Renowned Liberian scientist and 169th Independence National Orator, Dr. Dougbeh Christopher Nyan, has called on Liberians to be ready to wage war against ignorance, corruption, hatred and poverty, along with many other societal vices.
He noted that, had Liberians known where to vent their anger, the senseless civil crisis that brought along with it massive destruction of the country’s infrastructure and loss of hundreds of thousands of lives would not have taken place.
The energy and dedication and craftiness that Liberians employed in the crisis should have rather been used to wage war on poverty, ignorance, hatred that have engulfed the country from its inception and would have eradicated them—making Liberia a more viable, more prosperous country and better. He stated that the war was misdirected and, unfortunately, brothers started fighting against each other.
Speaking at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion where the official occasion commemorating the day was held, the German-trained Liberian scientist urged Liberians to be ready to fight and win the war against the vices that have hurt the nation.
Dr. Nyan, who as a political and student activist, was expelled from the University of Liberia (UL) and imprisoned during the government of President Samuel K. Doe, said Liberians should dress up in the outfits of sincerity, hard work, unity and patriotism to fight poverty and poverty, ignorance, hatred and divisiveness.
Fighting these negative vices, he said, would yield better results for Liberia and place the country on a better path.
Now that Liberia has peace, Dr. Nyan said, all Liberians must strongly protect it as a precious commodity. “We cannot allow this peace to be threatened by anyone. That is why the Liberian people must unite against individuals who will attempt to start another war in this country. We want no more war. All we want is peace,” he declared.
He noted that if anyone wants to fight, “then fight poverty, fight ignorance – let the pencils be our guns and the papers our bullets; fight diseases – let the syringes be our guns and the solutions be our bullets; fight corruption – let sincerity be our guns and honesty be our bullets; fight against hatred – let love be our guns and peace be our bullets.”
He said Liberians should encourage each other with progressive ideas that would help build the country. “Once again make Liberia the pride of Africa and envy of the world. This is the Liberia we must continue to build,” he said.
Though asked to speak on the topic, “Consolidating Progress Towards Transformation,” Dr. Nyan said, he quickly came to the realization that discussions on the Liberian struggle should not be fixed in this direction, and therefore he rearranged the theme to open up a national dialogue, utilizing a more upgraded topic “Requirements for Consolidating the Progress Towards the Transformation of Liberia.”
“I believe that by this, as a people emerging from a civil war, we will set guidelines and benchmarks, and properly suggest practical approaches for consolidation and transformation to meet the challenges of our time,” he said.
He said for long Liberians had opted for a peaceful and non-violent democratic change of government, until in April 1980 the military intervened and ruled the country for about 10 years.
“Then, in December 1989, a civil war was launched in this country that led to the killing of over a quarter of a million innocent people in Liberia and lasted for about 14 years,” he said.
The scientist from Killepo-Towroken, River Gee County knows, like many Liberians and others around the world, that these events brought no solutions to the many problems that the country and its people faced; rather they created a vicious cycle of bloodshed, agony, despair, destruction of infrastructure and national impediments to our onward advance to progress, he stated.
“The guns have since been silenced, refugees have been returning home, and people have been trying to rebuild their lives. As we can see, this country is on the path to progress, however steady the pace may be now,” he said.
He lauded the government, Liberians and the international community for keeping the peace. “Peace is what we needed. Peace is that we cried for. Peace is what we got when our African brothers and sisters and the international intervened,” he said.
Dr. Nyan indicated that the achievement of peace provides Liberians an opportunity and at the same time imposes upon them the obligation of rebuilding the country’s democracy.
“In the process of raising this country from the ashes of war, we have encountered numerous challenges as a nation. These challenges are not a Unity Party challenge, these are not challenges of the Congress for Democratic Change and these are not challenges for any of the opposition parties alone, but these are challenges for all Liberians to brave and address so as to uphold our institutions and maintain our national existence,” he noted.
Throughout history, Nyan recalled, democratic nations have grown and societies have survived, because they have been able to establish governing institutions and strengthen their administrative structures.
“One way to achieve this is by ensuring mutual respect. The rule of law must supersede individual status in society or position; it must respect the rights of the common man,” he said, adding further that tribalism and ethnic politics must give way to the common national interest and the role of watch-dog groups must now increase.
“Institutions like the press, advocacy groups, and civil society groups are all entities that have critical roles to play in sustaining our democracy. The expression of free will and political demonstration should not take the form of violence or of the destruction of the properties of innocent people and businesses,” he said.
He also spoke of the “very high illiteracy rate” in the country. “As we discuss transforming the Liberian society for a better future, let us look at an important indicator of development, the challenges we face, and how we can mitigate them. One of such challenges in our population is the very high illiteracy rate,” he said.
He quoted a UNESCO 2010 report which showed Liberia with a youth literacy rate of 54.5%, with 64.7% for males and only 44% for females. The adult literacy rate is 47.6% with 62.42% for males and 32.8% for females. “We know that low levels of literacy and education in general can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing technology-driven world,” Dr. Nyan said.
In her Independence Day Message, President Sirleaf said Liberians must adapt a new mindset and attitude as they walk on the path to consolidate progress toward the country’s transformation agenda.
“We must unite and engrain in us a new sense of patriotism. We must develop love for our country, if indeed we intend to consolidate the progress,” she asserted.
The theme of this year’s celebration: ‘Consolidating Progress Towards Transformation’ speaks volumes. “It tells us a nation’s determination and resilience, despite continuous struggle. It confirms the consolidation of existing progress as a foundation for the transformation that all Liberians look forward to,” she added.
Many top government officials, including the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Senator Pro-tempore of the Senate, the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, several members of Cabinet and state enterprises, the doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, religious prelates of both the Christian and Muslim communities and many other prominent Liberians witnessed the occasion.
The ceremony was held in the beautifully decorated Centennial Pavilion, in central Monrovia. Music was provided by the AFL Band, the LNP Band, the Liberian Mass Choir, and by the prominent Liberian soprano, Ms. Georgia M. Quaye.
The National Cultural Troupe gave a thrilling performance, which was tinged by a number of breathtaking acrobatic stunts.