WHAT SIGNALS NATIONAL reconciliation, peace and democracy in the country showed face on Sunday, October 29, 2023, when the current President, George Manneh Weah, and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf held hands, talked heartedly and exchanged pleasantries. The occasion was the Birth Anniversary Ceremonies of Madam Sirleaf, and the spectacle was watched by millions of Liberians via social media and the traditional electronic media as well as in-person by throngs of Liberians who had gone to the Fish Market residence of the ex-president to convey their birthday tidings to her.
THE FORMER PRESIDENT turned over power to President George Manneh Weah in January 2018, the first peaceful democratic transition to be consummated in the country in 73 years. The ex-president, who is also the first democratically elected female leader of Africa, was widely criticized adopting a non-aligned posture in the 2017 elections that brought President Weah to power, causing others to blame her for not supporting her then incumbent Unity Party’s Vice President who was in the race. But in the first few years of the Weah administration, things went awhile and asunder between the two statespersons—President Weah and Ex-President Sirleaf. Why many people had expected that harmony between them could help in the country’s development, stability and democracy, it all turned out to be a sustained exchange of volley of jabs, at times diatribes. Many people thought that was not healthy at all for the country, which needs all hands on deck for progress.
BUT THE ENCOUNTER of Sunday, October 29, 2023, coinciding with the 85th birthday anniversary of the former president, revives hopes of citizens – supporters and admirers of both iconic leaders of the country. It shows that the lingering amity between the two has given way to comradeship, patriotism and nationalism that is badly needed for the country’s stability and peace. It was a delight for well-meaning citizens to see the incumbent president driving his way inside the compound of the former president, and in the full view of hundreds of guests (national and international guests), the two embracing each other, walking on carpeted aisle, and finding seats around the same table, heartedly talking.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF this pleasant encounter finds expression in the timing, not only because it was widely believed that the two leaders were not on speaking terms, but also because these are electoral times when the nation is on edge, shrinking into polarization, regionalism, tribalism and into complete social and political disharmony.
THOUGH THERE WOULD be critics who will thoughtlessly dismiss the significance of incident, one would wonder what this nation would be like in terms of peace, reconciliation and stability if all political opponents of this country have had the time to visit each other, particularly in moments like birthdays, deaths in families, and other important events, and were seeing embracing in front of cameras, talking frankly to each other on national issues and sharing each other’s joy and grieves. Won’t such a simple and relieving attitude helped to ease tensions between and amongst opponents and their supporters; won’t it have promoted Liberianness, and kept the peace and sustain national harmony?
FOR US AT The Analyst, we applaud President Weah for leading a team of government officials to the home of ex-president Sirleaf during her birthday to share her joy and celebrate with her and her family and supporters. If this is not unfeigned statesmanship and leadership, we wonder what’s better than it. We also thank former President Sirleaf for heartily welcoming the incumbent president in spite of the high political tensions prevailing in the country and strained relation that was reportedly between the two in the past few years. That’s leadership and motherliness.
WE WISH THIS would be the routine amongst our leaders in this country, where all of them despite their political convictions would meet regularly and share each other’s joy or grief, and not portray politics to their respective supporters and the general citizenry as a game of virulent hate, repulsiveness and attribution, but one that is an intellectual exercise to sell their philosophies on state building.
WE JOIN PRESIDENT Weah, all other Liberians and international friends to salute Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on her 85th Birth Anniversary. As everyone else has been saying, she is a legend every Liberian should celebrate, someone deserving to be given copious flowers and accolades. She deserved nation’s adoration, tracing her service to the nation and people not only as a pride of the nation, an unrepentant advocate for social justice, equality and national development, but also as a leader whose stewardship is tangible, redemptive and memorable in the annals of history.
MADAM, PLEASE ACCEPT our salutations. Happy 85th Birthday. God Richly Bless You!!