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Advocating on behalf of the Liberian nation and its people: Can you help?

 By Aflowa Kojo-Zaza                 1847 Constitution of Liberia

 

 

Liberia is a tapestry of people in a multicultural context. We should use this as a strength to overcomeour obstacles and stop using it as a wedge to always be divided. We can take the woven country cloth as our symbol of unity and our multiculturalism. We can also use the “palaver hut” as a symbol of our connectedness and move forward for progress as one people.

 

Since God is not making land anymore and we have only this Land of Liberty, and for the posterity of our nation, we must work together for the good of the nation and the generations to come. We must leave Liberia better than how it was handed to us, for our children and the generations to come. Our multiculturalism and diversity are not perfect but, we must strive together to make the Republic of Liberia that Sweet Land of Liberty, that shall long be ours!

 

Liberia needs to establish two departments immediately to guide the Liberian people in this twenty-first century. The constitution must be revisited to establish the Department of Human Capital Development /Services and Resources and the Department of Citizenship and Community Affairs.

 

Chapter II, Article 6: “The Republic shall, because of the vital role assigned to the individual citizen under this Constitution for the social, economic and political well being of Liberia, provide equal access to educational opportunities and facilities for all citizens to the extent of available resources. Emphasis shall be placed on mass education of the Liberian people and the elimination of illiteracy.”

 

Chapter II, Article 8: “The Republic shall address its policy towards ensuring for all citizens, without discrimination, opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions, and towards promoting safety, health and welfare facilities in employment.”

 

These are the words from the rewritten Constitution of 1986. It was signed by representatives from all counties and territories which makes it “inclusive” of the political subdivisions of the Country. Also, see below the signatories of the 1847 Constitution.

 

Amos Sawyer, Chairman

  1. D. K. Wonsehleay, Co Chairman
  2. Robert G. W. Azango Member
  3. J. Gornee N. Barlefay Member
  4. J. Emmanuel Berry Member
  5. George D. Browne Member
  6. Augustus F. Caine Member
  7. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr. Member
  8. Bangaly Fofana Member
  9. Philip G. Gadegbeku Member
  10. Alfred V. W. Gayflor Member
  11. Isaac L. George Member
  12. J. Rudolph Grimes Member
  13. Abraham L. James Member
  14. Peter A. Johnson Member
  15. David Kpomakpor Member
  16. Henry G. Kwekwe Member
  17. Albert Porte Member
  18. Patrick L. N. Seyon Member
  19. J. Teah Tarpeh Member
  20. S. Byron Tarr Member
  21. B. Mulbah Togbah Member
  22. Wolor Torpor Member
  23. Rebecca Ware Wilson Member
  24. Tuan Wreh Member

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CONSTITUTIONAL ADVISORY ASSEMBLY

  1. Edward Binyah Kesselly (Lofa County) Chairman
  2. Charles H. Williams (Grand Bassa County) Deputy Chairman
  3. Archibald F. Bernard (Montserrado County) Secretary General
  4. Richard K. Flomo (Bong County) Assistant Secretary General

Montserrado County

  1. Stephen H. Kolison, Sr. Member
  2. James Nagbe Doe Member
  3. James N. Nagbe Member
  4. Rocheforte L. Weeks Member
  5. Pearl Brown Bull Member
  6. Jonathan E. M. Gibson Member
  7. Zoe Ethel Norman Member
  8. Walter Yedebabuo Wisner, Jr. Member

Marshall Territory

  1. R. Francis Okai, Jr. Member

Bomi Territory

  1. Samuel Dwelu Hill Member
  2. K. Ballah M. Davis, Sr. Member

Gibi Territory

  1. David S. Menyongai Member
  2. Flomo Shadrach Daniel, II Member

Grand Bassa County

  1. A. Wilmot McCritty  Member
  2. Abba G. Karnga Member
  3. Thomas L. Griggs Member
  4. Joseph L. Barchue, Sr. Member

Rivercess Territory

  1. T. Gbegbe Roberto Dole Member

Sinoe County

  1. Nelson William Broderick Member
  2. Charles N. Wiah Member
  3. Lawrence S. Bestman Member
  4. Jenkinson T. Nyenpan, Sr. Member

