Must Liberia Always Be at the Receiving End?

4
824

The logic is clear that whenever an individual reaches a stage of maturity, that person takes his or her own responsibility and relate to others in interdependent ways since no man is an island. Interdependence is a reciprocal relation between individuals, entities, groups or nations (American English Dictionary). In instances where a mature individual continues to depend on his or her parents for care and protection, that individual is often described as a carefree, indolent (lazy) and irresponsible person.

The above premise draws us to Liberia’s situation as the oldest independent republic on the African continent still relying on charity to exist. During our national Independence Day celebrations, we Liberians boast with pride, of our country’s long years of existence in Africa. We are proud of the fact that our country has enjoyed long years of independence and inspired colonized African nations to gain independence likewise.

Liberians usually speak with pride of their nation’s endowment with a rich trove of natural resources such as iron ore, diamonds, gold, rainforest and fertile soil that lends to food production.

Alas, this 171 year-old country, endowed with such valuable resources, is yet to secure its footing and space on the global development agenda. Instead Liberia remains entrenched among the most corrupt countries in Africa and one of the least in human and infrastructural development. Worse still, Liberians still rely heavily on food aid from other countries despite the fertile soil and weather conditions characterized by equal periods of abundant sunshine and rainfall.

According to World Development Index report, Liberia is the third poorest country in Africa with an employment rate of 15%, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita $900, and 85% of the population living below $1.00 a day.
The United Nations Human Development report puts Liberia in sixth place among the world’s poorest countries; yet the country has all the natural and mineral resources that other similarly poor countries do not have.

Shamelessly, the Liberian Government boasts of signing a US$2.7 million food assistance agreement with Japan, a country that is poorly endowed with natural resources and which is faced with deadly environmental challenges and has a population of 127,103,522 people. According to a release from the Liberian Foreign Ministry, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said the Government of Japan will provide the $2.7 million worth of rice to Liberia to be sold at a minimum cost in an effort to alleviate hunger in the country.

This is not the first time Japan has provided food assistance to Liberia. During the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration, Japan rendered similar gestures to Liberia by providing the Ministry of Agriculture some seed rice to boost rice production.

Whether or not the intended goal of self-sufficiency was accomplished under the Florence Chenoweth Administration at the Ministry of Agriculture is another story.

There was also a time that the Government of Japan provided petroleum products to be sold to enhance food security efforts. The Japanese Government is currently carrying on a US$100 million road project on the Somalia Drive Road, while at the same time it is providing grants to non-governmental organizations headed by Liberians to implement agricultural projects.

Interdependence, as emphasized earlier, implies exchanging assistance between and among partners in times of need, but Liberia as an independent state has continued to always be at the receiving end. Japan, which provided $2.7 million food assistance few days ago, recently faced a disastrous earthquake last month wherein a lot of Japanese lost their lives and homes.

What did Liberia contribute to address the humanitarian crisis its bilateral partner faced?

We thought to flag this situation to remind our government that, instead of being a perennial recipient of donor largesse, we should strive towards self-sufficiency in food production to give others also. It is quite dishonorable for a country that has turned 171 years to depend on others for almost everything. Our government, the key decision maker in this country, must realize that relying on charity is self-enslavement and granting of its own blessings to others. This reminds us of the philosopher who said “Charity, if you have the means, is a personal choice, but charity which is expected or compelled is simply a polite word for slavery.”

There are countries in Africa that are relying on tourism, culture, fisheries and arts to generate income to support their economies. South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda are some countries generating income from tourism on the continent. The natural geographical features and wildlife that those countries have, Liberia possesses in even more bespoke fashion. Unlike most of these mentioned countries which are faced with challenges such as drought, floods and poor soils, Liberia has adequate sunshine and rainfall and good soil conditions that serve to enhance food production. Why do we still find pleasure in receiving charity without producing to give to others?

Let our government begin now to support local farmers by providing them loans, improve seeds and tools and extension services to provide expert advice to local farmers in a bid to encourage citizens to prioritize locally produced food.

In this way, we will be helping to lift your citizens out of poverty, making Liberia self-sufficient in food production and capacitating ourselves to be a giver and not always a receiver.

