By TONY MOCHAMA
The life story of Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia and as of this week, convicted war criminal accused of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity like violence to life, outrages on personal dignity, sexual slavery, pillage and a plethora of other dastardly deeds, reads like a Hollywood action movie (no pun on Ruto who described his own charges in the ICC in similar cinematic vein).
Like a good Hollywood script, Charles Taylorâs story has a beginning, a middle and an end â but letâs allow ourselves artistic licence and start at the end; or very near the end. What screenwriters call the âpenultimate archâ of the plot.
A man in his early sixties sits pensively in a gray courtroom in Amsterdam. The day is April 26, 2012. He looks more UN diplomat than former warlord in his silver-rimmed spectacles on a smooth face that gives way to a prim red necktie, expensive shiny black suit and pure leather shoes, and remains unruffled as he is found guilty of crimes as countable as a full football squad.
Time rolls back. It is the Christmas Eve of 1989. Charles Taylor is a âyoung manâ, 41 years of age, and at the head of a mercenary force of 168 men, most of them Ivorians.
He has crossed from the jungles of Cote dâIvoire into his native country of Liberia, and like Father Christmas, he comes bearing the gift of liberation in his arms â pardon the pun â from the mad man called Sergeant Samuel Doe who has lorded it over Liberia since a bloody coup in which Doe executed the legally elected president of the nation, William Tolbert, in 1980.
Escapes US jail
Taylor and his rebels are repelled from Nimba County in Sierra Leone, but Doeâs diabolical soldiers go on an orgy of rapes, lootings and killings that leave hundreds dead and thousands displaced.
The local Gio and Mano populations rise up to the man and join Taylorâs rebellion, and like in every good âcome backâ movie tale, Taylor is within a kilometre of capturing the seaside mansion in which Mad Doe is holed up by mid-1990.
The tides of time roll back to the beginning (not when Taylor was born, moviesâ beginnings are the interesting bits of life, not birth certificates).