By Siahyonkron Nyanseor

October 15, 2001

In the business world, there is something called corporate Alzheimer (CA). It is simply, the old way of doing things as compared to making use of new technology. Those who engage in Corporate Alzheimer for example, do not find efficient ways to file their work, instead stored documents in pigeonholes in walls of libraries, and list the contents of documents on the wall – a kind of “primitive database.” The same is true regarding the “Robbing Hood” of Liberia (Charles Taylor) and his “Merrymen” who engaged in Alzheimer or Waterside Argument (AWA) in defense of their corrupt practices.

Corporate Alzheimer as a concept derives from the disease known as Alzheimer or AD – a progressive dementing illness in which the core symptom is memory loss (an incurable degenerative disease of the brain). Other associated symptoms include impairments in language, abstract reasoning, and visual spatial abilities. Personality changes are common and range from apathy to restless agitation. Psychiatric symptoms, including depression, delusions, and hallucinations. Although the cause of AD is unknown, two risk factors have been identified: advanced age and genetic predisposition.

Corporate Alzheimer exists within a company where management does not make use of “Knowledge Management Technology”. Instead, it continues to do things “the old fashion way.” Rather than filing documents on diskette, hard drive or other databases, it stores the company’s records in a primitive database, which in all likelihood leads to the waste of valuable company time in locating documents. As a result, works are not performed in timely manner.

Alzheimer or Waterside Argument (AWA), on the other hand, is the deliberate attempt to conceal the truth; refusing to deal with facts; sidestepping issues and attacking individuals that raised vexed issues as unpatriotic and to please “Bossman” or “Papay”. AWA is a kind of reverse Robin Hood (Robbing Hood and his Merrymen); a Liberian version of Robin Hood.

Unlike Robin Hood and his Merry Men, the “Robbing Hood (Charles Taylor) and his Merrymen” of Liberia, robs the poor and the country of its minerals and natural resources as well as deprived the Liberian people of safe drinking water, electricity and other essentials. Because of these privileges, Robbing Hood’s Merrymen will engage in Alzheimer or Waterside tactics, to defend the National Patriotic Party’s (NPP) failed politics. And this has become a common practice because of the spoils the receive from Robbing Hoods’ rouge regime.

I guess this was the kind of behavior that Henry Fenwick Reeve’s referred to in his book titled: The Black Republic – Liberia: Its Political and Social Condition To-Day, which was first published in 1923.  According to him:

“Liberians are not much given to independent speaking. One man spoke out and the Government put him in jail without bail, and a woman was held without bail for ‘talking too much.’ In each case it was an ‘ally’ who got caught. No wonder everybody shut up like clam”.

I am inclined to believe that this is the reason why most Liberians become too timid to stand up for their rights when it involves government. A direct consequences of this behavior — they resort to the old cliché, “your leave the people’s thing alone,” and depending on others to fix things for them.

A case in point is a comment made the early part of this year (2001) by Joseph Walloh, the Liberian Ambassador designate to the Russian Federation. Regarding Liberia’s role in the West African sub-region, he said that President Taylor’s role in attempting to mediate in resolving the conflict in Sierra Leone should not be seen as a “cover-up for diamond smuggling and gunrunning in that country,” when in fact the evidence pointed to Taylor.

It is statement like Walloh’s that distorts and condones the wrongdoing of the Taylor regime, all because of a government position. Individuals like Walloh will do or say what the “Papay” wants to hear, even if it means they have to dress-up a lie, like the rest of the Merrymen (blind loyalists) Robbing Hood.

But thank God, there are others who will speak the truth risking to be accuse of being unpatriotic and spreading lies about their “democratically elected” government. A classic example is that of the Minister of Health, Dr. Peter Coleman. At a workshop in the St. Paul Bridge area, Dr. Coleman made a presentation on “Community Awareness and Sensitization on Drugs Abuse (and Alcoholism)”.  He said that the degree of alcoholism among drives in Liberia is very high, and “when these law enforcers are talking to some of these drivers, they are fully aware that they are drunk but they don’t take action against them.” Law enforcement “officers are interested in the $5 (bribe) they get from these drunken drivers” instead of upholding the law.

Regarding the dangers of drug abuse, he said that during the transitional period, Liberia served as a transit point for drug trafficking, and that “people still bring these dangerous drugs in bags, cartoon, boxes are sold to our potential youths.”

In response to Dr. Coleman’s presentation, the Liberia National Police (LNP) issued a statement (January 10, 2001), accusing him of being “unaware of the current world order which calls for scientific investigation and not by mere physical look for a successful prosecution of suspects charged with offenses by law enforcement practitioners”. LNP stated further that “considering Dr. Coleman to be one of Liberia’s renowned medical doctors, it is regrettable that he would tend to lend credence to unscientific conclusion of a drive alleged to be drunk while driving simply by his look, in the absence of the use of the appropriate task kids”.

The LNP failed to acknowledge that it is not in all cases that a laboratory test is required to determine that an individual is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In some cases, one can tell by looking at the person. The LNP refuses to acknowledge the problem, yet, it concluded its statement by asserting that “The LNP wishes to assure the public that it is doing everything humanly expedient to measure up with modern law enforcement standards despite the acute financial condition which government is faced with:. What a poor excuse!

It is a matter of public knowledge that the use of drugs has been and still is part of the NPFL/NPP government strategy. The NPFL and other factions that took part in the civil war, used child soldiers stoned on drugs and related substances to carry out the objectives of these warlords, some of which was to terrorize, extort, butcher, rape, plunder and terrify helpless and innocent citizens, especially, women, children and the elderly.

