We Cannot Build the Fourth Republic by Keeping Each Other Down
By Dr. Syrulwa Somah
At Cary Community Center, Cary, North Carolina
Friends and brothers, I am honored by your invitation to be here, and I want to thank you for your warm welcome and introduction. Now you know my “weakest link” (love for football). Though you slow down when you are aging, I still love to play football. Therefore, when you said that I should come for us to “run after the leather” and talk about killing the mosquitoes, I accepted your challenge. I also accepted your challenger because regardless of how small the effort one undertakes to help our nation in good faith, we must support each other and not derail each other’s progress. We cannot build a great nation by keeping each other down. I want to thank the young Liberians who out ran me on the field. You did well! I was in Liberia two months ago and the team we played--players out ran me as you did today. You didn’t do anything wrong for making me breathless so do not feel discouraged. Thanks for the good game! You are my heroes. We need to have more events like these not because we are sisters and brothers, but soccer is uniting and therapeutic. I remembered when the great Pele played in the Nicaragua during the civil wars, the fighters put their guns and odium for three days to see him played. The world finest footballers are in Germany in unity for the 2006 World Cup. This is how powerful football is.
Friends and brothers, we are living in a difficult time. I maintain that the 14-year civil war shattered everything we had, so we need to work very hard and very smart to rebuild our lives and our country. But we cannot build up ourselves and our country if we are sick constantly from common and curable diseases like malaria. I think you know if you and I were sick with malaria we wouldn’t have played the game today because we wouldn’t have the strength to run after the football. And this is why my organization, the Liberian History, Education, and Development, Inc. (LIHEDE), is trying to do something about getting rid of malaria in Liberia. We are holding a conference in Monrovia this coming December (2006) to discuss how we can combat malaria and other common diseases in Liberia because malaria doesn’t belong in our environment. For these and other reasons, I would now like to draw your attention to the title of my speech, “We Cannot Build the Fourth Republic by Keeping Each Other Down”.
First, I want to again thank you for taking time off of your busy schedules to be here. We at LIHEDE want to impress on you not to let anyone hoodwink you that we cannot get rid of malaria in Liberia. The only that we need more of are you to join the campaign. When people raise their hand good things can happen.
Pacing through the unpleasant aspects of human existence, humanity has always looked for heroes but it also resents those who step forward. The resentment is even greater when the nation is stressed, traumatized, or attempting to recover from the unpleasant aspects of human procrastination and inactivity that demised a whole generation, like the nation of Liberia.
Equally so, history also provides us with compelling records of men who stood up in time of great moral crises, and by virtue of their beliefs in the brotherhood of man, attempted to rescue their people from the dungeon of self-destruction and external exploitation. The likes of Mahatma Gandhi, Patrice Lumumba, W. R. Tolbert, M. L. King, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, Diogenes Laertius, and Biblical Joseph, are but a few examples of individuals who rose to the levels of reluctant heroes when their nation needed them but the same nation resented them. My discussion will be limited to the last two individuals to make my point and move on.
Diogenes Laertius was the son of Icesias, a banker who had been found guilty of defacing the public coin. Icesias was soon imprisoned and his son Diogenes was sent to Athens to live in exile. Diogenes became a follower of Antisthenes, who was the head of the Cynics. When Diogenes sought membership into the Cynics, Antisthenes uprightly rejected to admit him and struck him with a stick. In response Diogenes did the unthinkable, proclaiming "Strike me, Antisthenes, but you will never find a stick sufficiently hard enough to remove me from your presence while you speak anything worth hearing". It was Diogenes’ calmness of response that impressed Antisthenes so much that he willingly admitted him into the Cynics. It was in exile that Diogenes developed a character of excellence and renounced all forms of corruption, riches, luxury, and greed that those in power espoused.
Diogenes reasoned that virtue was better exposed in action than in premise or “deeds not words” as we would say in Liberia. To prove his allegiance, he was seen promenading around the city and market-grounds on a pleasant day with a lighted oil lamp in his hand. He keenly and attentively was observed looking around as if he had misplaced the head of a pin.
