Liberia Launches Bicentennial with Resounding Aplomb -As Foreign Dignitaries, Heads of State Grace Occasion

MONROVIA – After months of planning, the Government of Liberia yesterday, Monday, February 14, 2022, finally launched the Bicentennial Program in grand style at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Stadium in Paynesville to celebrate 200 years after the arrival of the first set of free ex-slaves who played meaningful roles in the formation of Liberia.

The major national undertaking which saw the government announcing exemption from work for all public workers to enable them fully participate in the program was befitting of the preparations that culminated in hosting Liberia’s Bicentennial Commemoration.

The venue, magnificently decorated with the national colors of red, white and blue, was adorned with artifacts, designs, and floats, as Liberians from all walks of life paraded in their traditional garbs of woven clothing materials. The SKD Stadium also showcased an array of traditional cuisines representing the diverse ethnic backgrounds of the various counties’ stands.

As early as 6 am, people had already started making their way to the SKD Sports Complex, forming long lines and posing a serious challenge to security personnel and protocol officers to control the surging crowd who were still pulling into the venue even before the program had started.

All seats were fully occupied, forcing those coming late to sit or stand around the perimeter of the field. Many of those who attended the program had to defy the scorching sun and heat to witness the memorable occasion

The program got underway later on in the afternoon upon the arrival of President George Manneh Weah who received a tumultuous standing ovation when his presence was announced by the protocol officer.  By then the foreign guests as well as other distinguished individuals including former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, House Speaker Bhofal Chambers , President Pro Tempore of the Senate Albert Chie, among others had earlier arrived and taken their respective seats.

The occasion also attracted the presence of the Political leader and standard Bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings and his wife, as well as the Political Leader of the Liberty Party, Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence, and other prominent opposition leaders in an exhibition of being united behind a single cause of the Bicentennial program.

It was especially interesting to note that the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) had a heavy presence of its partisans drawn from its various auxiliaries and chapters in the 17 electoral districts of Montserrado County, and top party stalwarts including National Chairman Mulbah Morlu.

Students from some high schools in Monrovia, business communities, aliens , trade unions ,among others also provided numbers to the fully packed vicinity of the program.

When the program got underway, Bishop Isaac S. Winker, who performed the invocation, thanked God for seeing the nation through all the 200 years and for blessing them with leaders who have all played their parts in the development of the country. He prayed that God will continue to strengthen the government and citizens with wisdom, unity and peace to move the country forward.

Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Tamba Koijee, who was dressed in a white “senator’s suit” in his welcome remark said he was delighted to host a very important and historic moment of the country and extended thanks and appreciation to all those who made it possible for the Bicentennial to be successful, lauding specifically, President Weah for showing true leadership and commitment towards the development of the country.

Mayor Koijee enumerated the good virtues and contributions Liberia had made over the years since its independence among which being a foundation member of international organizations like the defunct League of Nations, the United Nations Organizations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, among others; and for pioneering and supporting Pan Africanism as well as leading other countries to independence in Africa.

A colorful display of the pass in review by members of the Armed Forces of Liberia and other paramilitary institutions such as the Coast Guard, the Liberian National police, Liberia Immigration Service, the Liberia Revenue Authority, Liberia Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Liberian National Fire Service, the rangers of the Forestry Development Authority, and students from some selected schools led by the College of West Africa (CWA) added flavor to the occasion.

The well decorated floats representing each of the 15 counties of Liberia brought into the venue drew thunderous cheers and admiration from the huge crowd as citizens from the various counties were excited to see some unique and peculiar attributes from their origins at such an important national event.

In a short statement made at the occasion, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said she was happy to be at the occasion and thanked President Weah for the successful hosting of the program as well as the invited dignitaries which included leaders who turned to grace the occasion.

Madam Sirleaf whose tenure witnessed massive support from the West especially the United States of America was very quick to dispel the insinuation that Liberia was shortchanged by the US and defended herself that indeed during all the protracted period of crises Liberia experienced, America was always a partner.

She said it is her hope that when the fanfare and celebrations about the program might have been over, Liberians from all walks of life, be it from the government or the citizens, young or old, men or women, will find time to reflect on the past and focus on the future.

The President of the ECOWAS Commission Mr. Jean Claude Kassi Brou, who made a special statement on behalf of ECOWAS and the other invited leaders, expressed his delight to be at the program and thanked President Weah and the Government of Liberia for executing the event which is linked to the country’s historic past.

He said Liberia occupies a very important chapter in the history of ECOWAS beginning with the foundational role Liberia played in the history of the regional body and the protracted war that erupted in Liberia which took the efforts of ECOWAS and other nations to bring the crisis to an end. He promised that ECOWAS will continue to stand by Liberia in whatever is needed to sustain her peace and promote development.

The honoring and gowning of the dignitaries was performed by The Chairman of the Traditional Council of Liberia, Chief Zanzar Kawah, in which the President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema, Adama Barrow of Gambia, Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone, Mohamed Bazooum of Niger, Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osibanjo , the President of the ECOWAS Commission Jean Claude Kassi Brou, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others were gowned in a traditional setting .

Comments are closed.