This week, Liberia – Africa’s oldest independent country – held elections and going by the provisional results announced today, former soccer star George Weah (Africa best of all times) and Vice President Joseph Boakai were comfortably ahead in a contest likely to trigger a run-off next month.
Weah and Boakai lead the 20-candidate field to succeed Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in what would be Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years.
Weah received 39.2 percent of roughly 1.2 million ballots cast in nearly three-quarters of polling stations, ahead of Boakai, who had 29.6 percent of the vote, Charles Brumskine, a lawyer, was a distant third with 9.7 percent.
Well, Weah is my favourite candidate but I won’t dwell on that for now.
Instead, I shift my focus to a rather interesting angle of the election that perhaps depicts how unique African politics can be.
Liberia is arguably most famous worldwide because of the period from 2nd August 1997 to 11th August 2003 when then strongman Charles McArthur Ghankay Taylor ruled with an iron fist, perpetrating some of the most heinous crimes against humanity in modern times. He is accused of aiding a civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone in which, over 50,000 people died.
Taylor is now serving a 50 year term in Britain after being convicted by the Hague based International Criminal Court, ICC.
So, this week, a journalist from a reputable Western media house went interviewing Liberians, asking them if they would elect Charles Taylor if he came back and was a candidate in this year’s polls.
Here is the response he got:
“If he came here today, he would win elections”
The mzungu journalist was shocked beyond words!
Don’t forget that in the ballot was a former warlord infamous for torturing and killing a sitting president, a former fashion model who shares a child with George Weah and the former footballer’s running mate is Charles Taylor’s ex-wife.
This clearly tells you how little understanding of African politics wazungus have. They appear not to comprehend the reality of their own phrase that all politics is local.
Therefore, maybe it’s time they left us alone to do our thing.
All in all, I wish Liberians well.
If anything, the country is happy over the first election post war to be conducted without UN.
Back home in Kenya, the same rule should apply. The Western interference with our democratic processes, which Raila Odinga is yearning for, won’t help our country even an inch. If anything, it will only make things worse. Those Wazungu fellows don’t understand a thing about our shit.