A Hopeless Unification Day

By Martin K. N. Kollie

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
Posted May 16, 2017



Unification Monument in Lofa

Touring Red Light, a commercial suburb outside Monrovia, was a painful experience for me on Unification Day. Even on this National Holiday day, there was no space for pedestrians to easily travel or pass through as street peddlers and petite traders flooded Red Light in pursuit of economic survival. A teenager, age 15, selling coldwater said to me:

“I have been selling coldwater now for about 3 years. I am not in school, because what I do can only put food on our table. It is not easy to wake-up every morning and sell this water until evening. Sometimes, I go home by 7:00pm. Whether rain or sun, I have to sell coldwater; otherwise, we will not eat. I have to do this business because my parents are poor and have no money to send me to school”, Little Varney said.

After hearing this troubling revelation on Unification Day especially from a child whose future is already being jeopardized as a result of poverty and lack of opportunity, I was provoked to pen these thoughts. Beyond every speck of doubt, hopelessness is increasingly evident in Liberia – what a hopeless unification day it was! Like little Varney, thousands of Liberian children as well as youth and elderly citizens are going through this terrifying and dehumanizing experience. After 170 years of sovereignty, the gap between poverty and prosperity remains wide. A handful of self-seeking characters continue to prosper and bath in opulence at the expense of the ordinary masses. How then can we celebrate Unification Day? There can be no UNIFICATION in the midst of increasing economic disparity and inequality. There can be no UNIFICATIION when POVERTY is eating up Liberians like EBOLA virus!

Even on a national holiday like Unification Day, the masses were selling coldwater and crushing rock under hot sun while bourgeoisies and elites lavished the nation’s wealth at Royal Grand, Boulevard Palace, Palm Spring, Havana Lodge, Kendeja Hotel, Golden Key, etc. Is this how Liberia will be unified? How can we celebrate Unification Day when drug abuse, gambling, rock crushing, sand mining, pen-pen riding, prostitution and begging have become the order of the day?

How can we brag about Unification Day and a Nation of Indivisibility when the best jobs for Liberian youth are store boys, container off-loaders, motorcyclists, zogos, security guards, street peddlers, car boys and coldwater sellers? How can national unity exist when civil servants are receiving between US$100 and US$150 per month while high-ranking public officials are becoming millionaires overnight? We cannot celebrate Unification Day when slum communities are increasing while a handful of pseudo-patriots and capitalists live in palaces and mansions. Our people cannot be happy or unified when:

  1. Liberia is the 8th unhappiest and most miserable nation in the world (United Nations World Happiness Report, March 2017)
  2. Liberia is the 4th poorest country in the world after 170 years of independence (Global Finance Report, February 2017)
  3. 81.86% of Liberia’s population is poor while 83.76% live on US$1.25 (UNDP 2015 Human Development Report)
  4. Liberia was ranked as the most corrupt country on planet earth (Transparency International GCB Report, 2013)
  5. Liberia only has 298 doctors. This means that Liberia has 1 doctor to 15,100 patients in contrast to WHO’s doctor-patient ratio of 1 doctor to 5,000 patients (Ministry of Health, 2017 Report).
  6. Liberia has a teenage pregnancy rate of 38% (UNFPA Report, 2012)
  7. Liberia has a National Budget of US$600.2 and a Direct Foreign Investment of over US$16.9 billion, but youth unemployment is as high as 85% (UNDAF Report, 2013-2017)
  8. Liberia had 554 rape cases just in a period of 12 months (Ministry of Gender Report, January 2015)
  9. Liberia spent US$55.3 million between 2006 and 2013 just to purchase expensive cars for public officials (LIPI 2013 Report)
  10. Monrovia is the least capital city with a City Prosperity Index (CPI) of -0.313 (United Nations HABITAT Report, 2015)
  11. Only 25% of Liberia’s 4 million people have access to clean, safe drinking water (Water Aid International 2016 Report)
  12. Over 80% of Liberia’s population lack access to a decent toilet while 3.7 million people lack access to adequate sanitation (Water Aid International Report, 2016)
  13. Over 500 children die every year in Liberia from diarrhea due to unsafe water and poor sanitation (Water Aid International Report, 2016)
  14. Six (6) public offices are receiving over US$10.2 million in Liberia in a period of just 12 months while infant mortality rate is 65.8 deaths to 1,000 live births according (CIA World Factbook)
  15. Update to date, no one is yet to be held accountable for signing 66 bogus concession agreements. No one is yet to give account for NOCAL’s bankruptcy, EU’s US$14 million to reduce maternal mortality, over US$14.9 million meant to renovate the Executive Mansion and AG John Morlu’s dozens of audit reports.
  16. Education is a mess and food insecurity is increasing.  

