Back to List of Transcripts
Presentation made by: Zawolo Z.
The presenter of First
Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand
and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings
Officer Pastor John Teayah.
Chairman: Thanks very much for coming to the TRC; this
aspect of the Public Hearings is intended to get the insight of the problems
the various organizations in the counties faced during and after the war.
Please tell us your name and state a little about yourself.
Presenter: My name is Hon. Zawolo Z. Zuagele.
Presenter: The Late Gandi of India once said
that "truth resides in every human heart and one has to search for it there". In
this view, the objective here is to search for the truth in our hearts so that
the work of the TRC can lead Nimbanian in particular and Liberians in general,
to lasting peace and prosperity.
This heart searching exercise is
under the topic: The Liberian Crisis: Nimbanians' Role, the Consequences and
the way forward.
The national crisis that started
on December 24, 1989 is the result of tribalism. The member of the PRC (the
1980 coup makers) encouraged the practice of tribalism as a strategy to divert
public attention from the expectation for them to take serious actions to put
fear in themselves and future leaders of Liberia not to engage in misrule.
In response, a larger segment of the Liberian society adopted tribalism as a
way of political living. So it did not come as a surprise for Liberians to push
the country into national crisis.
The Nimbanians, particularly Gios and
Manos' Role in the Liberian Crisis:
Nimbanians are to be blamed and
must blame themselves for pushing Liberia into fourteen-year national
crisis. It is the Manos and Gios' tribalism against the Krahn-led government
and the Mandingoes' economic successes in trade, transportation, etc that
into national crisis on December 24, 1989 through the NPFL - Gio and Manos -
dominated military and political organization.
Mid 1980 rumor circulated that
"Thomas Quiwonkpa (a Gio) was the main maker of the 1980 coup and he gave
Samuel Doe (a Krahn) the national leadership position because Doe had higher rank".
The rumor created suspicion between the two tribes - Gio and Krahn. The logical
implication was that there will be confrontations. However, initially the Manos
were crafty in their loyalties as the situation provided opportunities for the
Manos to get more senior positions in government.
The 1983 Nimba Raid notified both
sides (Gios and Manos Vs Krahns) that there will be confrontations, political
and military. The rest of Liberians hoped, on the basis of tribalism, that they
will benefit from the confrontations. By then, some Manos and Gios were
concerned and feared that they did not have the savvy to compete with the
Mandingoes in economic activities. It therefore became obvious that many Manos
and Gios would cooperate with any side in a national confrontation that would
guarantee them the opportunities to eliminate the Mandingoes and their economic
activities in Nimba
The 1985 presidential election
to the middle of the road toward the national crisis. Some claimed that Jackson
F. Doe (a Gio) won the election. But such claim did not warrant anyone's
serious concern or attention because none of the presidential contestants, on
the basis of tribalism, claimed defeat. The situation was instructive and
popular nationally and internationally, that Samuel Doe (a Krahn) should
continue his administration for six (6) years but in civilian clothes. In the
same year, 1985, there was a Quiwonkpa-led coup attempt against Samuel Doe
which took Liberia
to the door-step of the national crisis. Some of Doe's people claimed that they
killed Quiwonkpa. His death provoked many Gios and Manos to join the NPFL in
the final preparations for the national crisis.
The Manos and Gios have their own
silent but dangerous rivalry which undermines them during the political and
military confrontations. The Gios have the clear advantage of population the
Manos claim superiority in education. This rivalry also explains why Taylor became leader of
the NPFL. This rivalry also convinces some people that many Manos were worried
and concerned about a Gio-led government (be it Jackson F. Doe or Quiwonkpa)
for fear that such government would give the Gios opportunities to be educated
like the Manos. It is logical that the NPFL exploited the tribalism against the
Krahn-led government and the Mandingoes' economic successes to start a popular
uprising in 1989. Charles Taylor was the leader of the NPFL, but many Manos and
Gios turned the uprising into blind insurrection in order to achieve their
Doe's forces targeted and killed
Gios and Manos.
NPFL's forces targeted and killed
Krahns and Mandingoes.
The consequence of peculiar
concern is the death of prominent Gios and Manos like Jackson F. Doe, David
Dwayen, David Toweh, Steven Daniels, etc. during the crisis. It is
inconceivable to believe that Samuel Doe killed these people or Taylor masterminded their death in the face of the
desperation of some Manos and Gios in the US
to return to Liberia
in senior government positions.
The other consequences are
problems, which remain with us, that are most likely to disrupt the peace we
enjoy today in Liberia.
The first one is the problem of citizenship. The provision of the Liberian
constitution that denied non-Negroes citizenship in Liberia is a clear indication of
Liberian's determination to continue with tribalism as a way of political
living. It is an omen for crisis for any one to insist that the Moans, the
Gios, the Congoes or the Mandingoes cannot be citizens of this district or that
In addition, our claim that Liberia
is a Christian Country is contradicted by this clause. A truly Christian
Community is multi-racial, so should be a Christian Country. A Christian
Country does not deserve a racist constitutional provision under any circumstance.
Where will we Liberian Christians go because both Heaven and hell will
certainly host all races?
The way forward is to amend the
constitution for non-Negroes to have the right to be citizens of Liberia like
The second problem is the land and
property issues in Nimba
County. While the problem
is almost history in most parts of Gio-dominated areas appears to defy
solutions in Gompa
City. The only reason can
be the fear for the lack of self-confidence and savvy to compete with others.
Unfortunately, I do not know of medicine for fear.
The efforts for deeds and other
papers prepared during the crisis to take precedence over any kind of ownership
before December 24, 1989 cannot stand the tests of reason and wisdom. Moreover,
it may undermine the chances for lasting peace.
The way forward is to have
everyone or his/her heir to repossess, with the same degree of ownership,
whatever land(s) and property (ies) he or she owned up to December 24, 1989.
