The search for an orator

The Weah administration seems determine to break from tradition in the way Liberia’s independence is celebrated, particularly the process that involved naming an orator to address the nation.

Unlike in past administrations when the Government of Liberia thru the Executive would name a prominent and experience Liberian to speak to the nation on Independence Day, the current administration is calling on citizens to send in applications or nominations to serve as orator for the pending 171st Independence celebration on July 26, preferably a talented youth.

In fact, a vetting committee appointed by the Monrovia City Hall and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, two institutions jointly coordinating the vetting process has announced that it would shortly disclose who will deliver the 171st Independence Day Oration.

But one person, who is not happy with this strange approach and is not mincing his words in expressing so in public, is former Minister of Information Rev. Emmanuel Bowier.

Also an instructor at the Foreign Service Institute, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Monrovia, Rev. Bowier says an Independence Orator is not an office to seek, rather, it is the State that usually asks a personality to serve this role based on his or her contributions and experience.

The outspoken ex-minister says anyone applying to serve as national Independence orator is “stupid.” He is totally disgusted about the sudden departure from the way it had been done for over a century and half.

We too are concern about the sudden twist and wondering whether the Weah administration is ignoring traditional protocols regarding who should address the nation on such historic occasion.

The vetting committee explains that President George Manneh Weah is taking this route to afford a young Liberian between ages 15 and 35 the opportunity to explore his or her talent.

While we do not oppose affording young Liberians opportunities to demonstrate their talents, a national orator for our Independence Day celebration requires a Liberian with high pedigree of historical knowledge about our country’s political, socio-economic, cultural and religious diversity, particularly in the wake of serious economic challenges to recommend a way forward in addressing the woes.

In other words, the duty of an independence orator is not a child’s play, and therefore, should not be a stage to explore talent or experiment. After 170 years as a nation, we need sober reflection during such national occasion as well as a window to the future. What can a person under 40 say to a country as old as Liberia?

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