The 14- years of civil war in Liberia did not only destroyed lives and properties, it also ruined Liberia’s culture , which nowadays make many Liberians to erroneously conceive culture as only ‘drumming and dancing’ ; therefore failing to realize the impact culture has had on the fight for socioeconomic change in the country over the last few decades.
Culture, which has to do with a group of people’s unique ways of life including their ideas, beliefs, literatures and other things, comes with several benefits to society, like promoting or maintain stability and social change.
Though Female Genital Mutilation is one of the negative aspects of culture, yet the sound of the drums and dancing that assemble people together, regardless of their background, to promote and maintain peace are all positive characteristics of culture.
For example, the sound of the drums and dancing was used to assemble people, and disarm those who had guns during the end of the civil war, in the leeward counties. The sound of the drums and dancing also served as one of the best medium to communicate the message of peace to the Liberian people, which helped in restoring peace to the nation.
However, it should be noted that the long quest for a rebirth of culture in Liberia can only happen when the media who has over the years played a vital role in promoting peace, democracy, freedom of expression and human rights, starts to actively participate.
This can be done through prioritizing local languages and producing rich traditional contents that depict the strength of Liberia’s cultural values and norms, thus helping Liberians to become proud of their cultural heritage.
Doing this will help the new generation underscore the importance of placing value and developing the passion to learn and study Liberia’s culture and it values.
Liberia media guru Kenneth Best, publisher of the Daily Observer newspaper, in his recent remarks at the Cuttington University Cultural Festival, said: “We all know the power of the media; therefore the media can play a more crucial role in reawaking Liberia’s cultural practices.
“For too long many media institutions have sought not to generate interest in the promotion of Liberia’s cultures, a situation that has made this government not serious about promoting it as well. It is about time that all the media institutions act fast or it will be too late.”
If the newspaper, radio, television station and online news sites can start following Mr. Best’s advice by having special columns and airtime for rich cultural programs, it will help break the barriers of illiteracy surrounding the country’s culture.
This high rate of illiteracy about the Liberia’s culture has continued to play a vital role in making Liberians to undervalue, undermine and criticizing their cultural practices totally, and even branding all sorts of negative names.
Undertaking such an initiative will make a remarkable influence on the quest for culture rebirth as well as serving as instruments of national cohesion.
Learning from East Africa Media
The Swahili language could not gain international recognition without the help of the media; most especially the print media that help in establishing the Swahili language as a regional one. In 1923, Mambo Leo became the
ewspaper from East Africa used the Swahili language in print thus making the Swahili language serving as a means of communication through reading and speaking.
It also strengthened the culture values and norms of the different people that inhibit that part of Africa.
So can the same happen with Liberia? Yes, if only Liberia’s media institutions owners start to understand that language is a crucial building block of culture; therefore, if they follow the footsteps of Mambo Leo newspaper owners by including poems and short stories writing in local languages will bring sense of unity, and pride allowing Liberia to have a national language.
A generation that does not have any knowledge about their culture and tradition and national language is equal to an illiterate generation.