One hundred and seventy years ago, the world was on the brink of a grand celebration as former slaves and children of former slaves gathered in what was then the cornerstone of Liberia, the Providence Baptist Church. We all know the story that unfolded, but we frequently focus our attention on its outcome – the daring Declaration of Independence, the long border wars, the conscripting of a Constitution that would never have been realized without both painful compromise and the moral vision that there would be room for improvement and modifications in the future, all of which gave rise to a different kind of love not based on eros, agape or philia, but one expressed and welted in our national creed “The Love of Liberty Brought Us Here”.
When one takes a historical journey down memory lane, the pages of Liberian history are filled and full with prickly past, besieged by the horrific happenings of times. It has long been said that Liberia is the “mother” of African states, but what good is it to be called a “mother” when your children are fast growing in terms of economic prosperity while you remain stunted as a result of bad governance or pitfalls in leadership. Historians will tell us that Liberia was the “baptism ground” or “Jordan River” in Africa; every African leader, between the 1960s and 1970s, thought they were not complete until they came to Liberia. It was here the “anointing” had to be received.
For more than a century and a half Liberia still remains, as Tony Blair puts it, “the scar on the conscience of humanity”. In fact, it ranks fourth on the list of the world’s poorest countries. Mind you, Liberia is good at attaining world record. In 1927, Liberia held an election, which still holds the title of the most dubious election in history as far as the Guinness Book of Records is concerned.
Different schools of thought have contrasting views about Liberia’s growth and development. Some say, Liberia’s present condition does not correspond with her age; meaning she should have been way better than her current state. Some dismiss that, arguing that there came a 14-years brutal and bloody civil war and the ruins of the Ebola epidemic, which, they assume, may have handicapped and held-back Liberia’s progress. But whatever school is right or wrong that judgment is with the vicissitudes of time. What will long be stenciled on the mental sheets of unborn generations is: our country’s backwardness and underdevelopment are the perils of loopholes in leadership. Liberia, over the ages, is poor precisely because it has been ruled by “a narrow elite that have organized society for their benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people.” How is it that we have so many resources, yet we domicile in misery and languish in poverty?
It has been a week since “campaign” was declared open. Oh well, it has been one week of nothing. The atmosphere before campaign commenced was filled with the aroma of “real and achievable policy issues”. We had expected that our politicians will break from business as usual and engage in the combat of ideas and politics of decency. We had a thirst we hope would have been quenched by discussions on jobs creation and income equality; discourses on transformation and the redemption of hopes. We assumed that political parties would present manifestos, plans or platforms that explain their vision for Liberia. It seems Liberians were “day-dreaming” while making such assumption. After one week, we have only seen our streets filched and polarized by sheets, fliers or banners inscribed on them, “change this, change that”….and blah, blah, blah – without offering any real solutions to Liberia’s daunting challenges. Nothing has been said or presented and it appears nothing will ever be. So far, it has been a campaign nursed by empty rhetoric. While the candidates campaign with mastery in soaring eloquence, they must as well put forth “way-forwards”. Liberia and Liberians deserve better.
Tell us your policies, and by our votes, we shall send you to the Legislature to turn them into laws that are not honored in “bridge” but “implementation”. Show us your plans, and by our votes, we shall pass unto you the task of changing our lives and transforming our nation. Give us your platform, and by the power of our votes, we shall give you the responsibility to end the cartel of criminals and economic vampires and restore sanity in our politics. Present us your manifesto, and we shall use our votes, to decide the best for our nation and ourselves.
From the backyards of Harper and the living rooms of Robertsport and the front porches of Sanniquellie - I see a new Liberia that is better and moving forward.