The debate was somehow rekindled when renowned statesman Maximillan Dennis appeared on Capitol FM’s Late Edition show a fortnight ago where he expressed outright indignation at the country’s racist posture on citizenship. “I just don’t understand why our constitution would discriminate against people of non-Negro descent, while Liberians themselves seek citizenship from the rest of the world,” Mr. Dennis wondered.
Joining the outcry, when they appeared on Capitol FM’s Capitol Breakfast Club Monday to discuss issues that could be germane to President Sirleaf State of the Nation delivery on the same day, two prominent civil society leaders, Ezekiel Pajibo and Oscar Bloh, both concurred that the citizenship clause in the constitution needs to be revised.
“We live in a modern world where everyone is interconnected. It is just not right to deny others the right to citizenship based on skin color,” Bloh, Country Director of Search for Common Ground, said.
“At the time the law was made, it was somehow expedient, because the freed slaves were doing so to deny their oppressors citizenship in Liberia. But this scenario no longer holds true. The clause is just discriminatory,” Pajibo, head of Trust Africa, said.
Capping off the call against Liberia’s discriminatory nationality clause, President Sirleaf, delivering her 7th State of the Nation Address, called on her fellow citizens to move forward with the times, honor international obligations, conduct themselves appropriately in the community of nations, and reciprocate the level of acceptance that Liberians receive in foreign lands. The country, she said, should not continue the race-based discriminatory provision in the Liberian constitution.
For us at the Capitol Times, we are in full concurrence with proponents of a non-discriminatory citizenship law. Without gainsaying, the current law somehow suggests that Liberia is still far behind when it comes to racial equality, despite its historic stance against racial discrimination, especially when we fought against world powers to dismantle apartheid in South Africa.
It is understandable the fear of the founding fathers of this glorious land of Liberty, when they risked life and limb, sailed the stormy seas to find a new home, far away from the servitude and drudgery of slavery. But truth be told, times have changed. The world is evolving. Liberia cannot afford to be left behind, clinging to antiquated laws that bedevil socioeconomic development.