Sass Town Territory

  1. Dennis J. Weagbe Member

Maryland County

  1. Natheniel Bleh Seton, Sr. Member
  2. James Klaba Giko Member
  3. Christian W. Baker Member
  4. J. Barney Taylor Member

Kru Coast Territory

  1. Charles Barzee Coffey Member

Grand Cape Mount County

  1. A. Kini Freeman Member
  2. Christopher K. Kandakai Member
  3. Ernest K. Metzgar Member
  4. Victor Lamina Yates Member

Grand Gedeh County

  1. Harry T. Faber Nayou Member
  2. Philip Karyeyon Deah Member
  3. Robert Bloh Toe, Sr. Member
  4. Emmanuel B. Neewray Member
  5. Doquinee Jarpee Andrews, Jr. Member

Nimba County

  1. J. Patrick K. Biddle Member
  2. John Wiemi Bartuah Member
  3. James W. Zotaa, Jr. Member
  4. J. Gbarmie Sahn Member
  5. Jenkins G. W. Wongbe Member
  6. Peter A. Gbelia, Sr. Member
  7. Stephen B. Daniels, Sr. Member
  8. Samuel B. Wogbeh  Member

Bong County

  1. John Flumo Bakalu, Sr.Member
  2. James Y. GbarbeaMember
  3. Walter T. GwenigaleMember
  4. Salome Giddings HallMember
  5. Manyu M. KamaraMember

Lofa County

  1. Edward S. Mends Cole Member
  2. J. Edward Koenig Member
  3. Frederick K. Gobewole Member
  4. James M. Hargrave Member
  5. Keikura Bayoh Kpoto Member

Unlike the 1847 Constitution and amended in 1955, see below the signatories to the Constitution:

Montserrado County S. Benedict, President, H. Teage Elijah Johnson, J. N. Lewis, Beverly R. Wilson, J. B. Gripon

Grand Bassa County John Day , Amos Herring, A. W. Gardiner, Ephraim Titler

Sinoe County  E. E. Murray, Jacob W. Prout, Secretary to the Convention

 

In this light, these are my suggestions – establish the following two departments when this Ebola Crisis is over:

 

  1. The Department of Human Capital Development and Services
  2. The Department of Citizenship and Community Affairs

 

The Constitution gives all citizens of Liberia the “inalienable right for access to educational opportunities, mass education for the elimination of illiteracy and opportunities for employment and livelihood under just and humane conditions.”

 

The Ebola crisis should make all of us to come together and Advocate for the UDERSERVED in Liberia. To see sick people lying on the ground and children staring at them, this is traumatic. We are traumatized too as we watch on television and the internet. Imagine what toll it is taking on the people who are living this nightmare!

 

This should awaken the unselfish love in all of us to put aside the blaming, political differences, the 1847 to 2014 divisive talks, the criticisms of “I can do it better than you until I get there, the I know it all, I’m more educated than you, do you know who am I, Congo people were mean to me, country people were made to carry the soldiers to pay hut tax, country people operating under a different set of rules and not wanting to participate under the umbrella of the Liberian nation, the Congo people took advantage of the Country man and left us out of any developments, and whatever saying to consistently and persistently divide us.” Because you know what, at the end of the day, Ebola is not discriminating or is it selective. It is just looking for flesh!

 

We must now take the words of the late President William R. Tolbert very seriously and build “A Wholesome Functioning Society” .

 

Department of Human Capital Development and Services

 

This Department will be to set up training structures/systems to develop the innate abilities and creative minds of the Liberian people. Human Capital Development will be for cultivating the intelligent minds of the Liberian people be it young or old, with training and resources for jobs, how to start a business and economic freedom to make their lives better. This department will be a Reformation of the Liberian way of thinking and doing in our attitude and behavior towards business ownership, etc.

