Liberia will mark the 176th anniversary of its independence on 26 July. The first independent country in Africa, with 5.4 million people, is blessed with abundant natural resources. But it has yet to meet the aspirations of its population and compete economically on the world stage.
Liberians are not enamored with July 26 Independence anniversary, not just because of the country’s failings and steady descent into unbelievable anarchy, but more because such degeneration is grossly irreconcilable with her enviable human and material resources that leaders, in succession, mismanage even as they desperately pretend that what is amiss is insignificant.
If the years of military dictatorship and two civil wars were regarded as the ‘‘years eaten by the locusts,’’ the abysmal descent of today’s Liberia may be said to be ‘‘more years eaten by the locusts.’’
On the home front, successive leaders have abandoned the dream of the premise for which Liberia was founded and replaced it with motivations of self-aggrandizement.
The country is divided, people are impoverished, life and property are insecure and life is worthless. Now and then, we witness Liberians disowning their country with so much disgust and spewing the worst kinds of invectives at their motherland.
While persons of means have secured foreign citizenship for themselves and their families, others are making frantic efforts to do likewise or emigrate from Liberia. This is the Liberia that has been bequeathed to the upcoming generation of leaders: a disillusioned country, morally weak, socially fragmented, politically disoriented, and economically comatose.
This is not how a truly independent country carries on. To chart a course for progress, Liberia needs big dreamers and, more especially, people who would not want to do things the usual way of 176 years.
To justify any claim of being independent, Liberians must, first of all, ascertain the basis upon which they lay claim to independence. Do we see ourselves first of all as Liberians? Or do we lay claim to a political party, tribal or regional allegiance as our most fundamental identity?
Suppose there is anything worth celebrating at all. In that case, it is the tenacity and resilience of Liberians who have decided to survive despite bad leaders, corruption, colossal debt, abject poverty, and their repeated embattled by various categories of outlaws.
These Liberians include marketers, farmers, students, disadvantaged youth trapped in the enclaves of drugs and civil servants sacrificing their lives on the altar of parochial leadership; and the forlorn Liberians who every day hope in God that this too shall pass away. It is these Liberians, who have kept this country together, that deserve the greatest courtesies.
If the government, especially the George Weah administration needs to do anything it is to fall in line with the nationalistic agenda of the founding fathers of Liberia. President Weah should accept that under his leadership, Liberia has witnessed the worst deterioration ever.
Leaders and followers must do their best to ensure that they desire a new, better Liberia. Leaders must lead well and wean themselves off the selfishness and minimalism into which they have immersed themselves. To make this country work, citizens, especially the leadership, must be truly Liberians by patronizing Liberia.
The reality here is that we have nothing to showcase worth celebrating attaining 176 years of independence. No Liberian should be proud of our national developmental trajectory. Liberians at all levels should be well-meaning enough to embark on conscientious sober reflection on the state of the nation as we participate in the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
Our Leaders should examine themselves on the quality of leadership they have meted out on the polity. They should reflect on whether or not they have fostered any home-grown solutions to Liberia’s problems in the economic, educational, and health sectors.
Our Leaders must ask themselves whether their stewardship has done the basic minimum for our people. All Liberians must question themselves about their positive contribution or negligence or indifference to the fight against corruption. Everyone should respect the rule of law and place a high premium on human capital.
The need for concerted efforts is hinged on the fact that both leadership and followership are complicit in this degeneration at all levels. Whereas the elite are parasitical on the misfortune of the hapless masses, the followership is largely complacent.
As we have often noted, the duty to salvage the country is a moral obligation built on honesty and integrity-driven characters. Great nations are built on the strength of character of their people.
If Liberia must be great, every person must take responsibility; everyone must commit to doing what he ought to do for his/her community. This is the basic moral obligation to the country. This is the meaning of being truly independent. Happy July 26.