It took this Christmas and the rapid completion of two paved lanes of the Somalia Drive thoroughfare from the Free Port of Monrovia to Paynesville Red Light for the shortsighted and unpatriotic Somalia Drive dwellers to realize that all the pain and inconvenience during the construction was worth it after all. But who told these Somalia Drive dwellers that anything good comes easily and painlessly? Were any of them born without their mothers enduring great pain?
How did they think Liberia’s founding fathers and mothers, all crowded on the tiny island they later named Providence, managed under the heavy Liberian rains and baking sun until they were able, through the help of the American Colonization Society (ACS), to negotiate land from
King Peter and other traditional leaders before they, the pioneers, could occupy other parts of Cape Mesurado?
And how did the pioneers manage until they were able to build houses to dwell in?
Pain and inconvenience, however, were not the only problems on Somalia Drive. No, these Somalia Drive dwellers, as soon as construction of the four-lane road—a free gift from the Japanese government and people—commenced, started stealing the crushed rocks and other materials which the contractors had hauled to the construction site.
This newspaper has often wondered aloud what kind of
people we Liberians are. The Somalia Drive dwellers clearly put us all to shame by demonstrating repeatedly that they did not want development. Not only did they steal the materials assembled at the construction site, but often refused to clear the way with their markets for the construction workers to do their work. General Mary Broh, the fearless and indefatigable mover, had to proceed there with harsh measures to force them into compliance.
Today, according to our Diplomatic Correspondent Joaquin Sendolo who recently toured the construction site, Somalia Drive dwellers have finally and belatedly seen the light. Two of the four lanes are now beautifully paved and these dwellers who were once totally uncooperative and even guilty of stealing the construction materials, are now smiling at the beauty of the pavement and the smooth and easy transit it provides.
How so highly developed our beleaguered country, Liberia, would have been had most of our national leaders delayed their own enrichment and enjoyment and FOCUSED on the people’s business instead of their narrow, selfish interests.
Alas! Where did all this selfishness, steeped in corruption and neglect of the people’s business, lead? It has all led to continuing abject poverty of the people, their disempowerment that also led to chaos, instability and eventual civil war. It has also led, after 11 years of this post-war government, to Africa’s oldest independent republic being counted as one of the world’s least developed nations.
We are, however, deeply thankful for the peace and stability which we enjoy, that have brought us finally to the most hopeful year, 2017, when we can at last prepare for the election of a new leader and a new government.
One other thing we are deeply thankful for is the freedom of expression which we have enjoyed. On this momentous eve of the forthcoming presidential elections, Liberians must never take for granted this over a decade of free expression, such as we have never had in a very long time. Because of it, because of the open
discussions we have freely had in the media and everywhere else, all of us now know what Liberia’s problems are, what the accomplishments and shortcomings of the current administration have been and, to some extent, how to fix these problems.
We have also seen how the leaders in the Legislative and Executive branches of government have performed and how the common people have rated them. We also have become critical of ourselves and how we allowed ourselves to be fooled by many of our elected leaders.
The terrible advantage here is that we should have learnt and should now be ready to correct the mistakes we made in electing many of them in the first place.
But how ready and how able are we to correct those mistakes remains to be seen.