Dr. Dunn said creative works, including literature, poetry, music, dances, paintings, and others are crucial to uniting Liberians. “We must promote themes of justice, equity and unity,” he said.
Speaking at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion yesterday on the subject: Renewing our National Promise, Dr. Dunn said in the wake of Liberians’ division and deep-seated distrust, a National Arts and Humanities Council should be established.
The council, which he suggested would be located at the E. J. Roye Building, a known venue for the creative arts during Liberia’s pre-war days, on Ashmun Street, would employ the arts and humanities as a vehicle for the promotion of genuine reconciliation and unity. The building would however need serious renovation as it was completely scrapped do its shell during the Liberian Civil War.
According to him, incentives and prizes to creators of creative works should be offered, adding that investing in arts will also contribute to national security, job opportunity thus contributing to a more united nation conscious of its component parts.
“Given our divisions and deep-seated feelings of distrust, this work would best be undertaken by civil society, with limited government involvement,” he said
“There are many examples elsewhere for such undertakings, designed to help audiences ‘feel conditions experienced by citizens who are different from themselves, different ethically, different religiously and in diverse other ways,” he said.
Dr. Dunn said to ensure the establishment of the council; the government must set aside a reasonable percentage of revenue, generated from both the oil and mining sectors.
Regarding the building to host the council, Dr. Dunn said office spaces should be rented cheaper to artists and their arts while others rent to help fund the organization.
Under the proposed National Arts and Humanities Council of Liberia, Dr. Dunn said major consideration should be given to the full restoration and expansion of the Kendeja National Culture Center.
He wants the Kendeja National Culture Center established in all counties to be used as venues to establish, nurture, show Liberia’s heritage, citing the Arts Council in South Africa, the United States National Endowment for Arts, as models.
Dr. Dunn, meanwhile, proposed the establishment of Liberia Youth Corps with a goal to bring together young people from diverse backgrounds to inculcate a culture of service and engender a common sense of nationhood.
“Youths are critical to any country’s future especially our own, given the demographic imperative,” he said. “Unless we invest adequately in their future, we leave them a poisoned inheritance.”
In her remarks, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf welcomed the call by Dr. Dunn, and appointed him chairman of a committee to review outdated norms and laws of Liberia. She encouraged Liberians to be part of the nation building process and respect the constitutional authority.
The Liberian leader said the 2013 Independence celebrations would be hosted by Bomi, Gbarpolu and Bong Counties while Sinoe and Grand Kru would host the 2014 celebrations. Maryland, River-Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties will host the 2015 Independence celebrations along with Christmas celebrations in each of the counties.
Meanwhile several Liberians, including top government officials, have described this year’s oration as a road map for Liberia’s Vision 2030.
“If we can only go by all that was said by Dr. Dunn, this county will be second to none in Africa,” Montserrado County Representative Julius Berry, told the Daily Observer minutes after the program.
Others attending yesterday’s event were Sierra Leonean President Ernest Bai Koroma, members of the Diplomatic Corps, heads of foreign embassies, civic society leaders and officials of government some of whom described the occasion as a moment of reflection, calling on Liberians to unite to move the country forward.