Organizers of the upcoming national symposium on Liberia’s symbols and national awards have selected renowned Catholic Sister Mary Laurene Browne to deliver the keynote address.
The event is scheduled for Friday, June 6, 2014 at the Paynesville Town Hall, outside Monrovia.
The Friday symposium is the first activity aimed at bringing people together to discuss the essence of the national awards project—the symbols and the possibilities for review.
The symposium will be held on the theme, “Reviewing Liberia’s National Symbols to Renew National Identity,” and is expected to bring together Liberians from all walks of life including, women groups, the media, academia and others.
Other speakers will include the South African Ambassador to Liberia, Masilo E. Mabeta, Liberia’s Ambassador to Senegal, Brahima Kaba as well as the chairperson of the History Department at the University of Liberia, Dr. William E. Allen, and former Associate Justice and current chairperson of the International Human Rights Commission, Cllr. Gladys Johnson.
The one-day symposium, according to a statement, will set the stage for the review of Liberia’s national symbols and awards.
Since the 1970’s, Liberians have been calling for changes in the national symbols and awards to reflect the historical realities of the citizenry.
It has been argued that the current symbols and awards do not represent the cultural breadth and historical depth of Liberians.
In 1974, President William R. Tolbert Jr., through an Act of Legislature, established a commission to review the Liberian Constitution, national symbols, motto and anthem. The commission was headed by the then Minister of Postal Affairs, Mckinley Deshield and 50 other representatives from the existing counties. The commission concluded that Liberians did not need major changes in the symbols, but suggested changes in the motto and wordings of the seal, which were never done up to present.
The report on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), referred to some national symbols as divisive and indicated they were partly responsible for the conflict in the country. The TRC-sponsored National Conference, in its Declaration, recommended among other things, a review of the national symbols and awards.
Liberia’s 15-year development plan, the “Agenda for Transformation and the broader National Vision 2030 Initiative also recommend in their lists of priorities on peace and reconciliation sector interventions, “The establishment of a forum of Liberians of diverse backgrounds to discuss issues of national history, symbols and identity and reconciliation.”
In reaction to this, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on February 6 this year launched a National Symbol Review Project under the statutory authority of the Governance Commission with Dr. D. Elwood Dunn as the Project Coordinator.