By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
It is often said that “man is a selfish being,” which is usually interpreted as only concerned about him and not others. Connotatively, while this is always projected in a negative manner, there is also reason for man being referred to as a selfish person, in that he is mainly concerned about what concerns him. This is entitled to all kinds of interpretations. Yet, others might accept this to mean that man is right for being selfish in that this would help him to correct some ills in his environment or surroundings before venturing out to help others. In short, man has all reasons to first be concerned of those things that are of interest to him and so selfishness is seen from a positive perspective.
Whatever interpretations people may have for this, perhaps it is the way and manner in which man goes about in exhibiting this selfishness that is of concern to others. But in a situation where a man is concerned about that is obtaining in an area that he is connected to, there is logical reason for him to raise the red flag or be a part in finding a solution to that particular problem. It is in this light that I have decided to comment on recent publications in the media about some citizens of Grand Bassa County or some “Bassa People” are surviving on expired food disposed of in dump sites in the county.
Initially, when I heard about this during the start of the special senatorial election campaign, I thought it was part of the campaign propaganda, as such are common during such periods to tarnish the reputation of others to conciliate or sway voters in a particular direction for a particular candidate. But the persistent reports, especially the “actualities” (the actual voices of those interviewed on the matter), I had a second thought that that was no campaign matter, but something embarrassing to that great county to bring to the attention of the public.
Again, I take interest because my late mother, Mary WleyonnohWesseh, was consanguineously connected to the Bassa people and by extension, I have a stake in whatever concerns the Bassa people, and not only that of my paternal line. Moreover the name of the area, known as “OWN YOUR OWN,” in a county with fertile soil and abundance land, sometimes referred to as “Ancestors Land,” depicts the issue of self-reliance and independence. Additionally, the county is blessed with many investments. And so to hear that people in that area are surviving on wastes in dump sites is a matter of concern to me, because the Bassa people, no matter the situation should not be surviving from wastes in dump sites or dump piles.
In the initial report on the situation, the NEWS Newspaper said that “residents of a community outside Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, known as ‘Own your Own’ are said to be surviving on food from dump sites in the county.” The paper said that the area is where Arcelormittal and other concession companies are operating and that these companies dispose of spoilt foods in the dump sites just opposite the Ebola Treatment Unit constructed by the United States Government.
Some of the citizens and residents who spoke to our reporter said the dump site has been their source for food for the past seven years. The paper’s reporter who returned from the area recently said most of the citizens using the dump site for survival are women and children and told the reporter that they are constrained to eat from the dump site because life has become difficult for them. Unbelievably, the citizens said they are grateful for the presence of the dump site in the community because it provides foods for their livelihood. They went on to say, ”If this dump site was not here, we would have died by now.”
To visibly display what they are actually doing, one of the ladies, identified as Mary Brumskine said to the reporter, “Take our pictures; we are eating from dump piles because our leaders we elected want to see us live on dump pile foods while they are in Monrovia enjoying.” The citizens said they are being constrained to eat from the dump site because their elected leaders have neglected them over the years.
Madam Brumskine, a mother of ten with a jobless husband, said they have been eating from the dump site in the open for a very long time with nothing being done by leaders in the county to address their plight. However, she said they are exposed to illnesses due to danger posed by the foods they are consuming which include opened canned milks; expired biscuits and used tomatoes, among others, also pointing out that whenever the dump truck fails to bring the garbage, they sleep with hunger because the site is being considered as their farm.
Also, in its story carried yesterday, the TRUTH FM news reported similar counts as those reported by the NEWS Newspaper. The station quoted the residents as saying that they resorted to easting from the dump site because they have been abandoned and that there are no jobs for them to get income to survive. Some of them have called for the establishment of vocational and technical schools to make them marketable.
Indeed, these corroborate reports that some of the people of my late mother are surviving on wastes. It is sickening to note that a county that has produced some of the great leaders of this country, a county that is blessed with huge investments and fertile soil and abundant land, is faced with such a distasteful situation that some of its people are surviving on wastes.
Is the county lacking leadership? Are there not men and women in the county to move the people from backwaters to prosperity? What happened to the county development funds? What happened to the county agriculture program? Is that area not represented in the national legislature that has the constitutional mandate to approve of the national budget? If there is a representative, then, what is he or she doing about this ugly precarious situation? I ask these questions because I find myself in a state of disbelief that some of the people of such a county would resort to eating wastes from dump piles.
Interestingly, one cannot be surprised over such report because this is one of the counties in which its leadership is most often at loggerheads. Definitely, and naturally, one cannot expect any development in a divided home, as it is said, “a home divided against itself cannot stand.” Until these leaders of the county get down to business in the interest of the county and its people, such a situation of some of its residents surviving on wastes, something that is hazardous to their health, would continue to persist.
Some may argue that this is happening because of the prevailing economic situation. Yes, it is true that there are economic problems; notwithstanding, no citizen of Grand Bassa County should be surviving on dump site food or wastes. Something is wrong somewhere. Therefore, the leaders should act now to save my mother’s tribe from this disgrace and shame.
Given our sociology, this might soon become a joke by others to say, ‘you Bassa people living on dump pile foods,” as there is one which says, ”Bassa man sold his land for smoke fish.” The Bassa people cannot continue to be a subject of ridicule or laughter. A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.