On this 175th Independence Day, we recall that in the face of daunting challenges, our founding fathers exhibited courage, determination, and fortitude, pressing on with their lofty aspiration for self-determination and nationhood.
Today we may take nationhood for granted, but history reminds us of the struggles of our forbearers in the quest for international recognition, causing President Joseph Jenkins Roberts to spend nine months of his first two-year term as president, touring Europe to seek recognition and support for the young Liberian state. The founding fathers deployed all in their reach to sustain the inviolate of our independence.
Today, we inherit this great endeavor, which behooves us to dutifully pursue our life’s aspirations with caution and care, bearing in mind the devastating implications of failing. Lest we betray the sacrifices and struggles of our ancestors, we should keep the torch alive and carry the responsibility to preserve our common patrimony. It is now our sacred duty to keep the flame of our independence and sovereignty burning and lifted.
We are truly happy and blessed to count 175 years of existence as Africa’s oldest independent and sovereign republic, but this is not enough. We should meditate and ask hard questions. “What have we achieved in 175 years of existence as a nation? Are we satisfied with what we are and where we are headed as a nation? I hope this year’s independence will allow us some time for reflection. After 175 years Liberia still sinks in acute illiteracy, hunger, death of preventable diseases, unemployment, and injustice.
This year’s Independence Day commemoration comes on the back of the passage of a groundbreaking law that further unites us as a people – The Dual Citizenship Law. Passage of this law calls for celebration and forward-thinking, as a basis for unlocking new opportunities in tourism, B&B, and Airbnb to welcome families and friends from the diaspora who have been away for many years with no foothold in Liberia, daily shutter, and local transportation, and so many more.
Now I urge all of us Liberians, irrespective of our political persuasion, religion, tribe, or creed, to join in, let’s build and construct, let’s move our country forward, and let’s together recover the lost years. Let no one lie to you that we can’t do this. There is still time to do so. Let us exhibit the highest sincerity to ourselves, our nation, and our God if we are to propel the engine of prosperity in our land, the land of freedom and liberty.
The picture of our country today at 175 does not evoke pride, notwithstanding, it is a picture that should inspire us to act as a proud people. If out of nothing we can preserve our independence for 175 unbroken years, then we as a people are obligated to build on it – we can develop and modernize it. This is a challenge I throw to all of us as the progenies of brave and resilient forebears. Let us respond to the callings beyond our narrow personal aspirations, to loosen the shackles of deprivation and abject poverty that have shackled us like a dark thundercloud over our national existence.
The future is bright, but we must seize it. We must be intentional as we approach the future. If we can not find a way let’s make a way!
May God continue to bless and protect our country Liberia.
Happy Independence Day to all!
B. Elias Shoniyin
Dean, School of Global Affairs and Policy
Cuttington University /Managing Director, Africa Development
Management Associates (ADMA)