One of our online readers, John Mulbah, writing yesterday from faraway Australia, commented on Assistant Health Minister Tolbert Nyeswah’s warning of the possible recurrence of Ebola in Liberia. Mr. Mulbah made two cogent points: first, Don’t close the borders; second, reach out and help Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the Ebola plague continues.
We completely agree with Mulbah. There are three reasons why we should not close our borders. First, it would be a sign of “bad” neighborliness. No, we should always be good neighbors, for that is what the Master taught. Second, it would be hypocritical, for we criticized others who closed their borders—air, land and sea—to us when the virus was raging here. Thirdly, that would be a negative approach.
We agree with writer Mulbah that instead of closing our borders, we should extend a positive and tangible hand of friendship to our neighbors by rushing to help them with whatever we have.
This is why we highly commended our President, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when she declared on Saturday, May 9, 2015 that liberating Guinea and Sierra Leone “is the next challenge.”
Remember how our Health Correspondent, Alaskai Moore Johnson, started his story, published as the front page lead in the Daily Observer’s May 12 edition. “Portraying the example of a selfless leader who is seeking the interests of her neighbors,” Alaskai said President Sirleaf [declared] now the challenge for her and the Liberian government is “turning all our attention to Guinea and Sierra Leone until they are Ebola-free, too.”
We considered that remark and disposition as an excellent example of statesmanship, good neighborliness and kindness.
The very next day the Daily Observer editorially described the President’s pronouncement as “a noble cause,” and proceeded to outline what Liberia could do to help our neighbors. We repeated her prophetic remark that Liberia would never be “totally free” until our two immediate neighbors are also free.
We then advanced four ways in which we could help—first, by praying for them in the same way we prayed for ourselves—prayers that our beneficent Creator answered. Second, we suggested that Ellen donate some money to the two countries—even as a token of our concern and solidarity—to help them fight the virus; third, that GOL and Liberia as a whole deploy in each country some administrative, health and medical personnel, to beef up what each country has, to help exterminate the virus. And fourth, we called on GOL to mobilize the international community to go into Guinea and Sierra Leone with the same force they exerted in
Liberia, throwing a counter punch that pounded the virus out of here.
We are pretty sure that the President’s May 9 words were not empty promises. Unfortunately, the government has not told the public what it has done to help Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Health correspondent Johnson says two private initiatives have so far been taken—the Liberian National Red Cross has sent in materials, including buckets and chemicals for handwashing, etc.; and that PREVAIL has contacted its counterparts in both countries to conduct further studies, since there are no active cases in Liberia.
We urge the government to be forthcoming in telling us whatever it has done and is doing in actualizing Ellen’s promises.
We warn the GOL not to repeat the mistakes Liberian officials made in the 1960s when Liberia assumed a posture of modesty in regards to her immense and persistent contributions to African Unity and Solidarity. We helped lay the foundation of the Organization of African Unity (now AU)—presenting the First Draft that became the OAU Charter. We also helped lay the foundation for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank, the ECOWAS Fund and ECOBANK. Yet, because we failed to say “I am,” nobody has said “thou art.”
So when the magnificent new AU Headquarters was erected in Addis Ababa, President W.V.S. Tubman was nowhere to be seen among the monuments portrayed in the front entrance of that building.
If GOL has done or is doing something tangible to help Guinea and Sierra Leone fight the virus, it has to be said and known by us all and the world.
As communicators, we think we are in the position to give you the candid advice: “If you don’t say ‘I am,’ nobody will say ‘thou art.’”