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The Moral Imperative of Change: A Clarion Call To Progressive Action

Eulogy to My Beloved Brother and Friend, Rev. Morris Karpeh Jarkloh, Sr.

District Superintendent for Sinoe County Liberia Annual Conference, United Methodist Church

 

By J. Nyenetu Jarkloh and Bill K. Jarkloh             Nyenetu Jarkloh

 

 

The Dean and Members of the Bishop’s Cabinet of the LAC/UMC,

Members of the Clergy including Deacons, Pastors, and Elders of the LAC and UMC here present;

Representatives and Members of other Denominations and Ministries here present; Representatives and members of the Jarkloh Family and fellow Jarkloh siblings and relatives here present; Distinguished sympathizers, well-wishers, Ladies and Gentlemen.

On behalf of the Jarkloh family, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Rev. Dr. John G. Innis, Resident Bishop (Liberia Area) as well as to members and representatives of the Liberia Annual Conference for the gesture of kindness shown through the course of events in which we grapple with the loss of our beloved brother. We appreciate your moral and material support and overwhelming sympathy in standing with us in our difficult time of grief and bereavement.

We have gathered here today at this Memorial Service to share not only the Christian love that binds us as one Christian family, but also to share our sorrows and broken hearts. We have assembled here to say our last goodbyes, to pay the last vestiges of our homage. We have come to remember and to reflect on the life of, and not just to praise, a fallen hero who happened to be our own beloved brother and friend from whom we sought advice in critical times of trouble and difficulty. That person is no other than the Rev. Morris Karpeh Jarkloh, Sr., of the United Methodist Church, who departed from our midst on September 5, 2014. It was on a fateful Friday afternoon after a very brief illness.

Our late brother might have suffered from hypertension; and attempts the family made to seek medical attention at the Redemption Hospital (New Kru Town) and Cooper Clinic (12th Street Sinkor) all proved futile. Doctors at the hospital said they could “not handle his situation” while those at the clinic told us they did “not have space to accommodate him.” With the clinic’s refusal for more than 24 hours to accommodate him at the point his situation was being critical and the difficulty in finding ready transportation, Rev. Jarkloh died right in front of Cooper Clinic before arriving at the MSF/ELWA Hospital. There is little or no indication that his death is Ebola-related as attempts to find out from MSF/ELWA medical authorities proved unsuccessful.

It was unbelievable and quite painful to hear the sad and devastating news of Rev. Jarkloh’s passing, a tragic event that triggered a feeling of numbness in my body even before the sorrow and sadness set in. It is a feeling that continues to suck the breath out of me. Exactly eight days before his passing (on Thursday, 28 August 2014), I had a chance to see and converse with Brother Morris on Skype. It was a rare, but joyous moment. Brother Justin had informed me, “Rev. is presently in Monrovia at the invitation of the church to attend a church cabinet meeting.” I therefore requested Justin (our youngest brother) to arrange a meeting with Morris on Skype, since I wanted so much to see and talk with him as much as he wanted likewise. We had not seen each other since May 1996, when I returned to Europe with my wife and my then infant child due to the Liberian civil crisis.

For us in the inner circle of family ties (and perhaps close friends and associates, including cabinet colleagues in the church and the greater Liberian community), our relationships and interactions with Rev. Morris Jarkloh had impacted our lives and touched us so deeply in many ways that it seems hard to come up with the exact words to describe just how much he meant to us, and just how much we’ve missed him – especially when caught up in one of our saddest moments of loss. How can I deliver a thoughtful, meaningful and well-organized story of achievements of a life’s journey during this time of grief and sorrow? Certainly for me, the brothers and sisters and for many too, it is difficult to articulate the many details of the lifetime of Rev. Jarkloh.

Rev. Jarkloh was my only senior brother, amongst the Jarkloh siblings of five brothers and two sisters. Rev. Jarkloh and I have two younger sisters and three younger brothers, with genuine love for one another. Morris and I together with our younger brothers and sisters were brought up in the Christian faith in the Panwhan United Methodist Church. I remember how our loving mother (Jloplehdee, or Barbee) used to tell Morris and I together to go and ring the church bell to alert people to get ready for the regular Sunday Worship Service. And Morris was usually holding my hand with brotherly love as we went with our mother each Sunday morning to church. All of us Jarkloh brothers and sisters were raised under the thatch roof of our hut built by our late father (Mr. Johnson W. Jarkloh), before I was sent to Monrovia to our father’s younger brother (Mr. Peter S. Jarkloh), Liberia’s most popular soccer coach of his time, to continue my education. I also vividly remember the day Morris and our mother escorted me to the ship I boarded for Monrovia. They were standing on the harbor pier, keenly looking on as I left them; I noticed that Morris and our mother were in tears, as I waved to them. I remember Morris and our mother waved back to me, each with both hands, before I entered the ship and proceeded to a cabin.

