Re: The 'charles taylor' gambit
Posted By: PatriotWarrior In Response To: The 'charles taylor' gambit (Eja)
Date: Thursday, 30 March 2006, at 2:43 p.m.
In Response To: The 'charles taylor' gambit (Eja)
Charles Taylor: Early Years
[Charles Taylor] was briefly arrested in 1979 after threatening to take over the Liberian diplomatic mission in New York and was accused of embezzling roughly $900,000 as head of Liberia's General Services Administration. On May 24, 1984, two US Deputy Marshals arrested Taylor in Somerville, Massachusetts, on a warrant for extradition to face charges of embezzling $922,000 of government funds, intended for machinery parts, into a New York bank account. Citing a fear of assassination by Liberian agents, it was announced by Taylor's lawyer, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, that Taylor would fight extradition from the safety of jail. He was detained in a House of Corrections in Plymouth, Massachusetts. On Sunday, September 15, 1985, sometime around 8:30 pm, Taylor and four other inmates escaped from the jail by sawing through a bar covering a window in an unused laundry room. After dropping 12 feet to the ground by means of a knotted sheet, the five inmates climbed a fence. Shortly thereafter, Taylor and two other escapees were met at nearby Jordan Hospital by Taylor's wife, Enid Taylor, and Taylor's sister-in-law, Lucia Holmes Toweh. A getaway car was driven to Staten Island, where Taylor then disappeared.
I think what has happened to Liberia is a big psycho-political lesson, one long socio-historical drama draped in near-comedy and tragedy. The story of Charles Taylor is of course a big personal disaster (at least to him).
I am not a West Afrikan, nor do I have a lot of informational contact to people who may claim to have suffered under Taylor in any way (apart from a few Sierra Leoneans/Liberians I know or have known in Europe, who NEVER suffered under Taylor ), but I guess many people, including me, know at least something about the roots of the Liberia problem.
Liberia was the first “artificial Afrikan” country, formed after protracted haggling between free Afro-Americans (both freemen and ex-slaves) and the almost faceless & feared white power-structure in the America preceding the American Civil War where all blacks, especially the slaves, were virtually trapped in fear, whether knowingly or unknowingly (1847 is the year Liberia is officially indicated as having been established). The story following this “emancipation” of Liberia—(“Liberia” of course being a word derived from “Liberty” or the Latin “Libertas”)—is a sad one, and I think this story both foreshadowed and (still) lives side-by-side with what happened & is happening in much of Afrika yesterday and today: classism, tribalism, nepotism, anti-afrikanism, exploitation, division, corruption, confusion, war.
It is a well-known fact that the (so-called) Americo-Liberians—or the Afro-American freed men that took it upon themselves to establish “Liberia in the Wilderness of Africa”—ended up being separatist exploiters themselves who, one may also argue, didn’t even consider themselves “African”, or at least they considered themselves culturally (and, to the most part, also racially) superior to the West Afrikan indigenes who they set about to rule over, “civilize”. That remained the status quo for over a hundred years, filled with rising social tensions and grievances, suspicion, and the build-up of this pressure finally exploded into Samuel Doe’s very bloody 1980 coup d'état against the government of William Tolbert. Doe bloodily slaughtered or ordered the public slaughter of the whole Tolbert cabinet, some openly shot on the street! It must be noted that Doe was Liberia’s first president from the indigenous “Krahn” Afrikan stock of the people of that land.
Once in power after 1980, Doe was openly “pampered” by the Reagan administration, (as is usual with these American presidents…), despite his regime’s brutality, his “illiteracy”, until just when the machinery of communism started showing cracks of tear and wear, and the ending of the Cold War became inevitable. As the CAUSE, of course Doe had declared himself vehemently anti-communist. Lack of “Americo-Financial Support”, or America’s final dumping of Samuel Kanyon Doe, is “the last straw that broke the camel’s back”, further leading on to Doe’s own very painful physical demise. But even Doe’s fate should have been seen as a shadow of something else, bigger, visibly repeated many times over Afrika, and should perhaps have served as a warning to anyone wanting to rule Liberia … (or Afrika) … such as Mr. Taylor.
Though Charles Taylor is actually an Americo-Liberian (even judging from the surname he carries alone, or at least “half America-Liberian”, on his paternal side), he was actually one of President Samuel Doe’s right-hand men, religiously serving Doe’s regime of death as a kind of “treasurer” (or presiding over money, budgets and things), but the two men fell out when Doe accused Taylor of stealing about US$ 1 000 000 from the country’s money coffers. Fearing execution by the never-forgiving Doe, Taylor thought he could seek refuge in the US from his imminent persecution by Doe. But he fooled himself and was arrested by the feds there, pending investigation of the charges brought up by Master-Sergeant President Samuel Doe against him, or to see if he, indeed, was a swindler or thief. But the fast-talking, “Americo-educated” Taylor miraculously escaped from his prison cell in America (purportedly through sawing his way out!), disappeared from American soil and soon popped up in Libya, then in Sierra Leone to start the series of brutal wars that finally led to Samuel Doe’s live capture in Monrovia, his video-taped slow mutilation (to death) and reputed cannibalisation by Prince Yormie Johnson’s troops. (Prince Johnson is now a Senator in the “new democratic Liberia”).
Once Taylor had out-manoeuvred his close friends and distant enemies from the free post of Liberian President, as head of Liberia’s shaky political landscape, he quickly established himself as a kind of ‘populist’ president and a feared bully. But all elections were fair. Nevertheless, all opponents who feared Taylor left the country (almost voluntarily), fearing reprisal or for their safety under Taylor’s rule. So indeed, Taylor has had many supporters in Liberia, but he created chaos and ended up making many enemies not only in Liberia or Sierra Leone, but also outside Afrika. I think it is fair to say the US has always HUNTED Taylor as a wanted man, since his Hollywood-like, “heroic” escape from a US penitentiary 21 years ago … (almost like Steve McQueen in “The Great Escape”?).
Let’s forget the little good or the much bad Taylor may have or may not have done in his own country, Liberia, because the biggest mistake Taylor made was PURPORTEDLY to start, finance or “expand” Sierra Leone’s Civil war through arming Foday Sankoh’s ruthless Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels, infamous for their widespread and indiscriminate practice of torture, physically mutilating & literally maiming political opponents forever, such as chopping off their hands, cutting off lips, reputedly cooking and eating their flesh etc … Foday Sankoh, the leader of the RUF, died in 2004 or 2005, and it of such afore-mentioned crimes committed largely by the RUF rebels that Taylor now finds himself as co-accused. Actually, it is gossiped that there was a complicated three-way exchange-network for money, guns and diamonds between Gaddafi, Taylor and the RUF rebels: So it is “whispered”, only “whispered” ...
Politics, especially in Africa, can only end up a very dirty game, especially if you want to play the tough guy, such as Taylor.
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