By UmValli Löwenthal
August 15, 2011
My fellow citizens, these presidential aspirants are saying to us that they will “do this” and they will “do that”, have we seen what any of them have done for the country, their respective counties, towns, villages and neighborhoods; since the last “presidential election season”? What seeds are we prepare to sow and how bountiful do we expect our harvest? As a consequence of our votes in this election season, how many more bags of cassava or bags of rice will we have in our homes to feed our children? How many more kanjas or bags of produce will we take to market for sale? How many more of our children will be in school? When our children are sick will the hospitals, medicines and healthcare practitioners be available to heal them? Fellow citizens, as we enter those voting booths, these issues must be at the forefront of our thoughts - the prevention of hunger, adequate health care, free and quality public education and a safe and healthy environment for our children. Fret not, Liberians, ask the candidates your questions. Please, we must not forfeit our votes or the future of our children and nation to an “angel” we do not know.
Fellow Liberians, for the love of our nation and the sake of Liberians yet unborn, l pray that God gives us the fortitude to elect a president who is bold, yet humble; who will serves justice, but righteously; and who will seeks the face of God in all deliberations. I plead with you, during this very charged and defining political season in our homeland, let us elect a leader who will focus the office of the presidency upon those factors that will enable us to reach the “Higher Heights”, move from “The Mats to Mattresses” and build the “Wholesome Functioning Society” our 20th President, His Excellency, William R. Tolbert, Jr. envisioned; but never fully realized due to his untimely assassination.
About six years ago, I was confronted with the same concern mentioned above for our nation and its people. My dilemma was, “who will lead our nation from the devastations of the Liberian Civil War, uplift the spirit of its people to a new height and heal the wounds inflicted upon its children twelve scores and nineteen years ago”?
I further asked, “Why has the gender of the presidency of this nation not changed for over one and one-half centuries; and was it time for the “Old Boy’s Club” policy to be dismantled?” After reviewing the history of this unique nation of ours and its policy of governing, I realized it was time for a change. As a consequence of my concerns and discovery, I wrote an article titled, “Give Our Liberian Women a Chance”. This article, which was published on November 8, 2005, totally dislodged all doubts I had about who was going to give our nation a new birth and lead it, once more, to its place of political, economical, social and international prominence. So, as I did about six years ago, I am once again pleading with you, my fellow Liberian citizens, to “Let the Light of Our Liberian Women Continue to Shine” over our beloved nation. For, in just six years or less, these courageous women have miraculously raise Liberia from the abyss of darkness and self-annihilation.
As most conscientious, progressive, peaceful and freedom loving Liberian and others from around the world have justly concluded; our country, which was let in ruin, has finally raised its embattled head from the ashes of the devastation of war. Frankly, a civil war that was not fought solely based on moral principles; but rather on greed, ignorance and hatred. Notwithstanding, after a decade or more of such devastation, Liberia now proudly stands upon the world stage and sits at the table of nations with her head held up high. What a political, social and economic metamorphosis for a nation that was “left for dead” just six years ago.
Now, the important question is, ”Would this metamorphosis, or as I termed it, “The Liberian Miracle”, had happened if it were not for the courage of the “Liberian Women” who summoned their “Woman Power” and “Motherly Instinct” to determine the destiny of their nation and that of their sons and daughters?” Most importantly, would this metamorphosis or “The Liberian Miracle” had occurred if the “Liberian Women” had not gone to the poll and elect one of their own, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, to lead this nation that was in shamble? At this juncture, I sincerely submit that for the past six years, under the leadership of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the 2005 presidential choice of many far sighted Liberians and the majority of the “Liberian Women”, our nation has come a long way from the chaos of the anarchy that plundered her wealth, encouraged the decadence of morality among her citizens and rubbed her children of their spirituality, dignity, and humanity.