The sun is so hot, high in the Heavens, why are you strolling in the streets with a lighted lantern?” an individual asked Diogenes. “I am trying to search for an honest man” Diogenes responded.
It was not a surprise that Diogenes sought an honest man or a hero in the hot sun with a lighted candle because in a humane society everyone should be taken care of and all should contribute equally and leave no child behind or render verdict without the fact---and that’s what honest men and heroes are known for and needed now in our nation!
It was Diogenes’ unflinching frown on societal standards of moral duty that sent positive waves across the length and breadth of Greece. The tale of Diogenes reached so far that duty-bound Alexander the Great went in search of the man who was so overconfident with his will to defeat human frailties. Before Alexander the Great could get on his way, distracters, friends and gossipers were speaking ill and pre-judging Diogenes up to the day on which Alexander arrived at the tub in which Diogenes’ slept. “Good afternoon I am Alexander the Great" he stated, as he stretched his hand forward for a hand shake with Diogenes the Cynic.
To everyone’s surprise, Diogenes didn’t even acknowledge his presence. Alexander, in an attempt to get his attention, accosted him to let him know what service he could render him. Diogenes simply replied, "Stand from between me and the sun". Alexander, moved by his response said to his friends, who were speaking ill of the Cynic philosopher, "If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes". Why would Alexander, “The Great” wish to be Diogenes, a man who slept in a tub in the street of Corinth?
Brethren, I believe that the answer to this difficult question lies hidden in Ancient Greek’s psychology of humanizing corruption or considering everyone as corrupt individuals. Among all the great men of Greece, including Alexander, Diogenes had defied the odds and determined that corruption - like any human behavior, can be altered or controlled by the action and inaction of the people. For the most part, the Greeks had not seen any of their countrymen who would just be a nationalist, love Greece and prick the people’s conscious to good governance and decency without wanting an accolade until Diogenes. Therefore, when Diogenes said he was not for moral emptiness because where morality or development is denied, poverty blossoms, where ignorance is bred and violence prevails, and where good motives are classified as “ulterior motives”, national development is delayed, his fellowmen became judges and jurors. Naturally, Diogenes was a hated hero and was scorned.
Our next example of how a citizen stood up and provided the needed lifeline for his people is the Biblical Joseph. The animosity between Joseph and his brothers began when their father Jacob showed more love toward his favorite wife’s Rachel’s son Joseph, to whom he gave a coat of many colors. Realizing that Joseph had not done enough work to deserve such a gift from their father and that by doing so, provoked jealousy and envy against Joseph (by his brothers) which soon caused them to sell him to traveling Midianite merchants in route to Egypt.
Upon their arrival in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, captain of the king's guard, in whose service he remained for ten years. It was while he was in this dungeon that Joseph rose to prominence not only amongst the prisoners, but also amongst servants of the pharaoh including Pharaoh’s butler and baker. Joseph became an excellent dreams interpreter for them. Soon, Joseph was interpreting the dreams of the Pharaoh which none other could discern, ultimately giving rise to Joseph who became a prominent leader over the land of Egypt.
How does Diogenes and Joseph’s legends relate to how we cannot build the fourth Republic by keeping each other down? Accusations without proof will not only cause miscarriages of justice but has the potential to cause the delay in the 4th Republic’s redevelopment. Joseph was falsely accused of attempted rape and Diogenes was falsely accused of “ulterior motives”. Historically, many of our fellow countrymen were similarly accused - some of whom were lucky and were only publicly ridiculed, while others died before they had time to help our nation develop. An example of how accusing our fellow Liberians without giving them the benefit of the doubt can be disastrous is, when the people are made to believe that there is an “ulterior motive”. This is presented in the case of Rufus Daboh. History tells us that the Liberian veteran journalist was not only detained at Belle Yella, Liberia’s notorious prison, but coined one of President Doe's famous remarks: "God gave you long life, but you were very careless with it".
Second, labeling our fellow Liberians with having an “ulterior motive” can be fatal when our countrymen just want to do what is required of them. This is captured in Charles Gbeyon’s demise. For several years he worked for the Liberian Broadcasting System as a television journalist. He decided to televise a scene of government crime and was accused of having ulterior motives”. He was soon murdered in a cold blood---an event that is still fresh in our memory.
