– Author tells Diaspora Liberians
A Liberian author and motivational speaker has told hundreds of Diaspora Liberians in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the United States, that they cannot continue to remain spectators in the efforts to rebuild the country. Mr. Saye Z. B. Zonen, speaking on the theme, “The Audacity to Act – claiming the spirit of independence,” at a special program commemorating the 170th Independence of Liberia, said “We cannot be coaches without credentials. We can’t sit on the sidelines and yell instructions to incompetent people. We must either prepare ourselves to participate in the game or offer encouragement to those who will play. Anything shy of total involvement will dictate what history will say about us.”
Mr. Zonen, author of “Finding My Frequency: Why and How I Paused in My Upward Mobility and Embraced Austerity,” that encourages ways to overcome insurmountable problems, said history will judge those who are passive in the reconstruction of Liberia. “Our children’s children will question our existence, and God almighty will demand of us our talents if we do not act,” he said. He recounted Liberia’s fruitless journey as a nation filled with poverty and lack of development, and told his countrymen and women who have been living in the United States for so long that “Since action is our singular option, let me encourage you to embrace the audacity to act.” Zonen told them that if change must come to Liberia, “the best action necessary to bring it is the action of separating ourselves from the borrowed comforts that weaken us. We must do the work that empowers us. Time is never an ally. The dogmas of old that have crippled us must be abandoned.”
Since the majority of his listeners have been away from Liberia for so long, he said, “We cannot yearn for the glorious days of old, speak of how good and serene things used to be, or wallow in anger of how our previous actions have led us to despair. Blame will keep us buried. The successes of yesterday cannot take us into tomorrow.” Zonen said every Liberian should let the past be the country’s future and pointed out that they should forge a new offense and begin the climb, because “the ways of our forefathers cannot take us into the future. The work required for the change we need cannot be passed down to the next generation. We must do our part. We must act!”
He expressed opposition to the events that took 14 precious years from the country, because of the civil war and said events in Liberia are similar to what led American President Abraham Lincoln to write to the US Congress in 1862, saying: “The dogmas of our quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulties. We must rise to the occasion. As our case is new, we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.” Zonen said the work of saving Liberia requires boldness in “our actions and it demands our participation. We cannot detach ourselves from the work required and expect the country to function. We cannot desire change in Liberia and wish it from afar. We must ALL get involved at whatever level we are qualified.” He made it clear that Liberians are “an incredulous people, a skeptical people, a people lacking courage; our first order of business must be to summon the spirit of bravery.” Zonen reminded his audience that there can be no true independence without a definite intention or deliberate objective. “Without the spirit of freedom bubbling in us, we will never act on our convictions. It is that thirsty spirit that gives life to the audacity required moving beyond our complacency, which is our fear.”
Amid cheers from the audience, Zonen said the spirit of independence is hard work, commitment, absolute resolution, and courage. Finally, for those in the Diaspora, Zonen told them their audacity to act must be predicated on their ability to return their borrowed comfort and embrace the hard work required to build for themselves the nation they fancy. “We all cannot make the transition at once,” he said, “but we must identify and support the individuals who are on the frontline.”
Saye Zonen was born in Sanniquellie City, Nimba County and, during the civil-war, sought refuge in Danané, La Cote d’Ivoire and was later resettled in Johnson City, Tennessee, United States. He later moved to Providence, Rhode Island where he completed his undergraduate studies in Electronics Engineering Technology and spent 6 years with Intel Corporation, and a subsequent 5 years with GE Healthcare. He recently returned to Liberia. He is husband to Waade and a father to Wonwyne, Bryce, Sayeta, and Eustand.