When we continue in the same
circle of tribalism we will certainly get the same result-crisis. I will end
with the words of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. "If we do not learn to live
together as brothers we will perish like fools". I thank you.
Questions from the Commissioners:
Chairman: Do you say many of the people killed during
the NPFL time were Gios and Manos?
Presenter: Yes, many prominent Nimbanians
both Gios and Manos, for example, Jackson F. Doe was killed; there was silent
rivalry between the Gios and Manos that actually contributed to these deaths.
Do you say many Gios died than
Presenter: Yes, their deaths were
masterminded, and at the time, the Manos were on the fence.
Commissioner Konneh: We believe that you have good faith in your
presentation; we hope that the citizens will thoroughly and critically analyze
your presentation; what do you think caused the suspicion between the Manos and
Presenter: Amongst the Manos themselves,
there was this rivalry, those that were members of the Secret Society segregated
against those that were not members; and this went to the larger extent between
the two tribes.
Why is it that the Secret
Societies will go this far?
Presenter: I think the best way forward for
these kinds of activities to be discouraged is that when we are mixed up with
other nationals and these kinds of activities will gradually fade away. I heard
that the TRC is going to rewrite the history of Liberia
and I have a different view; for me, the pioneers brought segregation to Liberia
and for that reason, they led the people with suspicions, for the fact that
there were several tribes here before they came or returned..
What has been your own endeavors
to unveiled these problems?
Presenter: It is clear that when you go our
villages, you will see that the standards of riches; probably one steel mill
and small coffee farm that cannot cost US$20,000.00. So I think that the best
way forward is to explore the outside world; and because of this my view, I am
been considered as favoring foreigners in this county.
Commissioner Stewart: Thanks for your presentation; your
presentation compels one to think deeper. How the rivalry between the Gios and
Manos affects this county during the coup period; how it manifested itself?
Presenter: The rumors
during the time of the coup that "Quiwonkpah was the strong man, but had to
gave up power to Samuel K. Doe because he (Doe) had the highest rank" created a
serious suspicions, the Manos were on the fence; but most Manos were in high
positions; the likes of Robert G. Saye who died after it was said that he went
after Quiwonkpah During this time in review, it was observed that Doe started
taking side with the Manos and appointed the like of Emmanuel Gbalazeh as Chief
Justice, and many others. The rivalry was like a cold war, it was very silent,
but the Gios did not understand the positions of the Manos.
How is the leadership like in
this county with this rivalry?
Presenter: I think that the Manos are
actually dominating; the Superintendent of this is a Mano man, and many others.
How the rivalry reflected itself
during the NPFL administration in Liberia?
Presenter: When the civil crisis started on
December 24, 1989, the Gio people were saying that they had not come to fight
for the Mano people and this actually deepens the suspicions between the two
How the schools are divided in
this county, number of high schools in the Gio setting and number of high
schools in the Mano setting?
Presenter: As you may be aware, Ganta is the
head or at the front of the county and it is a Mano providence; but the first
school in this county was built in Sanniquellie City which is also a Mano
providence; therefore, this suggest that the Mano people had a better hand of
the schools that are in this county. But in my opinion, the schools should been
built according to population.
Commissioner Syllah: Based on your experience, what do you consider
as the similarities that can be best use positively?
Presenter: I think the best similarity is
that most Liberian in Traditional Religion; and this could to some extent help
in the process.
Traditional beliefs in what
Presenter: Lets take for example, if you and
myself have a confusion, we swear to a sheep; are you not aware of that? This
can be use to unit us.
What is the relationship of Nimba County
to other counties in terms of tribes?
Presenter: I was born here and schooled her;
yet, some people stay believed that the Manos are not citizens of Liberia, these
are some of the problems; so long you say these kinds of people are not
citizens will always fuel the conflict and confusion.
Comment from the audience.
Mack Tomah - Sanniquellie
City: In 1990 when the war started in
Buutuo and NPFL retreated, General Smith and his troops destroyed Buutuo in its
entirety; the hierarchy of NPFL had top Americo-Liberians like D. Muslim
Cooper, John T. Richardson, Cucu Dennis, etc. what is your comment on these two
Moses S. Nagbe -
Accordingly, when the civil war started, the Manos were on the fence and said
that the Gios had brought trouble and they actually want to divide Nimba County
and they as the Mano people with their providence different and that of the
Gios, Please address yourself to that.
Presenter: Yes, I actually remembered when I
was traveling from Monrovia,
the Mano people used to say that; yes I agreed with you. I hold the view that
it was tribalism that brought the crisis; people were using this as a means
enriching themselves, and it is a clear fact that we all are aware.
Is it possible that there should
be a separate county for the these tribes (Manos and Gios)?
Presenter: I do not think that it is
important or needless to have 15 counties because we do not have money; we
should be thinking about reducing the number of counties.
Emmanuel Baypaye Sr. - I
want to differ with the Speaker that the Mandingoes were targeted for their
wealth; it was not because of their wealth but is was because of their
involvement in the crisis, they were pointing at the Manos and Gios when the
war started both in Monrovia and in Nimba county; secondly, he that the Manos
were more in the Doe's led government, I also think that it is not true; the
Gios had more people in that particular government, we had the likes of S.
Gblorzou Toweh, Johnny Kpeah, etc.
Presenter: If we must make progress, we must
stop pretending, lets go into villages and see the economic strength, it is
very poor; that is the fact.
Chairman: What you say
about the Snake Society?
Presenter: Yes, I said that the snake society
is here and they mainly involved in the destruction of people that are
struggling to improve their living standards.
Is it that our people in the
interior do not want to get rich or they just need the technical assistance/
Presenter: I am of the opinion that they just
lack the ideas.
Now that you have completed you
presentation, is there anything else on your mind that you will like to tell
the TRC before you leave?