Rev. Jarkloh was born on September 2, 1952 unto the blessed union of Madam Anna Jugbe Jlopleh and Mr. Johnson Weah Jarkloh in Panwhan Town, Sanquin Municipal District (Sinoe County, Liberia). As a child, Morris attended the Panwhan Public School, where he completed his kindergarten, primary and elementary education. Not satisfied and desirous of more education, but without parental financial and material support, young Morris made one of the most difficult decisions in his life to leave our parents for Greenville (Sinoe County) to pursue his junior high and secondary education, a journey from parental care which was a defining moment in Morris’ life. Brother Morris Jarkloh matriculated at the Lexington Jr. High School where he completed his junior high school education with high distinctions, and at the top of his class.

Thereafter, he was not satisfied and therefore enrolled at the Sinoe High School. I remember during this time (when I was still in Monrovia by then also attending the William V. S. Tubman High). During our annual vacation when schools were closed (usually between December and March), Morris used to work very hard in making sure to collect bags of coconuts as well as prepare bottles of palm & coconut oils with which he traveled to Monrovia to sell during the vacation period so that he could be able to get few bucks in order to buy copybooks, uniforms, pencils, necessary textbooks amongst other essential items to continue supporting his education in Greenville. It is worthy to mention that the support from brother Morris Jarkloh was often made possible through the hard work of sister Martha Jarkloh (also recently deceased), when she was always making barrels of coconut and palm oils transported to Greenville by canoe through a day-long voyage by our late father, daddy Johnson Weah Jarkloh and brother Bill K. Jarkloh. Although funds were usually in critically short supply even in the face of these parental and family sacrifices, Brother Morris never wavered in his determination of attaining an education at all cost. With hard work and unique sense of purpose, unflinching determination and unfaltering perseverance, M. Karpeh Jarkloh (as he was affectionately called) successfully graduated from the Sinoe High School in 1976 with flying colors. He was among the top 5% of his graduating class of that year. His exemplary achievement and feat is a telling demonstration of staying power and not succumbing in the face of adversities. Rev. Jarkloh was self-made, with abiding faith in God; and very few people are endowed by nature with the courage he had to move forward to succeed.

Upon his graduation from the Sinoe High School, Morris returned home to Sanquin Municipality (now Sanquin Statutory District) where, for about five years, he taught at the Panwhan Public School and then assigned later by the Ministry of Education to teach at the Sanquin Jr. High School in Tournita, Bafu Bay, while still in active service of the United Methodist Church (UMC) as a chorister. In 1982, he was awarded a scholarship by the Ministry of Education to the Kakata Rural Teacher Training Institute (KRTTI) from where he graduated with a ‘B’ Certificate in Education as a professional teacher. Upon his graduation from KRTTI, Brother Morris returned to Sanquin and continued his assignment as an instructional staff at the Sanquin Junior High School for several years.

With the call to ministry seeking him due to this exemplary and dedicated services to the church and community, Brother Morris Jarkloh was awarded another scholarship by the Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church to study at the Gbarnga School of Theology (GST, Gbarnga/Bong County/Liberia), where he earned a Bachelor of Theology (B.Th) Degree. Upon completion of his study at GST, Brother Morris Karpeh Jarkloh was ordained into the Ministry by the administration of the Rev. Dr. Arthur F. Kulah (then Resident Bishop, Liberia Area) of the United Methodist Church, based on his distinguished dedication and commitment to the church and community. By then Rev. Jarkloh had started his work as a Shepherd for the Sheep in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Rev. Morris K. Jarkloh, Sr. was assigned to several churches in Monrovia and Greenville, including the Doe Juah United Methodist Church (UMC), the Lloyd G. Matthew UMC, and the J. E. Marshall UMC, all located in Monrovia. In Greenville, Rev. Jarkloh was pastor for the Nimely Nah UMC and First United Methodist Church, respectively. Because of Rev. Jarkloh’s outstanding and dedicated services to the works of the Ministry, the Bishop Rev. Dr. John Innis who succeeded Bishop Rev. Dr. Kulah, appointed him as the District Superintendent (UMC) for the Gbehzohn Town Mission in Juahzohn, Sinoe County for several years before he was assigned to be the Sitting Superintendent for the Sinoe District Conference of the Liberia Annual Conference of the UMC in which capacity he had served with dedication and distinction until his death.

