During the visit of African pop/hip-hop icon, Alianue Damala Badara Thiam (alias Akon) and his partners TO (Tikkun Olam), Nachson Mimran and younger brother Arieh Mimran, for the launching of Light to Learn in partnership with Bridge Partnership Schools for Liberia, Akon made it clear to Liberians that it is the people that move a country forward, not the government.
“The government is only there to regulate and there to help manage the people to get what they need and what they want. Communication between people and government is important,” Akon stated during his visit to Ganta, Nimba County.
Akon, the co-founder of Solektra International, who partnered with entrepreneur Samba Bathily and youth leader Thione Niang in an investment to drive growth and employment throughout Africa through public-private partnerships, said the perception that people have of the government is the cause for the lack of growth in society.
“You have to be able to send a message over to government in order for them to know what you need here. Clearly, government doesn’t have time to come in places like this to understand your needs. If you don’t get involved, it makes it hard for them to get you a job, and it makes it very easy for us to blame government for what’s not happening because we are not communicating properly,” he stated.
Many Liberians have over the years stressed their level of disappointment in conditions such as poor road infrastructure, lack of jobs, housing and the lack of a strong interactive relationship between government and the people.
With Akon coming out to encourage Liberians to recognize what it takes to move a country forward, his message was received by hundreds who stood by to listen to him speak over the weekend.
“Liberia is probably one of the strongest countries I ever visited. You survived war, Ebola, hunger and suffering. No one can tell me that the strongest people in Africa are not based right here in Liberia. I know that with this strength, the people have the power to build Liberia to where it needs to be,” he said.
As hundreds screamed to concur with his views, Akon made it very clear that he has a high level of respect and admiration for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf because of her boldness in requesting for help when her country needed it.
“I like the Liberian President because she said ‘listen I need help, we don’t have the resources.’ If most people put their egos aside and think of the people first, things can happen every day, because you’ll be surprised how many millions of diaspora [people] out there that want to do things with Africa, that want to be able to invest in Africa, that want to create an empire right in Africa, but half of the time they don’t know how or where to begin, mainly because the infrastructure is not fully stable and mature enough for people to want to take a chance.
They just need more information and they will come,” he added.
In saying so, Akon in relation to his bringing light to Liberia, realized that development starts with the youth and with education.
“It takes time for it to happen; nothing happens overnight, it can’t happen right away. But if you’re constantly developing, when that one thing starts to happen, everything follows through, and things will continue to keep happening. The people are the ones that have to keep making it happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, Akon has asked that everyone, media outlets and people alike, use communication to relate to the Liberian government what they really need.
“You have to communicate with them because they are the ones with the tools to give you to build your own country. There are only 100 people in office; you expect them to build a whole country with 4 million people? No! The 4 million people have to support them to give you what you need. So the people have to be the ones to build. Africa has to be built by Africans. It’s that simple,” he added.