The Loan Star at 171: What Have We to Show for It?

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Since Flag Day is upon us, tomorrow, August 24, we will answer this question quickly: We truly may not have too much to show in terms of economic, social and industrial development, but we have one tangible thing to show.

It is that we, Liberia, were the beacon of light and hope in Africa because it was, according to Edwin Barclay, from “Montserrado’s verdant (green) height” that FREEDOM rose its “glowing form” in Africa.

Remember how Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, standing before hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians at Independence Square in Accra on that joyous day, March 6, 1957, shouted as he ended his first Independence Day Address, “FREEDOM!”

For this reason, 19-year-old Edwin Barclay, one of Africa’s early geniuses, could well have written, “When Freedom raised her glowing form,” not from “Montserrado’s,” but from Mother Africa’s “verdant heights, set within the dome of night, Midst lowering skies and thunderstorms, The star of Liberty!”

For at that point in time, July 26, 1847, the continent of Africa was distinctly dark and green, covered with rich, thick, vast forests, verdant (green) indeed.

Remember, too, that in that great anthem, by any standard a poetic and musical masterpiece, all composed by 19-year-old Edwin Barclay himself, he wrote in stanza II, that the unfurled Lone Star “proclaimed to an expectant world, The birth, for Africa’s sons and sires, The birth of Liberty!”

Kwame Nkrumah made his triumphant shout, “FREEDOM,” not just for Ghana, but for Mother Africa he so dearly loved and wanted to see UNITED, for he rightly believed that in unity there is strength.

Thus Ghana ignited the light of Freedom in Africa’s post-colonial period on that hot day in March, 1957. Three years later, a series of African nations began declaring their independence. These included Somalia, July 1, 1960, Senegal, August 2, 1960, Burkina Faso, August 5, 1960, Ivory Coast, August 7, 1960, Togo, August 27, 1960, and Nigeria, October 1, 1960.

Today we can proudly say that Liberia’s 19th President, William V.S. Tubman, patriotically and passionately raised his hand of welcome to Ghana and all other African nations coming into independence, by declaring each Independence Day a national holiday in Liberia.

Remember, too, that Liberia was the first African nation to welcome Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana on an official visit in 1951. In 1958 President Tubman was the only African Head of State that attended the first Conference of African States, convened by Prime Minister Nkrumah in Accra, Ghana. There, the President was accompanied by his two erudite diplomats, Secretary of State J. Rudolph Grimes and T. Ernest Eastman, Director of the Afro-Asian Bureau. We should also remember that the following year, 1959, President Tubman convened the Sanniquellie Conference attended by President Sekou Touré of Guinea and Prime Minister Kwame of Ghana of Ghana to lay the groundwork for African Unity.

That meeting was followed by the Monrovia Conference (1961) and the Lagos Conference (1962), leading to the momentous Addis Ababa Conference, May 1963, where the Charter of the Organization of African Unity, based on the Liberian Draft, was signed, creating the Organization of African Unity (OAU-now African Union-AU).

We recall that when Liberia declared her independence in July 1847, most of Africa was still not colonized. But slowly, the light of modern civilization dawned. But unfortunately, those who helped bring that light, the Europeans, were selfish, raping the continent of its vast resources, most especially its minerals and forests. That is how much of Central and Northern Africa became the Sahel, with their forests ravaged by Western imperialists, precipitating the rapid advance of the Sahara Desert.

Next came the Cold War that followed World War II, when the brutal struggle for power between the world’s two super powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, that halted or delayed Africa’s development.

In the case of Liberia, however, we can say with certainty that we delayed our own development by corruption, greed and shortsightedness. As early as the mid-1940s we discovered iron ore, and more of it in the late 1950s; while as early as 1926 it was learned that Liberia was a great place to grow rubber. Unfortunately, we allowed Harvey Firestone to shortcut or delay our industrialization, by shipping all of the rubber to America and Europe to make tires and other products, which they sold back to us at exorbitant prices. Meanwhile, Tubman’s absolute rule denied freedom of speech and of the press; so all Liberians could do was to praise Tubman and totally all the missed opportunities.

So here we are today, at the bottom of the economic, social and industrial development ladder. And despite the more missed opportunities of the past 12 years under Africa’s first woman President and all the international goodwill that could have caused Liberia to bounce back from a terrible war, we strongly believe that all is not lost.

President George Weah, even in this pro-poor environment, has an opportunity, with focus and resolve, to move Liberia forward. We still have the abundant resources—gold, diamond, iron ore, massive acreage of fertile land, great waterways and rainfall, plus rubber.

As President Weah and his team prepare to visit China this weekend, he must know that this great Asian country is able to assist us in many, many ways, towards agricultural development, industrialization, manufacturing, roads and railway systems.