There is a wise saying that goes “Blessed is the hand that giveth than the hand that receiveth.” Being always at the receiving end is a reproach; therefore, our leaders should do all they can to ensure that Liberia graduates from reliance on charity.

Authors

4 COMMENTS

  1. Your editorial, “Must Liberia Always Be at the Receiving End?” has been reverberating for the past 171 years without a viable solution.

    Liberia’s lack of development is multi-dimensional and systematic. Liberia past failures for lack of development before the military revolution of April 12, 1980, that toppled the TWP government was greatly dictated by existential forces.

    In retrospect, Liberia was never colonized by any foreign power which colonized and developed many African Countries during the colonial era. However, Liberia’s lack of development during that era was greatly due to geopolitics which was mainly dictated by both external and internal political factors of the time.

    During the cold war, there was a great divide between political philosophies of the East (Communism/Socialism) vs the West (Capitalism) that created a push-pull dichotomy for the fight for Africa’s vast mineral resources in which Liberia’s capitalistic system became the victim of U. S exploitation without development in the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s.

    Liberia, the so-called Step-Child of United States, during Africa colonial era, served as a major hub (repository) for supplying raw material to develop the fast growing steel and car manufacturing industries of the West…..particularly the United States….without just compensation and U.S. lackadaisical attitude toward economic development to Liberia in return.

    During the Cold War, as long as Liberia continued to supply the United States with its needed raw material, and Liberia did not turn towards the political ideology of communism, the United States continued to turn a blind eye on the 27 years of Tubman’s tyrannical rule, and also turned a blind eye on Liberia’s oppressive one party system (TWP) that profited vastly from selling Liberia’s raw material to the United States and the West without developing Liberia’s infrastructure and economy.

    During the Cold War, Liberia’s lack of development could have been dealt with if the United States had intervened by placing economic sanctions on Tubman’s Administration to force him and his TWP leadership to allow multiparty system and provide equal opportunities for all Liberians in the form of economic development:quality education, and eradication of poverty in Liberia.

    Fast forward, after The April 12, 1980 revolution and after the Cold War, Liberia was left to fend on its own…… the military government of the PRC had an opportunity to unite the country and bring about equal opportunities for all Liberians regardless of tribe, religion or political affiliation.

    On the contrary, during the Military Regime, tribalism flourished; nepotism flourished; summary execution of political opponents flourished; freedoms of speech, freedom to assembly were all suppressed. The rule of dictatorship became the norm that led to a lasting 14 years of mayhem and destruction of the little infrastructure Liberia had.

    With chaos and break-down in law and order, poor leadership was dominated by various war lords. Liberia’s wealth became a free-for all. The fight for Power became no longer to serve the people of Liberia; power became a means or the norm for self-enrichment and personal aggrandizement that destabilized an already fragile economy.

    Today, Political tribalism and self-interest have become the norm that are destroying Liberia’s economic development coupled with entrenched corruption and the ineffectiveness of the three branches of government to function mutually but separately.

    Sanity needs to return in the fabric of Liberian society to bring about economic development: it’s imperative for this current leadership to find a cure to Liberia’s contagious disease of aid dependency, coupled with declaring war on corruption….for Liberia to prosper.

    To accomplish such monumental task, Liberia needs a strong leader like Jerry Rawlings or the current president of Tanzania, John J. Magufuli, who barred government officials from unnecessary foreign travels; who purchased cheaper gov’t vehicles; who reduced his cabinet staff, and used his country 2015 Independence Day for national clean-up.

    Liberia needs a strong will leader free from corruption: a good leader with moral character; God fearing; patriotic; a unifier; a visionary; a diplomat; a humble leader that surrounds himself with skilled technocrats…regardless of party affiliation: people with economic development skills and people who will promote peaceful co-existence in Liberia.

    For the love of our country, it’s time for all Liberians to roll up their sleeves and start rebuilding Liberia in whatever capacity they can. Liberians should learn from the past mistakes of how Liberia was exploited and left totally undeveloped during the Cold War Era.

