By Lewis S Teh
Rhodes Island district#3 Representative Nathan W. Biah of the United States says peace and education are critical to the success of any nation, as they are ingredients of growth and development.
“My intent today is to use education as a means of promoting peace through cultural heritage, especially among our regional and neighboring partners”, Congressman Biah said here Wednesday, 16 February when he addressed program marking 43rd Monrovia Day under the auspices of the Monrovia City Corporation.
He says the formation of the Mano River Union (MRU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the organization of African Unity now the African Union, among others are vital to the existence of the global community, noting that as a founding partner, Liberia has always been in the vanguard for the promotion of peace, education, economic freedom, social justice and human rights across Africa.
Representative Biah, who was dressed up in a navy blue coat suite, continues that the link between Providence Island in Monrovia and Rhodes Island in the U.S. leading to the landing of settlers on Providence Island and subsequent signing of Liberia’s Declaration of Independence inside the Providence Baptist Church in the heart of the capital are intimately connected, adding that the historical society specifically mentioned the sailing of free slaves to Liberia.
“Our destiny as Liberia and the United States are inextricably connected”, he says and adds that statistically, Rhode Island hosts most Liberians per capital within the territorial confines of America.
Rep. Biah: “Let’s break from all the pleasantries and have an open and honest conversation as a people and country; what do we want? Where are we going?.” He says these are straightforward questions that need to be answered in honest faction.
He calls on the Government of Liberia to commit to educating her citizens, stressing that education will assist Liberians to rehabilitate their less fortunate brothers and sisters and help to clean the streets to attract foreign investments that would eventually help to improve the economy.
The Mayor of Freetown, Madam Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, in remarks extols her Liberian counterpart Mayor Jefferson Koijee for what she calls a historic milestone, noting that the city corporation under the leadership of Mayor Koijee has made tremendous progress despite challenges that have engulfed the city and the country at large.
“I’m excited to form part of this history-making event; as you all may know, Freetown and Monrovia have so much in common and have long been sharing experiences, challenges and knowledge that can improve our both cities”, says Mayor Aki-Sawyer.
She recalls Liberia-Sierra Leone connection came from a long way, citing arrival of the settlers on Shepro Island in Freetown to their settling on Providence Island in Monrovia. Mayor Aki-Sawyer notes that those connections have been concretized through the MRU and other bilateral relationships.
“As we celebrate this day, our relationship has been strengthened at the city level, the challenges our cities are facing can’t be overemphasized, we’re battling climate change, urbanization, waste management and sanitation with a rapidly growing young population.”
Also speaking, the Lord Mayor of the Municipal Council of The Gambia, Talib Ahmed Bensouda, thanked the Government and people of Liberia for the hospitality accorded him, noting that Monrovia is the happiest city in the subregion.
Mayor Bensouda continues that his decision to run for office in 2018 was to shift the dynamics in The Gambia by contributing to the growth of the country.
The youthful Mayor says if Africa must get on the right track, there’s a need to have strong institutions and well-coordinated partnerships with cities on a subregional level.
The celebration, held under the theme: Rekindling City Heritage for Urban Resilience”, was graced by key officials of government from line ministries and agencies, international partners from the U.S. and the subregion, including Mayor Yvonne Aki-Sawyer of Freetown, Sierra Leone, Naquetta Rick’s, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the State of Colorado, Elizabeth K.T. Sackey, the Lord Mayors of Accra, Ghana and Talib Ahmed Bensouda of Banjul, Gambia, and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia, Joel Maybury, among others.
Previously called Christopolis or City of Christ, the Liberian capital Monrovia, was renamed in 1824 after James Monroe, 5th President of the United States. In 1845, a constitutional convention was held in Monrovia at which the document was drafted that would be adopted two years later as the constitution of the newly Independent and Sovereign Republic of Liberia. It’s mandated by the city council that the mayor reports on the state of affairs of the city on 16 February each year. Editing by Jonathan Browne