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A Liberian on Unraveling of Hope for the Future of His Homeland

By Augustus Kwaidah            Hope for Liberia

 

 

“Just as it takes money to make money, it takes knowledge to make knowledge. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath’ (Matthew 13:12).

The paradox holds more inexorably for intellectual than for money capital. Those who are well educated can make money without inherited wealth, but those who lack intellectual capital are left poor indeed.

We often hear that “the mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I must add that the mind is a terrible thing to stagnate as a result of uncompetitive learning environment. The minds of many Liberian children and more than half the population of our loving countrymen and women have been wasted for the most part due to the 14 years of senseless civil and tribal war.

Today in Liberia, the war of guns seem to be over, but the war of unemployment, hunger, homelessness, unclean drinking water, undeveloped roads, poor sanitation, and consequently, the war of high illiteracy rate and many challenges facing the Liberian people are so overwhelming that only patriotic, nationalistic and God- fearing Liberians who are willing to work collectively with the President, can set the pace by laying a stronger foundation for the next leaders beyond 2017. The social structure of our homeland is broken, and therefore, we are face with a challenge bigger than our forefathers. These could be the worst of times or the best of times depending on how we as Liberians decide to utilize the second chance God has given to this glorious nation since the end of the ruthless civil war.

A reminder, Liberia was the first country to have acquired its independence in Africa, in 1847. That’s why we have a single star glittering in the middle of a dark field on the Liberian flag which represents Liberia’s existence at the time as the lone star, the only country that had gained its independence in Africa at the time. On the contrary, Liberia is one of the least undeveloped countries in Western Africa in present day at almost all levels of comparison.

Throughout the sixties, seventies and eighties; Liberia use to be one of the leading economic powers in Western Africa because of the abundance of United States dollars that floated from established American business interests like the Liberia American Mining Company (LAMCO), The Bong Mining Company, The Firestone Rubber Plantation, The Coco-Pa coco plantation, and etc. Professionals from neighboring countries migrated into Liberia to seek survival and better living for them and their families.

Unfortunately, over the past decades; the Liberian civilization has decade partly due to senseless civil war, mental disposition of most Liberians if not all, poor management of finances generated from the natural resources and other industries which practically drained the Liberian people of the little they had to survive in the midst of high level unprecedented corruption and exploitation. Our civilization is decaying with an underclass of poverty, illiteracy, tribalism, violence, political division, selfishness growing in our midst and an economy hard pressed to compete with those of neighboring countries like Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea and Ghana who are far ahead of us in development. The past decades have seen an unprecedented parade of betrayals of the public’s trust. And it has brought us to a low point in the Liberian people’s relationship with their government and a dynamic leader whose image and legacy are being tainted outside of her will to make a difference considering how far she has withstood the test of time as a woman predestined for greatness.

The Liberian people have experienced real crises of confidence not just in their politicians but in the value of public life in our democracy, which troubles me deeply because this is the life I have been called to live as a transformational leader, and I think it deserves better. We need to nurture and restore the trust of the Liberian people, especially in the generation now coming of age. We need to restore the trust and faith that have been so badly damaged. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and the first step toward repairing the people’s damaged trust in their government is to reestablish a foundation of clarity, honesty and understanding as Madam Sir leaf declared early into her leadership after being overwhelmingly elected by who people. The Liberian people are good people and they therefore deserve to have a good government through a President who is considered as The mother of Land Liberia.

For the past two decades, we have been influenced to abandon our culture and seem to have lost faith in the core values, traditions, and institutions of our civilization.

The post war carefree mentality and complacency syndrome after the war, even among our political leaders- now threatens to cripple our ability to teach the next generation to be productive Liberians. We have natural resources such as iron-ore, coffee, cocoa, diamond, rubber, timber and maritime benefits of countless ships flying our flag in international waters; yet we have simultaneously allowed our schools to decay to the point that our children regularly score below all others of developing countries in Western Africa in math and science.

As I reflect on happenings in my homeland Liberia, I find it somewhat difficult to conclude on which of these tendencies – our great strengths as a people of courage or our weaknesses – will prevail. Will history record a period after the fourteen year civil war during the twenty-first century when patriotic Liberians came together with the help of the international community to find ways to solve our own internal problems and rapidly ascended into a developing nation in Africa as one of the regional powers and models for social change for other war-torn African nations to emulate?