Presenter: I think I have said all, my last
word is in my recommendations; "If we do not live together as brothers, we will
perish as fools".
Institutional/Thematic Hearings Tubmanburg
City, Bomi County
Office of the Superintendent
Presentation made by:
The presenter of First
Institution of the Thematic and Institutional Hearings was called to the stand
and was sworn to tell the truth and nothing but the truth by the TRC Hearings
Officer Pastor John Teayah.
Chairman: welcome, we
brought you here and we are happy that you have come to give us the religious
back grounds of Nimba
County. This shows that
we are all tire of a particular thing and we are headed to a new Liberia.
And by coming together, we are going to have lasting peace in Liberia. So we want to know the
roles the religious leaders play in our country's past conflicts and how best
we can recognized and move our country forward. So at this time, you will
introduce yourselves to us for the record.
Presenter: Hon. Jerome
Verdier Chairman, Truth & Reconciliation Commission & members of the
commission here present; Cllr. James W. Zotta, Jr. Assigned Circuit Judge 8th
Judicial Circuit Court, Nimba County; The chairman & members of the
National Traditional Council of Liberia Nimba Chapter; UNMIL Civil Affairs
Coordinator for Nimba County; Other members of the UN system here present; The
Religious Communities; The press; The Liberian People, People of Nimba, One
We thank the
Almighty God for making this day possible. This day is unique and timely.
We also want to
use this occasion to thank the authorities of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission for inviting us to present paper on this sacred day in the history
of Nimba County.
we evoke your keen attention to discuss with you the Topic: "Governance in Post
Conflict Nimba and the way forward in the attainment of genuine Reconciliation"
past and its associated events puts anyone in a better position to prepare
today for a better tomorrow. That is, in order to discuss Governance in post
conflict Nimba, one must clearly define and understand the Governance system,
the permeated, pre-conflict Nimba. Through this, we would determine whether,
pre-conflict Nimba merited what lead to conflict Nimba. Because, without
conflict Nimba, there can be no post conflict Nimba.
system did we experience during pre-conflict Nimba? This question is too broad
just as is the topic assigned us by the TRC. However, we shall attempt to
highlight key factors that may have given rise to event which took place during
words are key or cardinal to events that gave rise to the period we have
referred to as conflict Nimba.
were applied various levels and placers to suit the taste of the power be, to
the detriment or the vast majority of the citizenry of Nimba
County, yea Liberia.
Governance was seen as something exclusive for few private sector or the
feelings. UBF, all fellows mason local paramount chief, favored President, or
Senator and Representative who themselves had picked by the power thy be.
Ladies and gentlemen, is an obvious phenomenon by nature that man, when denied,
neglected or marginalized will attempt to relief himself by any means possible.
The means may be violent or orderly. But the means are most often termed by the
gravity of the neglect of marginalization.
denied right to his livelihood, -social services as educational, health, road, watsan
electricity, jobs and other opportunities is bond to fight back in pursuit of
these I alienable rights. In the process, these will always be resistance from
those licking the honey. The fight will be about the followings:
characters were not present, or visibly applicable in the governance system of
pre-conflict Nimba, conflict Nimba became indeed eminent and or inevitable.
The period we
refer to as conflict Nimba was the time when less privileged people found
themselves privilege, un-educated or semi-educated people found themselves in
position preciously held by educated people, the newly privileged to began to
sized belongings of the preciously privileged, the barrel of the gun were
perceived as those that way change of and so, people were eliminated, forced
into exile because of the order of the day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
me t take a little bit of your time to briefly discuss with you my assigned
topic "Governance in Post Conflict Nimba, the way forward in the attainment of
To begin with,
I have the percussion that there can be no peace without war and reconciliation
without conflict. In time of peace one prepares for war and in time of war, one
prepares for peace. One of these processes must be obtained in order for next
one to prevail.
Governance in post conflict Nimba must be characterized by mutual respect,
adherence to all international human rights protocols, broad base participation
in Government on the basis of qualification economic recovery, opportunities to
all, social services opportunities to all irrespective of sex, tribe section or
forward for Genuine Reconciliation in Post Conflict Nimba.
Citizens, please permit me again to make these philosophical statements before
expanding on my assigned topic: When I
was grown up as a youth in my village and later on in the very Sanniquelle, my
father counseled me with the following statements: And I quote , My son be mindful of cow pupu. Finally, my
son when roasting a rat, make sure you take the gout out before you roast it.
My son when you want heal a sore, remove the scar, script the sore and when you
see the real tissue with blood spilling out, then you should spy the sore and
apply the sore power and tightly banish it. You will see the difference.
In a nutshell,
the way forward to genuine reconciliation in post conflict Nimba is to firstly
speak the truth about what Conflict Nimba suffered, did or inflicted on other.
Nimba must be sorry for what it did or inflicted on others and ask for
Conflict Nimba must also forgive others from what they may have done it; and
Conflict Nimba must take on the characteristics of good and carrying leaders:
participation in Government
Decentralization of national cake
Provision of some basic social services
and accountable system of government
Respecting the views of others and the dignity
of the human person.
I thank you.
from the Commissioners and the Audience:
Thank you for your presentation and for your analysis of the root
causes of conflict not only in Nimba but in Liberia going back to an
examination of post- conflict Nimba, pre-conflict , conflict Nimba and then post
conflict Nimba. And deviating several other factors or emanating from
marginalization and other things that associated with it, including tribalism
and ethnicity. We thank you very much. And at this time we want to ask couple
of questions and then our participants, audience will also make comments.
