But with the target date eight years away, “sub-Saharan Africa is not on track to achieve any of these goals”, the latest UN update affirms. Not that this comes as a surprise to us, but one would think that we in Liberia, rather than formulating plans for further instability, would, at least, begin to adopt these development objectives and place them on the national agenda, especially at a time when our country is groping for balance, border, and bearing.
For years I had operated under the assumption that all Africa is underdeveloped, undernourished, undereducated, under produced, underprivileged, and underemployed because of the leadership. But I have been grossly mistaken. I have concluded that, yes, some are guilty as charged, not all. Granted there have been rulers who have come and gone and some still remain, who have kept their countries hostage to poverty, mass illiteracy, rampant corruption, economic stagnation, preventable and treatable diseases, famine, war , and the list goes on. By the same token, there are small bands of cowards roaming the continent, especially porous democracies such as ours, who circumvent the tenets of democracy and threaten, bombard, and eventually hijack the minimal good that benefits the citizens.
Because this little group of self-serving individuals lacks the integrity that public service demands, they employ the only means that have served their likes in history?they kill, they amputate, they abduct, they uproot, they tear down, they eat man. These people do not give democracy a chance to work in Africa. These people ignore the civil liberties?freedom to assemble peacefully, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, due process, fair trial, etc.? of their African brothers and sisters, as well as their own, when they infringe on their rights to establish and enjoy democracies in their respective countries around the continent. By enslaving another human being you yourself are not free. I am convinced that the majority of us Africans long for the enabling environment to develop a democratic culture. We have the will to choose but what good is choice when men on a mission, with arms, suppress the people’s right to choose. I believe Africans will choose good over bad, justice over injustice, right over wrong, and ballots over bullets when they are free to exercise that right. That little we are conscious to do. For too long this culture of minority tyranny has engulfed the continent and brought fledgling democracies to their knees. This has got to stop.
At home in Liberia, rumors are circulating of plans to overthrow the government. I would call them just that, rumors. But I would also make an ardent appeal to whomever engaging in this venture to consider Liberia this time around, because this is not about Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it’s not about her. It’s about Liberia. It’s about starting over with a clean slate under the watchful eyes of a civilized international audience, to change the way the world has rated our way of life these last one hundred and sixty years. Like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would say, “We can disagree without being violently disagreeable”.
We have to get busy with programs to begin addressing some, if not all, of the millennium development goals. What are we doing about the 250, 000 child soldiers who are standing by to make their contribution to society? Because whether we welcome it or not, these young men and women do have something to give back to this country for better or worse. What about the women who are giving birth to the heirs of our heritage, what programs do we have in place to ensure these children inherit a society competitive enough to match internationally accepted standards? What about healthcare, recreation for our children, and education for little boys too? I would think we would all be converging at palava huts and city halls, boardrooms and homerooms, conferences and town meetings to discuss and delegate Liberia reconstruction responsibilities to her citizens. These are what we should concern ourselves with at this crossroads.
What we have not understood in Liberia and so we keep repeating these mistakes is that for a country to flourish, the people have to work alongside government in their interest. Popular sovereignty is the fulcrum of democracy. This means the government does the people’s bidding. That is why it is important to have a conscious people. Conscious people will endeavor, and I stress this, endeavor, to make conscious decisions.
There are many provisions for redress in a democratic society. Maybe if we all for once explore these provisions we would be well on our way to making our democracy work for the first time. I admonish these people to utilize these means of recourse they have available to them, constitutionally, that’s how we initiate a democratic culture. We have again begun “The itinerary of this new march” , if I may borrow from the honorable Comrade Dr. H. Boimah Fahnbulleh, Jr. So let us rewrite our history from the ashes of this fourteen-year war and out of these ashes raise up conscious men and women that will lift high the torch of freedom to welcome a new dawn in our nation’s history. Let’s together begin today. In Liberian pidgin I say, “a man, we beg yuh, yuh let de country sit down nah.”