I could not stop laughing my guts out from what I heard few months ago. As Liberians anxiously trooped their way in huge quantity to play Diversity Visa (DV) nationwide, one of the applicants who is a Liberian, said he would prefer going to America as a SLAVE than to live in his own country. Another citizen said he is willing to walk in the street naked if only he is given an assurance to obtain a US visa. These are the funniest, but most serious and embarrassing remarks I have ever heard since last year. These statements are making me to ponder and wonder about where our country is going. How could anyone stoop so low? I guess besides these men, who have made known their frustrating intentions, many others have similar thoughts. This shows how desperate our people are to detach themselves from poverty. It also means they have had enough and cannot continue to suffer in a small rich country of their own where hardship is eating them up. Anyone can easily predict Liberia’s future judging from present day reality.
How could our people be brought so low? Don’t they deserve to reap a better living condition? Aren’t they human beings? Must they continue to undergo deep destitution even when they live in a nation of abundant natural resources? Were they borne to endure poverty and economic inequality? Or don’t they deserve the socio-economic dividends of the taxes they pay? I really don’t intend to answer these critical questions now, but I shall endeavor to do so after our current fight against Ebola. The collective destiny of our people seems hopeless and to even think about becoming slaves in a foreign land creates a dark cloud over Liberia. Their persistent pursuit of better livelihood remains unrealistic as a small portion of self-seeking extortionists and elitists continues to amass illegal wealth. The primary goal of these imported bureaucrats and opportunists is to keep our people far below the economic ladder and compel them to always be followers. The chain of poor governance must be broken in order to engender democratic sustainability. An equal and just Liberia can no longer be overemphasized!
Ebola would not have overrun us if those we stood in long queues to elect yesteryears were working in our interest. Sadly, this brutal virus has taken advantage of our poor health system by putting an end to several lives. It is unfortunate that we have lost 4,057 persons so far to this destructive disease. This could not have happened if we had patriotic public servants. Regrettably, such is a time when an unforeseen disaster is threatening our mutual existence. Our people must not give up even during this difficult period of uncertainty. The fight against ebola depicts a new era of economic and political transformation. We shall use this situation to decide the fate of those who are playing gamble with our future. No one goes to the Executive Mansion or Legislature without the permission of our people. Therefore, it is important for all of us to rise above Ebola by taking all necessary precautions and disengaging from complacency. I know it may seem difficult for some of you to live by the rules, but please do whatever little you can to stay safe. This national crisis will soon be over!
From what I see and hear every day, most of our people are willing and ready to sell their self-respect in order to untie themselves from long-standing adversity in Liberia. The shackle of poverty has overcome their determination and endurance. As Ebola increases their existing trauma, nothing seems more essential to them right now, other than leaving Liberia to a better destination. No wonder why some of them would prefer going to the United States as SLAVES. This preference is not only painful, but very humiliating. All of these frustrations being expressed by our people simply points to bad governance and lack of public trust. I hope the status quo will shift towards equality and justice for all when we finally defeat ebola. If only we were not depending on our oppressors to ignite economic revival since 1847, Liberia would have been an equal and just society. However, it is never too late to demand inclusive change from a cartel of economic migrants. The power is in our hands to either remain where we are or to advance ourselves.
I want to disabuse the minds of all Liberians who feel that reducing yourself to nothing in order to have an American Visa is an option. Slavery is not a choice. It keeps your mind, body, and soul in chain till death. It should not be an option for any Liberian. You are above it and you must live beyond it. Even though times are hard to an extent our people lack access to minimum basic social services, but this must not be a reason to trade human dignity. Unacceptable and Unthinkable! This nation can rise above its current condition if and only if everyone begins to protect one another’s interest. Liberia can become a better place if no one group of people considers it as an inheritance or family farm. This country can only cultivate tangible developments if the down-trodden masses become up-trodden. Of course, it is their right to have access to good food, safe drinking water, better housing, quality education, improved health care, security, etc. No one, not even those at the helm of national leadership should see this as a privilege.
The outcry of our people has been given deaf ears for too long to an extent that they have been considered ‘noisy minority’. The voices of those who have power to institute a legitimate government as per our constitution sound useless even when the realities are glaring. How could this be? I can imagine the misery our people go through everyday just to survive. They move up and down daily on empty bellies in search of survival. With Ebola creating an extra economic burden on them, their hope for a brighter future is gradually crumbling. Panic and fear have become their closest companions. Self-pity is eating most of our people up, and if we refuse to take appropriate measures to guarantee pubic happiness, generations to come will hold us responsible.
The change we have been yearning for since the very formation of our nation must begin with the fight against Ebola. After this countrywide fight, I am confident that our people shall use every opportunity available to chart a new course. I hope they will make good use of their ballots to protest and take control of their own destiny. The lessons learnt from this current Ebola crisis will be used as a conscious barometer to reshape Liberia and all who live in it. The cradle of African democracy (Liberia) must lead this continent by exceptional examples. This can only be realized if transparency replaces corruption, if merit substitutes nepotism, if patriotism surpasses pretense, if justice overcomes injustice, if economic freedom suppresses political oppression, if equality succeeds inequality! Liberians are potential people with unique attributes, as such; slavery is not an option for anyone of them to prefer.
As we continue to combat Ebola together, I hope no one will use this unfortunate situation to pay his/her mortgage bills in the USA. This is not time to divert public resources to private accounts. We are watching with eagle eyes and we will resist any dishonest attempt to exploit our people’s ignorance this time around.
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist, and a young writer. He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP). His passion is to ensure a new Liberia of socio-economic equality and justice for ALL. He can be reached at: [email protected]