Momentum Swells For Bicentennial -Biden Names Delegation, GoL Rallies Citizenry

Despite initial slow start when it was first announced mid last year, Liberia’s Bicentennial Celebration is becoming a groundswell of incredible national event that might go down in history as the most colorful, uniting and nationalistic event ever held. As if to add more spices of sweetened celebratory appeal and popularity to the yearlong event, the world’s most prosperous nation, the United States of America, from whose abdomen birthed this oldest African republic, has already selected and mandated topnotch public figures to come down to Liberia to represent the Government and people of the US at the Bicentennial Launch taking place today, February 24.  Meanwhile, the Government of President Weah is leaving no stone unturned to ensure glamorous celebrations, combing every nook and corner of the country and mobilizing every demographic group to get in involved in this national event as a blaze of media activities takes over the country. The Analyst reports.

Almost all social and traditional media platforms in the country are rife and glittering, as if they were commandeered, with pronouncements, announcements, news and activities related to the celebration of Liberia’s 200 years of existence.

Mid last year, the Government of President George Manneh Weah declared the latter part of 2021 and the whole of 2022 moments for celebrating of the country’s Bicentennial.

The founding of Liberia as a republic, declared independent in 1847, actually began in earnest when the United States Government funded the American Colonization Society to, amongst other things, ferry freed African slaves to Africa, beginning with the first batch of 86 persons who arrived on what is now called Providence Island January 7, 1822.

Despite intermittent hiccups in diplomatic relations between the two countries over the years, the Republic of Liberia is viewed internationally and even nationally as a protectorate and former quasi colony of the United States.

Though relations strained the most during the presidency of now jailed Charles Taylor, things improved during the leadership of the country’s first female President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, when high level officials of the US visited Liberia and the president meeting her American counterpart.

Since the Weah Government took over the mantle of state leadership, while there haven’t been known glitches in US-Liberia relations, no top officials of the United States have visited the country four years running. Neither is President Weah ever invited for state visit by the United States.

Pres. Biden Names Delegates to Liberia

For the first time since President Weah ascended to the Liberian presidency, the first batch of high-level government officials are visiting the country this month.

The event that played the seeming magic wand is the Bicentennial Celebration, which President Weah and his administration has declared for the whole of 2022, to attract foreign visitors and investors, mainly of the African American stock, to cement greater bilateral relationship between Liberia and the US, and to break the US official-visit drought on Liberia.

It seems that drought is truly broken as throng of African American bigwigs, including high government officials, are attending the Bicentennial.

In a pronouncement, the United States President on Thursday, February 10, announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the Republic of Liberia to attend the Bicentennial Celebrations in Monrovia, Liberia on February 14, 2022.

In a statement posted on the web page of the US States Department, Honorable Dana Banks, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa, will lead the delegation.

“This marks the arrival of the first Free Black Americans to Providence Island in 1822, which led to the establishment of the City of Monrovia, and in 1847, the Republic of Liberia,” the statement said further.

Other members of the Presidential Delegation include, Honorable Michael A. McCarthy, United States Ambassador to the Republic of Liberia; National Security Council; Mr. Lonnie G. Bunch III, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and Rev. Dr. Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Bishop of the Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Chair of the Governing Board, National Council of Churches in the United States.

The statement said “Liberia has been preparing to commemorate 200 years of the first arrival of free slaves from America who laid the foundation of Liberia that became the first independent Republic on the continent of Africa.”

Sweeping Mustering of Citizens

Meanwhile, the Government of the Republic of Liberia says all is now set for the celebration on February 14, 2022 that begins at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville City, outside Monrovia.

The Government has already unveiled programs marking the official launch of the Bicentennial Commemoration.

Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie, who also serves as Chair of the Steering Committee for the National Bicentennial Commemoration, disclosed that the Bicentennial activities as factored into this year’s Armed Forces Day celebration that took place on Friday, February 11 at the Barclay Training Center.

President George Manneh Weah, officials of government and members of the diplomatic corps were in attendance.

Presenting a rollout of activities for the auspicious event, Minister Rennie further said a basketful of memorable events that will celebrate Liberia and Liberians basking in their unique heritage.

