Former Liberian ambassador to the United States, Nathaniel Barnes, has urged students to appreciate the sensitivity of Liberian cultural practices, adhere to those fundamental values that make it unique and strengthen the commonalities that bind Liberians together.
Speaking under the theme, “The Role of our Culture in the National Reconciliation Process” in Dimeh Town at an event organized by Flomo Theater Production for students of William Lee Bonner Junior High School, Ambassador Barnes said in order to achieve peace, the practices of Liberian culture should not be excluded.
“It is about time that you students stopped imitating western cultural practices and stop condemning your own. No country’s culture is perfect, but it is you that will make it perfect. The West does not imitate our culture, so why should we practice theirs?
“Let me tell you today students, Liberia has a very beautiful culture that should be sustained by you. Today you are students; tomorrow, the nation’s future leaders. So it is about time you start accepting your cultural norms, practices and values, and appreciate the fact of who you are,” Ambassador Barnes asserted.
However, the former diplomat was quick not to totally blame students for not appreciating their culture values and norms, but suggested that if students are to be encouraged to appreciate Liberia culture, it should be done through education, institutional policies and by the way Liberians raise their children.
He furthered that the National Culture Center should be reestablished as a place where Liberian culture, folklore, customs and practices are put on display.
“Again, I’m asking national leaders to implement the usage of one Liberian language as our nation’s own, which must be taught in all schools compulsorily, along with [other academic subjects]. When this is done, then we will be on the path to complete national reconciliation.
“Our culture,” he added, “is the only thing we have in common, and it is the harmony in the song of reconciliation.”
During the trip, the students were taken to the grave site of Tenneh, a character in the true story “Murder in the Cassava Patch” by Liberian playwright and cultural icon, Bai T. Moore.
The students also visited other historical sites in the Dewion district, including the famous Love Tree.
They were later entertained by cultural performances and taught some basic elements of the Liberian cultural way of life.
Numerous speakers including students, town leaders and youth organizations lauded Flomo Theater for the educational initiative that is intended to encourage students to learn about their culture.