President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has constituted the membership of the Advisory Board of the National Symbol Review Project (NSRP). The board would advise the NSRP’s secretariat on how to proceed with consultation processes that would lead to a final decision as to whether the symbols should be changed or not.
The NSRP project is meant to review and put in perspective for acceptance by every Liberian, all of the nation’s symbols, including its Flag, Coat-of-Arms, Seal, Anthem, and its National Awards that—whether they are aware of it or not—have, up to this point only represented no more than a small segment of the entire society. The project is organized as a semi-autonomous initiative of the government under the auspices of the Governance Commission.
The Advisory Board, according to the Executive Mansion, will be responsible for, among other things; exercising oversight functions of the project’s program implementation agenda, including civic education, national consultation and artistic design of newly proposed symbols as well as monitor and evaluate the program areas.
Members of the Board would also serve as resource persons in coordinating program activities in the political sub-divisions or organizations which they represent. They would advise the team of experts on program implementation schemes more suitable to the county or region they represent; assist in marketing and publicity of the project in their county or region of representation; approve project final work product as such product is submitted to the Executive and Legislative Branches of Government, among others.
While appointing members of the Board, President Sirleaf described their selection as a call to national duty, and not a salary position. She pointed out that when travels are made on account of the project, a modest amount to cover expenses would be made available.
The Advisory Board for the National Symbol Review Project, which comprises representatives of all counties and other civil society sectors as follows, was constituted on Monday March 31.
Members of the board along with their areas of representation are as follows: Dr. Fineboy Dakina, Bomi County; Mr. Joseph N. Konomia, Bong County; Ms. Maima Cortee Sarnor, Gbarpolu County, Rev. Dr. John G. Innis, Grand Bassa County, Ms. Miatta Fahnbulleh, Grand Cape Mount County.
Other are, Gbai M. Gbala, Grand Gedeh County; Roselind Sneh, Grand Kru County; Cllr. Norwu Cooper, Lofa County; Madam Elizabeth Fallah, Margibi County; Sister Mary Laurene Brown, Maryland County; Amb. Wesley Johnson, Montserrado County; Dr. Joseph Saye Guannu, Nimba County; Mrs. Vickie Beah, Rivercess County; Cllr. Dempster Brown, Rivergee County; Mrs. Ciah Bush, Sinoe County.
A single representative from each of the following Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are also members of the board: The Liberia National Student Union (LINSU), Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) and the Liberian-Ghana Diaspora Community.
This critical look at the national self, the process of reviewing the national symbols, participants were told at the launch of the NSRP by President Sirleaf on February 6, 2014, is intended to encourage Liberians to clarify for themselves why they call themselves Liberians, and what national self-image they wish to project to the world.
She reminded the audience that during the rigorous nationwide consultations for the Vision 2030 launch, the issues of the national symbols were highlighted by several participants and it is now imperative (a must) that the symbols be reviewed in order to make sure that they tell Liberians’ collective stories to themselves and the world.
The Liberian leader noted that the revision of the symbols is a serious business because it has several political and financial implications, and as such, should be treated with urgency and commitment by all stakeholders.
The Coordinator of the NSRP, Dr. Elwood Dunn, said at the launch that the present generation of Liberians knows less than their parents about the country’s history and founding ideals.
According to him, “Many Liberians are more aware of what divides us than what unites us. We are in danger of becoming not “one nation indivisible” as our Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag says, but its opposite, ‘many nations’ lacking a central core, a unifying ideal.”
He said the one of the many purposes of the symbols review is to advance a national conversation precisely on the subject of Liberia’s national identity, and to affirm the belief that “what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”
He said a sense of national identity is necessary to enable individual Liberians transcend self or ethnic group absorption and commit to the common good. “Without it, Liberia can neither reconcile nor can it genuinely pursue the goals of Vision 2030.”