2017, the year of general and presidential elections in Liberia, will mark two centuries since the establishment of the American Colonization Society which founded Liberia in 1821. Because the Unification and Integration policies pursued most notably by William V S Tubman, Liberia’s eighteenth President, still remain indispensable for peace, security and prosperity in Liberia, the ensuing elections present an historic opportunity for Africa’s oldest republic to finally realize the ideals for which it was founded: African independence, unity, dignity, peace and prosperity.
The goal of Liberia’s founders was to create a great, free, black African sovereign nation. But because they refused to integrate Africa’s culture and people into the new nation from the beginning, they failed to achieve their intended objectives. Consequently, the establishment of the envisioned powerful black nation that excluded the indigenous people was fortunately stunted. Nevertheless, their efforts spearheaded Africa’s march to independence and unity. At the same time, left behind in America were the majority of the transported Africans, whose continued suffering and mistreatment stemming from racism empowered them to make more perfect America’s founding documents, thereby transforming the United States into the world’s most powerful Democracy and indispensable nation!
Endowed with a profusion of resources, itself a macrocosm of the rich African continent, Liberia’s challenge from its birth till today has been to develop and share its vast riches equitably among all Liberians, especially the majority. Thus, historically the country’s most prosperous and peaceful periods coincided with the more intense and focused effort by its rulers to realize national unification and integration, while by all possible means necessary developing the country.
For some Liberians, the resulting progress was too slow and never enough; therefore, seeking to accelerate development and bring about transformational change, they provoked clashes and civil war; uprooting and scattering inside the country and abroad almost the entire population. Properties worth billions of dollars were destroyed and citizens in the hundreds of thousands slaughtered; throwing the country back generations!
Thus, the bicentennial elections of 2017 afford Liberia the opportunity for a fresh start. In this, Liberians must return to the tenets of Unification and Integration where the ideals of one common Liberian family, with the well-being, security and proper education of all members of the society; especially the young, must become again the indispensable social contract between government and people! The issues of impunity, war and economic crimes must be resolved, if justice is to prevail, especially because Liberians will be all the better for it and their country will otherwise not be able to move forward!
Due to the auspiciousness of the 2017 political campaigns, Liberians must reset the political trajectory of their country, given that it has yet to measure up to the ambitious hopes that sparked its founding. Political parties must therefore go beyond brandishing glittering material gifts and promises. Instead politicians must provide a new vision and plan for job creation, prosperity and economic growth with development. In other words, they must teach Liberians to fish, thus making them self sufficient for the long haul rather than rendering them dependent on the government and others including outsiders for daily sustenance.
Given their almost two centuries long history of political interactions, Liberians know one another very well; whom to trust and whose word is as good as their bond. Reliance on this kind of experience- based trust is a better way for the electorates to go rather than allowing themselves to be bought by politicians boasting of what they have done or will do, since the selling of votes is detrimental to democracy.
Winston Churchill famously said: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Even so, Democracy is not self executing but requires the input of the people through the electoral process. One could engage as an individual but, by grouping together in political parties individually or in alliances, the people can act in unison and thereby realize what the Liberian national anthem asserts: “in union strong success is sure!” This is why pursuing the policy of Unification and Integration through as many political parties as possible in 2017 is the best point of departure or course of action in Liberian politics today, especially because it is a work already in progress and which must continue until racial discrimination and all other forms of segregation have no place in Liberian law and life.