Following a thorough analysis from pages of Liberia’s historical accounts, the president of the Roman Catholic-run Stella Maris Polytechnic, Sister Mary Laurene Browne, has observed that all Liberians are of “Negro Decent.”
“As we embark upon reassessing our national symbols, as we look for unity in all of them, let us remember that times of arrival here were ordained by Providence and these in no way make one group superior to the other or lay claim more to Liberia than another,” she said.
By that revelation, the renowned Catholic Sister urged Liberians, irrespective of status, to embrace one another by being honest to forge in humility a nation that is destined for all.
Sister Laurene’s comments were contained in a speech she delivered recently at a one-day symposium on Liberia’s symbols and national awards.
The event was hosted at the Paynesville Town Hall, outside Monrovia ,on the theme, “Reviewing Liberia’s National Symbols to Renew National Identity.”
She said a nation is a people united by a common language, by ancestry, by history, by culture and by common symbols. The key word, she noted, is ‘united’ not ‘uniform’ for there is a difference. The latter, uniform, according to her, affects the physical appearance; united refers to the condition of the heart and of the mind.
By that, Sister Laurene wondered as to whether Liberians have a common language, heard across the length and breadth of this land and spoken by 90 percent of the populace.
As for the flag, she said, it is the most visible symbol that is display at home and abroad, fluttering in the breeze and bearing a striking resemblance to that the USA. “But,” she quickly added, it is not the only national flag to fall in that category as flags of other countries resemble each others,’ such as the flags of Guinea and Mali, La Cote d’Ivoire and Ireland, etc.
According to the Catholic Sister, the call for unity has become necessary and therefore, Liberians must undertake the task “individually and collectively” to understand their proper nationality.
However, she said, arrivals in this part of God’s vineyard happened at various intervals as wars, famine and adventure caused future Liberians to leave the Sudan, the Congo Basin, and the Malian Empire and occupy a land which they would call their own.
“Later,” she said, “they were joined by those whose only connection to mother Africa was perhaps their Negroid features.”
According to Catholic Sister, centuries before, their forefathers had been forcibly removed from the mother continent with the knowledge and full participation of fellow Africans, tribesmen, even kinsmen for the adage says, “if the house doesn’t sell you the street will not buy you.” If blood had been thicker than money or power, or jealously or envy, perhaps the history of Liberia’s coming into existence would read differently.”
On the other hand, she recalled that the settlers came from the United States of American to make a home for themselves and to Christianize the earlier settlers.
“Would that the greeting had been the best of African tradition–the warm embrace of brothers, sisters come home. The tahtoe! Again Liberia’s history would have been different. The skin color was the same in essence, but the mindsets were different. So we are where we are today looking to understand, and to feel what should bind Liberians beyond a name and a government,” she declared.
The daylong symposium was the first major activity that brought people together to discuss the essence of the national awards project—the symbols and the possibilities for making a few important improvements where necessary.
Among those in attendance were Liberians from all walks of life, women groups, academia and the media.
The symposium set the stage for a close and critical look at Liberia’s national symbols and awards. It was held with the objective to provide a forum for Liberians from all segments of the society and those in the Diaspora as well as the country’s international partners come together to understand and appreciate the need for a review of our national symbols as derived from the national vision exercise and the roadmap for national reconciliation.
The symposium was also designed to establish the opportunity for a Broader National Conversation; to encourage international partners to join the review process even as Liberians draw upon international best practices and experiences of other countries with situations similar to Liberia; and to use findings from in the formulation of our Civic Education and subsequent National Consultation activities.
The symposium coincided with the launch of Information Booklet on the National Symbols Review Project.
The purpose of the information booklet is to set forth for Liberians what national symbols are, and what the National Symbols Review Project (NSRP) is. For example, the National Flag, the Seal, The Anthem, and the various National Awards constitute the core of the country’s national symbols.