Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee said he has discovered what looks like a conspiracy in the Senate to divide the county, owing to “cheap propaganda” that the Gbi and Doru District is marginalized and not developed, and should therefore be annexed by Rivercess County.Senator Grupee spoke to reporters in Ganta on Saturday, October 1, naming River Cess County Senator Francis Paye of being the one behind the move to divide Nimba County under the pretext that residents of Gbi and Doru have petitioned the Senate to have the district be taken over by Rivercess County.According to Senator Grupee, Senators from Nimba County are yet to see the said petition, adding that “the Senate Plenary is continuing to enforce the idea to the extent that it has set up a committee to look into the matter and bring their findings back to the Senate by January next year.”He said two years ago, residents of Gbi and Doru petitioned President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, complaining about being “marginalized” by the Nimba County authority, but that a copy of the petition secretly surfaced at the Senate as though some of his colleagues were acting on the content, wanting to see Nimba County divided.“[If] most of the citizens from the district are not aware of the petition, then how did it get to the Senate?” Grupee wondered.Senator Grupee has meanwhile called on the Senate to discontinue the matter and see reason for unifying citizens, rather than pursuing division, adding, “There is no part of Liberia that is well developed than the others.” The citizens of Gbi and Doru district, through their commissioner David Toe, informed the Daily Observer of their dissatisfaction with the behaviors of Senator Paye and some officials from Rivercess county, who they claimed were trying to create animosity or bring division within Nimba, “for their own selfish gain.”Commissioner Toe said during the course of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election, Francis Paye went to Gbi and Doru and asked the citizens to vote for him, promising that if he wins, he will advocate for the district to be annexed to Rivercess. Toe said it was because of this promise that Senator Paye unilaterally petitioned the Senate to grant the district a statutory status to have their own representative at the Lower House in future elections.“It is based on the promise that Senator Paye continues to press for the annexation of Gbi and Doru District to Rivercess, but the chiefs and elders in the district are not aware of any of the petition, which he said was done to convince citizens from Gbi and Doru residing in Monrovia,” said Toe.River Cess Senator Paye does not seem to deny the allegation against him. “Let Thomas say whatever he wants to say and you can go ahead and publish what he has said,” Sen. Paye told the Daily Observer via a phone interview yesterday. “I don’t have time for what Thomas has to say; he is a Senator, but the people in the disputed district know what they want. I am a Senator and traditional leader of my people, so I don’t have to respond to every little statement.”River Cess has only two electorial districts, compared to Nimba County with nine electoral districts. The ninth district is Gbi and Doru, which is a forest-rich region where farming, hunting and timber are the leading business activities. Gbi and Doru District lies at the southern tip of the county, bordering River Cess.Aside, Nimba benefits from the County Development Fund (CDF) which is determined to a large extent by each county’s population. Nimba also benefits from Arcelor-Mittal’s Social Development Fund to the tone of US$1.5 million annually. It therefore appears there may be more to gain by River Cess annexing Gbi and Doru District. River Cess County has only 2 seats in the House of Representatives. An annexed or new district will give them a third, while at the same time, potentially increasing the county’s CDF allotment. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Pablo Machioli’s statue is a protest of Confederate monuments and what they represent. It was confiscated by Baltimore police and Baltimore park rangers. (Photo Credit: Sean Yoes)I spent part of Monday afternoon (Nov. 2) in Druid Hill Park helping load a 500 pound, 12 foot tall statue of a pregnant, bare breasted woman of color into the back of a city-owned pick-up truck. It was no easy task.But, despite her size, the statue was on route this week to its third destination in just a few days and her future still seems dubious.However, what is clear is how she arrived at an out of the way storage facility in Druid Hill Park, less than 24 hours after being erected on Oct. 29, in the Wyman Park Dell in front of the statue of Confederate icons Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.“It will be destroyed and you will be arrested for disorderly conduct,” was the unequivocal declaration of a Baltimore City police officer around 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, according to community organizer and activist Owen Silverman Andrews.“He said, `Get away from the statue,’ and he grabbed me by the arm and kind of dragged me off to the side and said, `if you step towards it again I’ll arrest you,’” Andrews told the AFRO.The statue was confiscated by Baltimore police and Baltimore City park rangers and transported to Druid Hill Park. Andrews was subsequently given a citation and the statue is currently at the Copycat building, an artist enclave on Guilford Avenue.Andrews is part of a group that placed the statue crafted by artist Pablo Machioli in front of the Lee-Jackson monument, in protest of what it stands for in the minds of many; oppression, racism and White supremacy.“In this case this woman is protesting with the fist up and walking away, giving the back to them (Lee and Jackson),” said Machioli a native of Uruguay. We are being suppressed by violence. So, the best way for me is to show disobedience, but at the same time doing something peaceful and positive and include the community,” he added.After the massacre of the Charleston Nine during a church bible study last summer by a Confederate flag embracing, White supremacist there has been new scrutiny of Civil War symbols across the country including Baltimore.Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake tasked a seven-member commission to analyze four monuments on city property and hold a series of public hearings. In addition to the immediate removal of all Confederate monuments, the group has added new demands this week. They want the commission to widen the scope of the hearings to include the statue of Christopher Columbus in Druid Hill Park. They also want the city to allow artistic responses to these monuments without fear of being fined or otherwise intimidated by Baltimore police or Baltimore City park rangers. The group also demands more funding for artists, particularly artists of color and women artists.The Lee-Jackson monument in particular has sparked the ire of many because it was erected in 1948, almost 100 years after the civil war was fought, more an affirmation of segregation and institutional racism in Baltimore, as opposed to a commemoration of the Civil War.“The monuments are a creation of a period of American history…that’s the nadir of race relations, the sad period from 1890 to 1940,” said James Loewen a sociologist, who recently testified before the city’s Confederate commission.“That’s when the United States, White folks anyway, were most racist in their thinking more than any other time. That’s when they (the statues) are from. We need to understand that about them and they then also tell us complete lies about the Civil War,” Loewen added.What he alludes to is an inscription on the Lee-Jackson statue that says they fought the war in a “gentlemanly” way. But, according to Loewen, when Lee went through Maryland, his army enslaved every Black person they saw, whether they had been legally emancipated or not.Sean Yoes“For a long time the slaves back then, and now…our hands are made of gold,” explained Machioli, in reference to the hands of the statue being painted gold. “It (symbolizes) our hands, workers hands suppressed hands,” he added.“They can take it away, but they can’t destroy it,” Andrews said. “Even if they destroy it physically they can’t destroy what happened….they’re only making it stronger.”Sean Yoes is a senior contributor of the AFRO and executive producer and host of First Edition, which airs Monday through Friday, 5-7 pm on WEAA, 88.9.