By Jacob N.B. Parley
The Month (March) has been captured in my media history as a remarkable and memorable period because it points to the genesis of the writing of media opinions or features as others may call it.
Putting it short and simple, I am proudly twenty years old in the area of penning feature articles that have touched nearly every sphere of the typical Liberian society.
For the sake of setting the records straight, I officially started practicing journalism in 1991, with the Vanguard Newspaper (defunct) in Buzzie Quarter, Monrovia, Liberia before venturing into feature writing in 2002.
Before going further, I once more want to seize this glorious opportunity to say thanks to God Almighty, the giver of life, knowledge, and wisdom for making me one of the blessed individuals in my generation, endowed with great, wonderful, appealing, and marketable writing skills.
The second person or institution I would profoundly like to recognize in this article is veteran Liberian Journalist, Philip N. Wesseh, Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper for being the first to have offered me a space in his medium in 2002 to publish my maiden article. The article: “Rejecting Napoleonism As A Way Forward,” was my way of calling on fellow Liberians to always do away with using undemocratic practices to obtain state power.
In addition, I am also grateful to other media outlets that continue to allow me to use their respective pages for these feature articles.
They include The Heritage, The Analyst, The News, Independent Inquirer, New Republic, In Profile Daily, New Liberia, GNN Liberia, The Informer, Smart News Liberia, etc. When I was at Liberia Broadcasting System, I also published several feature articles on the System’s website, to the extent that some people even thought I was the public affairs director.
Others that were helpful in carrying my articles, but are not currently on the market include The Frontier, West Africa Info Post, Reality, Insight, Focus, The Spirit of the Truth, and The Guardian.
In the article being mentioned (Rejecting Napoleonism), I argued that Liberians were not in search of pseudo liberators, armed with “Napoleonistic” characteristics. Instead, great individuals of goodwill in the human industry, in the context of honesty, love for dear country, and the political will to effect hard-core decisions that would erect the cornerstone of justice, fair play, and equality so as to replace the years eaten by the locusts.
My opinion was informed by historical evidence that the barrel of the fun, from time to time has never found any lasting solution to Liberia’s long-running challenges, ranging from corruption, ethnicity, exclusion, and greed to both political and religious intolerance.
Why All of This Writing
During these twenty years, I keep on using the pen to press for a better Liberian society built around honesty, selflessness, love for the country, tolerance in all aspects, mental transformation, productivity, and the need for us to realize that time is running out and that there may come a time where the international community may prefer giving its attention to other countries, rather than always sit at the conference table to look at how peacekeepers and relief will be sent to us. This advice means that we have to put our house in order by guiding against tendencies that could once more lead us into the very dark days from which we are struggling to recover.
In some of the articles that I will list here, I continue to caution all of us against practices that have the propensity to keep us backward. For instance, willful attacks on public infrastructure, violence, declining family and societal values, uncontrollable or combustible utterances by so-called topnotch politicians, student advocates, civil society actors and at times social media comments that could further put Liberians asunder, etc.
- Sadly, It appears as if our society does not celebrate these attributes, evidenced by the way the few who strive for a better Liberia are treated in some of our institutions, both private and public. In this particular scenario, I am talking about how people who want to see the best things done in these institutions are demonized, repudiated, marginalized and given the wrong characterizations by elements who want to keep us backward.
- The Liberian society, from what I am following has a poor reading culture. This is why in some cases; some people ask whether my writing is making any meaningful impact.
It will however interest you to note that there are elements who see themselves as intellectuals, using the various airwaves, pages of local dailies, and social media to run with many political and societal issues affecting Liberia.
Well, I do strongly believe that some impact is being made. This may not be on a large scale basis, but I think we are making gradual progress in terms of achieving the needed goal of making Liberia a better country through the transformation of the human mind, job opportunities, especially for the youth, and a complete deviation from the negative way some of us look at things. This will however require a complete change in our mentality as a people.
Some people may not know that there are others who read these articles. Some of them call me to commend me. These calls come from many parts of Liberia and other parts of the world, especially when the articles are used in news outlets that have extended platforms (online or social media pages).
Divergence of readership
Let me say that each article published by me has its own readership. This means that every article attracts certain people based on what is contained in it or to what extent such a feature touches their lives.