I could go ahead outlining those scaring statistics in regards to the appalling living condition of our people, but what is of essence now is for all of us to find concrete and sustainable solution to these sickening realities.  It is no secret that the country we cherish so dearly lies in ruin as vast majority of its citizens remain under a devastating canopy of misery. The desperation of most Liberians to embrace a new destiny of socio-economic parity remains a compelling priority. The campaign to ensure inclusive development in all fifteen political subdivisions of our nation is an imperative.

Declaring May 14th of each year through an act of Legislature in 1960 as a National Unification Day was a unique step forward to defeating disunity and deep division between the Americo-Liberian elites and the indigenous majority. During this time, there was total disintegration between forces of the minority class and the majority class. One group felt more supreme than the other and thought Liberia was a family plantation or empire. As a result of their cruel and inhumane action against vast majority of the people, our nation was bewildered and befuddled by visible injustices.

We could not afford to coexist in a country where less than 5% of the population had exclusive authority to decide the political fate and economic paradigm of 95% of the people. As a result of this divisive tendency and anti-democratic precedent, President William V. S. Tubman who led Liberia from 1944 to 1971, saw it prudent to introduce the Unification Policy. This national plan was intentionally meant to foster unity and brotherhood among all Liberians irrespective of culture or creed. There was a pressing demand for reconciliation between Americo-Liberians and indigenes. National integration was a matter of national emergency.

Finally, the PEACE PIPE was blown in 1960 between the majority and the minority after a prolonged era of vicious suppression, discrimination, and segregation. Many Liberians including foreign partners thought that the Unification Policy would have integrated every sphere of our society; unfortunately, this has never been the case. Even after more than five decades since this day was first observed on May 14, public discontent due to bad governance remains a common phenomenon across Liberia.

Martin K. N. Kollie

Our sweet land of liberty has been torn apart by greed, nepotism, corruption, inequality and patronage. Our sweet land of liberty has become a bitter land of misery. What a hopeless unification day! In fact, what is the significance of celebrating Unification Day when those who we have entrusted with political offices are compromising our interest every day? National Unification starts with patriotism. Integration comes through public transparency and integrity. It must begin with the proper management and equitable distribution of the nation’s resources. We cannot keep celebrating this day every year when the condition of our people is worsening.

About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth and student activist, a columnist and an emerging economist who hails from Bong County.  He currently studies Economics at the University of Liberia and is a Lux-in-Tenebris Scholar. Martin is a youth ambassador of the International Human Rights Commission and a loyal stalwart of the Student Unification Party (SUP).  He can be reached at: martinkerkula1989@yahoo.com

A Concerned Citizen
2017, So What, Now What…?

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, where anyone class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

Never underestimate the power of a hungry person.


There is no issue in Liberia [Africa] that is not a tentacle, is not an offshoot of the primary issue that plagues Liberia [Africa], which is poverty. In Liberia there is a highway into poverty, but not even a sidewalk out. And what’s wrong with this conversation about personal responsibility is that we disconnect it from a lack of opportunity. We disconnect it from a lack of employment. We disconnect it from affordable education. And so poverty ends up being the primary source of so many of these problems which expose highly complex Liberian issues. TODAY, it goes beyond the issue regarding any one person’s ethnicity. It is simply the crux of the Liberian problem. Worst of all, Ebola has further added to the death of our nation. Now it is said, perhaps it is ‘meningitis’.

