- Few Pluses And Minuses Liberia Should Boast Of Or Scorn After More Than One & Half Century Of Existence
Liberia is Africa's oldest republic and will tomorrow be 165 years since independence in 1847 from and by the hands of free slaves from the Americas and Caribbean, who landed on the then Grain Coast in 1822. Throughout this span of history, much has happened; but very much is yet to happen. As Samuka V. Konneh Of Our Staff Reports, Liberia is enjoying its ninth year of post-conflict peace, but not necessarily a ninth year of post-conflict development and advancement. GOL, to celebrate the country's independence day, has selected as a theme:“Transformation for The Building Of A Legacy Of Development and Democracy.” However inspiring as the celebration's theme may appear, Liberia is one country in the world where the scars of troubles hardly fade away, and where successes are rarely hailed until probably the death of the actors.
As inspiring as the celebration's theme may appear, Liberia is one country in the world where the scars of troubles hardly fade away, and where successes are rarely hailed until probably the death of the actors.
Tomorrow’s celebrations have been preceded by series of religious intercessory prayers in mosques and churches, sometimes by traditional worshipers.
At these intercessory prayers, prelates, imams, deacons, evangelists, elders and other members, (in the words of the Executive Mansion,) of the Sacerdotal Order regardless of religious creed, gathered with one purpose in their respective places of worship in thanksgiving and praise to “God for his bountiful blessings on the nation, beseeching Him for continued showers of goodness and beneficence on the people of Liberia.”
“Every person, particularly officials of government, whether by legislation, for their prosperity, for their promotion, should be here to join in praising God for His blessings,” Pres. Sirleaf has said.
This year is Liberia's ninth year of post-conflict peace, but the challenges, though unadmitted sometimes, are enormous and its prospects are enormously being confronted, if not subdued, by the country's real challenges, many of which are physical and abstract.
Nine years in post-conflict peace, the country has benefited tremendous change in its internal relations and image, anchored by Pres. Sirleaf. This has resulted to the waiver of over four billion US dollars in international debts and the setting up of a new economic trajectory for direct foreign investment, which until 2011, attracted a boastful US$16 billion.
Yet, critics say the success does not trigger down on the ordinary, with daily livelihood still below US$1. The country's staple food has increased in price from Eight Hundred Liberian Dollars in 2003 to One Thousand Eight three years after. Now, a bag of rice is sold at Three Thousand Two Hundred.
Though government maintains its compulsory free primary and secondary education in public school, parents are still challenged by high tuition at private schools, which GOL is yet to control or curtail despite incessant cries from school fees-paying parents and supporters.
After all of the challenges to complete school, the lack of jobs and job opportunities is confronting students; leaving them to busy themselves with lousy and loose talks at various attayee and liquor shops under the fake patronage of intellectual exchanges.
In schools where a 12th grade student paid Four or Five Thousand Liberian Dollars in the early part of the 21st century, Twenty One Thousand Liberian Dollars would be the least to pay for just a calender tuition in 2012.
Besides rice and school fees, the ordinary persons complain of high and uncontrolled prices of commodities on the market.
But the President has an answer: “It’s also time to pray, as climate change disrupts productive systems, leading to high commodity prices and food insecurity, we need to pray for God’s grace.
“As the turmoil in places like Syria, and north Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia, we need to pray for God’s grace.
“Closer to home, disturbances around our borders, we need to pray for God’s grace. As there’s an attempt to roll back the progress of democracy, so well won over many years of struggle, we need to pray for God’s grace.”
The result of the long-bore impatience for a 'better' life is the resort to public protest, public expression of discontentment and sometimes violence.
The hard living condition in the country that bluffs with a fiscal budget of over half a billion US dollars is leaving parents to continuously use teenage girl-children as breadwinners; focusing them into commercial sex while teenage male children are used to crush rocks for a living.
Unfortunately, such teenage girls are subject of everyday rape, while the males remain out of school; complicating the education system of a country with more than 80% illiteracy rate.
On this, the Liberian leader was unequivocal. “When our young students, pursuing knowledge, pursuing an education, resort to violence as a means of expressing their democratic right, we do need to pray for God’s grace.
“When a twelve-year-old has a child, being defiled – and there are so many other young girls facing that – let’s pray for God’s grace.”
Apart from physical constraints, the nation's people are also challenged with the abstract, which government and partners have unproductively worked to cure.
A research by Galea et al (2010) and another by Johnson et al (2008) say about 44% of Liberians suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
This is also complicated by war-time grudges held against each other; thereby making unity and reconciliation difficult, if not impossible.
During last year's independence celebration in Voinjama, Lofa County, the Liberian leader asserted that reconciliation is not a one-stop shop and cannot be legislated.
To celebration this year's independence day, she has reiterated herself. “Today, we go forward; each of us, as Pastor Karpeh has called, for more intensive efforts at reconciliation.
“We cannot legislate love. We cannot legislate good relationships. It has to come from each and everyone’s own heart. We have to feel it to believe in it.
“And so the only thing is to pray for God’s grace, that He will touch each and every one of our hearts as you try to live by His call and reconcile our nation.”
But the biggest question remains: 'Has every effort failed to reconcile the country that God must now be invited to perform miracles in the hearts of Liberians.