THE BASSA-EGBURA CRISES: No Victor, No Vanquished -Jibreel Gimba

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“No Matter How Strong And Vociferous The Storm Rages On, The Sun Will Still Shine Again”

THE UNQUENCHABLE QUEST FOR DOMINANCE

Human existence, right from the very beginning has been characterized by violence. This has been so, because man has an unquenchable and insatiable quest for domination. This quest, he uses as an alibi for progress; development and probably defense too. Unfortunately for most people, this inquest leads them to usurpation and oppression after spreading the tentacles and proclivity of domination over their victims – who in most cases are unmindful of the domineering consequences but rather, view it as a sinequanon to be appreciated until they are tossed by those who are well informed.

Today, after man has conquered the land he lives on and its habitations like the rocky and breathtaking heights of slippery mountains; thick foliage of dens forests; scorching tracks of haphazard deserts; lowest depths of the vast blue oceans and even Antarctica where nothing exists except freezing cold – whose ice man cannot fiddle let alone fragmentize with modern technology, he has adventurously shot himself into faraway Mars with the Voyager and Insight Missions in order to dominate whatever is living in there.

THE DIVIDING LINE

The Bassa and Egbura are not the first tribes to engage themselves in a devastating conflict, neither will they be the last. But the trademark which has distinguished them from others, is the compass, that is yet to direct them towards a round table discussion ever since the crisis erupted.

A LESSON FROM THE RWANDAN GENOCIDE

In what the world witnessed as the worst ethnic violence ever in the modern history of mankind, the extremist Hutus slaughtered almost one million minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus within a span of one hundred days, after unknown rebels shot down the aircraft of then Rwandan President Jevunale Habyarimana on 6th April 1994.

Ethnic tension in Rwanda is nothing new. There has always been disagreements between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, but the animosity between them has grown substantially since the colonial period.
The two ethnic groups are actually very similar – they speak the same language, inhabit the same areas and follow the same traditions.
However, Tutsis are often taller and thinner than Hutus, with some saying their origins lie in Ethiopia.
During the genocide, the bodies of Tutsis were thrown into rivers, with their killers saying they were being sent back to Ethiopia.
When the Belgian colonists arrived in 1916, they produced identity cards classifying people according to their ethnicity.
The Belgians considered the Tutsis to be superior to the Hutus. Not surprisingly, the Tutsis welcomed this idea, and for the next 20 years they enjoyed better jobs and educational opportunities than their Hutu neighbours.
Resentment among the Hutus gradually built up, culminating in a series of riots in 1959. More than twenty thousand (20,000) Tutsis were killed, and many more fled to the neighbouring countries of Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda.
When Belgium relinquished power and granted Rwanda independence in 1962, the Hutus took their place. Over subsequent decades, the Tutsis were portrayed as the scapegoats for every crisis.

Nonetheless, after the genocide, today, the Hutus and Tutsis are peacefully living together in a simultaneous-like equation, side-by-side enjoying the atmosphere of peaceful coexistence and mutual tolerance for the simple fact that they agreed to sit on a round table and sort out their differences.

THE LIBERIAN EXPERIENCE

Although the conflict in Liberia was not an ethnic crisis, however, it carried with it an ethnic ginger and flavor.

COUP ATTEMPT BY THOMAS QUIWONKPA (NOVEMBER 1985)

Thomas Quiwonkpa, the former Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia whom Doe had demoted and forced to flee the country, attempted to overthrow Doe’s regime from neighboring Sierra Leone. The coup attempt failed and Quiwonkpa was killed and allegedly eaten!!! His body was publicly exhibited on the grounds of the Executive Mansion in Monrovia soon after his death.

CRACKDOWN ON THE GIO AND MANO ETHNIC GROUPS (1985)

Large scale government crackdowns followed in Nimba County, Zuleyee in the north of the country against the Gio and Mano ethnic groups where the majority of the coup plotters came from. The mistreatment of the Gio and Mano ethnic groups fueled ethnic tensions in Liberia, which had already been rising due to Doe’s preferential treatment of his own group, the Krahn.

CHARLES TAYLOR BUILDS INSURGENT FORCES (1985-1989)

Charles Taylor, who had left Doe’s government after being accused of embezzlement, assembled a group of rebels in Côte d’Ivoire (mostly ethnic Gios and Manos who felt persecuted by Doe) who later became known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). They invaded Nimba County on 24th of December 1989. The Liberian Army retaliated against the whole population of the region, attacking unarmed civilians and burning villages. Many left as refugees for Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, but opposition to Doe was inflamed.

Prince Johnson, an NPFL fighter, split to form his own guerrilla force soon after crossing the border, based on the Gio tribe and named it Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL).

We are all abreast with what transpired later on. Scores upon scores of people were killed, numbering about two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000) between the eve of Christmas 1989 to 2003 when the war finally ended.

But today, Liberia is toeing the path of peace by talking to one another.

I do not need to take us to the Democratic Republic of Congo; five million (5,000,000) people died there, with the town of Goma being the worst hit.

However, Congo is also witnessing a peaceful transition.

GOVERNMENT ROLE

The foremost role and responsibility of Governments in any given society is to provide adequate security for each and every resident within its domain whether indigenes or foreigners.

Therefore, in conflict resolutions, Government as an arbiter, which has to balance the swing of its pendulum, it does not take sides nor does it superimpose its decisions and orders on the warring parties without a deep and critical analysis of the situation.

