By Sherman C. Seequeh
In the last few days, tears and lamentations continue to profusely once again ooze out of some Liberians with much force and anger. And the reason, this time, for the tears and lamentations is that the President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has produced yet a new song.
Read the social media. Enter the chatrooms of some folks. Listen to some radio stations. Go to some ghettos and offices. The cry is all the same: “Why should the president continue to compose and produce songs? Why should the president sing all over the place?”
While one may be right to say it is needless and folly to chase every gossip and every little cry directed at the President, it is also an imperative to react to lamentations and wailings about a president producing songs because the concerns clearly flow out of mindsets that are not only faulty, misguided and toxic with sheer ridicule and mischief but also tend to cast undeserving aspersions on populist achievements made by the president and his government in three years.
It would therefore be instructive to say this to the lamenters and crybabies: Firstly, presidents, or heads of state, do sing, too. It is neither wrong nor a crime. Signing or producing songs does not limit, desecrate and dilute the presidency or national leadership.
The most successful and powerful head of state in history, King David, composed music. He sang and danced profusely and provocatively.
King David and other leaders of countries on record for singing and dancing do so not merely to worship or to entertain or to relieve themselves of the pressure that comes with managing the complexity of society; they also do so as a way of sermonizing and messaging on their heartfelt policies and visions.
Thomas Jefferson, the United States’ third President, sang while in office. Jefferson, who wrote the revered Declarations of Independence, played violin, clavichord and cello. Richard Nixon, the US’ 37th President, composed and sang, “Gold Bless America” at the Grand Ol’ Opry to help his political campaigns. Many more US presidents, including Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, played music in their free time. And their music went wild.
Second, there is something the “civilized people” call “hobby”. This is something or an activity someone likes to do regularly at their leisure or less busy time for pleasure. Some people like to read. Some like to ride bicycle. Others like jogging. And, of course, other like singing. Every normal human being does have what he or she likes to do at leisure time. If one does not have a hobby, they should not query someone else for having it and for doing it.
Third, George Weah is a star. He’s a born, and successful, athlete. He’s a singer. Those who know him well should, and must, beat their chests in saying this thunderously. To take that fact away or to try to bury it for whatever reason would be suicidal for those who support him. It will give reprieve and comfort to his adversaries.
For Manneh to be able to defeat poverty and flee from its claws in Gibraltar, it got to be because the blood that God endowed him with is predominantly athletic and starry. It got to be because of his endowment with unmatched skills and pedigree in athleticism—football, and even singing. These were not just the composts and stepping stones that catapulted him to worldwide fame but also the raw materials that combined to make him a people-centered person and leader now breaking barriers to Liberia’s intractable development woes today.
If, God forbade, one were to take away George Weah’s nature as a star and athlete away—if one were to deny is athletic and singing prowess—then he goes back and belongs to the Gibraltar of the 1970s and 1980s again; then Liberia forfeits the blessings of his rise to prominence and leadership.
So, yes, he is a singer, and singing he must continue to do. We just cannot shy away from this. It is his innate power and glory.
Fourth, the president’s release of one or two songs, or even a 100 songs, is no obstacle to what he has achieved, is achieving and will achieve during his term(s). His singing did not blur his sight and willpower to see and alleviate bad road conditions left on the books for 170 years for the people of Johnsonville, Pipe Line, Doe Community, Tusa Field, Churgbar and dozens of other urban communities—just in three years! Yes, singing he does, but that did not stop him from ending registration chaos at the century-old University of Liberia with digital platforms. This did not deafen him from hearing the cries of, and doing something about, poor post-high Liberians for college education. He granted them free tuition in public schools.
No, singing did not stop President Weah from negotiating funding for milestone road projects across Liberia that will soon begin to connect major cities, including those of the long-marginalized Southeast. Yes, the president sings, and in his singing, for the first time in 170 years, he emboldens civic and political activism with the demolishment of draconian laws, including Decree 88A—an achievement that keeps non-conformist citizens out of the harm of summary arrests and imprisonments as it used to be before his ascendency.
Thus, when President Weah composes music and releases new songs, he does so in unapologetic celebration, along with the long-neglected masses of this country, for national renaissance and redemption from the Old Order which, for 170 years, turned blind eyes to the silent majority of the populace.
Who will say it’s not needful that the President celebrates in heartfelt songs and lyrics the end of Liberia’s plantation governance mentality where the elites—the death of a system in which a few self-anointed group commandeered state resources exclusively for themselves? Who does not want to celebrate and sing to the dawn of the day when market women’s children—children with ancestry in slum communities and forest villages—are no more mere jetsam and flotsams but active and useful
participants in the socioeconomic and political mosaic of Liberia today?
If those revolutionary breakthroughs of just three years don’t matter to someone, they do matter for the masses of the people of Liberia. They do matter for the man whose ascendency brought all this about. And it gladdens his heart, as it gladdens the hearts of the silent majority of Liberians on whose behalf he acts, to celebrate; to compose music and sing even every day.
If someone wants to weep all day, or attempt to resort to ridicule and mock a president for singing as if there was nothing left to criticize, the rest of Liberians—mainly the majority of people previously failed and abandoned by political elites of the past—will for countless, substantive reasons sing and celebrate.
The tears and lamentations will not cease because, in fact, the President has already built and set up a modern musical studio for himself and other stars to produce more songs free of charge.
Meanwhile, the unfolding national celebration for national renaissance continues. Join or get drowned in tears.