By Gabriel W. Coleman
In simple terms, Liberian realities refer to the things that combine and work together to define the character of the Liberian people. It is those traits that are inherent in the culture of the nation, shaping its worldviews, that determine the nation’s mindset, which in turn dictates the habits, behaviors, established norms, and practices that are both typical of and unique to the people. By and large, the impact of the magnitude of Liberian realities on the nation is one that has greatly hurt rather than helped the country develop and grow socio-economically, intellectually, politically, spiritually, and in infrastructural terms. In every segment of Liberian society – the home, work place, private sector, government and its institutions, – integrity institutions included, institutions of learning, and even the Church, the impact of the sum total effect of what defines Liberians is very regrettable. I say regrettable because it is to be expected that a nation that nature has so enviably endowed with a vast depository of natural resources, a suitable climate for farming, and an appreciably rich coastline considering the country’s size and population. Not forgetting that Liberia is the oldest, sovereign, and self-governing republic in Africa for one hundred and seventy-six years (1847-2023), the country remains in a sorrowful state despite the many opportunities and offers for help it had had since its attainment of nationhood, particularly over the past sixty years. Because of personal greed which has been, if not the most vicious factor, but one of the deadliest enemies to the nation’s forward march, the country is lagging behind much younger states in overall developmental terms. A nation is an organic entity because it is made of human beings [people]. The development, growth and progress of any nation [people] are functions of certain inherent and intangible factors which act together to form a people’s character. The factors combine to produce the realities of a nation. The factors include but are not limited to a people’s worldview, mindset, attitude/behavior (i.e. approach to issues) and so on. A course that I did recently at the Evangelical Seminary of West Africa (ESWA) in Monrovia, Liberia, called Liberian Realities, describes in detail the factors that form the character of the Liberian people. The factors clearly show the uniqueness of the country – a uniqueness that is not something to be proud of, but lamentably, to be ashamed of and regretful about. The national character is one that does not value or respect rules that are meant for proper behavior, or the law whose purpose is to ensure orderly conduct for the protection of lives and properties as well as stability of the state for its overall development, growth and progress.
The Reality about Liberia
The reality about Liberia is that both the high and lowly are non-conformists regarding adherence to the norms and values that when strictly observed and followed, lead to a wholesome functioning society. Liberians generally are no respecters of the Law, and are by their deeds, flouters of the Law and rules with impunity for self-interest. Such despicable character is the main cause for the lack of integrity that pervades every section of Liberian society – the Church, government, private sector, academic institutions, political parties and the governed. Lack of integrity is evidenced by endemic corruption in government, with every branch of it as well as the Church, institutions of learning and just every aspect of the nation bearing the hallmarks of this vice (i.e. corruption). So, inhibition of the country’s forward march is not to be blamed on government alone. Nearly all Liberians are to blame, because by and large, somehow, most Liberians have skeletons in their little closets. Generally, Liberians either hail or remain mute about the unlawful or corrupt acts of state actors, the Church and other entities either because they are direct or indirect beneficiaries of the illegal deeds of people who are in authority, or are sycophants whose philosophy is always “The end justifies the means”, or are just ignorant of what ought to be, or care not about the truth.
As the country approaches the second round of the presidential election on November 14, 2023 to conclude the fourth post-conflict democratic elections, there is an urgent need for the leaders and members of political parties to participate in discussions on Liberian realities through interactive or participatory interactions to be held throughout the country, with the aim of telling Liberians what they need to know and do collectively in order that they become nationalistic going forward. I believe that the exercise will make the electorate better able to decide who to vote for regardless of party affiliation.
Contingent on the foregoing, it is recommended that all true progressive and nationalistic Liberians take lead in the undertakings described above, because they will go a long way in making the voting population appreciate the power it has pertaining to replacing decadent, corrupt and unnationalistic political institutions and politicians with those that have an unquestionable national development agenda, record and character.
No party manifesto regardless of how carefully worded it is in order to appeal to voters, or platform of any political candidate will profit the nation if the electorate remains unaware of the realities that have plagued the country for one hundred and seventy-six years for which its present status is shamefully what it has been and still is for nearly two centuries. The negative impact of realities about the country that have hindered its overall development and growth must not be taken for granted, because though they may seem insignificant particularly to the unrepentant and unremorseful Liberians, they have been very impactful so much so that they have kept the country static in terms of its development and growth. Pursuing this strategy will unarguably effect a paradigm shift in the political thought of the electorate thereby compelling it to put the country above any political candidate or party. The time to take the road is now, not later because there is little time left.
Gabriel W. Coleman, BSc, Agriculture, is an Instructor, Department of Agriculture & Forestry, United Methodist University (UMU); M. Div. Candidate, Evangelical Seminary of West Africa (ESWA), Congotown, Monrovia.