If there were ever a time when we needed hope for the nation of Liberia, it is now. At a time when corruption is so rampant at every level of society; when the economy is as tight as a contraction; when a general air of hopelessness just hangs over the country like a dark and menacing cloud; when survival is the name of the game. We need hope now. We need a vision we can believe in and work towards. The perfect time to deliver such hope was at the marking of Liberia’s 168th Independence Day. And the orator, Ambassador Charles Minor, delivered.
While he dealt at great depth with the entrenched problems facing the nation, he delivered a message of hope that every Liberian can hold on to at this hour in our beloved Liberia.
Minor’s message of hope cut across societal class lines – from the Executive branch to the yanna boy – and covered every facet of the nation – the governance factor, the economic factor, the human resource factor and even the personal development factor.
He envisioned a leadership that is people-focused and not self-centered or graft driven. The former Liberian ambassador to the United States envisioned a Liberia that is self-sustaining. A Liberia that grows its own food in sufficient amounts to consume and export; a Liberia that produces value-added products for its local and export markets. A Liberia whose mindset has changed gear from the idea that the best job is in the office doing practically nothing, to the realization that the best job is one that makes a tangible, positive impact on the development of the nation.
Minor envisioned an educated Liberia that dominates the job market in its own country; a highly developed Liberia as a direct result of a highly educated populace.
What is so powerful about Minor’s vision is that it is home grown – Made in Liberia. Not a one-size-fits-all dream imported from elsewhere and super-imposed on an African nation that can barely walk in it. It is contextualized and custom made to fit our particular needs and environment. It is achievable and absolutely sustainable.
But he even went further to address those who may have fallen between the cracks despite their best efforts and lost hope. Indeed, hopelessness can drive people to the depths of vice; and when the hopeless outnumber the hopeful, as the case may be, that is dangerous for the stability of a nation-state.
The Independence Day orator offered hope to those who, although they would rather work than steal, are nonetheless eking out a living on the margins of society, selling chewing gum and expired biscuits on the streets:
“And to you, strong young men and women, who are walking up and down the streets of our main cities and towns selling chewing gum because you have yet to cultivate the skills to attract a remunerative wage paying jobs, offer to become an apprentice and accept a minimum wage today so that tomorrow, you will have acquired some skills to improve your capacity to obtain a decent job…
“…Poverty need not be in your future. As human beings, we are endowed by our maker with great gifts of self-awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. And our imagination is extremely powerful. It transforms lives, it has sent man to the Moon and today man is planning to vacation in outer space. Our endowments also provide us boundless energy and enthusiasm… They enable us not to be constrained by circumstances. Do not retain the attitude of hopelessness. Knock it off…
“We can work within our circle of influence and, with a sense of personal worth and self-assurance, our inner drive and our creative imagination can catapult us from being street vendors to becoming merchants of Greenville and Barclayville, with our own stores and inventories; from being market woman selling tomatoes grown in Cote d’Ivoire to becoming vegetables and fruits producing farmers…
“I vision car loaders with imagination and vision one day becoming owners of taxi cabs. Achieving those lofty goals, however, depends upon ourselves, not on our Government; achieving such goals depends on our own self-image; our creative imagination, our ability to be transparent and accountable, our willingness to re-pay our loans; and our taking advantage of pivotal opportunities in our lives.”
Ambassador Minor’s vision for a new Liberia should give hope to every Liberian; and every Liberian should take courage, be inspired and join forces to build the developed nation we wish to see in our lifetime.