  1. Job Training
  2. Training for Home Economics and Industrial Arts
  3. Training for Farming and Husbandry
  4. Training on how to start any small business and grow it regardless of what it is

 

Department of Citizenship and Community Affairs

  1. To engage the people of each community and find out what are their needs
  2. To do Inreach and Outreach training for Advocates to help guide the process
  3. To vote for people in their community who they trust to be their leaders
  4. Education and training seminars on health and social responsibility
  5. Educating the Liberian people on what it means to be a part of the Nation
  6. Development of a Standard Code of Conduct for all of the Citizens of Liberia: to respect authority and the Rule of Law
  7. All officials of government must spend a week or two in the year in their hamlets, towns, villages or settlements to engage the people
  8. A Blueprint for zoning and the layout of cities, towns, villages, hamlets and settlements for the entire country
  9. A weekly “Palaver Hut Chat” from the President Of Liberia
  10. A “How are we doing tour?” around the country

 

In each town, settlement, village, or county, there should be a (Palaver Hut) Community Hall. The Palaver Hut should be improved to be a building with chairs and tables where the community can assemble daily. It should be a place where children to do homework or play indoors when the sun is too hot; where old people can sit indoors and talk about the good old days, where meetings are held for the good of the community, and when government officials visit the towns to speak to their constituents, the meeting is not held outdoors in the hot sun, but in the Community Hall.

 

For the young adults and those from the city who go to visit the farm, a place where they can sit and chat or play music. ” Down Memory Lane for the Boomers: during vacation time when you went upriver or upcountry: during the afternoon, with no place to go, you all walk up and down the road or upcountry and when it got dark, you had to go inside” And don’t let the a lizard walk on the dry grass, oh how scared you were!! . In Monrovia on Saturday, you could go to the movies or sit on the steps in the evening to chat. (that is, if you had them). Can we have The Palaver Hut/Town Community Halls where the town’s people can congregate and get to work together for the greater good of Liberia? Yes, I believe we can!

 

To the President and members of Senate and the House of Representatives, this will cost money, but it will be money well spent. It will also show the Liberian people that you care and they voted for a “Servant Leader.”

 

How Can This Be Accomplished?

 

Yes, it is the responsibility of the government to provide opportunities for the citizens, but equally so, it is incumbent on each citizen to let their senators and representatives know what are needed in their communities to help them make use of these opportunities. Because Advocacy has not been done before in this manner, to explain why change is necessary will be tough especially so because of cynicism and the systemic nature of the problems that are to be changed.

 

When a problem is so huge to tackle, it makes everyone stressed just thinking about how to fix it. These are problems from 1847 but they can be fixed! If we get involved with ideas and suggestions and pool resources, and are determined to never again let this happen to Liberia and the people of Liberia, it can be done! With the world only a click away because of the internet, there are organizations we could ask to come and work with us to help us achieve this goal – “One Love, One Mission, One Liberia.”

 

Let us move away from what brought us to where we are today. If we do, everyone has a bad experience that happened to him or her in Liberia. We could go on forever with the list but Ebola is ravishing our land and its people and we are all embarrassed and ashamed! This goes for every Liberian person regardless of a new citizenship in the world. Let us start thinking and putting together ideas and strategies of what we want to see as a collective people going forward. What are your suggestions? Some of my suggestions of what we can do are:

 

  1. We have to go back and tell them, “your sent us to school to learn book. We have learned the book now and we have come back to show your what we learned”. It’s easier said than done but we should devise ways to reach them by using videos or bill boards or pictures – before it is done and after it is done.
  2. We could start with something in the community that’s already working and build up from there.
  3. We could train the students and young people to be “Ambassadors” for their communities so they take ownership and get credit for community service in school
  4. The Education Ministry should include in the curriculum Community Service for all students.

 

Today, it is Ebola. We don’t know what could come next; and it could be worse than Ebola. But with a clearer layout of the land, it will be faster to find the source.

 

We are a tapestry of people from diverse background brought together, whether by Divine Guidance or Fate, we are here with an “Ebola Ravished Country” on our hands!

 

Aflowa Kojo-Zaza can be reached at 973-722-7794. Email her at aflowa1@gmail.com.

 

 

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