Stewart: You talk about pre-conflict, post-conflict Nimba. I would
like to ask from your prospective, we have listen to a lot of witnesses since
we started this process namely in Nimba. So far, we listen to a number of
witnesses as well, and what keep coming up is that there are issues of conflict
in Nimba county centering around land ownership, and if you may say
citizenship. Their are people who spoke about been dispose of their properties
and uneven distribution of security personnel in terms of uneven representation
let me put it that way, of the various ethnic groups that make up Nimba within
the security structure as well as conflict surrounding land and issues about
dispossession. I would greatly assume that the county authority is fully award
of these issues. What I would like to ask, how are these issues been address by
the county authorities and to what extend are some of these issues been
resolved in a way that you will call mutually satisfactory?
Are you asking for pre-war conflict Nimba or post -war conflict
I am talking
about post war conflict Nimba. Those are problems you talked about
marginalization all of that and post conflict Nimba today.
We are sorry that our superintendent is not here. But we are very
close to his day to day activities. And I can record that the president constituted
a committee to resolve this land crisis in Nimba
County, headed by the internal affairs
Minister and which of course, the former superintendent of Nimba County
is part of the commission Harrison Kaweyah and the present superintendent is
part of the commission. What I do know is that the land crisis in Nimba County
is mostly in Ganta and its part adjacent. But the issues of the land in
question, we are talking about front pest land in Nimba right by the motor
road, not the inner most part of those land. If you check here in our own county Sanniquellie
here, you will find that bulk of the land in question the Mandingo people have
their land. But those that on the main road, because it situated strategy for marketing and they are all tousling over it. The question
here is, the kids now that have grown up
to realized that their father's properties some were given because of friendship,
and say my friend I will give you this place sit down there and you can trade.
Because our people did not know about trading at the time. And so these guys
after the war, they narrated the story to them and they got to know the
important of the front pest land. So they decided to take this land back
because it was not bought but those who bought theirs, and were able to show
some tangible papers and had gone through it and almost 50% of the land in
question has been given to the rightful owner. For those who have not brought in their
genuine papers are the few that we still talking about. So if it comes to land
business, a bulk of them have come and also sold their land because they no
more want to may be in Ganta or Sanniquellie and other areas. That we can
attest to it and so the land issues here is been almost 80% resolved. And it is
just for those who have not brought in their papers to show the rightful
ownership of their land, those are the
lands they took. 20% of the land that is still in question now we are
talking about now so bulk of those land issues has been resolved. And the
security issues, we request for security, we want this number of security. once
we had a join security meeting here, the security will come and say we short of
men power here and we are 17 and we want additional number 15 you only request,
so they give us men power we don't know form whence this person coming from,
and which county so if they just give us the men power, then we receive the men
power through their commander. So the distribution of security according to the
tribes that are from Nimba, that is little bit beyond our own control.
You say that
the contention of issues surrounding land has been about 80% resolved, except
those who have not been able to establish documentations? So, I also like to
ask a question that against the back ground of the civil war where documents
were destroyed, homes were burn and all of that. Is this call for presentation
of documents to authenticate ownership is it on one side or it is on both
sides? What I mean is this, who claim that their parents give this land to friends and say come sit here and trade,
been trading there for some times and where the war happen people had to leave and come back? In other words, what is the standard set for
adjudicating such a matter? Are those
who claim to be the original owners, are they also presenting the requisite
documents to establish ownership as it require under our laws and symbol or
establishing ownership is only on those who were there or those who claim to be
Okay, thank you. Let me put it this way; at one time Mr. Fabullah said, your
degree is there, but is the people that can qualify your degree. You know the
issue of certificate, it comes first but again, I know the time these Paso of
land were given out people were there, and
all of these people are not dead or were not killed, so if you go through the paper system and where you can't
get paper system to substantiate your claim, traditionally as they call and people say who can give testimony of this man
having this land, people come and openly testify that yes I was there when this
kind of transaction was going. So you get one or two persons to give that
testimony and if it is genuine to the investigator they have no other
alternative but to say let the man take the land. But because sometimes the
child will be adamant and very frisky, he wants some little money, no, I will
not do it. And that took him to go back and met where you know the man is
saying this and this, so let do this for him. at least give him this little
token to this child to leave this thing once and for all. And all of these
things are done. And it is not only with the Mandingo people, even with the Gio
ethnic group and the manor ethnic people do this same thing, because the land
disputes is all over this county. My very self sitting here I get a land
disputes; I have to go there this Saturday that is coming, tomorrow. So again,
if you go and your paper is destroy, I don't think all of those people of that
town are destroyed. One or two persons they have heard about it or know
something about it. And they can come to testify openly oh yes, that this land
is for this person. And in so doing, said amount can be given to the owner.
And if the
person may have been occupying the place before the war, sitting there
operating doing business or the transaction which lead to his occupation may
have happen about sixty years ago, 65 or even 70 years ago, when the current
inhabitant may have not been around, so in such situation how is it like that?
what I said, about 80% of these issues has been redress but the problems of
others who have not brought in there papers, the county authority is just
finding it difficult and to see how best they can find ownership of the reporter that this land is for me. So it
is from this background that; that 20% has not been resolved because the issues
of paper bring the paper, paper has been burnt. And now who can come to testify
that those witnesses are not there to really substantiate the person's claim.
So the county authority is finding it just very difficult and even the
commission that has been establish they are finding it very difficult. So It is
in this background that those areas that are still in question, their issues
have not been resolved, because it is very difficult to get the truth of what
they are saying. So we are finding it difficult.
reconciliation in Nimba, what can you say has been the achievements of the
county authority and what are the prospects, how does the process look for
reconciliation in Nimba?
