Our Dear Friends:
In college, I often boasted so much about my country (even though war-ravaged), and yea Africa in general especially when fellow students (Americans) tried to mock Liberia, or Africa as being a heaven of poverty. In order to prove them wrong, I sometimes went as far to do my research presentations on Africa whenever our professors requested us to write about our favorite stars or places.
In most cases, I used beautiful slide photos of cities like Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Cape Town and Johannesburg in South Africa. In one instance, while making a presentation on the Life and Career of former Liberian soccer star, George Weah, I used one tact photograph of Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, since indeed there wasn’t better-attractive picture of Liberia to show.
Fortunately for me, no one ever asked me which of the photos were from my own country, Liberia. Often, the students expressed their admiration for Africa and Liberia and I managed to get away with that for a long time. However, my big mouth didn’t end there and I took the same attitude with me to my job in MN until recently when someone discovered my trick.
Guess what? While we were watching the Ebola crisis on CNN at work recently, a co-worker criticized Liberia for being “under-develop.”
“James, so your country looks pretty much like Haiti…all people see on television are “cardboard” houses,” he said.
“You are mistaking, those are scenes from upcountry,” I replied quickly.
“But James, the newsman is saying that these are scenes from the capital…” he insisted.
At this point I resigned from the conversation in that I had no further evidence that I could use to convince the young man that Liberia was far better than Haiti, or as he thinks.
I am certainly tire of giving excuses for the failure of past governments to develop Liberia. It’s quite embarrassing especially when you are caught right handed doing it as was my situation!
Former Pres. Tubman carried out some sort of development through his national unification programs although according to historians and writers, the booming trades and revenues intake by his government during this period (his presidency) do not commensurate with the Tubman’s development. A Ghanaian Journalist observed that even the less than 65 or so miles tied-road Tubman built from Monrovia to Totota, Bong County, was to give him a smooth ride to his farm.
Tolbert did all that he could through his Rally Time project before his sudden demise.
Samuel Doe too did his best, melted coins that forced people to develop land and couldn’t easily steal and bank in foreign banks account as it is nowadays.
Forget about those transitional and factional governments. Theirs weren’t any different from the period Taylor ruled Liberia as president.
And you say Ellen? Well, although Ellen Johnson inherited this broken country, still, she too cannot escape blame. There’s very little she can show in terms of development under her administration. People had thought that her government would take care of some of the most basic social services but not to be!
Mr. Dennis Jah or someone this year posted on the listservs a distasteful picture of several grown men (about six) sitting back to back all using an outdoor open-air toilet in Monrovia or its suburb; imagine, this is happening in 2014. What a disgrace to a whole nation!
Ayah Liberia! Some ignorant continue to say that your sisters countries like the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya among others that now boast of development were lucky to be colonized for that’s how the Whiteman built their lands.
For true? I ask! Could that have been possible; I mean i.e., to have foreigners built a city like Abidjan without the input of the country’s citizens?
Oh Liberia…your name is great abroad and as a result many come to you hoping to see your beauty, perhaps, beauty they may not have seen anywhere in this world only to find disappointment upon disappointment!!
Remember those strong remarks made by visiting Soviet journalists while they were on guided tour of Monrovia with former PUL Secretary, Gabriel I.H. Williams prior to the wars. Mr. Williams quotes them in his book: LIBERIA: The Heart of Darkness, in this way. “We didn’t come expecting to see a small New York but at least small Florida.”
I hope someone in this web audience will help find answers to the remark/question raised by my co-worker. Me pa, I am tired giving poor excuses for our governments’ failures.
Fasuekoi from Gizema!!