As a consequence of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s capable leadership; today, most Liberians are breathing a sigh of relief when they travel back to their native land. In most cases, if not all, when Liberians, especially those from the Diaspora, arrived at the Roberts International Airport located in Margibi County, the first thing they feel is an air of calm. After a few days in the country, they sensed an environment that is relatively safe and secure. When they mingled with family and old friends, they get to experience an atmosphere of harmony in their homeland. After a few more weeks or so, the sound of belly-aching laughers filled the air and they finally feel the true Liberian spirit of joy among their kinfolk. Such feelings sometimes penetrate so deep in their sole that it brings tears to their eyes. Finally, at the end of their short stay, as a contribution to the development of their native land, most visiting Liberians contemplate mostly on building a home of their own in Liberia or providing scholarships to deserving Liberian students whom they called the future leaders of Liberia.
Today Liberians in the USA are expressing a sentiment of realism and pride they never thought would come so soon. Once again, as was in the not too distant past, Liberians can easily hop on air flights, like Delta Airlines, and fly directly to their homeland. Progressive Liberians are relieved to know that, today, in their nation, one has no fear of being murdered or tortured because he/she speaks the wrong dialect, comes from the wrong tribe or looks different. Today, Liberians in the Diaspora are proud of the fact that their nation is once more on the rise, economically. They feel confident that Liberia is poised to become a potential oil producing nation and that their government is now capable of monitoring logging and mining of gold, diamond and Iron Ore in various region of the country. Politically, Liberians are also proud that finally their Republic has recognized and accepted the multiparty political system of governing. In fact, the impact of this change is demonstrated by the 30 presidential candidates running in the current presidential election. Finally, Liberians are proud today because, socially, they can now exercise their freedom of speech, religion, assembly and fervently pursue their own happiness; as long as their endeavors are not detrimental to the security and welfare of the Liberian nation and its people.
I agreed with the argument that all is yet not well with the metamorphosis or “The Miracle of Liberia”. I know that highways and city streets need resurfacing, Monrovia is over-crowded, electricity, running water and other public utilities are inadequate, corruption is still raising its ugly head in the private and public sectors, healthcare is not readily available. However, for the butterfly, “Our New Liberia”, to finally emerge from its cocoon in all its glory and beauty; and for it to appease the emotion of our brothers and sisters who are yet, justifiably so, concern about the future welfare of the butterfly when it emerged, we must continue to watch this cocoon with vigilance, maintain a stable environment during its process of metamorphism and nurture it well with the most nutritious nutrients we can gather.
Hence, fellow Liberians, for our beloved nation, to finally emerged and become that which we can all be proud of and one our children’s children can defend and call their own, we must let the light of our (s)heroic Liberian Women continue to shine upon “Our Land of Liberty”. If the justice, equality, freedom and love for which we yearned are to manifest in our nation, we must give our Liberian Women the chance to continue the (s)herculean task they have begun. If the prosperity we seek for our native land is to be realized, I plead, let us re-elect Her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as president of our Republic, for a second term.
Finally, fellow citizens, It is absolutely amazing to witness, the gigantic leap in social, political and economic developments our nation has taken in the past six years, when compare to the rest of her 164-year historical journey. Our Liberian Women have absolutely performed a miracle in Liberia. Now, can we imagine, for the next six years, with her Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf still at the helm, what these courageous and industrious Liberian Women will do for this beloved nation of ours? By God’s command, our dreams, they will fulfill!
However, in conclusion, to you, our illustrious women of the Republic of Liberia, and to you, “Mother Africa”, your Excellency, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as you embark upon the second term of your leadership of this “Glorious Land of Ours”, please take to heart the wisdom of the poetic expression illustrated below.
The Land of Liberty Must Conceive Again
When vested with the authority;
By virtue of her children’s vote,
I pray you mount her golden throne;
With a fearless but humble heart.
When this virgin Land of Liberty;
Entrusts you with her destiny,
I pray that in all earnestness;
You lead with fidelity and honor.
Unlike Roberts, Roy and King,
When called to lead our nation;
Vision, frugality and dignity
Must be your code of arms.
This beautiful virgin land;
Though in pain and agony,
Has again submitted herself;
And poised to conceive again.
So, unlike leaders of recent past,
When you mount her golden throne;
Lead her not in vengeance; but in hope,
For the birth of a new and gentle nation.
(UmValli Löwenthal is a Liberian health professional, a published poet and has visited Liberia twice in 2009.)