Another example of how silencing individuals by stating they have “ulterior motives” that kept good people and their ideas in jail is vividly captured in the stories of James Yarkpawolo Gbarbyee of Bong County; Robert H. Kennedy of Lofa County; Gabriel Fhangarlo of Nimba County. The bosom or our nations’ history is filled with accounts of the forming Public Relation Officers (PRO) who terrorized Liberia and kept Tubman in power for 27 years. Appointed to the leadership of their respective counties, these vibrant and energetic young men were accused of having “ulterior motives” for riding in government cars with sirens blaring similar to President Tubman. It didn’t’ take too long for the news to get to Tubman by the PRO that this group of superintendents were potential opposition party members and were appearing too “presidential”. They were quickly thrown in jail as "plotters" against Tubman.
A fourth example of how sending those who have our nation’s best interest at heart to “Bella Yalla” because they have “ulterior motives” that caused an incurable wound, can be seen in Ambassador Henry Bioma Fahnbulleh, Sir, Second Secretary to the Liberian Embassy in Freetown who was named ambassador to Kenya. In Kenya, it was said that “Duke” supported Mzee Jomo Kenyatta (who helped to organize the 5th Pan-African Congress in Great Britain in 1945). It was also said that “Duke” had the picture of the Chinese Cultural Revolution Chairman Mao hanging on the wall of the Liberian Embassy. To make matters worse, there was no President Tubman of Liberia picture next to Chairman Mao. During the latter 1950s and early 1960s, the names of Fidel Castro of Cuba (that overthrew General Fulgencio Batista, the de facto leader of Cuba and Mao Zedong) who attempted to bring the government completely under his control and were called, the “gringos of revolutions” that shocked the seatpants of incumbent leaders.
Therefore, the PRO had an easy case to make to President Tubman against Fahnbulleh, Sir. Hence, it didn’t take too long for the news of the two incidents to reach Tubman. A surveillance team was dispatched unknown to Fhanbulleh. Under the disguise of “auditing” he was accused of embezzlement, a smoke screen that landed him in jail where he remained until Tolbert became president, freed him and dismantled the PRO, rightfully describing them as a “bunch of liars.“
Here were our fellow Liberians on the mountaintops with their visions for Liberia’s future, being viewed through a fog of misunderstanding by other Liberians in low sterile valleys. It is not easy for ordinary Liberians to listen to, much less accept, their own kind. But this is the task before us as a nation and people. It is not possible to fully understand the way some of us see things and ask why and why not if one does not understand the role of the citizen. One of my roles as a native of Liberia is to challenge hypocrisies (beliefs cherished as certainties) and institutional paradigms that our people endowed with supreme sanctity. Though my findings may be stern, sour, and stinging, I offer no apology for the “inconvenience of the truth”.
Brothers and sisters, combing through our history, one can see that we are a nation of people who do not know how to be happy for the next citizen and rally around him or her for his or her own ideas or achievement. We are quick to invoke the crab mentality---pulling each other down as soon as we see an effort. We are quick to kill our heroes as soon as the mother begins to give him a breast or when we see him learning how to crawl. As a result, we lack national monuments of our past in the arena of our athletics, musicians, heroes, and leaders, and so forth. We learn other peoples’ grandfather’s tongues to show off and destroy our own. The object of our college degrees is boasting in the name of the degree granting institution, wearing the titles not what the holder accomplishes with it for our nation.
Combing through history, it would not take too long to find that; we live as if no other generations are coming when we are gone. In doing so, it would not take too long to discover that we prefer failure to laughter and resist team-work for national accomplishments.
Combing through history it would not take too long to find that we are one of the few if not the only nation in the world that continues to suffer from a serious case of identity crisis but refuse to study to learn who we are or find ourselves.
Combing through our history, we are the only nation that sets down traps for each other hoping that it will soon catch a person.
We do not have to travel half a mile in the annals of our history to find how spiritually empty we are in our hearts and souls. We refused to intone and reconcile our differences but continue to give lips service to the real issues, when asked to provide responsible answers to these questions.
