The Government of Liberia is rallying citizens for a big celebration to mark freedom from Ebola as the country ends 42 days countdown without new infection reported across all 15 counties, including Lofa County, which became the epicenter of the virus last year.
The Ebola Virus Disease took many innocent lives here, including health care workers, nurses, doctors and ordinary citizens, and left some 3,000 children orphans.
Liberia’s Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism Lewis Brown, said in a daily press briefing Tuesday, 5 May that after the country is pronounced Ebola freed by the World Health Organization on Saturday, citizens should celebrate the rebirth of Liberia.
“Let us lay down the creed of dutifully applying our hearts to defend the cause of our country, and Let us always strive to afford the true meaning of Liberians”, Brown urged.
He said Saturday, May 9 will be a memorable date to be forever written in history, because Liberians will successfully complete 42 days of living without a new confirmed case of transmission of the deadly Ebola virus that killed about 4,000 fellow compatriots, rendered over 3,000 children orphans, devastated the health sector and crippled the entire economy.
Liberia’s initial countdown to Ebola freedom was aborted in March this year after a female resident of Caldwell Township tested positive and subsequently died in an ETU in Paynesville, suburb of the capital. The victim reportedly contracted the virus through sexual intercourse with a boyfriend, an Ebola survivor.
Minister Brown described the deadly outbreak last year as the greatest threat to public health that this generation has ever faced, adding that Ebola presented this country with a little more than a threat to public health.
“The disease robbed us of our way of life. We who are afforded divine blessings by caring for our elderly – we who cherish the opportunity to spend the last of our days surrounded by family and loved ones; we who pride ourselves and believe our duties to each other extend to burying our dearly departed through traditional rituals and religious practices of care by which we console ourselves that our loved ones are journeying to a better place – we were often limited to watching and restricted from touching, as our forefathers taught us to do”, he added.
The MICAT boss said the truth is that since the country’s fabled Declaration of Independence in 1847, Liberians have been suspicious of each other, adding, “It is still safe to say the Declaration meant little, if anything at all, for many who were increasingly suspicious of the intentions of the declared State.”
According to him, some historians have suggested that Liberians were a country struggling, over several generations, to become a nation – that although they possess a beautiful and blessed country, but were too divided along superficial lines of tribe, religion, gender, and even age, to be as committed as they should be, to a common purpose of building a nation in which all would thrive, if they try, and in which all would share equally in opportunity.
“Perhaps this gnawing sense of inequality in citizenship”, he said, “accounted for the fact that parts of the country were comparatively more developed than others. What is more, overtime, we have fashioned our politics not necessarily on the competition of ideas about how we can improve our society for the collective benefits of all of our people but on the narrower interests of tribes in which we not only harness our identities but into which we feel compelled to retreat to either compensate for our lack of ideas or simply for political cover.”
He said, dangerous as it was, perhaps Ebola has provided Liberians a new way, and as its death stings stalked communities all across the country, they came together in ways that they have not done before, saying, “Perhaps collectively threatened as we came to be, we realized that Christians and Muslims can come together – that we can work together; that we can look beyond even the long-held practices of our faith and appreciate the important values of our beings. We saw that the old and the young – that males and females can work together each bringing the innate values of their intrinsic beings and talents to bear in resolving a problem with which all were confronted.” See page 10 for full text of Minister Brown’s statement.
By Lewis S. Teh