Or will history remember Liberia as the center of freedom that, having gone through fourteen years of bloody civil wars, found itself unable to solve its own internal problems and rapidly declined into endless war, poverty and suffering of its citizenry? Or will history remember post war Liberia as unified people who chose to totally eliminate corruption, tribalism, rebellion and war, and adopted the moral and political courage to revitalize its civilization and lead the Liberia people to even greater levels of freedom, prosperity, and security? Looking at Liberia from the outside, a skeptic could say it is impossible to know today which story will be told to our descendants. Frankly, these questions are for all peace loving Liberians to answer.

Madam President, please reevaluate your exit legacy upon turning over power. You deserve a positive and generational legacy.

It is clear, however, that the answer matters both to us. It will only take Liberians to develop Liberia, and not outsiders. If we fail to reform, the consequences will be incalculable. The underclass of poverty and violence will reach their zenith and, our weak and unproductive economy will become weaker and weaker without any way for resuscitation.

It is clear, however, that the answer matters both to us. It will only take Liberians to develop Liberia, and not outsiders or this President or any president alone. If we fail to reform, the consequences will be incalculable. The underclass of poverty and violence will reach their zenith and, our weak and unproductive economy will become weaker and weaker without any way for resuscitation.

Personally, I believe the best days are still ahead if we as a nation and people are willing to honestly reform ourselves. I can see from afar, a renewed reinvigorating Liberia that educates all of its children who could compete with any country. I am envisioning a Liberia that has replaced the culture of poverty and violence for survival with a culture of opportunity for all Liberians as one of the safest and most prosperous nations in Western Africa. An entrepreneur Liberia that embraces Science and innovation would progress at a fantastic pace, opening a vastly greater range of choices to its people on a national level. Such a revitalized Liberia could sustain its economic empowerment, diplomatic relations and trusted international partnership in trade, leading its people in the direction of prosperity, security, and freedom for all of its people as the current president has struggled to accomplish over the years.

It is up to us as Liberians to decide whether we will make the choice to unite without compromising the integrity of our tranquility and freedom, and focus on building our country collectively by supporting an elected government in effectively implementing its mandate. We either pull our efforts or we will continue to decay. There is no time to waste. We either decide to unite and build a Liberia that arouses itself to replace the present culture of extreme high rate of unemployment, unproductive educational system, and poverty which will ultimately result to renew rebellion and violence that might never have an end the second time round.

This is not the time for Liberians to be passive and apathetic, hateful, divided and confused about the actual problems facing our nation. Any attempt for our leaders to ignore the needs of the Liberian people over an extended period of time could eventually lead to disruption of the peace process which I consider to be fragile considering the fact that the security of our nation has not been tested in isolation of the involvement of the UNMIL security.

Many Liberians live on lonely island of poverty in the midst of vast ocean of natural resources. Today many Liberians find themselves in exile in their own land. I am not convinced if most of the Liberian population, especially political leaders understands the predicament and shame facing these glorious lands which suppose to be a symbol of liberty and prosperity. Many of our citizens are languished in street corners without access to jobs and shelter to help sustain them and their families. I sympathize with many of our people who feel the high level of poverty and that of subsequent unemployment in Liberia is evidence that their country has defaulted on their right to the minimum needed to survive happily in their own country.

They feel their nation has betrayed their trust. Like many optimistic Liberians, I wish to say to my fellow Liberians, let us refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vault of prospect and opportunity of this nation. My hope is that, all Liberians with the leadership of our politicians, can become conscious minded proactively with regard to the fierce urgency of empowering our people to rebuild their shattered lives. There is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or procrastinating and caring out the development process in a disjointed manner.

Now is the time for the Liberian leadership to re-examine and intensify the promises of true democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of tribalism, social injustice, unequal opportunity and poverty. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of illiteracy which leads to their inability to adequately reason for the common good of their own country. I believe it would be very fatal for the nation and its present and future leadership to overlook the urgency of the second chance granted to us through a democratic leadership without rebel faction controlling various ministries which resulted to self interest and exploitation of the poor. It is never late. Let the election of her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her conviction of true democracy serve as a symbol and inspiration for the beginning of the process of rebuilding even if her administration does not achieve all of its goals by the end of her final term. Let’s agree that our war and civil disobedience have come to a complete end through our thirst for peace and prosperity in Liberia.