We refused to turn to one who attempts to address the issues, one who stands with arms opened wide waiting for us to come and put our hands together in the calabash of nationhood and build a better tomorrow. And because our minds and hearts are unclean and do not bend towards each other, we seem not able to find our way out of things. Sadly, we wonder why our current government supposedly resembles that of the past and we also resemble the past because of our refusal to change or graduate from the same destructive history we accuse others for holding unto.
Like the Greeks, Liberia would have had the likes of Diogenes and Joseph. Our history holds countless stories of men and women of good characters who were killed so stood up for Liberia’s genuine interest. Like the Greeks, Liberia has the likes of Diogenes and Joseph are among us but other Liberians stand between them and the suns’ rays and sell them to “travelers” while dreaded (and curable diseases like) malaria is still killing our people while poverty and ignorance have become a way of life on the rich soil of our nation. Something is very wrong and grave serious action is needed!
Frankly, my heart aches and I am disappointed and taking aback, with all due respect to our fellow Liberians who called the 3.2 billion people (or the more than 50% of the world population exposed malaria) an over-dramatization. Are they saying that the fact that an African child dies every 30 seconds, and that there are 500 million clinical cases causing up to 3 million deaths with 90% happening in Sub-Sahara Africa annually a dramatization? I still maintain that the reason malaria doesn’t catch the world’s attention is because it is a poor people’s disease. In other words, malaria doesn’t threaten rich people’s lives. On the contrary, as soon as a Russian scientist announced that “one billion people stand to die from the coming global flu pandemic” (http://www.birdfludefense.com/002331.html) it made headlines. As soon as it was announced that the United States would lose 700,000 people to the bird flu in the six months following the onset of a pandemic, it attracted the world’s attention in an extraordinary way (see Mark Adams’s article Flu pandemic could kill one billion people around the world” http://www.birdfludefense.com/002331.html.).
I only have time for the values that bind us together as a society and allow us to live in this free, democratic and malaria free land. Malaria is my enemy and like Diogenes, I too I am figuratively strolling the streets of the world and literally the streets of Liberia shouting looking for good Liberians. Malaria is my enemy and I will fight to my death what I fear. I am looking for honest men and women to help defeat this damn disease. Simply, it was both Diogenes and Joseph’s upright character which is of greater worth than the gold of Ophir that compelled Alexander the Great to visit with Diogenes, and Joseph to be in charge of the harvest bloodline of Egypt. It was an upright character, which is of greater worth than the gold of Ophir that Joseph said unto his brethren, “Come near to me, I pray you” and they came near. And he said, "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life”. When the character we say that we have is attached, it must be with this expression of our character that we use to exonerate ourselves before honest men. Without character none can rise to an honorable eminence. It is history and honest who will see our heart and assign us according to our deeds.
The spiteful public relations campaign and public outcry by some Liberians over the unsubstantiated claims that the use of DDT in any malaria treatment efforts in Liberia could degrade the local environment and expose the Liberian people to greater health risks, than might be attained by using DDT to eradicate malaria in Liberia is a chastisement mechanism of keeping good people and their ideas down. While I believe that it is the right of all Liberians to express fears and concerns about any potential negative effects on the environment and health of the Liberian people, to play politics with our efforts to defeat malaria is disheartening.
Malaria is a serious health problem in Liberia with the potential to undermine the country’s national reconstruction efforts by seriously eroding the productive capacities of Liberians infested with the disease. This is why LIHEDE organized a symposium in the U.S. in July 2005 on “Combating Malaria in Post-Conflict Liberia” in order to engage Liberian and American health professionals and malaria treatment experts in finding a common solution to the malaria pandemic in Liberia.
The head of the malaria control program in Liberia not only attended the LIHEDE symposium in the U.S. on behalf of the Liberian government, but the Liberian government also embraced the ideas expressed in a resolution by participants of the symposium underscoring the need for malaria eradication in Liberia and mandating that a follow-up health conference be held in Liberia in order to liaison with local Liberian government officials and health authorities in deriving a blueprint for malaria treatment, control, and eradication in Liberia. The upcoming LIHEDE and Liberian Ministry of Health-organized National Health Conference in Monrovia in December 2006 is a direct result of the LIHEDE 2005 symposium resolution aimed at combating malaria in post-conflict Liberia.