The Reverend, M. Karpeh Jarkloh (as I am fond of calling him), whose wife Beatrice Tiabor-Jarkloh predeceased him, was a loving and caring husband and a father of seven children, a family man, and most importantly a God-fearing man who revered what he always considered “a golden opportunity to serve the Lord and his people.” He had responded diligently to the vocation to labor in the Lord’s vineyard. As a district superintendent who is committed to propagating and realizing the church’s doctrine of holistic evangelism and dynamic spiritual growth, Rev. Jarkloh was a dedicated servant of the church who provided spiritual guidance and pastoral leadership as best as he could. Rev. Jarkloh was unassuming, sincere and polite in his interactions with people as well as tactful and humbled a personality he was, with a touch of humanity. He always referred to himself as “your humble servant” in all of his District Reports. His former Cabinet colleague, Rev. Morrison Wleh, described Rev. Jarkloh as “hardworking, someone who took initiative, and willing to learn.” Another Cabinet colleague, Pauline F. Gartor (on September 7, 2014 upon hearing about the passing of Rev. Jarkloh) reflected: “We as United Methodists have lost a great hero, but one thing I know it is better to die in the Lord. Rest in peace, Rev. Jarkloh; you will always be remembered for your services around the church and humanity.” The Resident Bishop of the United Methodist Church (Liberia Area), the Rev. Dr. John G. Innis – in response to the sad news of Rev. Jarkloh’s home going – has said, “We have lost a leader of the church. Rev. Morris has served with distinction and the church across Liberia will mourn his death.”

Analysis of the context in which we lost Rev. Jarkloh suggests that he could not have died if medical practitioners were adequately trained, professional, and responsible than they claim to be. The death of Rev. Jarkloh and many other Liberians could have been prevented if our institutions (educational, political, and healthcare in particular), and those who are responsible for their operations were as accountable to the Liberian people as they should be. There has not yet been any clear indication or proof that the cause of Rev. Jarkloh’s death is Ebola-related (although such probability cannot be ruled out). What is clear is that the epidemic outbreak of the killer virus has exposed a lot of dysfunctions in the Liberian society and its institutions. From multiple perspectives, administrative regulatory models and public policy management practices in Liberia are in deep trouble and do suffer extremely from incompetence and degradation; it has nothing to do with the recent outbreak of Ebola. The Ebola epidemic only exposes and opens our eyes to see the bigger picture of official I-don’t-carism (Our leaders don’t just care).

Rev. Jarkloh could not have died if transportation were available and improved; if our healthcare system were functioning effectively; if there were possibility of ambulances from healthcare centers and clinics were readily available to pick up sick people from their homes and wherever they are, and if health workers were able to render first aid treatment. Rev. Jarkloh could not have died if basic social services were provided by our government in a way they ought to be provided to ensure the safety and happiness for the masses of the Liberian people; if the lofty objectives (of progressive change) for which the Liberian Civil War was fought had been practicalized, and not circumvented and betrayed by those who have made false elections promises only to catapult themselves into power.

Rev. Jarkloh could not have died if progressive change had not been hijacked by pseudo-progressives who have turned power-hungry opportunists, who had fooled the Liberian people yesterday. Those who masqueraded yesterday as self-proclaimed progressives have indeed turned opportunists today as we can see. Their deeds attest to the fact that they were fox in sheep clothing. For parochial and selfish interests, they had intentionally exploited the illiteracy of the masses of unlettered Liberians and cunningly enlisted and tapped the support of unsuspecting Liberian students, workers, and civil society into the people’s legitimate struggle for social change.

From top to bottom across the three branches of government those who are at the highest decision-making echelons of power today are those who yesterday championed the cause of the people’s struggle for change, who had led supporters in shouting slogans: “In the Cause of the People, the Struggle Continues.” Some had been students’ leaders at the University of Liberia, and others were professors, who considered themselves “progressive intellectuals”, who lead some of their blind followers to their early graves. Today these “progressive intellectuals” are silent just because they are now in positions of leadership and power, when there are even greater reasons (greater plight and sufferings of the masses) for them to be vocal against the injustices and inequalities of the status quo.