For instance when I published the opinion: “Good Never Lost,” I received a lot of calls, and what really touched me was that most of the calls came from elderly people.
Just to refresh readers’ minds, here are some of the opinions published by me over the past twenty years:
- News Editing At A State-owned Broadcast House: Advantages and Disadvantages.
- Little Things That Could Help Us But Often Seriously Overlooked.
- Liberians: From Decoration Day To “Liquoration” Day?
- Running A Community-Based School: Advantages and Disadvantages.
- When A Notorious Criminal Uncovers The Unexpected, What Happens?
- Have Liberia’s Zoning Laws Fallen On Holiday?
- PUL At 51: When A Nobel Institution’s Members Behave Like Carpenters.
- Liberia-US Relations: A Tale of Three Successful Female Ambassadors.
- Doe Community Road: Before And After.
- Caldwell Bridge: Yesterday and Today.
- Washing The Liberian Media With Hyssop As “Negative Reportage” Widens.
- When A Journalist Is Interviewed By Criminals Against His Will.
- News Gathering At The Liberian Presidency: Protocol Vs. Expediency.
- Taking Cue From Rev. Binda’s Sermon: A Call To Fellow LBS Employees.
- When A Desperate Job Seeker Meets The “Wrong” Prayer Mother.
- Liberians: Respecting The Rain More Than Their Laws?
- When A Tenant Is Thrown Out For Proclaiming The Name Of Jesus Christ At Midnight.
- River Gee At 21: The Search For A Tangible Development Story.
- The Ringing Of Wedding Bells In Post War Liberia: Different Schools Of Thought?
- Upholding The Nobility Of The Journalism Profession.
- Ratification Of The Trade Facilitation Agreement: A Nationalistic Decision.
- Liberia And The Need For Rigid Mental Revolution
- The Need For Scrupulous Ratification Of The African Charter On Democracy, Elections and Governance.
- Elections In Liberia: Huge Crowd Mentality Vs. Ballot Box Reality,etc
Like I was saying from the genesis of this opinion, one of my disappointments about this country is that when you have marketable skills in some of our institutions, both public and private, it is like you have committed a crime against humanity, because those who see you as a potential threat will fight to bring you down. Some of the premature tactics used by these elements include humiliation or mental torture on the job, etc.
These people, especially neophytes will go to the extent of creating artificial barriers to see you take a premature exit because your presence torments them, and gets them intimidated and confused. Therefore, instead of celebrating you as an asset to these institutions on the basis of your experience or competence, like many other societies around us would do, you are an object of unwarranted humiliation, repudiation, and mental torture on the job.
My Colleague’s Observation
A friend of mine, currently residing in the United States, while here about eight years ago for visit said to me: “Jake (a reference to me), if you want to succeed in this country, you have to subscribe to what our current political environment dictates.”
Considering the seriousness of his tune, including the face he wore, I generously sought clarity from him. “My man (a reference to me), from the look of things now and even going forward, if you don’t tear down people in our country; including insulting prominent citizens, causing unnecessary noise for nearly every little thing, castigating people or being used as a conduit to destroy others, you may not get a job that can sustain you and your family regardless about your competence or how attractive you CV may be,” my colleague added.
Well, I want to believe that my colleague’s comments were informed by his observation or experience, especially when he sadly heard about it, and eventually saw how things were looking at my place of work at the time.
I don’t still believe that my colleague meant any harm, but I could see that he was disappointed that honesty, productivity, competence, etc, are like a punishable crown in our country.
However, I told him that if using my professional skills to ruin the reputation of others in society was the only credential to earn me a good job or appointment in government, I was not prepared and would keep praying against being a conduit for that matter because there is always a tomorrow.
Let me state that these unprincipled practices are greatly undermining productivity and effectiveness in some of our institutions from time to time and could further keep us backward if elements who believe in these negative acts are not exposed and punished.
Therefore, as I mark good twenty years as a columnist, I wish to renew my vow to my dear Country (Liberia) that I will keep using my God-given skills to push for a better Liberian society, built around a love for one another, honesty, tolerance, highly cherished family and societal values, respect for constituted authority and joint efforts to reach this great Nation of ours to an appreciable level of transformation.
Indeed, Two Decades of Revolutionary Feature Writings: A Reflection!
The author is reachable through: email@example.comfirstname.lastname@example.org