President Weah certainly has his work cut out if he wants to change the constitution or even make life somewhat easier for non-African residents. His critics point out that this sudden policy announcement came after his election and not before which they find anywhere between surprising and disgraceful.
A new and growing advocacy group, Citizens’ Action Against Non-Negro Citizenship and Land Ownership has been formed to fight the President.
The group’s leader Fubbi Henries told the BBC, “Every nation has a foundation on which it was built – if you undermine that foundation, the nation will definitely crumble. Right now the prime focus is how to get our businesses on track, our agricultural and educational sectors on track, not citizenship or land ownership to non-Negroes.”
Mr Henries believes that changing the law would be like putting a two-year-old boy – Liberians – and a 45-year-old man – outsiders – in a boxing ring and seeing if they could have a fair fight. “He will take undue advantage over that little child,” he said.
Black businessman Rufus Oulagbo, a strong opponent of the President, told the BBC, “White people will definitely enslave black Liberians” and that any move to change the existing Constitution would “damage Liberians’ chances to develop their own country.” It would be “dangerous” to allow people from other countries to own property.
Just why he thinks that whites – or anybody else for that matter – would want to live in his dangerous and ramshackle country was not explained. Perhaps the BBC was too sensitive or shy to ask.
Before the country’s slide into hell, the International Hotels chain built in 1960 and then operated the famous five-star Ducor Palace Hotel in the capital. It had 106 rooms on eight floors, tennis courts, swimming pool and a celebrated French restaurant complete with a Chef from Paris. It attracted tourists from around the world.
In 1989, as unrest spread it was closed. During and after the long civil war it was extensively damaged and then looted and then occupied by squatters. Today it is an overgrown and crumbling wreck and half-hearted attempts to restore it have failed.
And to add just another unhappy layer of racism in the country, there are Africans and there are Africans. The descendents of the original freed slaves now comprise about 5% of the population and regard themselves more or less as the aristocracy and hold a tight grip on key assets and positions.
The Ducor Palace Hotel is a metaphor for the whole sad country. As the BBC reports, “Corruption is rife, and unemployment and illiteracy are endemic.”
The Australian Government via Smarttraveller.gov.au advises that prospective visitors should exercise a “high degree of caution” due to the “unpredictable security situation and high crime rate” which is public-service-speak for “Stay the hell away”.
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