During the last election campaign, I listened to a talk show during which time aspiring candidates were asked to speak their local vernacular as well as recite the pledge and the Liberian national anthem. Many of the candidates on the talk show responded by saying it was not important. But what most of them failed to understand is that those things which to them are un-important are the very things that have united other countries within our sub- region. These things which today we overlooked and have ignored has made other countries within our sub-region stronger. They have been used to make their people more patriotic, loyal and nationalistic.
Because we take important things for granted laws that should have benefited Liberians are not being legislated. Even if they are already passed into laws they are not being enforced. Our labor law is an example. Because we take important things for granted we have the below un-patriotic statement coming out of the mouth of a former minister in 2009 in an interview on both the Star Radio and the BBC as it relates to a diamond that was being smuggled out of the country by a company that was prospecting here in Liberia. When the case was being reported by the Diamonds Brokers Union to the Government of Liberia, the then Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy at the time was sent to investigate the matter. However, upon his return the then minister said the story wasn’t true.
But in an interview with that same minister when there was still pressure mounting on him as to his awareness and denial, he said, “I had been in the US doing fine. I wasn’t looking for job. But I was asked to come back to Liberia by the President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to take up a position within her government. I am not answerable to anyone but the president. When people have problem it is their own and not mine. I am not begging for job. My wife is still there in the US while my children are there in school. In fact one of my sons has just got his Masters Degree. If the President wants her job back she can have it and I will go to be with my family.” Fellow Liberians, this is un-patriotic and a disservice to the people of this nation to see our leaders make such statements.
Friend, when a critical examination of our current leaders is conducted we will still see many who are not committed to this country but are in leadership positions only to exploit it. An easy way to assess them is the lost of a job or election and soon you will see almost all of them having wings to fly out of this country and then come again the next time when there is another opportunity. Are they truly leaders or are only out for, as others called it, “Politricks.” Liberians are watching you with whatever responsibility you have been given and how you go about handling that responsibility. Even though you are a politician know also that you are a leader and your followers will do what they see you do. Therefore, if you love Liberia set good example so that those who follow you will do same for by this we will all make Liberia a better place.
I remember an incident that took place in two countries within our sub-region: 1) an individual was sent to the House for confirmation for a ministerial position and was rejected because he could not recite the country’s pledge and 2) another individual was denied running for governor’s election because he could not speak his local vernacular. Friend, let us understand that our loyalty and patriotism lies within these things but they are being SO ignored and overlooked by us here in Liberia. I learned to speak my local vernacular while in Nigeria. In 2006, during the inaugural ceremonies of our president I notice quite a good number in that gathering that were already leaders in the interim government and some who later took on leadership positions within the Ellen led government were, as we referred to it here in Liberia “Chewing their mouths,” because they did not know the national anthem and the Lone star as both songs were being sang on separate occasions. Isn’t this shameful on the part of our leaders to think that these things are un-important?
Fellow Liberians what do we have as our national identity that would unite us? Is it language or religion when both are divided within their own operational boundaries? We fought a civil war that was SO deadly and brutal because it is a tendency found among us to treat important things as un-important. In other countries within the sub-region, I have found language, religion, individuals’ in-country investments, eldership and god-fatherism-sorry if it’s not a terminology you are familiar with but am sure you understand what I mean-to be a uniting force and have united them SO much so that when there was conflict they used the above and in the process they find common ground, but it is not within our case. We do not have a national identity-nothing we can point to that will help us find common ground when dispute arises. There is absolutely nothing we can point to and say “For the sake of this thing or that thing” let us forget about this misunderstanding and come together. This is something we need to think about on a serious note.
(Chealy Brown Dennis is a motivational speaker and offers training in leadership and organizational development; strategic planning, and team building. He also offers on-location and train-the-trainer formats. He can be contacted through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone at: 0886-264-611)