Dear Madam President or " Ma ellen";
I was pleased to see Liberia take this momentous step towards peace with your inauguration on Monday. I hope that the past of warfare is behind Liberia and that a era of peace and justice settles in it's place. Though I may not hold a degree from the esteemed Harvard, but from the lesser known Tuskegee University I would like to offer some humble advice that I believe will be of use to you and your country-people.
As a Garveyite I recall the words Marcus Garvey said regarding your country when it was sold to the lowest bidder by then 'Plenepotentary"Edwin Barkley:
"We also beg to draw to the attention of your honorable body the great danger that lurks in the future through the granting of Firestone Rubber and Tire Company of certain concessions, which we do hope have not yet been ratified by you. Whilst it is not in out province to interfere with your legislation, we beg to point out to you the motives generally underlying white capitalists when they seek entry into the countries of weaker peoples. It is our firm belief that the Firestone concessions in Liberia will lead them ultimately to seek the usurpation of the government, even has been done with the black Republic of Haiti after similar white companies entered there under the pretense of developing the country."
The selfish and heartless capitalist of the white race conspires to rob Negroes of their land and values in many instances by employing and using the conscienceless and disloyal members of the race who happen to be removed from the majority by intelligence, to betray the people into a false sense of feeling security. In some instances , entire countries are thus stolen with their mineral, agricultural and other wealth; in others the people's investments and interests in banks, insurance companies, real estate holdings, including private dwellings, churches, corporation stocks and allied financial undertakings are pilfered with the concurrent and conniving consent of these so called "intellectual" Negroes..."
I would hope that you would review and meditate on these words of Marcus Garvey all of which came true in your nation. On the day of your Inaugeration there was one of Garvey's described "Intellectual Negroes" Condeleeza Rice. She is very intelligent and very dangerous to your nation. Please remember that for any racial and gender bonds you may feel towards her, this woman is not on your side. She does the bidding of the Business elite of the US and Europe and will sell you out if it suits the goals of those interests.
I would also like to remind you of the words of Frantz Fanon:
The national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an underdeveloped middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace... The university and merchant classes which make up the most enlightened section of the new state are in fact characterized by the smallness of their number and their being concentrated in the capital, and the type of activities in which they are engaged: business, agriculture, and the liberal professions. Neither financiers nor industrial magnates are to be found within' this national middle class. The national bourgeoisie of the underdeveloped countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type. It's innermost vocation seems to be to keep in the running and to be part of the racket.
I could continue to quote Fanon on this matter but I would end up quoting the entire text. Suffice it to say that Liberia, even though a relatively old country, is just as new as when Zimbabwe and Ghana gained their independence and thus the words of Garvey and Fanon still apply now as they did in the 1920's and 1968.
I would also like to highlight something that may happen either by outside instigation or by the impatience of the people. There may be an expectation that overnight there will be massive changes. This is clearly not going to happen. Please be sure to have well informed and well spoken people communicate the long term plans that you have for the country. Make it clear what the people should expect from the government as well as what the government expects from the people. Make sure they are a recognized part of the transformation of their society and not merely onlookers or people having things done to them.
Lastly, though it is a long way off, cultivate the idea that you will not be in office for ever. Let it be known that you will leave office under the terms of the constitution. Having said that, be sure to groom new leadership, preferably home brewed and not educated in America. This may seem contradictory but in the perusal of history, it appears that many of Africa's problem leaders have been those with extensive educational ties with the US and Europe. As you are breaking new ground as the first Woman head of state in Africa, let us break more ground and declare that Liberia will be the black star of Africa, as Garvey envisioned. Open the doors of Liberia to men and women who conscience and of Pan-Africanist minds, to help Liberia help itself. There are thousands of black Farmers who have lost their farms to predatory corporations. Perhaps they could be of assistance in the agricultural development of Liberia. There are also Blacks of Caribbean are also willing to help out.
I would like to close this letter with the words of the Sage of Tuskegee, Booker T. Washington: "Cast your bucket where you are."
Sondjata K. Olatunji