The Painful Message from the Bong County Senatorial By-Elections

Former Bong County Senator and Liberia’s first female elected Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor takes oath of office in 2018.

By: Matthew Derby Jr.

A Political Stronghold for any politician or a political party should be a no-gain of any substantial votes in favour of, or a victory for any political adversary. The loss of a seemingly political stronghold is a serious bad omen for any political party, let alone a ruling party.

Bong County has been one of the most strategic political bases of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), beginning from 2005, 2011 and 2017 but until the 2018 senatorial by-elections. The  news of the exit polls coming out of Bong County clearly shows that all is not well with the  CDC, and there are clear and indisputable indicators  that its candidate, Representative Marvin Cole  is  massively thrilling behind Dr. Henrique Tokpah,  even in areas like Gbatala, Zeinsu, Suakoko,  and Gbalatua   that were once regarded as the  National Patriotic Party(NPP)  or CDC  strongholds.

The Problem for this change of interest and choice, may not be the CDC as a political party or the candidate Marvin Cole but his benefactor–Chief Suakoko Dr.  Jewel Howard Taylor, who, in the wake of her seemingly irrational mass dismissal of traditional chiefs, dug out Marvin Cole from political obscurity and crash-landed him into the senatorial race under the false assumption that he ‘too’, would be a serious contender.

Although The Dismissal order was reversed by President Weah, it   miserably failed to heal the wounds of divisions caused by Chief Suakoko Taylor,  and as  an acrimonious response, to teach “Chief Suakoko” a hard lesson,  Bong County has paid back in fury  and voted massively in favour of a  recycled UP politician Henrique Tokpah not only  to drive  out and deny  the CDC  the Bong County senatorial seat but to send a strong message that Chief Suakoko’s purported popularity is nothing but a complete  charade.

Chief Suakoko, “whatever” the relevance or meaning, hails from Lofa County, but formerly represented Bong County as   its Senator, and     was chosen as Vice Presidential running-mate to former Senator George Manneh Weah, not because she is a lady but because she promised on the records that she would deliver Bong County, and she did that resoundingly in flying colours in the 2017 general and presidential elections.

 What Is Important to note is   that Bong County is home to the single largest Kpelle tribe in Liberia, and “Chief Suakoko” who purports to be a Kpelle, although a Lorma or Buzzi by tribe, incredibly   delivered the county to the coalition in the 2017, because the chiefs, elders and opinion leaders at that time, did not witness any dreadful action of divide and rule or mass dismissal coming their former senator on the basis of party loyalty.

But When Jewel Taylor decided to run amok with the “Chief Suakoko” title by showing off, growing wings larger than her physique and demanding unnecessary attention and respect that blindly led her to think that she is more of a Kpelle Chief rather than an ordinary Buzzi woman displaced by historical events from Zorzor, Lofa County in search of greener pastures, i.e. education and civilization, Bong County defiantly rose up in unison and responded with one voice—defeat for Marvin Cole and CDC!

This Is Somewhat frightening and we should hold our breadth and open our eyes, because the last time the Kpelle tribe ever stood together, spoke in one voice and fought as a nation, to fend off a moral disgrace on its integrity and image was in 1910, when the Jorkpelle, a sub Kpelle tribe from the Jorwah area and its surroundings, openly took on the government of Liberia in its attempt to impose strict rule by allowing an Americo-Liberian to trample upon the rights of its opinion leaders by  masquerading as a Kpelle  Chief.

Although That Politics of imposition and dominance by the Americo-Liberians was peacefully resolved, and the Kpelle tribe lived happily ever after, notwithstanding, their historical truculent past, they were the first group of indigenous Liberians to have been drafted into the Liberian Frontier Force(LFF), and this was followed by the Lormas, and together, as cousins, nephews, and Mende-Mel group  brutally persecuted their fellow compatriots  by enforcing the Americo-Liberian  policy of taxation without representation, which ultimately  helped the  True Whig Party oligarchy  to remain in power for 133 years. It is sad that the Kpelle people are standing up together to fend off what seems to be a complete political imposition of a Lorma woman on their heads as “Chief Suakoko”, when there is a compelling evidence to prove that none of her parents hails from Bong County.

Today, It Is absolutely difficult if not impossible to stomach the fact that just a little over seven months in power, the CDC will be the first  ruling political party since 1964, not to have a senator from Bong County because of Chief Suakoko Taylor. It is interesting to see how Jewel Howard Taylor whose mom is or was a Kpelle from Bopolu, now Gbarpolu and the father, a Lorma, from the Gizzima stock, a sub Lorma tribe from Guinea, suddenly snatched the title “Chief Suakoko” and decided to falsely exalt herself when there is absolutely no biological affinity between her peculiar Lorma heredity and that of the legendary Chief Suakoko of Suakoko Town, Bong County.