Any wonder why Liberia again reached a boiling point during the October 2011 elections? This is only 6 years ago! Clearly, the “Average Liberian” citizen is disillusioned. The Liberian people are angry about unemployment, growing inequality, and crushing poverty. They are even very angry that their civil liberties are being abused as they chose to exercise their God-given constitutional rights under a ‘new’ political dispensation. They are also angry about increasing police, and most recently, military violence, killings and abuse. What is more, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that there exists “extreme poverty” in the country, which threatens more than 50,000 households that would become “food insecure”. In other words, adults and children of many Liberian households go hungry daily without knowing where their next meal will come from. Nobel Laureate, Madam Leymah Gbowee, even called attention to the high rate of teenage prostitution stating: “You cannot sit here and boast of Africa’s first female president, and double Nobel Laureate and the statistics from your country is that teenage pregnancy is as low as 10 years old”. RAPE is destroying the Liberian youth, young girls and also young boys, who whether we like it or not, are our future! What does the future hold if they have no education? The picture on other human development indices remains wanting as well. There is a rise in the HIV/AIDS pandemic, cholera, and diarrhea, as the country has no efficient health services, decent sanitation and safe drinking water. These facts were made official only 6 years ago! Ebola was the invisible attacker and killer, 2014-2015. Could there be an on-going mutation between the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the Ebola virus disease [EVD] that no one is yet talking about? Does anyone realize that this could wipe out the entire nation? Was the loss of +250,000 Liberian souls during the Civil War not enough?

Into 2015, nepotism is defined as: the government officials are all relatives, or relatives of relatives. The old spoils system is at its worst; graft is rampant. It is true that government is for helping people, and we should make this change a priority of a NEW BREED OF NEW LIBERIANS with a new attitude, who will safely direct and steer our country into the future.

There is no argument that there continues to exist gross disparities between the haves and the have-nots. But since 1980, Liberians have had opportunities to deliver to their people what was denied them for many years. But in Liberia, people are drugged into a stupor by idiocy, minor distractions and chants of human rights abuses, demonstrations/protests, and STILL remain compliant and complacent. We now await to see the actions of all and any Liberian who voted these greedy and indifferent people into power.
We have all listened to and read past and current news events, and commentaries by Liberians at large.

NEW IDEAS ARE THE NATURAL BORN ENEMY OF THE WAY THINGS ARE! We MUST break out of our tired old patterns.
Why do we continue to compromise and sell our ideals to satisfy the special interests of others? We continue to literally sell EVERYTHING, from our birth rights to our passports, our land, and our God-given natural resources. When will we take ownership of our destiny? How can we possibly gain global respect and dignity if we continue like this? What is the matter with ALL OF US? We are all flawed in our ways, and no one’s perfect. BUT, WHY ARE WE SO SELF-DESTRUCTIVE? WE NEED ANSWERS!
We are aware of a growing divisiveness within the country. If we lay aside our differences, and devote time to the healing of the country’s ills, Liberians can begin to work together to realize the nation’s full potential. WE want a Liberian model.
Corruption is so engrained into the system of our Liberian culture, it appears difficult to eradicate. It is also a part of the modus operandi [MO] of our government officials. We complain; court cases are established, but in reality we are desensitized to this reality. The entire world reads about ‘brown envelopes’ received by the legislature, or anyone necessary, to sway and buy a unilateral decision and/or agenda.

WE THE PEOPLE condemn ‘the old hegemony’, yet we consciously recycle ‘the old hegemony’. Let us take a look at the present Legislature, for example. Who are the majority occupants/nominations, especially in senior positions? Look at the present Cabinet, and let's check and count how many and who they are. Can we honestly say these politicians are working in the interest of the common people who are the majority of the population? What then is the justification in restricting the search for a good leader to only a particular group? After 170 years, the VICES, tastes, lifestyles that were openly condemned before and since the Rice Riots in 1979 are now ACCEPTABLE AND RIGHT! GOD IS WATCHING!

So it is going to take a long time and a NEW BREED OF NEW LIBERIANS to cleanse us from the sins of the THE PAST AND PRESENT which have now become a national tragedy. Where is our LOVE OF COUNTRY FOR OUR OWN COUNTRY, AND OUR OWN PEOPLE?