Well, I think
in this hall we had numerous reconciliation meeting in this hall, we express at
the time we were representing the Youth from our own district, and other youths
came here and spoke, other people came and spoke, we had some in Scaplay and we
try to put behind us our differences. Even thou some one or two or three
persons may have their personal difference but on the county sean, we put aside
all these things, we have reconciled, we have
told our brothers to come home. This county belongs to us all. For me,
let me just say it this way if I did not say it with the inception of Gbelee because
the county authority wants us to go this way ,put let say in this country we
have sixteen tribes but if you look at
the demarcation of these political conflict
this man migrated from this area,
he came here at this time but our history did not tell us when the Goi
man came here, our history did not tell
us when the Gbandi man came here but they say we came from here there, but
because we came first, so it make us to have this land? It is that because the
man remains at last, he came lately and does not have place to settle this is
what making him alien? This is the problem that we have to ask our selves. We
all came here at the time but because one man came late, that one man is suffering. then I say again,
today, we are having inter marriages and the Fula people are coming and they
are having children by our daughters and
sisters and maybe 20,30, 50 years from now these guys may take citizenship what
will we say in regard, will we say that because the other group came late? For
me personally as human beings, we all belong to this one county, this country I
don't distinguish people, people who know me for what I speak. This county is
for us all. we have numerous of meeting here, whole lot of conferences we been
talking about bad feelings and been talking good feelings, we have reconcile and
we have been moving forward. Except for one, two or three people who may have
had their own personal differences. That is there. But we are moving fine. For
my district Karnplay, where I heir from Gbalay, all the speakers that talk here
they are from my place. The 2003 war that was even fought, they remain there
they were protected. No body hamper them, no body touch them. Because if you
had touch them you will be touching another person, so the question that came
about was, there is a friend there who heads the driver union as secretary
and who heads the Gbalay credit union it
was I don't know up to US 50,60,70,80 thousand he managed it for us he is the
head. So one time we ask him, you if they say go and kill Anson you able to
kill Anson? He nodded, you can you go and kill Anson? He nodded. So if you look
at the meaning of friend; who is your friend? What good will it do you to take
his life? So that how it looks like for our county. Nimba County
the war came we treated each other bad, this is why we pleaded for forgiveness,
but again we are moving forward we are not looking at the war any more, we are
looking at how best we can develop our county. So this how is it with us.
So the conflict
situation in Nimba, is it only between Mandingo and none -Mandingos or other
ethnic group, and what could you say, how they devise been address between so-call sea-side
Namibians and none sea-side Nimbians?
I don't think we have that in our mist. I don't think we have sea
side Nimbians, we have interior Nimbians. We are just Nimbians when we meet and
we just transact as Nimbians.
Coming to the
Administration of one of the county, how participatory could you say is the management of the affairs of
Nimba county, to what extend people at the local level have a saying in issues,
in determination of matters that
affect Nimba ?
Because we don't have truth participatory democracy at this time,
but we have representative democracy; we have the quarters chiefs that liaise
with the town chiefs, town chief with the zoon chief, the Zoon chief with the
clan chief, the clan chief with the parliament chief, parliament chief with the
county, it use to be the county district commissioner but administrative
district commissioner, then the Administrative district commissioner liaise
with the Statutory district superintendent. we can always every month the
second Wednesday, in every month we have some thing they call CSC county
support team meeting. They will come and tell us their problems, what they
want, what is the way forward, we have this meeting every month, the second
Wednesday in every month, we have CSC meeting. Besides that the government has
introduce the poverty reduction strategy and where you know you have the
command people, the people down there, they invited 50,50 from each chiefdom or
districts to sit and decide what they want from their own package of government
covert assign to the county what do you
want to do with your money. Here is your money, not like before where they take
your money and give to the law maker give it and your go for development, and
so times they come no development. But this time the money is kept in the bank.
No body touch the money it is there you come to the people and ask them what do
you want for your own the money. You have 19,000 for your district, here is
your nineteen thousand but what do you do with your nineteen thousand? Youths
were represented, Women were represented, elders were represented, Zoes were
represented from all worth of lives, 50 from each district. They came they
decided this is what we want, they put it on the paper and they kept it and the
money is here now. So that's the chiefs were saying, so you see they are making
there own decision. They are participating through their representative that
they sent. They make the decision and they take the decision back to them. And
when their money come and stuck in the bank they just assign engineers when is
approve of the engineers the workers go there those who are doing the work,
with the committee assigned to them they just make sure that they go and sign
their money with the taxation of the committee members and they take their
money after the work they just show us the work they do and they take their
money so that how the sanctions of government funds is been delivery to our
people in our own county.
precipitating my question because I was just about to ask about the county
development funds, I wanted to ask to what extend is Chief Lakpah involved in
deciding what goes to his districts and weather is fair or unfair. But you
preempted my question so let me ask, in
your opinion, if you were to list a high ranking of needs what would you say
are the five most crosier development needs of Nimba county? And that includes
the issues of peace as well.
Our basic needs for now; roads and breaches, and we have well up to
date hospital, then we want a college, and we will also want a technical institute to be build
But do you
think the technical institute could be a part of the college?
If it is part of the college because most of the colleges give other disciple
and just leave the technical aspect out
. If it is a technical college, it will be fine.
So you prefer
that we list that separately or we do it under the college?
It can be under the college.
So what we have
now is four?
And also we say in our own county, other areas are enjoying some
immunity with government convert and others are most slickly behind. The Gbee
and Gorlu we want to get better hospital for them, we don't have schools
government build schools and clinic there, Gbee and Gorlu. And then the same
thing with Gbablee district the Krahn settlement they don't have good school
building over there and they don't have good clinic system.
Did I hear you to suggest that you need a Mandingo chief or that
there does not exist a Mandingo chieftaincy?
You know, I say this to say that when it comes to chieftaincy, we
can under go election, you can be elected. So In our own county, every time we
have Mandingo govern, and we know the intent of govern ship. So if you have a
govern, then it means you have left other areas to come and reside in your
another county so you representing your people as a govern and you are on pay
roll on the internal affairs pay roll. So if you consider your self as a govern
then you representing people who have come from out within. So if this system
contains, our children will feel that, because some of our children are
educated. They will feel that these are strangers that have come. And so that's
why they have this representation as govern. So they have chief, quarter chief,
the tenth quarter chief. The quarter chief is not elected is there to represent
his quarter. So that will be preferable then to say govern.
