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In Defense of “Illiterate” Liberians

By Chorphie Charlie - March 18th 2005

“It is still one of the tragedies of human history that the ‘children of darkness’ are frequently more determined and zealous than the ‘children of light.” (KING)

"... Liberia’s political elites are miseducated and illiterate to the customs, mores, norms, and values of ordinary Liberians. Making their miseducated democratic projected to be a source of mêlée due to its abortive nature, which distrusts the people’s right to decide their own destiny. According to some of their miseducated claims, our people lack of terminal degrees and inability to adopt western democratic norms is responsible for Liberia ’s backwardness. Conversely, a survey of western societies, especially America does not account for such categorical imperative of democratic practices. ....."


Behaviors in Liberia , in which representatives of citizens from various counties are chosen in Monrovia without reference or approval from the actual citizens living in their hometown, inflame the need for a critical evaluation concerning the relationship between “educated Liberians” and “uneducated Liberians.” This means our march towards election become a valid route for such critical evaluation. For me, the very shadow of election is appropriate for such discourse due to the fact that illiterate Liberians are generally relegated to the political dust-bin only to be drafted as signal for political alarm.

Hence, in defense of illiterate Liberians seek to provoke a kind of dialogue that separates miseducated Liberians, hostile intellectuals, and bad Liberian leaders whether social, religious, political, or economic from patriotic Liberians whose only aim is to promote Liberia’s socionomic development. The defense also embraces a traditional Liberian spirit through cultural manifestation, and feature in parts issuing relating to power and authority, illiterates right to self determination, and why miseducated Liberians are anti-democratic. The conclusion will foreword an attempt at reconciling the conflict of educated tyranny in Liberia disguised as democratic advocacy with the actual purpose of democracy. The people’s struggles must continue.

The main crust of this defense, which comes from unpublished works, removes the blame against illiterate Liberians for our failed state and castigates Liberia’s political gadflies and their bad leadership as anti-democratic elements responsible for Liberia ’s decaying social trend. For me, it becomes difficult to pen such defense without strong passions directed against those socio-political agents who have wrecked our nation into moral bankruptcy.

Moreover, this defense will x-ray our national journey through the prism emanating from the heydays of our current political “demagogues.” I am speaking here of the Sawyers, Ellens, Matthews, Tipotehs, and their host of political surrogates (Taylor, Boley, Kromah etc.) and followers who have all metamorphosed into various warring factions and interim governments. Some are pretending to be human rights and civil rights advocates. The use of Ellen personalizes her identification and separates her from the many Johnsons in the Liberian bloodbath, no disrespect here. Pardon me for any disappointment.


Educational prejudice, deliberate disinformation, and hypocritical manipulation of illiterate Liberians by so called educated Liberians, in the name of democracy, to gain state power have been a persistent feature throughout Liberia ’s caging political history. The ongoing LAC episode, although a valid issue requiring urgent attention, is a classic example of political hypocrisy and manipulation of our people. Now that the cat is out of the bag, every political Chidagar, Vonyergar, and Yarvogar is lashing out at this other depraved Bryant’s interim government and LAC. Where have these political saviors been all along? Is this LAC situation a new issue? This is the kind of political chicanery which reached a horrifying dimension in 1980 resulting to the cold bloody murder and heartless evisceration of, not just Liberia’s but one of Africa finest sons, President William R. Tolbert, Jr.

Even though, the clueless pauper and soldier, then Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, embraced the sadistical and authoritative Liberian political opposition. This darkest period in Liberia ’s history cumulated into one of the world’s most cannibalistic feast of power greed: Amos Sawyer’s Charles Taylor’s orgy of bloodletting ( Liberia’s uncivilized war).

An indictment ensues from this defense holding Liberia ’s political class, particularly, the Sawyers, Ellens, ECT as culprits for erecting such undemocratic culture in Liberia . Such presumption may shock the political consciousness of many observers of Liberian politics, especially our traditional friends and African brothers, whom have considered these warlords as democratic actors. Please let me use this space to express my profound gratitude to all people of goodwill, especially our African brothers, Nigeria and Ghana , and not forgetting our historical relative, the great United States of America , who continue to provide assistance to our needed people.