Fellow Liberians, today, there are other insecticides such as permethrin 30/30, approved by the World health Organization (WHO) that can be used alternatively with DDT to minimize resistance since resistance requires consistent use. WHO supports the use of these pesticides using an integrated approach as we mentioned in our message. Very importantly, if one is to hail the outlawing of DDT for the risks it imposes then one must take responsibility for the risk of not possessing any technological alternative. My point is malaria is a billion dollar business so pharmaceutical companies will influence lobbied research to keep selling tablets while other says we should pray that a vaccination would be invented someday by Bill Gates. Is Gates responsible for defeating malaria in Liberia?
The question we must ask ourselves honestly and nationalistically is: Why are these environmentally friendly chemicals not being promoted in Liberia as opposed to bandage solutions, i.e. bed nets and the yet to be invented vaccine? Equally important, while some of our brethren are still applauding the researchers who advocated DDT ban, they failed to realize these researchers’ findings were based fake research. Even as I speak, fake research is on the rise to the detriment of human health. Often newscast informs us about people who are genius, absolutely unequalled researchers who have invented new drugs, but only to hear later that something poses a threat to human health. The recent withdrawals of the prescription medications such as Vioxx and Bextra from the marketplace due to safety concerns are classics examples of bad science.
The point I am conveying is that researchers are not angels---they cheat. It is my professionally view that they cheated the African people in the case of DDT so I am not going to relent. Researchers cheat for several reasons, starting with mental ailment; lack of or inadequate mentoring; lack of universal standard or different scientific standards, above all, insurmountable and increasing professional pressure to publish studies or perish.
That is exactly my point! The malaria debate, health professionals, community activists and social service providers must seek to maximize a solution that builds our capability to control and eventually eradicate the disease by dissecting the malaria economics from the risks and opportunities derived for our people by fake research. Let’s remember malaria is a billion dollar business and anyone who dares to fight such a lucrative business is bound to be scorned as having an “ulterior motive”.
Friends and brothers, before 19th century, not only humanity was made to believe that earth has four corners, but that the earth was flat. And, it was not only the center of the universe, but if you sailed too far you could fall off the cliff of the earth. But there was young man whom many of you have read about in the science class. He was Copernican who didn’t believe that nonsense. Copernican concluded that the sun was the center of the universe with the Earth being one of its flocks.
I believe there other people who didn’t believe in falling off the “cliff theory” but were afraid to challenge it because lot of people and the church said it was so. During those days, the Catholic Church had absolute power over vast areas of the world. It could excommunicate members and punish persons with unorthodox views. The Pope even exercised that power by issuing a Papal Bull, which divided the world between Christian and non-Christian. The Church argued that certain trends of thought could stir up revolutionary thinking, therefore, the Copernican concept was opposed to normative values, religious authority, and the idea of natural laws. He too was hated and scorned.
Young Copernican did not give up on his belief no matter who were the stakeholders and irrespective of the circumstances. He stood up to the Pope when Western intellectual thinking was muzzled. I know you know what happened, right? He proved them dead wrong! It took the Vatican three centuries to repent for its condemnations of Galileo for supporting Nicholas Copernicus. In retrospect, the post-De Revolutionibus Orbium Calesstium liberated those minds that were incarcerated. Imagine if Copernican had not told the bitter true”! You and I would be so afraid to even get on jet plane today to avoid falling off the cliff of the earth if he had succumbed to pressure. The De Revolutionibus Orbium Calesstium of 1514 initiated a change in astronomical and cosmological thought. Like Copernicus, I stand before you and can look straight in your eyes and without any air of ambiguity say that DDT was banned as being environmentally unfriendly pesticide based on myths. History will never contradict my opinion on the benefits.
