Weah Shows Roadmap Beyond Bicentennial -National Unity and Reconciliation as Development Guide Post

MONROVIA – As Chief Executive and President of Africa’s oldest republic, President George Manneh Weah had the solemn duty on Monday, February 14, 2022, to address his fellow citizens on the historic occasion of the 200th anniversary of the return of freed slaves from the United States who braved unforeseen elements and diseases to berth on Providence Island and establish a haven for democracy in Africa. Realizing the enormity of the tasks that lie beyond the celebratory mood accompanying the Bicentennial Commemoration, President Weah entreated Liberians at home and abroad to look beyond the event and focus on where every Liberian wants to see their glorious land of liberty in the next 200 years. Speaking on the theme: “National Unity and Reconciliation”, the Liberian leader went out to carefully lay out the plans of his administration in providing a roadmap for development that will serve as a guide post for his administration and succeeding governments.

Addressing the nation, world leaders and foreign guests at the jam-packed Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex Monday, President Weah said National Unity and Reconciliation is the foundation upon which the new Liberia must be built.

“It must become the imperative agenda of all current and future national development policies. The projects and programs emanating from these policies should focus on eliminating all forms of discrimination and exclusion in Liberia. This is our only option for survival and continuity as a holistic and inclusive body politic, even as we strive to recover from the devastation and division that characterized our recent civil conflict. We must focus on promoting unity amongst all Liberians, wherever they may reside, and encourage all to make meaningful contributions to the nation-building tasks of our country,” President Weah declared.

He said, redefining Liberia’s identity and building a shared sense of nationalism should be at the center of continued reconciliation in Liberia, because the model for genuine National Unity and Reconciliation in Liberia is inspired and founded on positive cultural values, citizenship building, good governance, economic empowerment, and the rule of law.

“Let us therefore continue to embrace the tenets of National Unity as we move forward – together – towards becoming a reconciled and democratic nation, whose citizens are at peace with themselves, their neighbors, and the world. As Liberians from diverse ethnic groups, religious beliefs and regions, we must continue to co-exist peacefully as one united Liberian Nation in accordance with our Constitution. We, as Liberians, can only promote National Unity and Reconciliation by living together in peace and harmony.

“We can also promote National Unity and Reconciliation through exercising tolerance by accepting each other’s way of life. In a country such as ours, Liberia, there are so many people with different cultures and traditions, which influence their ideologies about life and about how to approach things. We must accept and accord every person the respect he or she deserves in matters relating to differences in ideologies and understanding,” President Weah intoned, noting that another major tool in promoting National Unity and Reconciliation is patriotism.

“This indeed is the bedrock of our national foundation, because when there is love for one’s nation, such love will engender a spirit of brotherhood, sisterhood and fraternity among us as citizens of Liberia, our common country. Let us therefore vigorously denounce and combat acts, writings and utterances which are intended to promote any kind of discrimination, intolerance or lack of justice, all of which are counter-productive to the achievement of National Unity and Reconciliation.

“Fellow Liberians, in fostering genuine National Unity and Reconciliation, we must let go of the past, embrace the present within the context of our diversities, and give birth to the future with Unity, Peace, Reconciliation and Sustainable Development as our imperative agenda. As President and Chief Executive of our sweet land of liberty, Liberia, I want to call on ALL LIBERIANS to champion the cause of national unity and to reconcile our differences for Liberia’s growth and development.  Let us reinforce and strengthen the common heritage that unites all of us, both the descendants of the indigenous people and the descendants of the settlers. We are One People, with One Destiny. Whatever our differences, we are Liberians first!   As Liberia is the only country that we have, we must do all in our powers to keep it safe, not only for our citizens and foreign residents, but for all who would visit us as friends of Liberia, for work, for play, for business, for investment, and for learning.

“So let us fight discrimination in every phase and form of our socio-economic cohabitation and collaborations as Liberians, both at home and in the diaspora. Let us fight intolerance and impatience with one another. Let us fight hatred and malice. These are all negative vices that detract from our higher purpose of oneness and national coherence. Because there is so much more that unites us than that which may tend to divide us, let us celebrate the complexities of our rich diversities, and live in peace, unity, and harmony as our brother’ and sisters’ keepers,” President Weah enjoined.

Beyond the Celebrations – A Roadmap

With his thoughts focused beyond the 200th anniversary of Liberia’s foundation as Africa’s old republic, to what needs to be done to sustain the gains and forge ahead in a globalized comity of nations, President Weah urged his compatriots to think beyond this Bicentennial, and concentrate on what needs to be done to better the existence of the next generation and the beautiful ones who are not yet born.

“How can we pave the way so that their futures may be brighter than ours, their opportunities greater than ours, their growth and development enhanced, and their prosperity assured? Beyond the Bicentennial Celebrations, what are those things that we must do to ensure that Liberia is a better place when we leave it, than when we met it? The answer to this question must include, but not be limited to, a recognition of the following challenges, and a call to action to resolve them,” President Weah averred outlining climate change, rural-urban migration, underdevelopment, disadvantaged youths, among others, as challenges that must be tackled with earnest.

Beginning with Climate Change, President Weah said Liberia must join the rest of the world to save our planet, as climate change is a threat to our very existence.

“Rural-urban migration is another problem we need to fix together, because our once beautiful Capital City, Monrovia, is already overcrowded, leading to all of the problems brought on by congestion, such as lack of adequate housing, sanitation, health and educational facilities, among others.  It was never designed to hold the large percentage of our population who now live in it. We should also work together to expand development in all of its forms to the rest of the country so that our citizens do not see Monrovia as the only decent place to live and work.  This should be an effective panacea to curb urban migration.

“This must include the provision of affordable and reliable electricity throughout the country, which should spur industrialization and manufacturing that will create jobs and add value to our natural resources.  It must also include a national road connectivity program that will enable any Liberian to travel from counties in the east and west to counties in the north and south on all-weather roads that are safe and well maintained,” the Liberian leader intoned.

He especially noted that under-development anywhere, is under-development everywhere, therefore, to save the present young population and future generations of youth from self-destruction, his government must fashion policies to fight drugs and substance abuse.

“It is very concerning to me when I see the downward path in which some of our young people are heading at break-neck speed. In this context, the problems of our disadvantaged youths cannot be ignored. It is a growing threat and must be tackled head-on not by condemnation but by counseling, not by imprisonment but by rehabilitation and skills development, not by death but by giving them life and hope.

“Beyond the Bicentennial, we must also develop an educational and health system that is on par with the best in the world, and make it available to everyone, so that no child is left behind.  We must also revise the curriculum to provide our young people with relevant employable skills and with computer training that will assist us to bridge the digital divide and equip our young people to be competitive with their counterparts in the rest of the world.

“It has often been said, that those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past, are likely to repeat them in the future.  In view of this, I believe that there is a need to write a full and comprehensive history of Liberia, which will include the history of the people that lived here before 1822, and the true and authentic history of the last 200 years as an integrated nation, including our historic struggles to achieve the unification which we enjoy today. I now throw out this challenge to our many gifted Liberian authors and historical scholars, to capture this rich history and have it printed in textbooks that will become part of the official curriculum of our educational system,” President Weah declared emphatically.

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