Germany, like Brazil, is Liberia’s good friend, too. Indeed Deutschland is one of our country‘s oldest friends. For it was the Hanseatic States, mostly Germanic, that became in the 1850s and 60s, the second group, after Great Britain, to recognize Liberia’s sovereignty.
Germany later became our leading trading partner, buying and exporting Liberian agricultural produce to Europe and elsewhere. By the 1940s there was a German Legation in Monrovia, situated on Capitol Hill, where the University of Liberia’s main campus is located. At that point, too, most of the medical doctors in the country were German. Unfortunately, Hitler, the Nazi German Chancellor, in the late 1930s started World War II, leading Liberia, following the United States, to declare war on Germany in 1945. The Germans had to leave Liberia, plunging the nation into great financial and medical difficulty.
But following the end of the war, the two countries regained their friendship under President W.V.S. Tubman and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
And remember that soon, the smart, industrious, hardworking and highly disciplined Germans bounced back, before the end of the 1950s, as one of the world’s leading industrial powers. Of course, they did it with American aid. The Americans, magnanimous (high-minded, generous) in victory, initiated the Marshall Plan, making available to Europe and Japan, devastated in war, billions of US dollars to rebuild their cities and industries.
The disciplined, hardworking, patriotic and smart Germans put the Marshall Plan money TO GOOD USE, and soon Germany was competing with the very United States in industrial might. Ever heard of the Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and Audi vehicles? These German-made cars soon started outselling American automobiles. Ever heard of Siemens, the German industrial giant? They started competing with American industries in everything, including steel products and medical equipment.
Let us quickly contrast all of this with Nimba County, and all the other Liberian counties which, for the first time in history, are receiving DIRECT FINANCIAL REWARDS from mining and other concessions operating on their land.
Nimba receives from ArcelorMittal US$1.5 million annually, Grand Bassa, US$1 million and Bong US$500,000 in Social Development Funds (SDF). The SDF money was made possible by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government which made it a provision in each concession agreement.
And what are these counties doing with this money? In the case of Nimba and so many other counties receiving their share of the SDF, the money is being squandered by these counties’ very legislators and other officials. Remember how just last week one Nimba legislator—the name is Samuel Kogar—threatened that Nimba County would secede (break away) from Liberia if President Sirleaf touched ONE CENT OF THE SDF to fix the damages inflicted by violent Nimba youth upon ArcelorMittal’s facilities?
What have these Nimba people done with their SDF? There is currently a big quarrel among Nimba politicians over these funds, with the legislators up in arms against the Superintendent, who is determined to use the money for the good of the people, and NOT leave it in the hands of the greedy politicians.
We confess it’s a long shot to compare the Marshall Plan money and what it did for Germany, etc., and the SDF and what it is doing for Nimba County, etc. But Jesus tells us in the story of the Ten Talents that he or she who makes good use of little will be given much more.
On Sunday night, Germany emerged as the victor in the World Cup. Why did they win and how? We have already given the answer. We learned in international politics that Germany, like every other country, has something known as national character—those traits (qualities) by which a country is best known. In the case of Germany, it is DISCIPLINE, HARD WORK, SMARTNESS, THOROUGHNESS, AND PATRIOTISM.
In the case of Liberia, what is our national character? Is it discipline? Hard work? Thoroughness? Patriotism? Selflessness? Honesty? Commitment? A strong work ethic? What are the critical characteristics by which Liberians are known?
For starts, this is what we learn from Germany’s winning of the World Cup.
Had the Nimba youth been disciplined, smart and patriotic, they would never have done what they did to ArcelorMittal. Had Mr. Kogar and those who think like him been disciplined, smart and patriotic, they would not have backed their youth in their violence.
Will we Liberians learn anything from Germany’s victory? We are a people hitherto known to be quicker at copying from others bad, rather than good things. May God grant that this time, every Liberian will reflect soberly on the reasons for Germany’s victory and start emulating their great example.