Charles Taylor’s Legacy – Perspective From Liberia
He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.
-Charles Taylor’s actual election campaign slogan
I find it amazing that there’s any debate at all as to how horrible a man Charles Taylor is, as is currently being debated at his war crimes trial and in the court of public opinion.
I suppose elsewhere one would have to read the recently released Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report, but here in Liberia all I have to do is walk across Tubman Blvd from my apartment to the soccer field where there is a multi-team league for amputees who’ve lost their limbs per Charles Taylor’s orders as retribution for not murdering their own families and joining the rebel army.
The UN asserts that Taylor created and backed the rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone, which are accused of a range of atrocities, including the use of child soldiers. The prosecutor also said Taylor’s administration had harbored members of Al-Qaeda sought in connection with the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
I learned more about him upon arriving in Monrovia, as he is a constant conversation topic at cafes and restaurants. Things I didn’t know about Charles Taylor:
- He has a degree in Economics from Bentley College near Boston
- He was later jailed in Massachusetts, awaiting extradition to Liberia on charges of embezzlement, however he escaped by sawing through the bars in the laundry room window.
- He fled the US to Libya where he was taken under Qhadafi’s wing and trained in one of his desert terrorism camps
- After years of civil war, his 1986 presidential victory has been widely attributed to the belief that he would resume the war if he lost. He famously ran on the slogan “He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.” You can actually buy t-shirts printed with this!
- 350,000 people, or about 10% of the Liberia’s population, lost their lives in the 14 years of brutal chaos that followed.
You should hear these soccer players’ take on “truth and reconciliation”…