Building a New Democratic Culture in Liberia

By: J. Momolu Kaindii, Jr.

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 9, 2009


Democracy as it is popularly known today is defined as the will of the majority with due regard to the rights of the minority. Its fundamental characteristics are the holding of regular free, fair and transparent elections, just rule of law and credible or impartial justice system and unconditional practice of good governance. The cardinal objectives of any true democracy are to sustain national peace, stability and economic progress gear towards advancing the standard of living of all citizens and residents. These are the indispensable and critical foundations upon which any vibrant democracy is based. The essence of a true democratic society therefore is to create a vibrant and sustainable economic and social opportunities for everyone in a society and as well guarantee the people’s safety, security and happiness. It further stimulates rapid growth and accelerates development in the overall societal structure that positively reflects hopes in the immediate, intermediate and distant future for all the people.

The core meaning of the phrase in the democratic doctrine “will of the majority with due regard to the rights of the minority” thus implies that, man as an unpredictable and unsatiated creature created by an imaginary Being, lives in a constant state of want, fear and uncertainty which are caused by both natural forces and human factors. This natural state of want, fear and uncertainty has in deed created not only curiosity and anxiety in man, but also an ever-increasing desire for political and economic powers. Interestingly however, man in the image of his Creator, remains defiant to the challenges that are translated into multiple natural and artificial circumstances imposed upon him at the very beginning of his creation and his surviving environments.

These natural and artificial circumstances are exhibited by the inequalities and inadequacies found in the nature of man. For example, man is completely dissimilar in physical look, ability or strength, mental intelligence, spiritual power, social and economic status. These dissimilarities are also found in the environments and communities in which he dwells and the way he behaves and believes. These naturally created inequalities and dissimilarities have cumulative in-build implications and consequences as well as responsibilities for the human society. In this context, the struggles for control and the management of the implications, the consequences and the associated responsibilities have remained an ever-growing challenge to mankind, thus leaving him in a perpetual search for solutions.

It is in this relentless search for solutions that man, through his ingenuity, has developed concepts such as “democracy, justice, equality” etc; in order to create harmony for human co-existence. However, the true meanings and interpretations of these concepts have arguably remained subjective. Human societies in the various regions of the world have tried to create meanings and interpretations that seems to satisfy their circumstances and ambitions. Despite the existence and practice of these concepts, the fact has remained that those who have been endowed with superior method ability, physical strength and economic might, have since the days of old, influenced the directions of human society, with the ordinary majority remaining subject of manipulation and at time sacrificial lambs.

The concept of democracy for most emerging democracies has therefore been used as an instrument of manipulation that blends the ordinary majority in the lowest layer of human society and camouflaged their ignorance into a pseudo-system of inclusion and participation. For centuries, human societies have endeavored to create artificial equalities. In the process, human societies have labored with the hot sweats and bloods of mostly the people in the lower strata of societies in order to create an upper or superior layer characters and institutions. Nonetheless, the majority of the populations of those societies, old and new, are today still drowning in the ocean of injustice, inequality and poverty despite their pronounced democratic characters or tendencies.

For the emerging modern societies in Africa, democracy is a rather strange or an alien phenomenon being imposed upon Africa’s traditional and cultural doctrine of “elders rule”, that which the western concept would describe as autocratic. By all indications, the nature and character of Africa’s current practice of the imposed western form of democracy have only a very thin line between it and elders rule where national decision-making and actions are the prerogative of the elders without the inputs of the ordinary majority, particularly women and youths. The difficulty for Africa now is the compelling departure from its original concept of rule and power. The unprepareness of the majority of the people in Africa to transit from their traditional practice of rule and power to the western method of rule and power has been the key source of violence associated with Africa’s practice of democracy. This violence is incubated by the western educated African natives who have presented themselves as Africa’s intelligentsias destined to modernize the continent with western culture and civilization. These western oriented native Africans, most of whom are unconscious of the continent’s internal predicaments, manipulate mainly the youths who are considered by their rural dwelling illiterate parents as their direct ambassadors. Because these youths are in search of opportunities to effect positive changes in their respective lives, they move to hail these western educated African natives and subsequently become blind followers. These youths, with their limited western education, are programmed and used to execute the plans of those pseudo-messiahs desirous of ascending to state power either through political or military struggles. Liberia’s scenarios of the progressives and military liberators are a classic example.

The pertinent questions I want to raise here is that, why should Liberia in particular and Africa in general continue to govern their people within the eyes and minds of the west? Is it not possible for Liberia to lay the appropriate foundation upon which it can build and grow a democratic culture that is rooted in the positive traditions and values of Africa as a legacy for the unborn generation? Today, the practice in Africa of the western form of democracy has become a threat to the survival of the ordinary people and a villain for the youths. It is being characterized by sycophancy, deception and violence or what I will call “imposing democracy” where the majority of the people are involuntary decision-makers and unwilling participants. These points to the fact that there is a compelling need for Africa to critically re-examine and redefine the concept and practice of multiparty democracy.

What is now emerging as a new phenomenon in the practice of the so-called multiparty democracy in Africa is what I will describe here as “coercive democracy” where innocent citizens are selfishly manipulated or killed either in elections or rebel wars, after which the incumbent and opposition leaderships merged into a marriage of convenience. Mostly disheartening is the reality that parties form near elections period are individual and not institutional driven. These parties are engineered by fortune hunters who have absolutely no credible credentials or concrete desire to effect any positive and durable changes in the socio-economic lives of the people and the state environment. Their venture is to rather cease political power that affords them the opportunity to corrupt the meager resources of the country and export same abroad for the comfort of their families, while the majority in the state dwells in perpetual poverty and deprivation.

The unwarranted practice of multiparty democracy in Africa is the principle source of conflict and poverty, and if not curtail now, it will remain a disturbing factor in the distant future. Liberia needs not more than two political parties and all true Liberians must work harder to achieve it. With a population of 3.5 million, two political parties will close the emerging troubling ethnic device, solidify our unity, consolidate our peace, build and strengthen our democratic capacity and culture, institutionalize our democratic tendency and practice, create a vibrant economic society and restore sustainable hope into Liberia’s future. This is the new democratic culture that Liberia in particular and Africa in general must now adapt and endeavor to achieve through a constitutional reform and/or legislative enactments.

J. Momolu Kaindii, Jr. E-mail:

© 2009 by The Perspective

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