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The Danger of Celebrity in Power: The Case of Liberia takes you on an engaging journey that dissects the rise of celebrities to political power and unravels the implications of their imposing rule, sometimes to the detriment of democracy’s growth and development. In particular, the book delves into the small West African nation of Liberia as an embryonic and fragile democracy with many years of social, economic, and political decadence. There, to the shock of the world, a footballer, George Oppong Manneh Weah, was elected president in 2017. My intent is not to cast doom but to realistically unearth the dangerous effects that are rapidly emerging in Liberia since the footballer assumed power.
The visible indicators of what is to come are extensively discussed in this book. It is absolutely prudent to underscore that mediocrity has taken over Liberia with the election of a football star, whose entire background is completely unrelated to the functions of the presidency. President Weah has no credible corporate or political leadership experience; thus he lacks the background and savoir-faire to lead Liberia out of its current fragility and degradation onto a trajectory of sustainable peace and stability. In less than twelve months into his leadership, the president has grossly and repeatedly violated the laws of Liberia, demonstrated intolerance toward the opposition, and continuously threatened advocates (i.e., critical voices), portending the emergence of tyranny. President Weah has called the opposition “enemies of the state”; said to the Liberian people, “I cannot fight corruption because everyone is related”; and said to the BBC stringer in Liberia, Jonathan Paye-Layleh, “You were one of those against me when I was advocating for peace.”
Certainly, these statements are worrisome; coming from the heart of a rookie president, overwhelmingly elected with 61.5 percent of the total valid votes cast, in less than twelve months. The implications of such tyrannical moves are enormous and must not be discounted. Obviously, these are scary times, which reflect a looming danger. The trend cannot continue unabated.