Instead, what Government needs to do, is to bring the conflicting opponents together and try to understand the agitations of each party from an impartial point of view based on the sociopathic and cultural background of both sides.

This, will help Government understand complexities involved in the conflict and present it with a better analytical structure and broader resolution spectrum to tackle the situation and resolve it once and for all.

Unfortunately, what we mostly witness today, is either Government indifference and inaction towards conflicts or its inability to take to the center stage and play a pivotal role in resolving crisis amicably; and at other times, aiding and abetting crime due to incompetence in government bureaucracy or bias political affiliations, thereby inadvertently, allowing the status quo to perpetuate itself unendingly; this in-turn paves the way for the situation to degenerate and crumble down like cookies or fall-apart like a pack of cards.

TRUE HEROISM

Most human beings believe that overpowering the opponent with physical strength is brevity and heroism. Forgetting that even the most feeble man, with enough tactical abilities and wisdom can defeat the most agile and muscular man in a duel.

Whichever way the battle ends, killing a fellow human being is no heroism at all. Even a three years old toddler can do it.

In the mainstream media, we often hear about how little kids and teenagers armed with revolvers have killed their colleagues at school or their parents at home.

So it is no big deal if you out-manoeuvre someone and kill him using modern tools of destruction.

TRUE HEROISM LIES IN SAVING LIVES!!!

In Europe, America and other developed countries around the world, we hear about animals’ rights activists, environmental rights protection activists. Infact, there are activists out there who create awareness on how to preserve the Ozone layer – a lifeless and invincible umbrella high-up in the skies which protects us from the overheating of the scorching sun. And it is believed by those who care to research, that, if this layer was to be destroyed by human activities or other unnoticed phenomenal circumstances, and become extinct, man will suffer oxygen loss and become more prone to skin cancer than he is at present; so also, will the atmospheric temperature rise to an unbearable degree, making life almost impossible here on earth.

Research has shown that sporadic depletion has been occurring in the Ozone layer due to emissions of greenhouse gases also known as CFC.

So, these activists, go beyond the limits, spend almost everything they have at their disposal to create awareness to the public and Governments alike, in order that appropriate measures be taking to forestall a total collapse of the existing system and avoidable devastations.

But here we are, with a vampire outlook, taken pride in our ability to suck the blood of our fellow human beings in the name of tribal superiority complex or vendetta. While our counterparts overseas are busying themselves with every means available at their disposal to save the lives of birds in the skies, wildlife in the woods, fishes and shrimps in the rivers, spiders in the caves and tigers in the jungles. Aren’t we ashamed!!!

During the medieval ages, when we were living peaceful in Africa, Europe went through all sorts of bloodbath.

Today, Europe has taken a cue from us and learned to tolerate one another, paving the way for the present civilization to gain grounds.

Ironically, instead of us to permeate our peaceful coexistence, we decided to take a cue from Europe’s medieval experience just to prove to the world our illusory might over our neighbors. Thence, in a desperate bid to showcase our strength, we began to liken the attributes of lions, elephants, snakes and what-have-you to our wise forefathers who had dexterously woven for us a progressive pattern in life, which if we had built upon, will lay the foundation for greater and better prosperity.

THE WORLD HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH FOR US ALL.

Though, the resources of the world are limited, however, even if man does not travel out of this world to seek the means for survival in outer space, the world has more than enough space and resources to accommodate us all.

No matter how greedy we become, we will never be able to plow the entire fields of the world, nor shall we be able to exhaust its resources.

The Quran says:
“O ye who have faith, when it is said to you: “make (ample) space in an assembly (for others to sit), (then) make space”, and when it is said: “rise up, (then) rise up”. God will elevate amongst you those who believe, and those who are given knowledge (unto positions) of high degrees; and God is aware of what you do.” – Chp,58; Vs,11

No matter your avarice and greediness, if you are given the space of the entire earth today alone, what will you do with it, if you deprive others of its abundance?

So, by giving out the little you have, that another person might share in it, only but elevates you and gives you unprecedented dignity reserved for you by God Himself!!!

PONDER FOR A MOMENT.

One hundred years ago, you were not living on this planet; and subsequently, a hundred years from now, you probably would not be living here either!! So, what is all the fuss about?

Imam Ali, a first cousin of Prophet Muhammad (S), has these words to tell us:

“A wise man, is he who gives what he has in order to live in peace; but a fool, is he who withholds what he has and continues to live in fear”.

“Every human being here on earth, is either your brother in faith or your like in creation.”

“God, the Al-wise, in His perfect and absolute wisdom, has created all human beings free; so, do not for whatever reason make yourself a slave to anybody”.

Are these words of eloquence, not enough admonishment for us to take heed?

However, if we must hold-on to our pride and relical attachment without giving room for change, we should also know that: “your right of the ability to swing your fist however you wish ends where my nose begins”.

THOSE WHO HAVE EARS, LET THEM HEAR

So let us all know that in this conflict, which we have decided to perpetuate, no matter how long it takes, at the long run, there will neither immerge a victor nor a vanquished.

We will only end up wasting resources that we could have used for developing our area; killing souls we cannot create; depriving others of a meaningful life; keep on wasting our lives in misery and then, in the end, return to God with countless sins and blood on our hands of those we killed and oppressed for no just cause.

The Bible says:
“..what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul..”

So, he who has ears, let him hear.

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