Charles Taylor: The Verdict Draws Near
Finally after nearly 7 years of confinement and over 20 years since Charles Ghanky Taylor started his reign of terror and hell on the poor people of Liberia the world will find out tomorrow, April 26, 2012 if he will spend the rest of his life behind bars or be set free. Having lived in Liberia for 2 years and studied Taylor’s rise to power and fall from grace in-depth I find it incomprehensible that he would not be found guilty of crimes against humanity and thus sentenced to life in prison. Even if that happens he will be getting off much better than those he murdered and maimed. Liberia was set back incalculable years because of the man they call “The King of the Zoes”, years Liberia wasted and does not have anymore. A full 8 1/2 years after the last AK-47 shell fell and the UN established the then largest mission in the world Liberia is still laying in rubble. My two years there taught me two incredible life lessons: 1) Liberian’s are loving and forgiving people and 2) They are determined, under the leadership of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to forget the past and take positive steps in the right direction.
If anyone is confused about Charles Taylor let us not forget the macabre campaign t-shirt Liberians wore during the 1997 presidential election that bore a picture of Taylor and the slogan: “He Killed My Ma, He Killed My Pa But I Will Vote For Him.” Liberians were so polarized by this churlish man they voted for him for president because they feared if he lost the election he would drive the country back to civil war. Sadly there are still those in Liberia who are controlled by his charm and charisma. Driving by his one time residence on Tubman Boulevard on January 28th of 2009 there were a contingent of about 50 people dancing, signing and blaring music from amplifiers outside his home celebrating his 61st birthday. The same demented celebration took place in January of 2010 while he sat thousands of miles away in a jail cell in The Hague, The Netherlands. While doing research for my book, “Memoirs of a Reluctant Servant” I asked a Liberian man in Monrovia if Charles Taylor were somehow found innocent if he would be welcomed to come back to Liberia? He stared at me through mournful eyes that had endured loss of life and the dreams of a future and said, “My good friend I tell you for true the red carpet would start in The Hague and end right here in Monrovia.” He shook his head as he turned and shuffled off on his walking cane.
Lets us hope tomorrow’s verdict will not be the red carpet Charles Taylor is hoping for. Let us instead hope the International Court stands up and declares to the world a demon has been exorcised and it is time for Charles Taylor to pack his load and become a silent footnote of history.
Charles Ghanky Taylor never deserved to call himself Liberian.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew. 7:15)