Such a silence is born out of their decision to compromise the good principles they’d stood for yesterday for parochial political expediency. In other words, their struggle was a power struggle (not a class struggle, not for the masses). History is proving to us that they were fighting to get power for themselves (not as a means of improving the living standard of ordinary Liberians, not as a means of enhancing economic development of the country). In the hearts and minds of truly patriotic Liberians, they have fallen from grace to disgrace; they have fallen prey by the trappings of power. Despite the betrayal by pseudo-progressives who find themselves in power today, we cannot be deterred; the people’s legitimate struggle for social change must continue unabated; and all well-meaning Liberians at home and in the Diaspora must heed the call to progressive action, must rise up to the moral imperative of progressive change in our common patrimony.

The protracted delay in closing county borders (it took months after the initial outbreak of Ebola), long delay for treatment centers with ambulances to respond to Ebola-related calls from neighborhoods (more than three days on average), the refusal by community clinics and hospitals to accommodate and treat patients (whether of Ebola or other illness), inadequate disposal of dead victims (some buried in the backyards) are just some of the causes the epidemic has surged and gotten out of control in Liberia. The inadequate and lackadaisical response of the Liberian Ministry of Health & Social Welfare was overwhelming.

According to reliable sources, there was a flagrant “failure of commissioned Ebola Centers and health teams to quickly dispose of dead bodies. Bodies of dead Ebola victims had not been removed by health workers.” The ELWA/MSF Ebola Center was cremating dead bodies without even conducting autopsy to determine whether or not the bodies were Ebola-positive. And what about the proper care and storage of the remains or ashes of cremated bodies? All of these abnormal, unprofessional and criminal behaviors underline the dysfunctional mix, brewed by official indifference, incompetence and insensitivity. Even quarantined patients who were suspected Ebola victims did not receive proper human care. “They are hungry, they are starving. No food, no water,” said one terrified woman. “The government of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf needs to do more!”

The leadership ability of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s government is under serious question. This has shown and underlined how much in disarray Liberia’s healthcare system has been “developed” by our “new heroes” for about ten years. And this is not only the healthcare system we are talking about; it is the entire social fabric that has been plagued with political ineptitude and nonchalance. Liberia’s present government has flagrantly and brazenly failed and disappointed the people. It is incapable of delivering to the expectations of the majority of Liberians. It was in such a context our leaders’ reputation was revealed as being dogged by a lack of pragmatism and realistic commitment to containing the spreading Ebola epidemic simply because they are obviously out of touch with poor Liberians.

Moreover, the official argument that the onslaught of the epidemic is rolling back the “gains of development” already achieved within the ten-year rule of the incumbent government is total malarkey. Conversely, Ebola has only amplified the effect of the administrative and management decadence of political culture of the status quo and the chronic lack of public accountability by complacent and inefficient Liberian rulers. If at all there were any meaningful development, a better healthcare system would have been in place to ensure that a more effective response was mounted against the deadly virus, which according to statistics has claimed more lives in Liberia than in any other country during the recent outbreak in West Africa.

It can further be argued that if the so-called gains and prosperity of development delivered during the ten-year rule of our government were more widely and inclusively distributed and shared, we would have faster growth during this period and a great number of Liberians would be better off today. Empirical reality in today’s Liberia is that misguided policy priorities are designed to entrench and enhance the wealth of a few cronies at the top and keep almost everyone else comparatively poor and economically insecure. Therefore, if we want to reduce the savage inequalities and insecurities that are now undermining our economy and democracy, we need not be deterred by the myth of the “gains of development.”

Truth is, for the overwhelming majority of Liberians, the government has failed miserably to prioritize and make practical commitment to the delivery of basic social services such as pure drinking water, sanitation and waste disposal, electricity, road networks, communication, education, and healthcare. The anecdote of the Liberian situation is that, instead of our politicians developing a reliable healthcare system, they prefer to always spend the country’s meager financial resources to seek medical attention abroad.

There are many development issues that are at stake.

