Liberian historian Dr. Joseph Saye Guannu, has challenged Liberians to take interest in knowing the history of Liberia. Professor Guannu, who is also Director of Peace and Conflict Resolution at the Cuttington University in Bong County, stressed that the importance of citizens knowing theircountry’s history is to able to identify their identity as a people.
He said often people claim they are Liberian citizens without knowing the founding fathers of the country, emphasizing that “knowing the history of Liberia will enable citizens, including students, youth activists and politicians understand the meaning of the Redeem Order of African Redemption and the role that Liberia played in it.
Dr. Guannu gave the challenge in remarks at a panel discussion on the historical significance of the Orders of Liberia and integrating cultural symbols into the Orders of Merits and Distinctions Thursday, September 10, at the Ministry of Information on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
He said if Liberians know their history well, things wouldn’t be difficult for them as it is now, because the country’s symbols have not been explained properly for students to understand their actual meanings. According to him, it is historically faulty to depict the ship on the Seal of Liberia as the ship that brought settlers back to the country, noting that such history needs to be corrected.
Dr. Guannu, also a former ambassador, called for a comprehensive history on Liberia.“The reason behind the comprehensive history is to know who first came to Liberia, because there were Muslims living here before the settlers arrived; to be a good agent of change, it requires research by knowing where you’re coming from.”
He said if Liberianstruly desire change, it is not for politicians, who are seeking political offices, but change should be for the country and its citizens. He explained that the history of Liberia does not speak about the actual facts of the country, but the coming of the settlers, saying, “We need a real history that will be called history after the settlers, because a country that does not know its past or where it’sheading, is not a country.”
Professor Guannu lamented that Liberia has suffered so long in the hands of many bad leaders, noting that there are three things that a good leader possesses:“Some of which include skills, knowledge, and integrity; without any of these, you cannot be considered as a good leader of a nation.”
The panel discussion brought together several officials of government, including the Vice President of the Governance Commission, Madam Elizabeth Mulbah; Ambassador George W. Wallace, Jr.,Presidential Advisor; and Professor Joseph Guannu, among others.
The informative forum came from a backdrop of the growing calls to improve and add a cultural context to the National Orders so that it can resonate with all citizens. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf constituted a National Symbol Review Project in 2012 to review comprehensively the current symbols of the nation and make recommendation to her office.