It has been 167 years since Liberia gained her independence through the help of the American Colonization Society. This independence was greeted by recognitions from some powerful nations such as Great Britain, Germany, France and lately America, etc. Historically, this was the first independence of an African nation on the African continent. This paved the way and gave most African countries under colonial rule years the hope one day to be “free” as Liberia. As a leader of African independence, Liberia played a pivotal role in propagating the message regarding the importance of the independence of other African countries. As a new freed State, Liberia was confronted with a number of issues.
Among them were the organization of a well-structured government, friendly co-existence with nations near and afar, infrastructure and economic development, etc. Not soon after independence that the first government was organized and J. J. Roberts became the first president of the newly created state. As president, J. J. Roberts was faced with the challenges of recognitions from European States, the purchase of land from indigenous Liberians to expand Liberia’s coastal line, the establishment of an institution of higher learning, etc. His Regime was able to gain those recognitions from European powers and he was also successful in expanding Liberia’s coastal line to more than 600 miles and established the Liberia College, now known as the University of Liberia. But his biggest achievement was the annexation of Maryland Country to become a part of Liberia in 1857.
This, however, came after Roberts’ term left the presidency. But he played a key role in the annexation of Maryland. It was he whom President Steven Allen Benson dispatched to Maryland, which was then an independent state, to settle disputes between the settler and indigenous Marylanders. It was following that intervention that the State of Maryland in Africa decided to join the Republic of Liberia as its fifth county, thus becoming Maryland County.
After several years of good leadership, the J. J. Roberts regime ended and many other leaders emerged to lead the Liberian Republic. Among them was William V. S. Tubman, a lawyer and Methodist layman, who took over the leadership of the State in 1944. The father of modern Liberia, as he was referred to by many, was successful in establishing the Iron ore industry in Bomi Hill, the construction of the Freeport of Monrovia, expanding the Liberia college into the University of Liberia, the construction of the Capitol Building, the construction of the hydroelectric plant along the St. Paul River, the shipping registry and the construction of institutions to train teachers throughout the country, etc. His works were not only centered around basic social services, but he also encouraged migrants from America, the West Indies, Britain, etc. to migrate to Liberia. He also gave women the right to vote in the country. After the legacies of these great leaders, the stage was handed over to the new generation along with their footprints.
Like Ghana, Kenya, Guinea, etc. the footprints of their nationals heroes were improved on in order to suit modern realities in the interest of the present population.
Footprints that were left behind by Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana were polished by Jerry Rawlings and other Ghanaian leaders to the benefit of the country.
In the case of Liberia, we find the opposite. The footprints of our ancestors have been destroyed and so-called aggrieved politicians, using the destruction of these footprints as their campaign messages to criticize the good works of these leaders, not knowing that they are the ones who helped to destroyed the ancestors’ footprints. Whenever they appear at political gatherings, in order to win the minds of our people, they would criticize these footprints which they have not in any way helped to polish or improve upon.
Their criticisms have gone down to the lowest man in the society, to the point that the efforts of our national heroes have become a mockery at entertainment centers, schools, public gatherings, etc. by common people in the society.
The evidence of the destruction of our ancestors footprints is demonstrated by one taking a quiet walk at the hydroelectric plant along the St. Paul River, Bong Mining Company, Roberts International Airport, The Executive Mansion, Capitol Building, the Unity Conference Center constructed in 1979 to host the O.A.U. conference outside Monrovia, etc. all of which lie in ruins today, due to our refusal to polish or preserved them for the general good of our nation. With all of our criticisms, we have not even been able to maintain the common peace, both internally and externally that our ancestors established before they left the state with us.
We, as the new generation, are steering the affairs of the state and are still using these dilapidated footprints to amuse and entertain ourselves. My question is, in the wake of all the criticisms, WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO POLISH OUR ANCESTORS FOOTPRINTS?
About the author
Alexander B. Gbartea is presently a student at the IBB studying International Relations and serves as Financial Comptroller at Nexium Petroleum Limited.