This Strategic And politically crucial stronghold—Bong County, is lost not because the CDC is weak or is hated by the people there, but because of the seemingly arrogant and atrocious conduct of Chief Suakoko Taylor who brought Marvin Cole in the race and flagrantly ignored the fact that Cole’s candidacy was a serious miscalculations of the strength of the Dr. Henrique Tokpah of the former ruling Unity Party camouflaged as an independent candidate.

The Real Challenge on our hands is not the poor showing in many districts, towns, chiefdoms and communities across Bong County   by  Marvin Cole who was handpicked  by Chief Suakoko or the seeming defeat  that is hovering overhead but how  to live with,  and accept the idea of  not having a senator from  Bong County for six long years.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is too much for herself, or to aptly put, is “full of it”—spiteful, greedy, unduly self-centred and overly ambitious, and needs to be tamed or else she could turn out to be a complete replica of the proverbial “Trojan Horse” given to us by the Mende-Mel in the former ruling Unity Party or a true Frankenstein story in which the prototype hunts its own master.

 All Platitudes Aside, Bong County is strategically fundamental to the CDC Pro-Poor Agenda, in terms of political representation and inclusiveness at the epic-centre of senatorial politics,  and we cannot and should not sit on the fence and shrug or puff off this embarrassment lightly, because Bong County is not just a home to the Kpelle tribe that is politically dominant in its own territory but also provides telluric courses    for the Kpelle tribe to   spread out in seven counties, namely,  Grand Bassa, Margibi,  Nimba, Lofa, Montserrado, Bomi   Gbapolu Counties with huge voting populations.

It Is Therefore regrettable that Chief Suakoko and her disciples   who were given the task to win the Bong County senatorial seat and maintain the presence of the CDC dominance in that politically important central part of Liberia, were so myopic that they   did not take into account the disastrous consequences of putting forth Marvin Cole—a square peg in a political round hole, in the wake of the mass dismissal brouhaha.

Now That The rest of the story is behind us,  and will have to live with the painful experience of not having a senator from Bong County for six long years, we believe there is a need for  the CDC to take a sober reflection, in order   to determine whether those who chose to bizarrely decorate themselves in splendours with cultural and traditional titles with little or no  regards to the  limitations of their genders or  the rights of others actually deserve to be greeted  or given  the kind of animated  “heroisms”  that they are projecting in the face of the  hollowed posturing  and unsavoury blustering   seen in the recent Bong County senatorial by-election. With Bong County vanishing from the CDC through the hands of “Chief Suakoko” and into the hands of the UP what else can Chief Suakoko do to unite the people of Bong County?

In All Fairness, we must, without any stupor,   demand in no uncertain terms,   from  Madame Jewel Howard Taylor, who prefers to  bedeck and label herself as “Chief Suakoko”  some explanations for the fact that  the steam of her seemingly inordinate pursuit of  a royally  bravado has gone deep into her head and  has  blinded her sight so much that  she spent more time  idolizing herself  with the title of  “Chief Suakoko” in a patrilineal society like Liberia,  where  a chieftaincy title, inarguably  remains an exclusive male preserve, rather than uniting the people of Bong County.

It Is Quite amazing therefore, and one cannot help but laugh off the empty bluff, and perhaps the crescendo of her narcissistic pursuit of    an imperishable height in the annals of Liberian politics, for the fact   that “Chief Suakoko’s” Marvin Cole could not beat Unity Party’s Henrique Tokpah-cum-independent candidate in Suakoko Town, Bong County which should be the headquarters of Chief Suakoko herself.   What else is left of a chieftaincy crown or a title, for a chief who could not win a democratic election at her own headquarters?

Lest we forget, Bong County is out of the folds of the CDC, not because of its failure to deliver on election promises but because of the arrogant display and misuse of political power by  Chief Suakoko and her followers who are hiding behind their egocentric titles to harass and intimidate those who have seen through their hypocritical swagger and viciousness.

That Said, We must therefore call a spade a spade, by telling the   all-powerful and all-knowing “Chief Suakoko” that by playing nasty politics all over the place and dismissing her perceived “enemies”, she has democratically stabbed the CDC in the back in Bong County, and this is no laughing matter!

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Public opinion alone can keep society pure and healthy - Mahatma Gandhi. At Globe Afrique, we cherish the opinion and perspectives of all irrespective of race, gender, social status, and religious affiliation. As Gandhi perfectly puts it, we believe through this process, we can help in making societies pure and healthy. Want your opinion to be published, write to globeafriquellc@gmail.com. *************************************************************** Editor’s note: The views expressed herein in no way represent the views of Globe Afrique Media or its editorial board and staff, but that of the author.
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