Samuel Doe and other embattled African leaders who would refuse ‘throwing in the towel’, it was Taylor who made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving for Calabar, Nigeria, thus paving the way for today’s celebration of 10 years of peace.
The Religious Community
From all indications, the religious community will be beating its own chest for the huge impact it had on Liberia’s peace process. The community, under the Inter-Faith Mediation and Liberian Council of Churches, was resilient in its mediation between warring groups and regularly making recommendations at the country’s dozens of peace talks held in and out of Africa.
That is why the LCC, in a recent press statement is “appealing to all Church Leaders including Bishops, Pastors, Evangelists, Prophets, Apostles, Prayer Mothers, Prayer Warriors, etc. in the fifteen (15) counties to kindly join with the Government of Liberia as requested, to observe Sunday, August 18, 2013 in our respective local churches during our regular Divine worship services, as a Time of Special Thanksgiving and Prayers to God for our Peace and Tranquility as a Nation and People.”
The Ever-Resilient Praying Women
Even if the guns were shooting, the bullets flying and the grenade launchers were launching, fleeing Monrovia residents were always shocked to see a group of though small, yet committed group of Liberian women who gathered tirelessly on the Airfield opened field in offering continuous prayers to God to restore peace. The likes of Madam Mary Brownell and even now Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee had their prominence shooting forth via this spiritual aggressive method.
Hailing Liberians In General
And of course, my hats-off to all Liberians in general who made this decade of peace a possibility. I imagine the pains and struggle we all endured, pitifully noted among us were women and children: very young babies under the scouring sun and heavy downpour of rain with some still have their umbilical cords fresh while their mothers had to run away with them or leave them alone to fetch water and food in ‘no-go’ zones.
For the men, some had to be conscripted (forcefully) into various warring groups against their will while others endured other forms of unmentionable tortures ( unmentionable because I don’t really intend to re-dig old wounds).
Off the home front, Liberians in exile and other parts of the Diaspora had to do the double (or even multiple jobs) to keep sending money back home and in refugee camps scattered around West Africa to relatives, friends and loved-ones. In this way, even exiled Liberians in America, Europe, Asia and Australia were contributing to towards regaining peace.
But also paying the ultimate price for today’s decade of peace are the over 250,000 Liberians that died as a result of the war.
Now That We’ve Got Peace
And now that we got peace-and for 10 unbroken years too-we must jealously protect it. No amount of tension, economic hard-time, political indifference and even religious difference should ever allow us to revert to those unbearable and harsh 14 years of war.
That is why I maintain that we don’t need any kind of “Arab Spring” protest here because of many reasons not suiting us Liberians.
LIBERIANS, LET’S THANK GOD FOR A DECADE OF PEACE AND CELEBRATE JOYOUSLY FOR PEACE IS HERE TO STAY!!!!!!!!!
Nat Bayjay, reachable on firstname.lastname@example.org and cell (231) 777 402737 or (231) 886 402737, is a Liberian journalist.