July 26 2012: Liberia's Emerging Bright Era!
Today, the 26th July, 2012 marks a watershed in Liberia's history with the celebration of its 165th independence anniversary. Every year, independence anniversary celebrations come and go, but this year's can be considered a celebration with a difference, conscience, consciousness and resolve for Liberians to chart a new and positive direction that will put Liberia on tract for
enhancing and sustaining the wind of change blowing through the country – and, for solidifying the foundation of genuine democracy and sustainable peace which President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is determined to maintain throughout her lifetime, as Mother of the Nation. What makes this year's July 26th Independence Day celebration unique is the phenomenon of the 150-day deliverables that were mandated by the President on government ministries, departments and agencies with a view to accelerate national development few days after taking the oath of office for a second term mandate. This policy has been complemented by the decentralization and the good governance policy under the framework of the African Peer Review Mechanism. The New Liberia Reports.
Since Independence Day on the 26th July 1847, which is a hundred and sixty five years ago today, the outside world understood a little knowledge about Liberia. In view of the Liberian flag’s resemblance to that of the United States, the cultural similarities, and the English language accent and historical connections, many people in the world including Africans, erroneously regard Liberia as an American territory since the founding government was dominated by the American-Liberian settler-groups.
Liberia was founded by African Americans from the United States often referred to as Negroes under the auspices of the American Colonization Society (ACS), a non-governmental charitable organization. This group dominated the socio-economic, cultural and political life of the country until the 1980 military intervention which was followed about a decade later by a bitter civil war, which prompted the foreign media to report the stark realities of the civil strife and life in the country which was characterized by widespread poverty and corruption.
Because the country was founded by the ACS, Liberia was never colonized by any colonial power such as Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany etc. These colonial powers Balkanized the entire African continent long before the 1884 Berlin Conference in Germany, a conference that set the pace for Europe’s colonization of Africa while Liberia had already unilaterally declared her Independence in 1847 with only Great Britain recognizing this independence in 1851.
In Liberia today, a country with significant diplomatic representations in Africa, the values of democracy, transparency and political tolerance that is gradually taking roots all over the country, the government seems to be eager to ensure that the mistakes of past leaders that led this country into one of Africa’s bloody military interventions and a protracted civil war is no longer repeated.
President Sirleaf has become more proactive in putting Liberia back on the map of the developing world through the number of policies she has enacted, including the 150-day deliverables which put every sector of the Liberian government to work on the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) process, Liberia’s 2030 Vision and the Agenda for Transformation development. Through these policies significant investments have been made to lift Liberia’s human and infrastructural development goals, especially in the areas of electricity and water supply, agriculture, education and the transport sectors.
Since the end of the 14-year civil conflict in 2003, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia’s first female democratically elected President, assumption of the mantle of leadership is being considered by many as a blessing in disguise. What cannot be underestimated is that after the war, Liberia had to start all over from scratch in all aspects of life, particularly the socio-economic, as well as political growth and development of the country.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has achieved a lot since coming to office in 2006. The horrendous civil war ruined the social fabric of this country. It was a war that was characterized by Liberians getting at each other’s throat, where there was no respect for the rule of law thereby bringing the fundamental democratic values of the country to a very low ebb. The protracted rebel war added salt to injury for a country that had been labeled by critics as a bastion of growth without development. The export of cash crops and precious minerals for sale overseas by foreign companies and the Liberian government was incapacitated by the war, thus making economic activities and government’s sources of income grinding to a complete halt. In real terms, Liberia had become a failed state that needed to be restored somehow.
Indeed under the visionary leadership of Her Excellency President Sirleaf, development has sprung up all over the country spearheaded by government’s decentralization and strong attachment to the values of multiparty democracy. Efforts are being made to construct regional security hubs in five designated areas of the country, including Gbarnga, Tubmanburg, Harper etc. The Ministry of Public Works, for example, has concluded preparations for the construction of the Red-light to Gbarnga highway after successfully laying out and paving the Fish-town to Harper primary road that links Rivergee and Maryland Counties.
The Freeport of Monrovia and the port of Greenville in Southeastern Sinoe County are being dredged to accommodate more ships, while several vocational training institutions, including the Klay and Sinje skills training centers have been constructed and are set to provide skills training to thousands of young people in Bomi and Grand Cape mount Counties. The Jackson F. Doe referral medical Hospital was constructed few years ago in Tappita , Nimba County to cater to the health needs of Liberians in that region. The list of finished development projects under the Johnson Sirleaf led administration is certainly endless.
That is why as Liberia celebrates 165 years of nationhood, we wish to encourage President Sirleaf and her Administration not to relent in pursuing the development path which was promised the Liberian people and through which Liberia would be destined for nobler and prosperous heights. The enactment of the Freedom of Information (FOI) act to assure free access to information, the signing of the Table Mountain Declaration to enhance the media landscape by removing laws that tend to muzzle press freedom are all steps in the right direction.
These are all indications that President Sirleaf has provided all the ingredients necessary for a wholesome functioning society on the basis of social justice and tolerance, through progressive policies intended to strengthen democracy and provide a framework for sustainable development and growth in the country. As we celebrate Liberia’s 165th Independence Day, it is now abundantly clear that Liberia has re-awakened to the new realities of the changing times on the African continent and globally. (Writes John Momoh).