We can achieve our goal of prosperity by not leaving everything up to the government. We must realize that our prospect to genuine peace and development is inextricably bound together for unity and forgiveness for the suffering brought upon us by our individual involvement one way or the other. No turning back to those hurts and disagreements, but finding common point of reasoning to dialogue despite our differences in order to make the process of rebuilding possible and development possible.

It is my conviction that the situation of our homeland will ultimately change for the better if we work in unity. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair. I know the road to rebuilding the lives of our people will not be all that easy; but I still have the vision that the moment is coming when the children of Liberia will grow-up with competitive opportunity to learn and be educated to the fullest.

I have the vision that our educational system will someday become a system that all Liberians can be proud of in producing qualified and competitive graduates from kindergarten to our colleges and universities.

In order to propel our passage to complete development, the leadership styles of our government, private and business sectors must be one of patriotisms whereby our citizens and leaders will begin to invest in our country’s funds and resources in their homeland. Even though the tradition of many of our previous presidents and political leaders and businessmen was to gladly invest our country’s money and resources in foreign nations without any strong form of accountability at home.

Thus the result of massive exploitation of natural resources without anything concrete to show for it. For example, the iron-ore mines in Yekepa, Nimba County were excavated for decades with the train tract running from the mines to the Buchan harbor. Consistently shipping our raw materials to Europe and America. How ironic it’s that you will have surplus iron-ore mining in a region and yet then the roads are not built and paved? It is time that we take back the remaining of our natural resources and make sure that the wealth of our children’s’ future is not exploited anymore. It is time that we work harder together to make our country safe for national and foreign investors. If we don’t believe our country is safe for investment, how will the foreign investors believe in it either?

I believe only we Liberians can make our homeland safer just as America and other Western nations are considered safe.  And I am convinced that with the right leadership in place with honest forgiveness and unification in conjunction with all Liberians rallying behind the present leadership; I am of the conviction that our nation will be headed in the right direction towards a long-lasting peace, reconciliation and development as we complete the final term of the current President.

My fellow Liberians, the creation of avenues for research and promotion of high level of education through researching those issues that have affected our country throughout generations are definitely major step forward into finding solutions to some of those problems that have plagued our nation and its people for ages. For example, some good research analyses/questions could be finding the link between high corruption by our government officials and unimplemented road construction projects?

Is there a relationship between the rate of high unemployment in Liberia and the increase in the rate of crime? As I listened to happenings in Liberia, what I’ve been able to connect with previous findings from research; unemployment causes social and economic problems, such as lost productivity, lost output and income opportunity, loss of human capital, and lost self-esteem and dignity of workers and potential workers. Therefore, when the rate of unemployment continues to be high, we will realize that our youth will increasingly become criminals and prostitutes at the result of feeling a sense of hopelessness

Brothers and sisters, I which to take this moment to appeal to our honorable president, her highness Madam Sirleaf for the opportunity of research on how we as a nation and people can find logical solutions to our pressing problems. It is great to have aides from around the world, but it is also very essential to have research system in place to support the development efforts. This could definitely serve as one of the President’s transformational legacies.

I believe together we can revitalize Liberia, and reinvigorate the Liberia dream while we remake the structure of Liberian government. My optimism derives from the demonstrated evidence that, we as a people have seen tremendous amount of decay and failure of many governments to adequately deliver the mandate of the Liberian people. I wish you success as your complete your final term, and May God almighty bless Liberia, This sweet land of liberty.

 

Mr. Augustus Kwaidah is the founder of Kwaidah Educational Assistance Program, which is projected to provide scholarships to needy students especially the youth across Liberia. He is working on publishing his books: Destined to Answer The Call, Hope Unravel for the development of Liberia, Democratic Governance in Liberia – A Literary Review, and Peace & Human Rights Education in the Social Transformation of Liberia. Email: guskwaidah@yahooo.com. Phone number: 0880530167

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