Happy New Year from Liberia

By Winsley S. Nanka, CPA

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
January 4, 2007


My Fellow Liberians in the Diaspora, Happy New Year from our motherland. During October 2006, I made a choice to return to Liberia and contribute towards the national development agenda. My decision to return home was based on my belief that the current political configuration in Liberia presents a rare opportunity for Liberians to return home and participate in the national reconstruction process.

Returning to Liberia was a difficult decision because of family and economic considerations. However, I believe if Liberia is to move forward, the best and the brightest the country has to offer have to make the difficult choices. Throughout history, great minds have transcended beyond their narrow self-interests to participate in the transformation of various nation states. Liberia is no exception.

Liberia needs the talent of everyone. The country is devastated as the result of about a quarter century of self-destruction. Basic social services such as water, electricity and telephone services are rudimentary. Cell phone is the best thing to ever happen to Liberia. Liberians now communicate almost across the entire country. Thanks to the guarded deregulation of the cell phone market. However, the largest cell phone company is reported to be in the hands of the deposed Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and his cronies, individuals that are partly responsible for the decimation of Liberia. The situation in Liberia is somehow contradictory. Some of the individuals that allegedly looted the national treasury during the Gyude Bryant kleptocracy own some of the best entertainment centers in Liberia. Liberians patronize these businesses thereby putting legitimate money in the hands of people who acquired their wealth illegally.

As we celebrate the ushering in of 2007, we must remember that Liberia needs our “critical talent”. Every Liberian has a role to play in the transformation of Liberia. Therefore, I am calling on our people across the globe, to make the decision to return home and make their contributions.

The opportunities for entrepreneurs abound, the opportunities for the politicians abound, the opportunities for social workers abound, the opportunities for educators abound. The opportunity for everyone is abundant. Let us be the pacesetters in our desire to make Liberia a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come.

I am quite aware, that the decision for one to return home is a thoughtful one especially for those of us that have families in the Diaspora. Economic consideration is also an important factor for some people. For others, the prospect of returning to a country where safe drinking water and electricity are luxury items is fearful. The roads in Liberia are the worst I have ever seen. Liberian drivers set their own rules. There is little or no enforcement of traffic rules.

In addition, Liberia is basically a NGO economy; there are more Non-profit Organizations in Monrovia than I have ever seen. In addition the United Nations presence in Liberia is said to suck up about 800 million dollars every year. The vast majority of the funding is used for personnel and logistical services. If Liberians were at peace with themselves and about half of the money used for the upkeep of the international community was spent on socio-economic development in Liberia, Liberia could gain everything it loss in five years.

The rationale for the explanations above is to inform you that Liberia has multiple problems. The solutions to these problems involve the participation of every Liberian in the national reconstruction and development process. If we look back in time, countries like the United States, Britain and France among others had their moments in history. However, the hard work of their people and other historical factors made those countries what they are today.

As we enter the New Year, let us think about how each of us will make our contribution to the reconstruction of Liberia. Some might argue that one does not have to be in Liberia to make his or her contribution. There are others who might also argue that Liberia can not absorb all it returnees, therefore it is wrong headed to call on Liberians to return home en masse, I hold a contrary view. There is room for every Liberian in the Diaspora to return home and contribute whatsoever talent he/she can contribute. Let me tell you that nothing is like making your contribution from the home front. Let each of us see ourselves as the pioneers for the reconstruction and development of Liberia.
May God bless Liberia.

About the Author: Winsley Nanka is a senior finance officer at a major public corporation (state enterprise) in Liberia.

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