So the quarter
chief is base upon ethnic group, your own people you represent?
Was it natural,
that Nimba citizens dominated a conflict in Liberia since 1990, especially
where in the ranks of the NPFL?
Alright, let's just get it right. When MODEL was coming into this
country, they found their way to pass through Nimba; it was not possible why it
was not possible? If we should pass to Nimba, will the people of Nimba accept
us to go through? Will they join our forces? They wanted to p ass to Lofa; if
we should pass to Lofa, will the people accept us to join our forces to get our
aim across? And so all of these guys ask themselves. So the guys who came with
NPFL at they time they felt that Quoiwonkpa came with NPF, and so because
they failed, and so other group went,
and it is easy for politicians to manipulate people. And so when they use the
word NPFL, is the continuation of Quoiwonkpa episode. So if we should pass through the Nimba people
they will accept us because they have been marginalized. And so they came, bulk
of the people they met here that was Gio people, bulk of the people they met
here that was Minor people. And so in this conclusion, the Gio and Minor people
became very plenty in NPFL. So when MODEL too was coming, they decided to pass
through Grand Gedeh, because the Krahn ethnic group on that side could embrace
their brothers. So when they pass there, they were very plenty too as compare
to other tribal group. So the see saw went just like that. So I would just like
to answer your question in this miner. So where ever you pass, with your own
group that relates to your feelings, then they join you in that abundance.
So the people
of Nimba were manipulated, their joining the NPFL has nothing to do with their
response to either marginalization, or been neglected, Nepotism, secularism,
tribalism, centralize government?
Then I will come back again there, the politicians are very smart
people. And I believe before they could even come and sit with these guys, my
man your brother is not working in government you have been denied your human
dignity. Every thing in Liberia is in Monrovia all these things were said and if
the guy fines it fit, he say okay I think is truth, so this is why I term it as
manipulation. So to manipulate you must explain you must not just say come join
me and you have to explain all these components and then if you find it fit,
you join the people. So that how it was looking like. And so, that's how other
people join these things. Some other people too at the time, other people
parents too were mid treated by the AFL
when they came they were killed their fathers, their mothers, their sisters
right in front of you and so what option do you have? I will go to do this. So
that's how most of these people join NPFL weather Nimba was dominant in NPFL, I
was not there t to name their
fighting forces. But I do just
know that NPFL pass here.
decentralize is governance in post-conflict Nimba?
Well, I understood when one of the commissioners were asking. Will
it not be a burden If there are whole lot of petition in government sector
where government payroll will be bucker. But I think we have in our own
interior regulations, that in time to come, parliament chiefs were not taken
pay, clan chiefs were not taken pay but, that provisions were there. When the
economic system is improving, all these guys will come on board and their
coming on board means, demarcation of political territories. So again Nimba County
is so petition that we have not agree to divide our county. But what best we
have done, is to divide the six political districts into other working
districts. So that the issues of I want
be this person, I want be this person, it can be quench out right there. So our
six districts again have been divided into seventeen administrative districts.
And because it is divided into seventeen districts, those areas that were once
clans are been divided into zones, so that we can get part of the cake that
will be coming into this county. So you see we have decentralized all of these
things and people are going fine. So the job is not stagnant only in
Sanniquellie or Ganta or Secleapea but is every where.
you. Is there any group or citizens of Nimba who can rightly claim to be
marginalized at this time in post conflict Nimba?
As for me, and for my own prospective, when it comes to that, I
don't think any one is so marginalize in our own administrative structural. But
I give just one example; the superintendent, is a Minor man, the Development
superintendent is a Gio man, but we can't make people to feel bad. The county
inspector is a Minor man he was in the job; he could just come and say my man
move this was bringing some hit rage, then the religious and all NGOs affairs
in Nimba County. Because Suck, the evangelist
Wallace that Krahn man; and the superintendent for operations, is a Mandingo
man. So I think we are fairly on pad.
Any Gbi man
Yes, the Gbai people, for now the problem we have with the Gbai
people is that you know this education,
there is a man that has a BSc is still sitting down in Gbanee, there is a man
that have Master he decide to and is still sitting down in Gbanee. The bulk of
these people when you call them, they will say I coming. They say the local
government is a waste of time. So if we all say is a waste of time and we all
decided to leave. And we also say police job is a bad job because police can do
this, then who will excise in that part of society? So we have problem with
that area. We are not the one to say don't do this job the internal affairs is
for every body, and Nimba County is for us, but
they have to record their mind as to weather they can come back to help
that is the problem. So all these guys agreed, the man I am talking about he is
a BSc. he is the superintendent for operation. If he agree to be superintendent
for operation, when the superintendent has not agree to sent him for operation,
then he still sitting down dormant. But the man has his degree and says I will
come there to help my people.
How about women
We have the Gender Ministry coordinator here, she's a lady.
Yes, but she coordinators with the Ministry internal affairs.
In county leadership?
We have women
parliament chief, woman clan chief in this place here. Yes, but all the majors
here are all women. Only one man we get as major.
So that other
position reserve for them?
It is not really reserve for them.
generation, how involve, how transparent is the process, to the extent that the
superintendent office is involve. In most of the county we went through, that
was the complain that Ministry of
finance just come and collect the
revenue and then is transported to
Monrovia they don't account to the superintendent's office, the superintendent
don't know what is been generated and
they been raising that in cabinets
meeting one after another, so what's the situation here?