    Mr. Editor, yes indeed, bilateral cooperation should be reciprocal! However, it is so sad that in today’s Liberia politicians practice the inverse of your wise saying, “Blessed is the pocket that receiveth than the pocket that giveth.”

    • It is not Just Liberians but a now African mentality that we can levitate ourselves out of poverty by receiving aids from western economic powers. This is not only preposterous but it is a misguided believe. History has taught us time and time again that in order for a nation to experience development and advancement, it must realize and recognize its potential and resources. Then it must take drastic steps in harnessing its own potential and resources to lay a foundation that they must then start to build off of.

      It is true Liberia was not colonized but Liberia is in fact a colony, a colony of the United States of America. You seem to think that it would have been better for Liberia if it was colonized like other African nations then the colonizer would have built and made it better. I would like to know concisely which African nations you think were colonized and made better by the colonizer unto this day.

      As I have stated, Liberia is a colony of the United States of America. The government in operation in Liberia is what I would like to call a proxy government. And the so called politicians of Liberia are simply puppets and America is the puppeteer. Any president who comes in power in Liberia must allow control from the puppeteer or simply be eliminated. And you have witnessed this through the famous coup of 1980 and the uprising of 1989 that led to the eventual assassination of president Doe. Also if you look at the Liberian history, you will come to realize that all the early presidents from Joseph J. Robert to Garretson W. Gibson, they were all born in America (Americans) and Arthur Barclay who was born in a British territory in the Caribbean. The early presidents of Liberia were mere psychological prisoners working on behave of the United States of America. They unconsciously participated in the successful establishment of an American colony in West Africa that now serves as a mineral exploitation post and playground of America’s spy networks on the African continent. As the Bible would put it “now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made”. Our forefathers cannot be blamed and the fact remains that they did not see this coming themselves. In their hunger to rid themselves of the control of their enslavers, they quickly agreed to settle somewhere else, a proposal that was put forth by the enslaver themselves. As Martin Luther King stated “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”. So I say you must never take advice from your oppressor no matter how promising it sounds, you must produce your own ideas.

      As PLO Lumumba would say, we must decolonize our minds. There’s an idiomatic expression that says a square peg in a round hole will not fit. A western culture and philosophy in the minds of African will not fit in the continent of Africa. It is now high time that we start to face the elephant in the room, oh yes, there’s a big elephant in the room. Young Africans must be taught proper education that goes with their culture because the current educational system is nothing but a sociological and psychological recolonization of the African continent. And it is the further dissemination of white supremacy on the young African minds. This has created one of the major dilemmas of the African society today. The constant fixation and admiration of western culture and advancement to the point we have forgotten the potential that is within us to do greater things. May I remind you that our progenitors were the ones who lay the foundation that the western powers are now making their boast of? But until we wake up and realize who we are and stop the admiration and imitation of the west, we’ll forever live in their shadows.

  2. Most Liberians seem to suffer from one kind of myopia to another.

    How have these so called analysts attempt to quantify the recent cut of artisinal fishing zone off the coasts of Liberia by 50%?

    Do you know how much Billions of dollars is lost in Tuna and other fish products exploited by the Commercial Ships of Japan?

    When the leadership of Sirleaf opted to sellout millions of dollars of fish stocks instead of investing in a cannery for Markrel, Sardines, and Tuna fish some of you were myopic into thinking that manufacturing of finished fish products would not have earned Liberia Billions of dollars on a sustainable basis.

    Think Twice!

    Revist your policies!!

  3. This editorial comes much too late. It should have been addressed twelve years ago to Ellen Sirleaf, the so-called Harvard graduate, Nobel laureate, former Finance Minister of Liberia etc. By the way, she should have been tried and imprisoned by now for blatantly squandering and embezzling Liberia’s financial and natural resources during the course of her failed administration.

    Unfortunately, it seems Weah, being uneducated and inexperienced, has decided to run his own presidency from the Sirleaf playbook – traveling up and down, begging everybody for scraps, robbing the Central Bank, etc.) Liberians absolutely do not need a Sirleaf third term. Let Weah just resign, account for the L$16B and the $25M, and allow the Liberian people find new a few honest, patriot citizens they can elect and entrust with the leadership and development of their country.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here