Liberians need to be well-informed about Concession Agreements and their benefits to the Liberian People. Not only should concession agreements and their benefits be made public (in keeping with the Global Freedom of Information Act), but also the government is under obligation to ensure that the tenets, stipulations and social responsibilities of various concession agreements signed between the government and Chevron, ArcelorMittal, Sime Darby, Putu Iron Mining, AMLA Gold, and other concessions operating in the country are upheld and enforced.

The reality is that all of the concession agreements signed by the Government of Liberia have not adequately benefited the majority of the Liberian people, except those in power – the president and her political clans – including their families and connections. Liberians ought to be kept informed about how much money the government receives from concession contracts and how it appropriates and/or accounts for concession contract funds. What social and economic benefits concessions really deliver for the masses of ordinary Liberians in terms of construction of quality farm-to-market roads (including feeder roads in the country), school buildings, education and vocational training, clinics and hospitals, water supply and sanitation? Regardless of education and professional experience, one must be highly connected to get employment with them (almost impossible for ordinary Liberians).

It is time that the government stops fooling and blindfolding the people. Our eyes are wide open; and every eye is focused on the government’s barefaced nonchalance. How many miles of good-quality roads, clinics and/or hospitals, schools, bridges (and how many square meters of estate buildings or shelter) have been erected by government for about ten years? How much salary people get, and how much they can afford at least for shelter, food, clothing, transportation, communication, education?

Development is not just building or repairing few roads, schools, bridges, and clinics within more that 9 years. It is the quality and number of basic social services a government delivers that count. It is the number of people who have unfettered access to pure drinking water, electricity, food security, transportation, communication and other basic necessities of life. It is the number of people gainfully employed with adequate salary to live on. It is not just a few cronies receiving US$15,000 to US$30,000 United States Dollars per month, while other civil servants are getting salaries as low as 100 to 300 USD per month. Mass failures in UL entrance and WAEC exams are clear manifestation of the extent to which our institutions have been degraded. The quality of employment, education, healthcare, length of paved highway network and feeder roads, access to pure drinking water and sanitation and electricity are just few of the basic human development indicators.

Yes, Liberian “business as usual” continues to flourish and be the “renewed” norm of life. Unfettered corruption, nepotism, and the entrenched “who-know-you” syndrome have plagued the entire fabric of our society at every level from top to bottom. It is great pity that the masses of the Liberian people are only being fed with and continue to survive on more empty promises and lip services than before.

The alarming increase in income inequality (born out of crony capitalism, plantation-style and trickledown economics) and the lack of improvement in living standards for ordinary Liberians have institutionalized mass poverty to the greatest proportion ever. Liberia, the land of liberty, seems – under the present regime – no longer a country of opportunity and hope and promise that even our much vaunted rule of law, democratic governance, human rights, and justice system have been compromised in the political process. With about 80% unemployment rate, it has become even anachronistic to think about the Liberian dream – that overriding vision of our democratic experiment – upon which this country was founded: the pursuit of life, of freedoms, of equality, of happiness, and of human dignity.

How can a leader be credited as a champion for peace and given a Nobel Peace Prize, but fails flagrantly to deliver economic and social justice for the majority of the Liberian people (when indeed such a flagrant failure undermines the very peace)? What are the priorities of development?

Are the masses of the Liberian people really happy under the status quo created by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her political clans? What does happiness mean to a people? There is clearly a direct correlation between development and happiness. Development and happiness of a people consist in being health, having enough food to feed themselves and their families, enough money (from whatever their jobs may be) to do what they want and buy what they desire.

For all of us (and for all practical purposes), that entails a nice shelter, decent clothes, at least a car, cable TV and Internet connectivity, and good times with family and friends. Besides, happiness means being able to speak what is on your mind without fear, to worship the God of your faith, and to feel safe and secure in your own home.

Happiness includes (but not limited to) having the opportunity – to get a quality education or vocational training, to become an entrepreneur (This means guaranteed access to bank loans because people have reliable job opportunities; having a big idea and turning it into a thriving business, aware that the harder you work, the more reward you can expect). This constitutes the fundamental principle and cornerstone of the Liberian dream. These are the basic democratic ideals and foundations of the Liberian Dream.