Minister Rennie who made the disclosure last Friday during steering Committee’s press conference at Boulevard Palace Hotel further said that the Bicentennial Commemoration will continue on February 11, 2022 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium with a National Muslim Prayer Day, with the Liberian leader in attendance.

According to Minister Rennie, on Sunday, February 13, the Bicentennial Commemoration will be taken to the Executive Mansion Grounds for a National Christian Interdenominational Thanksgiving Service.

On February 14, 2022, President Weah will officially launch the Bicentennial Celebration at the Samuel K. Doe Sports Stadium where a Cultural Festival will also take place. The SKD Sports Stadium events will be followed by a Heads of State Summit at the Executive Mansion Ground at 3:00pm and a Grand Bicentennial Dinner Ceremony at 6:00pm.

The celebrations will continue on February 15 and 16 with the University of Liberia Founder’s Day International Conference which is organized by the University and the Bicentennial Steering Committee.

Also making remarks during the press briefing, the President of the Press Union of Liberia, Charles Coffey, commended the media for their full involvement in the process, as exemplified during the launch at the Providence Island event.

“The media participation is highly nationalistic. At the SKD, it is expected of you to also take complete charge of the process. People that will be entering the country will analyze our way of life through what they see and read via the media. For 200 years, despite our challenges, we still exist. The media will show to the world that despite our political, ethnic, religious and social differences, we are one,” Mr. Coffey intoned.

The media ended with the conveners showcasing samples of souvenir items that will be distributed to guests, to include carefully branded umbrellas, notepads and power banks.

The Bicentennial Commemoration is being held under the theme, “Liberia: The Land of Return – Commemorating 200 Years of Freedom and Pan-African Leadership” while the slogan is, “The Lone Star Forever, Stronger Together.” The event signifies important historical milestones achieved by the country since it was founded in 1822 by free people of African descent and their patrons from the United States.

GOL Excited over US Congress’ Commendation for Bicentennial

In a related development, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism said it receives with much appreciation, the resolution of the US Congress commending the government of Liberia on its celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the arrival of the first set of freed slaves on January 7, 2022, that set the foundation of Liberia and described the impression from the US Government as an indication of the positive leadership under President George Manneh Weah.

Last week, the US Congress made the commendation in a Resolution on the heels of the Liberia’s historic Bicentennial Commemoration Programs.

The US Government Resolution recalled the historic US-Liberia symbiotic ties dating more 200 years and noted that the House of Representatives remains committed to nurturing the enduring ties between the people and the Governments of the United States and Liberia, including through the provision of United States support for a strong civil society, reputable and accountable institutions, transparency, and other tenets of good governance that should help lay a solid foundation for Presidential elections in 2023.

The Resolution further encouraged Liberia to redouble its efforts to counter corruption, advance the causes of human rights, and implement critical economic reforms necessary to accelerate sustainable economic growth and human capital development; calls on the Departments of State and the Treasury to continue to impose targeted sanctions and other measures against those responsible for undermining the rule of law as well as the faith and trust of the Liberian people through the conduct of corruption, gross violations of human rights, and other acts that threaten the peace and security of Liberia.

In the said Resolution, the US House of Representative recalled how on January 7, 1822, free Black Americans arrived in present-day Liberia through the efforts of the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States, also known as the American Colonization Society, established in 1816 to fund the passage of free Black Americans to West Africa where in 1847, the free Black Americans declared independence from the American Colonization Society and founded the Republic of Liberia, the first independent African republic, and established diplomatic relations with the United States in 1864 that have endured for more than 150 years.

The Resolution, further expounding on the special ties binding the two nations, extolling the United States interests in Liberia’s natural resources and Liberia’s strategic location in West Africa resulted in enhanced bilateral cooperation with the United States, which prompted the United States and Liberia to sign a defense cooperation agreement in 1942 and subsequent agreements that facilitated strategic infrastructure development in Monrovia and enhanced United States-Liberia defense cooperation, leading to Liberia declaring war against Germany and Japan in 1944, thus reinforcing Liberia’s commitment to support the United States and the Allies in World War II.

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