This week’s edition focuses on the Liberian Civil War, and in particular its continued journey on the road to peace and prosperity following the recent election.
Liberia has come along way since the 2 Civil Wars that basically degenerated into what can only be described as a gruesome and macabre Civil War. We hope Liberia continues along its current course and below is an extract of an article I found and share here on the History and consequences of the Liberian Civil War…Peep it.
Armed Conflict in Liberia: a Brief History
The roots of Liberia’s civil war, and it’s consequences for children, go as far back to the country’s founding. Liberia was founded in 1847 by freed American slaves. The new settlers, known as Americo-Liberians for 133 years, subsequently controlled the republic. They ran their new country like a colony, establishing a feudal structure with all social, economic, and political power in their hands. In the name of this Christianizing and civilizing mission, the indigenous population—who outnumbered their colonists by twenty to one—were subjected to a wave of abuse, including forced labor, disenfranchisement, and exclusion from the coastal, enclave community, all of which led to their impoverishment and cultural alienation while the ruling class prospered.
By the 1970s, however, this once unassailable power structure was beginning to show sign of crumbling as a new constituency of disaffected, often foreign educated, Liberians, as well as schools of indigenous technocrats, joined forces in various opposition groups and began voicing their demands for reform. Their dissatisfaction culminated in 1979 with the “rice riots,” a 2000-strong protest, sparked off by a 50 percent increase in the local staple, which turned to mayhem when police began firing into the crowd, killing more than one hundred protestors. It was growing discontent that paved the way in 1980 for the military coup that brought Samuel Doe, a Krahn from Tuzon, to power. Although he himself later became a symbol for greed and corruption, the new president’s bloody debut was initially welcomed by the majority of Liberians as an end to more than a century of colonization.
The years that followed were marked by mounting unrest due to an increasingly Krahn-dominated authoritarian regime that promoted the joint militarization and ethnically based politics and reigned over a sagging economy characterized by bourgeoning inflation and growing unemployment. Against this background, the other ethnic cliques began plotting their own rise to power, culminating in 1985 with a brutally suppressed coup attempt by Thomas Quiqonkpa, an ethnic Gio from Nimba County. After murdering Quiwonkpa, Doe’s soldiers, the Krahn dominated Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) began a bloody campaign of reprisal killings, mainly targeted at Gios and Manos, a closely related group that resides in the same region of Liberia.
Most recently, over the last fourteen years, Liberians have known little but warfare. The conflict began in December of 1989 when rebel leader Charles Taylor invaded Nimba County from the Ivory Coast. They called themselves the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). The AFL responded with a ruthless counterinsurgency campaign, indiscriminately killing civilians, burning villages, raping women, and looting. In response, NPFL ranks swelled with the long-victimized Gios and Manos, many of whom were boys orphaned during the waves of reprisal killings or simply enraged by the attacks against their people. Meanwhile, the NPFL was conducting its own reign of terror on civilians and suspected supporters of the Doe regime, primarily members of the Krahn and Maningon group. By 1990, the rebel group had over-taken every military position except Monrovia and the capital city of Liberia.
What ensued was a slow burning seven years of war fuelled by the formation of one ethnic-based rival group after another. By 1992, the NPFL splinter group, the Independent National Patriotic Front (INFL), which captured and killed Doe, had already reached its zenith and faded. But the United Liberation Movement for Democracy (ULIMO), formed by Liberian refugees in Sierra Leone who had been loyal to Doe, were making gains from across the border into southwestern Liberia. In 1993, the Liberia Peace Council (LPC), a largely Krahn offshoot of the AFL, challenged the NPFL and gained significant control over the southeast.
From 1989-1997, there were numerous failed efforts to bring the country into peace. These eight years are marked by the blood of brutal ethnic killings and massive abuses against the civilian population. Thousands of Liberian men, women, and children were killed and subject to torture, beatings, rape, and sexual assault. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “[this abuse] resulted in massive displacement inside and outside the country. Although the conflict was rooted in historical grievances stretching back more than 100 years, the brutal tactics employed from 1989 to 1997 including the targeting of particular ethnic groups by Taylor’s NFPL, the AFL, and later the ULIMO were previously unknown in Liberian history” (Tate 7). Finally, in 1997, a ceasefire was negotiated. Soon after, Charles Taylor, the former head of the NPFL, was elected president of the country.
Unfortunately, the Taylor government was rife with corruption and abuse, further widening the divisions and deepening popular resentments caused by civil war. State power was regularly used for the personal enrichment of government officials with little or no accountability to the Liberian citizenry. The LURD incursion from Guinea, which began in 2000, was the fifth serious outbreak of violence in Liberia since Taylor’s election and launched Liberia back into four more years of civil warfare. In August 2003, a negotiated ceasefire, the departure of Charles Taylor from office and the country, and the deployment of regional and later international peacekeepers have brought an end to major conflict, although fighting and human rights abuses persist in areas outside the U.N.’s control.
Liberia undoubtedly still has a long way to go. Its ironic that a Country founded on the ideal of Liberty for freed American Slaves turned into a literal Hell on Earth…We can only hope the wounds of the past will heal the Trauma suffered by the people of Liberia, and commend the outgoing President Elle Johnson Sirleaf for her efforts and courage in maintaining the silence of the guns in Liberia.
With Charles Taylor one of the main Protagonists of the War having been found guilty of Crimes Against Humanity and sentenced to 50 Years, it would seem a firm precedent has been set, and that the people of Liberia can now focus on the future.
Our documentary of the week ‘Liberia An Uncivil War’ can be viewed off the Home Page together with our chosen music video, Bob Marley’s ‘So Much Trouble In The World’. I’ve also updated the Audio Playlist with a new song off Noble Stylz’ new album titled ‘Better Than Your Album’.
We’ve interviewed Noble here before, and he also collaborated with me on my last album so I’m glad to share his new music including the track we collaborated on together which was a Spiritual Tribute to the Almighty Creator.