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Combating Revisionism in Liberia: The Rice Riot was the Spontaneous Upheaval

By Alfred P. B. Kiadii

It has been proven times without number that historical verdicts are rendered based on where one stands in the class struggle. Bourgeois writers have always glossed over this reality, as they have elected to present their account of historical occurrences as sacrosanct and upright. Throughout human civilization the declaration of villains or heroes/heroines is predominantly based on class position. For example, Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael are easily discredited by white conservative as menaces who were determined to undermine the American values, but for Black people in the United States of America, they represented symbols of resistance to the vicious system of racial domination which treated black people as pitiful canon fodders.

In addition, bourgeois historians would have us believe that the American Revolution was a peaceful tussle for self-determination, during the revolution as the Boston Tea Party instead of a Bloody Tea Party. They refused to inform us that the American Revolution was not only a cesspool of bloodletting, but it was also genocidal, as Red Indians were exterminated, and it was also one of the worst savageries of violence. In contrast, they would present the Russian Revolution as a bloody spectacle, but in truth was a peaceful takeover of the Winter Palace by ordinary working people and Russians who despised the rotten feudal monarch and the oligarchy of the provisional government.

Combatting Revisionism in Liberia: The Rice Riot was the Spontaneous Upheaval of the Masses into History.

Historical distortions and inaccuracies are not only unique to American society, but they hold true for most societies with dominant ruling classes. In every backward society, the history of those spaces is that of the ruling class and its social system. Such is reflected in every stratum and formal institutions in those societies— whether it is in the established churches, the liberal press and the institutions of learning—to inoculate elements of the exploited classes from developing the prise de conscience to pursue a revolutionary path to settle historical injustices and social discards.

Historical revisionists have bombarded us with the bluster that the Liberian Progressives instigated the rice uprising. They would want us to believe such absurdity that the movement of the people into history can be attributed to a group of men who organized the Movement for Justice in Africa (MOJA) and the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL). Consequently, to cut short, the movement of the people into history, one ought to arrest the so-called leaders of the rebellious groups, then the people will rescind on their commitment to struggle against injustices.

It is common knowledge that human beings are naturally conservative, and they are slow to react to circumstances. Most people tend to stick with the dominant morality, value, religion of the existing social system. They are slow to change, much more revolutionary change. Usually, human act but only out of extreme necessity. Out of their backward social existence, the people develop the consciousness to confront all reactionary social orders.

Fast forward, On April 14, 1979, oppressed and exploited layers of the Liberian society unshackled themselves from the whims and caprices of the rotten and bankrupt oligarchy which distributed untold suffering, economic exclusion, and backwardness to the masses of the people. The ordinary masses, who have been oppressed by black Apartheid in Liberia, opted to make a decisive move which altered the balance of power and shifted the Liberian society in the direction of greater freedom and participation.

Contrary to the outright slander by the liberal media which is the playground of rancid elements of the wretched oligarchy, the April 14, 1979, Rice Demonstration was primarily organized to teach the reactionary and conservative old guys of the True Whig Party that the people were not expendable commodities— that they had equal rights to dignity and self-determination, demonstrating that the sovereign power of the state resides in them, and only by their consent that a government can be termed legitimate.

Against this backdrop, the ruling elite did exactly what is done in every bourgeois state: it used armed violence to disperse the peaceful and defenseless masses of the people who were protesting for an existence void of the morass of oppression and exploitation. The state shot and killed more than 400 protesters who decided to exercise a fundamental democratic right inherent to them by the then 1847 Constitution of Liberia. Confirming the truism that there can be nothing progressive of the rotten ruling class in any backward society. And on that day Monrovia became a horror pool of blood, as the oligarchy was determined to ruthlessly crush any challenge to its misrule.

Today, those who shot and killed innocent people in cold blood have relegated the significance of this date, crying out about the victimization unleashed on them by the same military they used to murder the people. Remnants of the murderous oligarchy would stop at no length in playing the victim card, in that the same army it unleashed on the defenseless masses of the people on April 14, 1979, turned on them and deposed the degenerate oligarchy from power.

We categorically reject the right-wing tactic of selective victimization and argue that if one were to do an analysis of the two grievous bloodlettings, more people perished on April 14, 1979, as opposed to the April 22, 1980 execution of the thirteen men. While we regret the shooting of the thirteen men on the poles, it is, however, important to underscore that their death cannot outweigh the massacre of approximately 400 masses by the Tolbert government.

Furthermore, it seems to us that the reaction of both the liberal and conservative sections about the 13 men who were murdered, downplaying the over 400 hundred compatriots who perished during the Rice Riot, is a tacit indication that the Liberian bourgeoisie thought and still think that our murdered compatriots were expendable. Those lost privileged elements are smoldering with hate, looking for an opportunity to avenge.   It is this viciousness of the relics of the backward bourgeoisie which has kept our society stagnated.

We assert it is reckless, vulgar, and an act of scandalous insensitivity for the remnants of the deposed oligarchy. It is shame for those who dominated the masses of the people to speak of victimization considering the gory atrocities committed during their misrule. The execution of William David Coleman and his son, the expulsion of D. Two from the House of Representative, and his forceful exiled to Sierra Leone, the purging of Edwin J. Barclay, the repression of Albert Porte by the state, the persecution of Du Fahnbulleh, the banishment of student leaders and political adversaries to the isolated town of Belle Yella, and the secret killing of thousands of compatriots by the oligarchy of the True Whig party.

We pay homage to our compatriots who perished on that day. Your blood has served as a seed of covert for the flourishing of the people’s struggle. Your struggle for greater freedom and economic equality will be pursued by us. To this cause this we have committed ourselves to fight those who think they can continue to make history to the detrimental of the struggling people of the homeland.

About the Author:

Kiadii studies Political Science with an emphasis in Public Administration at the University of Liberia. He is the Secretary-General of the Movement for Social Democratic Alternative (MOSODA). You can reach him through Cell#: +233552176627, or

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