It is doubtful if one could find one policeman in Liberia who would not take a "dash" [tip]. Questions: How much does he/she earn?
What about our teachers, doctors and healthcare workers? What is their monthly income? Is everyone paid on time monthly?
Judges, prosecutors, magistrates, policemen, customs people ALL have their hands out, reaching for the graft. It is safe to assume that anything can be accomplished in Liberia if you are willing to bribe the right government official. They seem to take no pride in being honest. So-called investors confidently state: ‘We have your whole government in our pockets’.
FOREIGNERS CONTINUE TO OPENLY MAKE A MOCKERY OF US, knowing that what they do in Liberia, they are unable to do in their own country, or elsewhere! AND WHO IS TO BLAME?

Oh, perhaps when we acquire a new nationality we have a love of country for the 1st time for that new country?
So, does this further reconfirm that we continue to live and suffer from an identity crisis? We have got this ALL TWISTED!

Due to over a century and a half of socio-economic problems, Liberians are embittered, sardonic people with a total lack of patriotism and national identity. Most issues are over personal stuff like greed, envy, self-centeredness and selfishness, petty jealousies, undermining and backbiting, not wanting to see others succeed unless we have a personal stake in it. We despise each other and always expect that others will not be trustworthy. Once it’s not us or our family member involved where there is a personal interest, then everything is wrong. We will never see the good in what others do. And when we get there, those on the outside turn around and do the exact same thing to us that we did to others when we were on the outside. It’s a dangerously vicious cycle. Liberians have all observed Liberian politics and governance for a long while and since 1980 this trend really began to manifest itself and it’s tied to what Martin Luther King calls ‘utilitarian love’: myself (family) and my group come before my country. How sad!
So many Liberians have had the US experience. Doesn’t this behavior resemble the ‘crab mentality’ among the minority group that many tend to identify with? And as Africans, we choose to export this back to Liberia?! Do we, can we think before WE ‘Copy What Is Wrong’? Why not copy whatever would be to our advantage, rather than copy what inevitably destroys our entire fabric/society?


Can we also begin to pave the way home for all who are homesick, and the elderly? Can those who wish to return home contribute positively without being chased away because their NEW IDEAS are the natural born enemy of the way things are?!

WE must translate our vision into sustained action and concrete achievements. WE can respectfully merge all of our skills, our expertise, and contribute our educational resources to carefully plan to rebuild our nation and regain our status within the community of nations. Interestingly, WE proudly boast and credit our +3million Liberian people as having the best West African cuisine because WE have allowed the fusion and merging of cuisine cultures, whether WE are baking or cooking. WE could therefore maximize this pride even further by forging a fusion of cultures and “new ideas” to create a unique Liberia, now.

Perhaps a Liberian might turn these statements into a personal attack on another Liberian. This is a reflection based on long-term observation and evidence. The above comments mention no names, no affiliations, no politics, nothing about the opposition. These are opinions of a society’s perception, behavior, and mindset which have no political affiliation meaning it impacts all sides equally, EVERY SINGLE LIBERIAN, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US, WHEREVER WE ARE.

Will we simply continue to shift the blame and call it neo-colonialism, or the New World Order [NWO]? Or, amidst the growing neoliberal offensive, can WE identify a practical, common sense alternative(s) to transform our people’s conditions and now begin to rebuild OUR country and make a possible dream a reality? In the end, WE ALL OWE A DEBT TO LIBERIA.

A Concerned Citizen at 06:57PM, 2017/05/16.
Very strong paper that needs no addition; however let's look at the religious aspect of Liberian life because as we know, Liberians claim to the highly religious. On the right Sunday, people come running down the aisle, tongue sticking out of their mouths to receive the holy sacraments.
1 Corinthians 11:26-34:
26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.
Efessayf at 05:40AM, 2017/05/17.
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joyce oliveira
I'm sorry it's so sad to see this on liberia but I believe that all this will one day change, I just know that everything goes
joyce oliveira at 08:40AM, 2017/11/05.

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