Liberian Community Election in Minnesota: The Way I see It

By: Theodore T. Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
December 1, 2007


Kerper Dwanyen
Like Abdoulaye Dukule, I’m also following the upcoming Liberian elections in Minnesota --- sometimes with interest and sometimes with great dismay and disappointment because of the raw emotions and lack of civility brought out among our fellow country men and women. It is unfortunate that an occasion that has the potential for such great publicity has been turned into such a negative scenario where men and women cuss each in the name of free speech. Character assassination is fair play and considered political commentary and even members of Clergy fall victim to profanity and threat --- all this in the name of our new found practice of democracy in the Liberian Diaspora.

The Liberian Community of Minnesota cannot be ignored simply because of its huge size, as already stated by Dukule in his piece under review. The community is so large and diversified, it is a microcosm of Liberia --- truly exemplifying the now overused term, “Liberian Diaspora”.

I was interested in Dukule’s view because he is an “outsider”. Like me, Dukule lives outside Minnesota so I was hoping he would bring some unbiased and objective perspective to the exercise. I’m quite disappointed because his article does not even live up to its own title: “Liberians in Minnesota Ready to Elect New Leadership”. One would hope that he took the time to be all-encompassing and inclusive, but his article is clearly and solely about one candidate, Mr. Kerper Dwanyen. Mr. Dukule goes to great length in extolling the virtues of Mr. Dwanyen and his leadership skills, abilities, charisma, determination and optimism. It is a very good article, if one is only interested in knowing Mr. Dwanyen, but the body of the article is not in conformity to its title. It is therefore, misleading.

This is not to suggest that Mr. Dukule did anything wrong or unethical. But maybe he should have thought about renaming his article. Here are a few suggestions:

• Why I Support Kerper Dwanyen’s Candidacy
• Why You Should Support Kerper Dwanyen’s Candidacy
• Kerper Dwanyen, Our Man in Minnesota
• Why Kerper Dwanyen Should Win the Election

If Mr. Dukule had been bold enough to tell his audience that his article was about his personal preference for Mr. Dwanyen, it would be quite understandable. But the way it is presented makes it a bit unpalatable; this is certainly not a neutral observation and it should be so stated.

Mr. Dukule fails a fundamental test in news dissemination that should be simply intuitive. Is Mr. Dwanyen running for the position unopposed? Not at all. Mr. Dwanyen has formidable opponents in the persons of Messrs Jackson George, Winfred Russell and Miss Martha Sinoe. Not only is Miss Sinoe considered a formidable candidate, she holds the distinction of being an incumbent; she is running for re-election. Shouldn’t she be mentioned in an election story, at least for the sake of balance and the fair dissemination of information about the process and the principal participants?

I do not know Miss Sinoe or any of the other registered candidates and so I cannot speak to their astuteness of character or leadership abilities, or their lack thereof. But they deserve to be mentioned.

Of particular interest is what the folks in Minnesota tell us: According to them, the race is too close to call. No one candidate, according to opinion polls, is decisively leading the pack. The election on Sunday, December 2 could go ever which way. Who emerges as winner is still anyone’s guess; only the electorate of Minnesota holds the key to the puzzle. Until then, it is probably wise for us to heed the purported opinion expressed to Mr. Dukule by Mr. Harry Yuan: “It’s their local politics.”

© 2007 by The Perspective

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