However, it is no secret that Liberia ’s political charlatans’ (Rice opposition) lives are shamelessly catalogued in the annals of death, destruction and chaos. For example, under president Tolbert, their Monrovia city major run ended in chaos; under president Doe they transformed the University of Liberia into a breeding ground for political agitation and conflict. Thereby disrupting and prolonging the academy tenure of peaceful students and caused the deaths and serious bodily injuries to countless students. These acts are contemptuous and correspond to gross human rights violations of peaceful students who only aimed at attending the university to learn. The university is supposed to be a place of learning, not a platform for political opposition to government.

More disdainfully, the Liberian political class’ opposition to President Tolbert ushered in dictator Samuel Doe; their opposition to President Doe produced Charles Taylor’s death machine; and their opposition to President Taylor manufactured multiple killing organizations: LURD, MODEL, including ULIMO’S, LPC’S, BLACK BERETS’, among others. Leaving as visible signs the displacement of traditional Liberian cultural norms and lack of fundamental human needs, which has now reduced Liberia into a welfare state; depending on NGOs to feed our people, a people who posses farming skills and knowledge to grow their own food and feed themselves. What a great political throw back? A Homo erectus socialization!

Understanding the term illiterate will help floor this defense of illiterate Liberians. According to Merriam-Webster definition, illiterate means:

1. Having little or no education esp: unable to read or write. 2. Showing or marked by a lack of familiarity with language and literature. 3. Showing or marked by a lack of acquaintance with the fundamentals of a particular field of knowledge.

Each of these meaning provides us a separate understanding of ‘illiterate’ without any relationship to wisdom or leadership. It informs us that the term illiterate is relative and not exclusive to a specify understanding. More importantly it rescues us from the narrow trash bagging mentality that attempt to excuse certain personality from our society who do not share a similar perverted political philosophy as members of Liberia’s failed political class. Let take for example, the phony argument that Ambassador George Weah is an “illiterate” and therefore must not be canonize for political power. The argument purports that as a former soccer international, Ambassador Weah has not participated in any political undertaking and lacks the basic understanding of economics, international diplomacy, or political administration, which disqualifies him for national leadership. Without babbling into the demerit of such vaporous argument, a reverse argument can, easily be made that nullify such thinking.

For example, considering the overall social disorganization of Liberia whereby basic social services like electricity, water, telecommunications, education, and healthcare is deficient. Engineers, medical doctors, and academicians can make an argument that Liberia needs a qualify engineer or medical doctor or school teacher to become president because they posses the qualification to deal with the problem of improve electricity, water, telecommunication, better education, and healthcare. In this case, our politicians are illiterate to dealing with these issues by virtue of their own educational experience. They are restricted to economics, politics, and diplomacy and not engineering.

From this illumination, it becomes clear that the condemnation of illiterate Liberians, as lacking in the wisdom of leadership’s decision making is rejected. It proves that Liberia ’s political elites are miseducated and illiterate to the customs, mores, norms, and values of ordinary Liberians. Making their miseducated democratic projected to be a source of mêlée due to its abortive nature, which distrusts the people’s right to decide their own destiny. According to some of their miseducated claims, our people lack of terminal degrees and inability to adopt western democratic norms is responsible for Liberia ’s backwardness. Conversely, a survey of western societies, especially America does not account for such categorical imperative of democratic practices.

In America , there are three (3) levels of governments: federal, state, and municipal. This formation allows a central government control based in Washington D.C. , while simultaneously permitting the other levels of government to function in such a way that each geographical subdivision has its own political culture, in terms of democratic practices, law, and domestic socialization. In West Africa , our own region, Nigeria and Ghana offers classic example of how western democratic practices marry to African democracy can co-exist without necessarily eliminating the culture of a people. Liberia ’s political class is yet to begin organizing this kind of political community.

Thus, Liberia democratic project reveal a contest of power versus authority, which banks on a miseducated and hostile view that those with terminal degrees in political science or related fields holds the exclusive right to decide leadership. The reverse is the case, power belongs to the people. On the Altar of God, I pledge undying resistance to mis-educated Liberians and hostile intellectuals. “Excuse me while I throw out.” Watch out for parts II, III, & IV.

Articles by Chorpie Charlie>>>>

About the author:

Chorphie Charlie is a social and political commentator who resides in Philadelphia. He can be reached at

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