We pray that President Weah and his team will make the best use of this visit to lift and advance our long suffering country and that all our people will seriously join him in this noble and long overdue endeavor.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Many Presidents before Weah tried very hard to get assistance from elsewhere but didn’t work because of America. America uses its power to suppress independent nations. Liberia is no exception. America has thwarted our development growth, even though, corruption plays its part.

    • I disagree that America suppressed Liberia’s development. You are making an excuse for our failures. Liberia is underdeveloped because the Liberian government is too corrupt. No amount of money in the world could develop a country where there is no accountability. Until we decide to change our corrupt ways, that country will forever remain backwards.

  2. Today is our National Flag Day in Liberia. I read in the head line, that “The Lone Star is 171 years old, what can we show of it”? Well, it’s is a good question. If our past governments were undertaking research and developmental projects to improve the lives of it citizens on every Flag Day, Liberia would have had 171 projects. Here in Australia, every national holiday like Australia’s Day (independent day), Canberra Day, Proclamation Day etc.. The Government embark on a new project. We in Liberia, have gotten accustom to long speeches, and students’ parade. Which is not bad. However, we have seen many of these events, what have we achieved from them?

    The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Hindu Nationalists, just told the Indian people that India will land man on the moon by 2022. They lunched their space program in 1969. When he was making this announcement two weeks ago, India was marking 71 years of independence from Britain. The Republic of Liberia was already 100 years old when India, China and other Asians countries were just coming from imperials and colonial rule. Liberia was not colonized by any great power, it was our own brothers and sisters coming from the diasporas that established this safe haven for free black men.

    If our government on this Flag Day, makes a pledge to the Liberian people to built a science and research centers in all the 15 counties, it will be a long march toward significant development. A budget of 20 million dollars, can lunch such a project. It should be built with up to date modern Laboratories and well trained staffs, to train our people. Secondly, a science fair week in Liberia that will bring together science enthusiasts from all around the country. Participants or participating groups or schools should sent their representatives, taken with them projects. All high schools should participate. Professors, medical doctors, Mathematicians be on hand to serve as judges. Winners given prices and awards. It happens here in Australia, and other Asians Countries. When I mean science fair, not forgotten mathematics and electronics. This will boost our capability in technology in the distance feature. We cannot always be relying on others for help.

    We import almost every technocrats, officials of Liberian Government go out along with their spouses for medical treatment, all because we do not have adequate trained doctors and medical equipment to handle certain critical illness.

    Just a little lesson on long term investment: the investment in football that produce the best Lone Star Team Liberia had ever had in history along with the George Weah Eleven, actually begins on July 26, 1984. I was told that there was a match between Ghana Black Stars and Lone Star. During the half time break of the game, then Master Sargent Samuel K Doe went into the dressing room and told our boys, “if you guys win this game, I will put you on salary and sent you to Brazil”. He gave each player $600.00 each. Lone Star drew the game, with a goal from Ben Morty. The rest, as we all know became history. This story was told by my uncle later in the 90s, when Weah use to come from Europe to come down in Monrovia to play for the Lone Star.

    To all fellow Liberians, until we are committed toward a goal, there will always be hesitancy. The chance to draw back, always lurking, however; let’s look at the results, not the sacrifice, because at the end, we will be all gone, it is our children, children that will reap the result and glory.

    From: the University of Sydney, City Road. Camperdown
    HAPPY FLAG DAY…..

  3. Regular readers would’ve recognized it is neither a typo ‘Lone’ in the caption is spelt “Loan”, nor coincidence “What Have We to Show for it?” was previously asked in the editorial of July 26 Independence Day Anniversary. It tempts the question, do we have to celebrate or observe a Flag Day when that date can be set aside as Rememberance Day for the 250,000 war dead, a vast majority of whom were defenseless noncombatants?

    The Flag isn’t going to be changed; our National Anthem expresses a Country-Congo collective aspiration, though unachievable yet, which fills our hearts with hope; and, of course, July 26 and the state for the foreseeable future are like Siamese twins. Well – unless we go crazy again and coax another countrywide genocidal war. Incidentally, it is the reason why such a day is needed to not only memorialize the victims of violence, but to remind us about our vulnerablity as a historically divided people.

    (Before someone runs to Facebook with half-truths about a strategy to get rid of Flag Day, this suggestion is being thrown out there for debate).

    By the way, Rwandans did establish their Remembrance Day for the same purposes mentioned above. Not to mention that, universally, symbols like Flag Day and our National Anthem are also meant to root us to a nationstate as something larger than our ourselves, our kinship, our ethnicities, and our counties. How much they’ve helped in that goal is an open secret. Surely, we can forgo a day commemorating a flag in our possession on behalf of a day to serve as redlight for the dangers ahead in a “fragile and fractious state”.

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