I can't speak for other counties, but I can speak for our own
county. You know, some times we will say also is from the administration, if
you don't invite me, I will not come. If you invite me, then I can come. I just
want to say this that we just had our county development committee meeting just
about two days ago, and so these guys from all the port of entrance their
collect team were all invited through their heads. And the Internal revenue
agent, they were all call through their heads. And for the internal revenue collector, he's
always with us when they call for such meeting, even lands miles and energy we
call them this time, but they said it was the first time of inviting them so they are not to be blame. So
the next time they are coming, they will bring their reports. April report and
this month report. So we want to know how many proceed that they can get
out from Nimba county, that can go to
central government. and so they assure us that they will be doing it, but the
internal revenue agent is always with us give account of what he collects from
this county that central gov3ernment, but the other people we just call them
this time and they assure us that they will be in our next meeting to give what
ever proceed they been collecting for the past year and for the past month
there, we will have in sight of what they are doing. So we can always call them
but this time we invited body to be
there. It depends on communication if you invite the people they will come, if
you don't invite them, they will not come but they always want to be on the
side to do their own thing. So we are not complaining why they are not coming
to job but it is us who have not sent for them, so this time we sent for them
and they responded to our call. And they assure us that they will do every
thing possible to give us what they are doing.
Thank you very
much. Are there questions, comments from the audience? We will take about five,
and then you answer. And then, we take another around just so we keep track.
Comments from the Audience
I just want to
call the attention of the superintendent office to the fact that, what we see
as a strategy to under mind the return of other Liberians. Because the place
they want to construct the market in Ganta. That market myself who standing
here Zaway Suawayah, I push wheel berry to be hulling Mandingo people bonnie.
If they wanted to construct market there, the first market there that was build
in Gbapah city was suppose to be build to that particular place because the
building where LBDI is, they sold the place to LBLI and now they want to under
mind other the return of other people by attempting to build market over there.
I just want to call the superintendent office attention to the fact that, that
is the shape of things to come to under mind the effort of other people to be
in exile or refugee camp in constructing to their place.
The one which
is the last one is about the cause of the war. Marginalization, I don't see it
that way. What I see as problem here is tribalism. I take the strong view that
Minors and the Gios they have tribalism against the Krahn lead government. And
many of the ordinary people in Nimba they were concern and total about the
Mandingo economic success in Nimba. So I see tribalism as a problem so if you
can make comments I will be happy. But that's what I want you understand so
that you can keep it for your record. Thank you.
May be I may make Suawayah to know that the place where LBDI is
presently occupying is a land that was belonging to Samuel Vorger and Samuel Vorger
allowed the Ganta citizens to the build the
first market there, and when he was prepared for his land, he ask the
people to give it out before the civil war. Thank you.
My name is Mark
Torma, I think the representative of the superintendent talked about Mandingo
governor I think when we were small town here those days, they had Mandingo
parliament chief. When Tolbert came he said it was not fair, they abolished it.
And during Doe time, it was not in existence but this few time, Mandingo
govern, Mandingo govern it is creating some physiological feelings within the
community. So I go in line with him to recommend to the TRC that Mandingo
govern should be abolished. Let all of us will work together under one chief.
If you are living to airfield zoon two where we are coming from, if that
Mandingo man, you should be under that chief, then to have Mandingo govern like
that way we have Bassa govern here. And that is correct because Bassa people
are not from this county. Thank you.
Basically, I have two points to make it will
be translated into questions. Again I am Mohammed. Alright, the first point is
the theory, the superintendent office stated that naturally if a warring
factions pass through a particular
county, then that county origin dominates the warring factions,
I will like to disagree with that. Because I noticed the coming of ULIMO, they
pass into Grand Cape Mount. And I didn't see Cape Mountains
dominating that. So the superintendent office, how can you reconcile that with
a theory of a tribe or a particular group dominating a warring factions when
they pass through a county?
have been in this county for about a year plus now, and as a youth
chairman for the youth empowerment
program, I have notice that tension
still run amongst the youth when it comes to this issues of tribalism. Like
recently on the issues of Ganta, where the market is to be constructed or been
reconstructed. There was this rumors circulating that there were Mandingo
planning to come and take back their land and then, youth from other ethnic
groups, especially minor and Gios were saying let this Mandingo people come
again. What we did to them first, they will see what we will do to them. What
is the superintendent or the government of this county doing to despair some
wrong notion to disabuse the mind of the youth of not engaging into such activities?
you very much. I am William S.Wontee again. I want to ask the Honorable
superintendent office. During the fourteen years civil war, we find out that youth
was the key player in the war that just ended, but what the superintendent
office is doing to stop the root causes
that we just name that is marginalization, when even youths are not represented
in the local government, or office. Youth are not participating in most of your
activities here. And you are saying that marginalization was the cause of
Nimbians going into war. If you find out in the local office, you find out that
all the people that work there are older people, you will not find out one youth
represented there. Thank you.
I am Mr. Tokpah
Prince. This is land matter, I think what is happening here is, this is an
economic issue; because from all indication of people who have deal for land,
legal documents, they have come, and land have been given to them. And People
who illegally occupy those areas have been told to leave. And you know, what we
want to say here is that when our brethren were here, when they came as
visitors because that's how they call themselves at the time they came, they said
they were visitors, so at the time where people were talking about given some
land rules and other thing they were enforcing people to go and do some oth3r
work for government they said they were not citizens. So for this reason they
excerpted themselves. So base on this, people that were doing these things,
they did it. So they consider themselves to be stranger so it is this notion
that has been brought up that this governor issue is on hand. So they took
themselves to be stranger in this place here. So base on this, they have not
really come out to say that they are citizens. Now on the other hand, where
Tolbert came here and say that these people are citizens that started another
problem. When they came, at the time the war came, Liberians we know fully well
that, at the time when they heard about Taylor
coming, every Liberians cheer it because
every Liberians needed a change at the time. So when the people came by the way
of Butoe, all Liberians accepted that. When it comes to the rank or power of NPFL,
I think most Liberians, from the fifteen political party sub division of Liberia; we
find out that they were fully represented at the rank and power of NPFL.