Friends and brothers, wonder with me why a person like me who has specialized in Environmental and Occupational Safety & Health for the past 25 years, whose main objective has been to protect the lives of people from the harmful chemicals in their environment, would allow a toxic chemical/carcinogen to kill my people? Is this the only “ulterior motive” with which I win the heart of the Liberian people? What are the reciprocal benefits or affinity between poisoning the Liberian people and the “ulterior motive”? Do I have any stock with these toxic producing companies for which I will give them “carte Blanc” to drench Liberia with environmentally harmful chemicals? Something is wrong here, isn’t it? You be the judge because I have told you all that is in my heart herein.
We Liberians have not learned that being an employee of our nation without necessarily being on the payroll or being heavily influenced by a president or minister is the highest form of patriotism. I believe that I do not have to be employed by the Liberian government to do what is expected of me or help make my nation defeats malaria. I believe that I do not have to be a “president”, “minister”, director”, etc. to do that which is required of me.
Throughout our school the mantra has been "I pledge allegiance to the flag of Liberia, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." I wonder to who or what have Liberians pledged our allegiance for the past 159 years? Like you I wonder why students were spanked for failing to properly recite this mantra. It would be silly to think that our pledge of allegiance was showing our loyalty to a piece of red, white and blue colored cloth and not to "republic for which it stands", meaning Liberia.
It would be silly to think that our true pledge of allegiance was showing our loyalty to a piece of red, white and blue colored cloth but not to uphold and defend the soci-economic, cultural, and political life of Liberia. It would be silly to think that our true pledge of allegiance to the "republic for which it stands" and say later that “I do not have to time”, which I consider to mean I do not have soul”. Instead, this destructive virus is accelerating and becoming a legacy that the concept of social and political perspicuity for Liberians means not only to challenge and defeat the opponent, but rather to completely OBLITERATE his/her totality. It is sad that this cancerous virus is now killing our moral and just spirit, just as the Greeks did to Diogenes. I think it is hypocritical when we have prayed for the civil wars to end to help build our nation only to become antagonistic of others because our ideas didn’t come from our fellow citizens. I think it is hypocritical when we have prayed for the civil war to end to help build our nation but become antagonistic to others and want to derail their progress knowing that we promised each other to help the 4th republic to start anew.
I do not want to believe that Liberians have not learned any thing from our past dangerous behaviors. I do not want to believe that the virus called “lack of institutional memory” is still logged in our psyche after 400, 000 of our fellow citizens have been buried by these identical behaviors. Since the beginning of our nation, generations of Liberians have struggled to achieve that golden dream. If I am not willing to do for my nation except I am given a government position, then who will build Liberia for me? But if all of my childhood and other acquired education are only a benefit to me, then the destruction of my people and the nation that has given me so much should be the epitaph on my tombstone. Good Citizens Develop Nations not Government.
Throughout history, great nations become and maintain greatness because of its people. Sparta was one of the smallest of all the Greek states but became famous because of one of its citizens’ deeds. It was people like Lycurgus who gave it laws of uncommon brilliance. It was not the USA or USSR president who invented the atomic bomb it was the people! It was not the US president who invented the computer - it was the high school dropout, Bill Gates! It was James Watt’s invention of the Steam Powered engine in 1763 that industrialized England - not the government. It was Michael Faraday’s invention of electricity in 1831 that set up the golden age of light. It was Marconi and De Forest discovery of radio signals that amplified and transmitted music and speech -not the government.
It was Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin that proved that colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus and other infectious diseases could be destroyed by the mold Penicillium notatum. It was Mr. Edward Carter, a Kpelle son who is credited with “assembling a 2 seated Nissan Damamker in order to support his family since he could not get a job” - and not the government of Liberia. Simply, it is the people who change human society. Did those I have named have “ulterior motives” for the presidency or other ministerial positions in their nations before doing what they did? America, the nation that Liberians imitate so much even though they disowned us during our civil wars, didn’t became great through the government - it was the people. No one should stand between development and Liberia if there are no scientific or justifiable reasons to do so, Liberia needs all of us.
Let Us Start Building
It was while in exile that Diogenes and Joseph’s nobilities and countenance were not only noticed but their nations thrust into historical prominence. It was in exile that Diogenes and Joseph are represented as an exemplar of filial respect, for which they were called to duty and leadership, they went punctually and with cheerfulness of heart, although they knew that their people hated them.