What percentage of Liberians today has the resources and opportunity to declare they have achieved the Liberian Dream? How many ordinary Liberians today can say they are upbeat on the basis of what development and happiness entail? Nearly all of the development paraphernalia and criteria for happiness as defined above, save the component of religious freedom, are non-existent for the overwhelming majority of Liberians today. Gross economic mismanagement; inability to effectively fight and deter corruption; brazen sacrifice, betrayal and flouting of development priorities; unrestrained self-aggrandizement to the detriment of the people’s development yearnings and aspirations; and callous indifference and insensitivity to the plight of the masses – all have become entrenched in our society by the present oligarchy.

The continuous pillage of Liberia’s natural resources (including our forest and timber, iron ore, rubber, gold, diamond, oil, etc.) by concessions that deliver very little or nothing to benefit Liberian communities, the glaring failure and conspicuous inability of the present dog-eat-dog oligarchy to lead the Liberian people into the path of development and happiness (to deliver on election promises and provide basic social services) do not only underline a moral imperative of change, but also underpin a wake-up call to action. Indeed, these troubling realities beacon to Liberians to awake from their deep slumber of apathy to action for progressive change. It’s incumbent upon all well-meaning Liberians to act now!

On the macro-economic level, Liberia still falls far short of the development benchmark. The beginning of a meaningful development is characterized by the provision of basic social services, electrification, industrialization, and a paradigm shift to export-driven economic model by creating the material-technical base to manufacture finished products (not just selling iron ore, rubber, timber and other raw materials to perpetuate a plantation-style economy). The multi-national corporations should be bargained with or coerced to train enough number of Liberians in order to meet their manpower needs necessary to process and produce finished products in Liberia, in so doing to provide adequate job and other opportunities for Liberians.

This likewise would induce qualified Liberians abroad to return home (Highly qualified Liberians remain abroad because they see no opportunities back home to return to). Such policy priority based on a new development model would undoubtedly foster, stimulate and accelerate the pace of economic development and growth. Conversely, and unfortunately, our politicians (especially those in the executive and legislative branches) are only concerned with feathering their own nests, concerned only with their parochial interest in receiving kickbacks as the overriding motive and criteria to sign concession contracts. This is the context in which our country finds itself today, and where we face a moral imperative of change.

Striking examples abound in which right now our society urgently faces that moral imperative of change. The right choices must be made. There is nothing wrong with advocating for non-violent change. After all, the connotation of change is progress and prosperity for the greatest number of Liberians, if not all. For real patriots and true progressives, democratic and non-violent change is the way forward in building a strong Liberia and delivering economic prosperity for the masses of the Liberian people as well as for posterity. It should be initiated (and not stymied) by the power that be, mainly by the executive and legislative branches of government. However, most often than not, we see our leaders in these branches to be the real obstacles to peaceful non-violent change. In this way they carry full responsibility for violent change as we have witnessed in the context of the Liberian Civil War.

As the saying goes, “people who make peaceful change impossible are those who make violent change possible.” Our society was then pregnant for change; the leadership of the erstwhile regime refused and ignored the writings on the wall. The consequence to resist non-violent change was highly catastrophic for our country and all of us. Exactly that is why the resulting baby – the new postwar Liberia we have now – has been deformed in many respects. But the extent of deformation of postwar Liberia is yet exacerbated by our leaders’ political myopia, shortsightedness, recklessness, and inability to learn the lessons of history. Our complacent leaders in the Executive Mansion and the Liberian Legislature have always failed – as in the case of the present Johnson-Sirleaf regime today – to learn the harsh lessons and heed the cataclysmic experience of history of Liberia’s recent past.

Liberian officials are still fond of playing games, playing the Liberian “business as usual,” not knowing they are playing with fire. Another instance in which the actions of our legislators are indicative of their insensitivity and opposition to change is their desire and intention to pass a new elections bill into law. The new elections bill provides that one of the eligibility criteria for a candidate to contest legislative seat is to render a non-refundable amount of $7,500 USD (increased from $700 USD) to the National Elections Commission for registration of his/her candidacy. This represents an increase of more than 1,071.42%. If the new elections bill is enacted into law, it could encroach upon the constitutional rights of ordinary Liberians to challenge incumbent legislators in parliamentary elections. In order words, there is a proclivity on the part of law makers to protect and perpetuate the status quo that must be changed. It’s obvious the aim of that law is to exclude as many ordinary Liberians (who may like to become candidates) as possible from vying for parliamentary elections so that they (incumbent legislators) can retain their seats.