And as they
move Liberians accepted that. Now Nimba, let be very precise, when this
happened Nimba citizens conceded with Taylor,
so for this reason, most of them were trying to look for hiding places. Most
especially, those that were letter and those that were in the middle. While
these things were happening, other grass rooters that lived with our brothers
and sisters they started looking at citizens to be Mino,
the Gios and what have you. And especially Saniquellie, at the time I was at
Konala academic, phebee and other international media was carrying these
things. Hands were pointed at people and homes were destroyed from this point,
other tribes felt that they were secure any more, so they started to run away.
Who did you see at the time here? It was the Mandingos they were all around
here and showing people and were riding military jeep going to other areas and
what have you. Pointing at people, destroying villages and towns and what have
you. And it was base on this I think the war starting taking another dimension.
So what we want to say here is that, when it comes to this land matter, people
that were empower economically at the time, that had story building and what
have you, they loose all of these things. But not that they can't get this
land; they can get the land. Most of them have gotten the land. But because
when they see the prosperity of other community, where a topical Namibians,
topical Liberians are involve into these businesses it becomes a problem. Then,
they go out there and make some noise and say well, the people don't want to
give our land; the people don't want to give our land. And knowing fully well
that the justice system is quiet in place, there is a legal process. The courts
are open, majestic open, the justice of the peace is open, the eight judiciary
court is open all over why is it that they can't come to these places so that,
even people at the local level, the local authority, a lot of them would have
free these things to say that here is the man paper it is proven that this area
is for him. even if he does not have a paper, if the land was given to him by owner , there
are land owners, you have land owners when it comes to these matters, you can't
just leave from there and go to Grand Bassa and say I want this place, you must
get to the rightful owner; you will get
the land. So it is the same thing in this Nimba County
and other counties. So if these people are coming back and know fully well that
they don't have paper and where by they know that perhaps it was base on some
mutual understanding that they had these areas, they should come right back and
discuss with the local leader, discuss with
the land owner, they will take them, we have gone through the fourteen
years of civil conflict and I think we have come to reconcile and I think there is room that
we reconcile. But at least if they try to follow the right trick, we will be
able to listen, our people will be willing to listen, the land owner will be
willing to listen. So they should not just go on national media all of the time
and say Nimba get problem, Nimba get this.
Alight, I am Ezekiel D.S Woetee. I am Human
Program Officer with Community for Peace and Development Advocacy. And we are
base in Yekepa. I have only one recommendation to make: in fact, I am from the
southeastern region. But before I make this recommendation, I just want to give
you what we are doing on this side of Yekepa. Actually COVAR is involve in
having, you know during the war time, we have lot of war affected children in
soap making, tide dye, carpentry, during that time, we have the memorandum of
understanding with the police at the time where when youths were arrested for
some big crimes we can go there and console them and at the end where they are
discharged we go there and include them on the program. Besides that, we have
been giving loans out to these very children to get into some business and we
teach constitution on the radio, we do part farming, we visit the cell and find
out that all there and why they are there and how long they have been there. So
this is what we are involved into. But one basic thing we notice is that, from
our initiative we were able to organize
a group call Correlation of Truth and Reconciliation, this group has been going
along to give awareness to the TRC process. We have carry on a lot of awareness
and even because of that we have one of our witnesses who will soon be
testifying soon. but one recommendation we want to make about what wed have
experience in the past is, the youth especially from the grass root level,
should be train, the youth at the grass root level need to be train. They need
to be educated, and we think that when these kinds of programs are coming, they
should go far into the interior part of our county and train those youths that
are there. Because we notice that most of our problems are from there. So there
is a need for us to extend there, and train them and make them to understand
what they have to do. Is very much disheartening to say that some one wrong
you, you do have a right too. For us the human rights people, we should tell
you your rights and tell you your responsibilities. We are trying best and we
hope that it goes fine. I thank you very much.
Thank you very much for that introduction of you organization and
your recommendations. The TRC values the role and future of youths, so we have
an entire committee, program and unit of the TRC that focus on youth. Thank you
for this recommendation.
Well, I am Rev. Duo from Sanniquellie here. Well, I want to do the
recommendation; I recommend that the TRC should tell the government to set up a
date for the devil and a date for the Christian meeting. This will bring crisis, this is always
brining crisis between the devil followers and God followers
Is there no
better name for calling them, other then devils?
Yes, but not pro society per say, they call themselves society. Not pro society
per say, it can be pro society or else, some area in our area, there is no pro
We don't want
to argue but we want to understand your recommendation. You are saying there
should be special day for the devil and special for the God people and who
So only the
Yes, what I saw was there was a time set up and this time has been violated by
them.12:00 o'clock, government says from 12-3 they should stop their business.
On what day?
At night, at any night. They should start 12:00 o'clock and 3 they stop. That
what I heard from the government. So this law has been violated by them.
They Some times just 5 o'clock in the morning, some times in the
evening in the day time 12:00 o'clock where as Christian are in section and
they will interrupt and they will tell the Christian people to go to the house,
and where as is not time for people to go to bed.
Thank you Rev.
we get that recommendation.
Torwon: I am Alphonso Torwon, one of the youths. My recommendation
goes directly to the superintendent also to the TRC. One basic thing I see as
root cause of the entire war in Liberia
was, education. People were not educated. Lack of education has brought us this
far. So now a day, people come, government will sent scholarship and we can't
receive it, especially the youth. You know, people in authority can take the
scholarship and give it to their closer people. And lot of youth who have
graduated from high school are wasting especially in Nimba. We have over
fifteen to sixteen high schools operating in Nimba but now a day, all of the
high schools graduates are here only struggling on their own to go to school.
Government is not been engage into sending students into university even out of
this place. People in the university are dropping out because of what? No
support from government or authority in Nimba
Back to List of Transcripts