July 26; Is There Anything To Celebrate?

By Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

One important event in any country’s life or existence is the day on which it declared itself as an independent country, whether from a former master or not. This day, the government and people usually organize activities to mark the celebration. The national government always holds special events, while citizens go about in festive mood celebrating the day. Actually, this day has its own spirit as it imbues in the citizenry a sense of belonging, nationalism and patriotism.

Although there are other activities that usually precede the actual day, there has always been major events, during which time a Liberian was selected serve as national orator. Because of the issue of taking development to all parts of the country, the celebration has been decentralized. This year, the celebration will jointly be held by Bomi and Gbarpolu Counties, with the Chairman of the ruling Unity Party (UP), Cllr. Varney B. Sherman, serving as orator.

Independence Day celebration is not only a time for merry making and conviviality, a time for sober reflection; a time for self-assessment on the past and prospects for the future. Like the celebration of one’s birthday, or observance of a group or organization’s anniversary, it is necessary to always look back to see whether or not progress has been made over the year, and if not, what needs to be done.

Obviously, as the nation celebrates its 166th Independence Day tomorrow, this cannot be done without reflecting on the past and thinking about the future.

Comparatively speaking, are we what we should actually be after more than 160 years of independence when recently independent nations have achieved much than us? Can we measurably say that the number of years of independence commensurate with the level of development? Likewise, can we boast of being better off, considering the wealth of the country as compared to the population over the years? Frankly, these are all important questions because on this day of celebration, we should not only by merry-making, but at the same time proud of our accomplishments and achievement over the years.

Sadly to note, this is not the case. We are celebrating more than 160 years in the face of backwardness. We declared ourselves an independence country on July 26, 1847, without blueprint to serve as a development guide to move the country forward. As we move to Tubmanburg tomorrow for this celebration, a clear indication of the lack of national blueprint would be visibly seen from the physical appearance of the Independence Day venue because of the lack of development in that county where a mining company operated for years.

As I always said, which I repeated recently while visiting the United States, today, we are doing things we should have done many years ago. This is why I have no qualm with those who always say, “NOTHING HAPPENING,” in that it is now we are talking about road construction, better health facilities, better schools, a modern international airport, community colleges in the counties just to name a few.

However, in the face of this backwardness, is there still any reason why Liberians should celebrate? I say YES. We have reasons to celebrate because of the level of peace we enjoy as a people and nation; we have reason to celebrate for having an open society; we have reasons to celebrate for preaching accountability, transparency and financial probity.

Additionally, we have reasons to celebrate because there is no more, “so say one, so say all;,” we have reasons to celebrate because there is no rubber-stamped Legislature; we have reasons to celebrate because we have an open budget hearing; we have reasons to celebrate because of the level of press freedom and freedom of speech that are permeating all fabrics of the society.

Furthermore, we have reasons to celebrate because we have moved from a “rogue state” to our right place in the comity of nations; we have reasons to celebrate because we have built institutions to help move the country from backwaters to prosperity. They include the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission LACC), the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the Public Procurement, Concession Commission (PPCC) and the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), just to name a few.

How-be-it, despite these reasons to celebrate, the task ahead is herculean; we have to do more in tackling the issues of graft and skullduggery; poverty, the welfare and wellbeing of the ordinary people, equitable distribution of the enormous resources of the country, so that every citizen will feel a part of the national pie; besides, we have to avoid hypocrisy, deceit, sycophancy, arrogance and power-greed.

Lastly, as we celebrate, we should be more nationalistic and patriotic that the interest of the country and its people will reign supreme. That is, in whatever we find ourselves, whether in the public or private sector, Liberia’s interest should never be compromised. More importantly, we should always strive for unity and oneness, being mindful that, “in union, strong success is sure.” HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!