The pictures from the Sierra Leonean civil war are graphic. They are of children with no arms or legs crawling or attempting to crawl. They are of women with chemicals or some type thrown in their eyes or on some other parts of their body. The pictures are also of grown men; women and others whose legs or arms were amputated and cannot even walk, wear their clothes or do anything independently.
In neighboring Liberia where the civil war took a deadlier turn, the story is almost the same except that the countless masterminds of that self-centered disaster are proudly walking around masquerading as government offficials.
Charles McArthur “Ghankay Dapkpana” Taylor, who was found guilty on April 26 by the International Criminal Court in the Hague of all 11 counts for ‘aiding and abetting’ crimes against humanity, sits in a prison there awaiting a May 30 sentencing.
It is a sad ending for a guy whom some sees as brilliant, tactical and ambitious; but with so much character flaws cannot even be trusted to be a dogcatcher.
Even with such character flaws, Charles Taylor never lacked the confidence to seek the Liberian presidency. He pursued it his way through intimidation and force, and by holding the population hostage. When it all ended, Charles Taylor was given the 1997 election to become the nation’s 22nd president.
The glaring reminder of Charles Taylor’s presidency was his bloodied war past, which fortified his reputation as a no-nonsense thug who brings no policy initiatives to the table to move the nation forward. And as he attempted to reinvent his thuggish reputation as a leader of a proud people and nation, Charles Taylor’s reputation was already damaged goods that couldn’t be rehabilitated.
Taylor became an international pariah who had no credible friends to hang with. He had no political mandate or vision for the country either, and was surrounded by sycophants and criminals, whom like him were only interested in getting a share of the country’s limited coffers and natural resources. Taylor later became a possessed man who tried very hard to be relevant and taken seriously, but to no avail.
Charles Taylor’s fall from the Liberian presidency in 2003, only to seek refuge in a Nigerian hideout where he was arrested years later is a reflection of the man’s colorful life and how he lived it, making his presidency another historically failed chapter in the country’s centuries-old struggle to survive as a nation.
It is true that Charles Taylor was the face of the civil war that killed over hundreds of thousands of human beings, destroyed a country, and left many homeless.
It is also true that Taylor’s war also left countless individuals including men, women and children maimed and raped both in Sierra Leone and Liberia. As the public face and inspirational leader of the civil war in Liberia, the bulk of the blame rests on him.
What is not so true, however, is the fact that Taylor led the Liberian and Sierra Leonean civil wars singularly. Because he did not fight those wars alone but with others opens up interesting questions as to why he’s in prison all by himself, and why others haven’t been arrested in Monrovia and Freetown to face their own days in a court of law?
Interestingly enough, many of his co-conspirators who were either on his side or formed their own rival rebel groups, are national leaders. The most prominent non-combatant of them all Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was a key financier is President of Liberia. As co-conspirator of the civil war, Ms. Sirleaf, as President refused to even recognize or implement her own TRC “verdict” that barred her from running for political office for 30 years.
Among the former warlords who are roaming freely in Liberia today are Senator Prince Johnson and his former colleague, Adolphus Dolo; George Boley, recently deported from the United States on immigration and other charges; Alhaji Kromah, recently appointed by Sirleaf to work in her administration, Sekou Damate Conneh, and others.
Perhaps the Liberian people are so tired from the ravages of the war and the suffering that they are not up in arms in the streets of Monrovia celebrating or protesting Taylor’s guilty verdict from The Hague. The Liberian government anticipating such “urges respect for Taylor verdict,” and “calls for peace and unity among Liberians.”
Liberians were fed up with Taylor during the years he was president. Fearing the brutality of the civil war, and a repeat of the brutality of the previous military/cum civilian government of the previous dictator, Samuel Kanyon Doe, decided to just live and leave the madman alone until he hangs himself.
Those living out of the country did not just sit back idly and feel sorry for themselves, but led protest rallies, lobbied policymakers and embraced progressive movements to get rid of the criminal, which eventually paid off.
The news of a guilty verdict is a victory for all Liberians, the Republic of Liberia, and all progressive, freedom-loving friends and sympathizers who stood with the Liberian people to achieve this unanimous victory.
After Taylor, who’s next to fall?