The proposed elections bill, if really enacted into law, could have a propensity to stymie an inclusive and credible electoral platform in Liberia. It could greatly interfere with postwar Liberia’s democratic agenda of a free, open and pluralistic society, belying and impinging upon the vaunted objectives of participatory democracy in our country. It’s a legal instrument to exclude mass participation in the political process of our country, intended only to enhance and entrench the oligarchic hegemony of those in power. This new elections bill is one of the most irresponsible, bogus, outrageous, and unconstitutional legislation proposed; it serves no purpose other than the narrow opportunistic interest and inordinate avarice of sitting legislators, who are paid $15,000 USD (excluding benefits) per month of tax payers’ money.

This is just an example of the issue of income inequality and economic injustices, about which many Liberian civil servants are dissatisfied and disgruntled about. Reference can also be made to US$20,000 (plus additional benefits) paid the Minister of Finance and US$30,000 (plus additional benefits) paid the Commissioner of Liberia Maritime Authority, as their respective salaries, when the vast majority of taxpayers are living in abject poverty (cannot even make ends meet), and 90% of Liberians are living on less than US$0.50 per head per day.

There’s certainly a need for qualitative change in Liberia. Liberians must never waver, must never be deterred, to deliver that change. In the present context in which our leaders have become die-hards, have shown a strong unwillingness to change, a resistance to abide by the will of the electorates (the people), it is only necessary for progressive forces, interest groups, students, workers union, and civil society at large to double up their efforts and act more decisively in the vanguard for change, for nothing can defeat the indomitable resolve of the masses. No stone must be left unturned until and unless Liberians can realize at last a true government of the people, by the people, and for the people, a people’s government that respects in both words and deeds the ultimate will of the masses of the Liberian people. Students across Liberia must be mobilized en masse in the vanguard for progressive change.

If leaders continue to mismanage the economy, drag their feet in improving the living standard of the masses, fail in delivering basic services, refuse to change from their corrupt practices, fail to make good their elections promises, and to make laws that are incompatible with the interests, wishes and aspirations of the masses, then we must be determined to vote them out of offices during elections.

If it is clear that elections are rigged, then progressive forces should organize nation-wide strikes through workers unions, interest groups, students organizations throughout Liberia, and civil society; we must become recalcitrant in our demand for change, erect roadblocks across Monrovia (the epicenter of corruption), force corrupt leaders to resign to form a new transitional government of national unity where progressive forces and individuals, interest groups, students, workers unions and others in the people’s struggle for real change – not the window dressing change we now have – would be represented.

Rev. Jarkloh to me was more than a loving brother; and the deep pain I feel this fleeting moment for losing him is as overwhelming as any critical experience can be. Rev. Jarkloh and I had promised each other to meet again, concluding our conversation on Skype. I wish it were possible for me to physically touch and hug him tight that Thursday (28 August 2014), to enjoy few more hours talking with him and reminiscing of the good old times we had spent together.

Morris was very humble and he loved people with sincerity. He was very fond of us his younger brothers and sisters, and people in general. He was not only my senior brother and an academic colleague, but also an intellectual comrade in the struggle for social and economic justice for the masses of the Liberian people, for the rule of law, human and fundamental rights and democratic empowerment of civil society. His intellectual prowess and progressive analyses regarding Liberian development issues, coupled with his impeccable belief in Liberia’s future and profound faith in the ultimate fruition of Liberia’s development potential are very overwhelming. It is this belief and faith, on Rev. Jarkloh’s behalf, I would like to share with fellow ordinary struggling Liberians.

I love you Brother Morris and will always remember you. The service to your family, the church, and community will never be forgotten. I never dream you would leave us so soon. I am crying and my heart is bleeding with grief, throbbing with sorrow and tragedy. Your passing, Brother M. Karpeh Jarkloh, is an irreplaceable loss to all of us, family, close friends, the church, and the community you had served. Your passing has left a vacuum in our midst. This is a moment I wish I had never lived to see in my life.

You are such a brother, friend, husband, father, and uncle anyone could imagine. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit and your soul until we meet again on the shores of Heaven. Brother Morris, I say goodbye as do all your other brothers and sisters, your children and grand children, your nieces and nephews, your cousins and close relatives, your cabinet colleagues and the entire Liberia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church as well as the Liberian community – all of us say farewell to you. May Your Soul Rest In Perpetual Peace!

 

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About the Author: Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh is editor and publisher, www.theliberiandialogue.org - The Liberian Dialogue 770-896-5873

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