Today we live in other people’s nations and call them paradise and crave to be like them but our actions and inactions speak otherwise. The rest of the world is tired of calling “time out” as they feel we don’t have what it takes to build a great nation. For example, instead of using our guns to protect our nations, we turned them on our own brethren. Instead of using the powerful Internet to free our nation from disease, ignorance and poverty, we turned it on our brethren to “create dissention.” Among the civilized nations, we are the ones who just refuse to grow up and are like unto a big balloon in the wind, tilted by the pressure to rise.
Is it not about time that in building this new Liberia, we give those who are not defrauding our nation the benefits of the doubt? Is it not about time that we judge each person based on what each person does and not what others have done in the past? Is it not about time that we ask “not what your country can do for you-but what you can do for your country"? And is it not about time that we collectively demand the eradication of curable malaria that is older than Jesus?
We cannot build a great nation with rancor and rudeness in Liberian politics. We cannot build a great nation when we forget where we came from. We cannot build a nation of humanity or brotherhood of mankind, without concern about our fellowmen. All the experiences of religious ecstasy pale before argue that anything that restrain you from giving your maximum be it false accusing, envy, jealousy or fence sitting in developing your own nation and receiving your brethren, though they may have wronged you are bondages.
In essence, it is with this abiding faith that I say to you “You can struck and stick all you want” but I will never be indifference to my native land because “The penalty men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men” (Plato). In essence, it is with this abiding faith that I says to you In essence, it is with this abiding faith that I says to you --we cannot build the fourth Republic by keeping each other down. This land of Liberia is not only the land of my parentage, but is my mother - I owe to it my very life and being because she gave me life. It has nourished my physical and spiritual body and soul with its substance, and it has molded my very soul. It is surely not for nothing that from childhood I have looked upon its great rivers, landscapes, mountains, even if there are those rare fellow citizens who have not learned to love them. Its skies, its weather, its woods and fields and hills, its towns and villages all have dyed my imagination and has become part of my innermost being. After all, this land of mine, is part of me and I am of it. I have no desire to harm this land and its soil that holds the dust of countless generations of my kinsfolk and fellow citizens.
I have no desire to harm this land and its soil because it is the land of my birth, because it is the land of my forefather, and because it will be the land of those who shall come after me, perhaps of my sons and daughters.
I have no desire to harm Liberia and its soil because they have given life to my forefathers and hold their fossils and tombs them, and which in turn nurtures me, my children, their children, and grandchildren to come. Liberia and its soil are linked between generations, between families and friends, between common experiences of our past and that of the present and future.
However, nations are great because of their heroes and generations that have gone before them have toiled to make them what they are. It is the fruit of their labor and sweat or the outcome of their brains and skills, not the government per se that make these nations great. You and I have the moral and ethical responsibility to take our nation to its rightful place in this world and put our hands between our legs and let fate destroy us all.
I always say, that the God of Liberia will ask you one day this question. Yes, you were a journalist, doctor, engineer, professor, writer, but what did you do with your education to help Liberia. For me, I just want to be one of the Liberians who beckon our nation towards the future. I know very little about the naysayers and what their plans are for our nation. What I know is one day I will stand before my Creator as an educated person to face that question. I want to be able to answer without scratching my hairs to find the answer.
I want to answer that question without fighting to find words. I want to say at least I tried to develop a Liberian Studies Program, my fellow Liberians fought me, but I didn’t give up on Liberia. I want to say on that day when I stand before the God of Liberia, at least I fought malaria, my fellow Liberians accused me of “ulterior motive” but I didn’t give up. I want to say on that, at least I tried proposing a youth development project, plantain-banana project, agricultural project, restructuring the Armed Forces of Liberia, and implementing a radio station for national health/malaria eradiation. All the way, my fellow countrymen used the principle of collective guilt to derail my effort but I didn’t abandon Liberia. If my efforts yield nothing, I least I tried. If I succeed in saving the lives of few Liberian babies from mosquito bites, at least I have something to show my Creator.
Think on these things so the God of Heaven and our forefathers will give us success and bless our hands as a collective people. Let us start national building. Thanks!