Furthermore, based on the available evidence, the National Patriotic Party government is a key participant in drugs trafficking in the region. For example, in 1997, the Dutch Justice Ministry launched an investigation that linked Taylor, Shaw, and a Dutchman know as the “Godfather of Liberia,” Gus Kowenhoven, the husband of Monique Kowenhoven of Tubmanburg City, Bong County to a drug gangster operating in Monrovia. According to a story printed in one of the Dutch dailies, Het Parool, the Al Capone in the “Tass-investgation” was described by the paper as a ‘veteran hash dealer’.  The investigation revealed that “The African West Coast with Liberia as points of support is being used by S’s (Jack S) gang as a transit station. It is there the mega transports are being transferred into smaller boats”. This gang used business covers to traffic drugs from Liberia to other parts of the world, mainly Europe and the United States. The scheme involved illegal passport issuance, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Due to these activities, Liberia has evolved into a criminal state that has the capacity of extending its influence in the West African sub-region. The solution to this problem can be found in the proposal made by Judd Gregg, the Republic Senator from New Hampshire:

“There can be no peace in Sierra Leone until the strongman of neighboring Liberia, Charles Taylor, is brought to his heel. Taylor never forgave Sierra Leone for serving as a staging area when the United Nations intervened in the civil war in his own country. It was he who basically created the rebel movement in Sierra Leone known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) and (it is) and he who has provided financing, equipment and sanctuary for it. As long as Taylor rules Liberia, Sierra Leone’s anguish will continue… To see justice done, the United States must lead a multinational effort to bring true peace to Sierra Leone. First, Liberian leader Taylor and his criminal gang must go; every feasible effort ought to be made to undermine his rule…”

Regrettably, it is Robbing Hood and his Merrymen that has turned Liberia into “One Nation, Divisible, Without Liberty and Justice.” Our concern is for the government, which Charlie heads to do the right thing for the Liberian people. Why? Because in a democracy, the people are supposed to be governed by their consent. Instead, the Liberian people are being govern by fear, while Taylor and his inner circle of loyalists are engaged in business as usual – repression, corruption, womanizing and having a s0-called good time in the midst of misery.

And if we continue to remain silent, Taylor will continue to dupe us. The first wrong thing we did was to think that by voting for Charlie and his party en masse,  the civil war would have ended, peace and stability restored to the country. Again, Taylor fooled us! Rather than Taylor and his party leadership using the opportunity afforded them by the Liberian people, he and his party leadership have resorted to corruption and dictatorial practices – the practices for which the civil war was waged to save us form.

One doesn’t have to be a fisherman to smell a fish that has gotten rotten from the head. Come to think about it, the Taylor government ranked as the most rotten fish compared to previous governments of Liberia. The Taylor Administration leads every other government in human rights violations, physical abuse, deaths, corruption, criminal activities, disrespect for the rule of law, etc. However, I have resolved not to expect much from someone who still behaves as a warlord. Taylor has turned Liberia into a totalitarian nation where the rule of law is based on the dictates of Machiavellian political philosophy; a philosophy characterized by cunning duplicity, and bad faith.

But little that the Liberian people knew that the road to a lasting peace and democracy would meet with all sorts of roadblocks largely due to Taylor’s insincerity, misconception about democracy and his obligation to the electorate. Instead, Mr. Taylor is exercising (De-Mockery) in place of Democracy.

Since elections and the many promises made, conditions have not gotten any better because “the fish got rotten from the head.” To a greater extent, the situation in Liberian is a reflection of the moral degradation of the leadership. Today, we are witnessing all sorts of censorship and ban imposed by the government and upheld by the legal system to further deny the constitutional rights of the Liberian people. The government and its supporters are becoming more and more intolerant of opposing viewpoint – and are resorting to systematic display of stupidity in the name of power to delay progress. But the most discouraging thing about the plight of the Liberian people, is the current collaboration or marriage of convenience between some former “progressive leaders” and the government in introducing policies of “The Dark Ages” and “The Inquisition,” in which individuals are prosecuted for expressing lawful forms of speech and publication. These undemocratic practices have turned Liberia into a society in which the destruction of personal property, arrest, brutality and the killing of opposition leaders have become a way of life.

The truth of the matter is — those of us that are critical of the government’s policies, do so not because we dislike any official in the government; but “truths in the service of bigotry create falsehood.”  This is what we are bitterly against. We are profoundly disturbed by it. As long as the operation of the government in Liberia is not based on a democratic system of government, there will always be serious disagreements. The government will have to govern according to the wishes of the Liberian people. It cannot continue to use our disagreements as a pretext to charge us with sedition and the lack of patriotism. “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” The people need to know that what is being practiced in Liberia is not Democracy, but rather De-Mockery!

In  short, I am reminded of a story told by former Ambassador Andrew Young during a Democratic National Convention in Madison Square Garden, New York. The story is about a farmer and his two cocks, which on this particular day were traveling to a cockfight for which he had trained them. As he drove on, the cocks began to fight in the back of the truck. They fought until both of them died. When the farmer reached to his destination, he opened the back of the truck and found that both cocks were dead. The farmer stood for a while and said, “Look how pitiful they are. They did not know that they were on the same side.”

This story reminds me of how we in Liberia, along with Robbing Hood and his Merrymen behave on issues our country. Those of us that these Merrymen brand as unpatriotic failed to see that like both cocks — we are on the same side, but the only difference is, we are not engaging in Alzheimer or Waterside Argument rather engaged in discussing in national issues without resorting to name-calling.

Published in the October 15, 2001 Edition of The Perspective.

2001: From Siahyonkron Nyanseor’s Archive