Sweet Land of Liberty – What are we Celebrating? – by Clarence Moniba

Last updated 01/01/2012
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Anniversaries are always a time to celebrate, and as we near our 163rd Anniversary, we, as Liberians, have a lot to be thankful for: from the peace that was so elusive to us for most of the nineties, to the building explosion of hospitals, schools, businesses and homes that we are currently experiencing. Compared to 10 years ago, we have 10 times better teachers, doctors, roads, freedom of speech and access to food; yet, this is not what I intend to write about today.

As a nation, not only do we have to recognize and appreciate what we do have and what we have accomplished, but just as importantly, in order to really improve for the better, in a way that will benefit all Liberians, and not just the ones of political or financial strength, we have to look at Liberia as a whole and judge ourselves based on what our poor and suffering fellow Liberians have access to. Yes, some Liberians may live in Mansions, but a vast majority of our country men and women, through no fault of their own, live not in modest homes, but in squalor on dirt floors and with little or no food to eat. While some make well over $10,000 a month, the average income of a Liberian is still two dollars a day. This is not only unfair, but a disgrace to our country. Therefore, we can highlight the five-star resort hotels being built all over the country, or we can talk about what really matters: the still deep-seeded division and ethnic hatred that we have for each other; we can talk about the newly paved highways and glass buildings that are now being built in Monrovia, or we can talk about the lack of basic necessities in our villages and damaged infrastructure that dots our Liberian skyline.

For every positive, there is a negative, and what I am trying to articulate in this piece is that although there are tremendous gains, there is still tremendous shame that embodies our nation. Unfortunately, the outside world still defines our country by child soldiers, destruction, corruption and an under-built infrastructure.

The joke of TIA, meaning This Is Africa, is all too real, especially when it comes to Liberia. This coined statement is not used as a sense of endearment,

or as a reference to the beauty of Africa; more often than not, This is Africa is used when people cannot understand why there is so much poverty, suffering, hunger, or corruption. This is Africa is currently used as an insult to us and the way we conduct life, and until we can do better for ourselves and our people, This is Africa, will continue to remain what it is – the negative characterization of our people.

Without waiting for international aid, Liberians have to realize that no matter how much outside help we do receive, ultimately, we, meaning government officials, civil servants and the ordinary citizens of Liberia, will have to make the decision to alter and improve the way we see each other.

One of the underlying factors for Liberia’s future success will come with progressive change in every sense of the word, and that means leaders not trying to monopolize power for themselves or close associates as well as people respecting the rule of law and not just the value of a dollar. Progressive change has to mean that when a choice comes up to choose either self, or country, country is always chosen and, progressive change must also mean that we as a people, make a conscious decision to be better tomorrow, than we are today and were yesterday; only then will Liberia be truly known as the Sweet Land of Liberty, a place where all men and women are considered equal, in every sense of the word.

So as we celebrate our 163rd Anniversary as a nation, this article is written with the hopes that the next 163 years is considerably better than the first 163 years in terms of prosperity, safety, equality and nationalistic ideals – for we have nowhere to go now but up.

May God bless you and yours, and forever live the Republic of Liberia.

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