Every July 26 Liberians are joined by people around the world to celebrate Independence Day. But the truth is July 26 has lost its significance, because the values, aims and aspirations, and principles for which it was attained in1847 are not taken into sober reflection and consummated. People who claim they are independent must take on the task of practically arranging their affairs in such a way that they are in complete charge of their lives; that they are prepared for challenges to their freedom; that they do not sign themselves and their families away in virtual slavery.
These are the essences and responsibilities of an independent state. In addition, responsibilities come with the intelligence or competence to capacitate and empower ourselves to achieve our inner realizable purpose of life, among which are the pursuit of peace, liberty, happiness, political and economic independence. Late Israeli statesman, David Ben Gurion once said. “Without moral and intellectual independence, there is no anchor for national independence."
A child was nurtured until he reached 18 or 21 years-and went to college and graduated. He asked his parents to grant him an independent status as an adult as demanded by the principle of stages of life with the advice that independence is followed by responsibilities. The child now an adult left his parents to start life on his own. He is employed and has a family.
But for every problem he runs to his parents for security, loans he cannot pay back, handouts, and other problems he should be taking care of himself as an adult. Gradually, his parents begin to notice that he is not responsible. Therefore, they must subject him to their power to make decisions for him in return for taking care of his life. Consequently, he is back to a dependent status, though he pretends and deceives himself by making others to believe that he is on his own or is independent.
This is the problem with Liberia. As a result of power greed, corruption and lack of sense of purpose and competence to manage and lead , Liberian political leaders either unwittingly or with an expressed purpose in mind, are detached from the realities and challenges an independent nation must accept and deal with.
Liberia is one of the oldest independent states in the world, according to the Declaration of Independence of 1847. Every year, political leaders of Liberia oblige Liberians to celebrate this day in commemoration of freedom from servitude.
We demanded independence to take control of our own destiny. We stood for our right to govern ourselves, our resources and our thoughts, and indeed, we proclaimed to the world that we are a nation capable of discerning between wrong and right.
Unfortunately, Liberia’s independence did not last beyond the day of the proclamation. The following day and to this date, the proclamation or declaration of independence lacks meaning and purpose. Independence as viewed in its political and economic contexts is far from actuality, owing to the protracted lack of autarky and self-determination.
Political leaders blame their predecessors for failing to rescue Liberia from political and economic dormancy. At the same time, they lack carefully devised plan to achieve those goals their predecessors failed to achieve.
What are the qualities and nature that identify an independent state like ours? Liberians are governed by people acting or being something in name only, but not in reality.
These nominal leaders know their nation and people are at the mercy of other nations and peoples, though they blame everything on war created by them and its consequences, yet they pretend to be proud political leaders of an independent nation.
Liberia has all the features of a dependent nation. Independence, according to World English Dictionary, is a freedom from aid, or the like, of others; freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organization, or state. A nation cannot in essence be considered independent or a responsible independent nation if it does not have the qualities of an independent state, such as freedom from the influence, guidance, or control of other foreign political leaders, and reliance on another for physical existence or emotional needs.
Dr. Caesar Apentiik, a Ghanaian-born instructor with the U of C’s Faculty of Communication and Culture, Canada, warned that keeping Africa dependent on foreign aid produces a vicious cycle of manipulation of their political independence. Dr. Apentiik’s warning is applicable to the aforementioned Mummy’s boy story in which a grown male is still depends on his mother or desires his mother to control most aspects or decisions of his life.
Liberian political leaders still look to America, China, other Asian nations and other European countries for Liberia’s political, economic, and emotional needs. Liberian major political decisions are influenced by Washington. The citizens on the other hand, lack confidence and credibility in their political leaders thus, leaving them with the alternative to petition U.S. government occasionally to help run Liberia. Opposition political party leaders and human rights advocates also rely on Washington to run Liberia.
An independent nation is one that can sustain itself with a minimal external assistance. In spite of independence, Liberians continue to rely on importation of rice, though it is blessed with tropical rain forest and a fertile soil that can be cultivated to produce rice for local consumption and export. Liberia’s economic potentials form the basis for why it should not be what it is today.
Wealth distribution favoring about five percent of the population in Liberia has not helped the country. This has sparked and continues to spark civilian reactions. After all, who would want to see a neighbor who drives a Benz, BMW, SUV, etc when they have nothing to feed their children? Poor policies, greed and corruption have driven the Liberian economy to its knees and for that simple reason, we still beg for handouts from the West. Liberia has failed to show economic independence. In the absence of economic independence, political independence is compromised. After all, the two are not sustainable without the other.
U.S. 44th and first black president, Barack Obama’s warning to Africans and their leaders to desist from attributing Africa’s failure and dependency on colonialism instead of taking control of their destinies was greeted with hard feelings among African leaders, though other American and European leaders had signaled similar warning and concerns before and now. Political and media analysts think African leaders were disappointed by Obama’s remarks because he is of African descent.
During his visit to Ghana, President Obama spoke directly to all the people but especially to the leaders, whose policies for the past fifty years have brought untold economic hardship and misery to the people. Speaking directly to the tyrants and corrupt dictators in north, south, east, central and west Africa he said:
"Africa doesn't need strongmen. It needs strong institutions." Chastising them for being corrupt and abusers of human rights he added, "No country is going to create wealth if its leaders exploit the economy to enrich themselves, or if police can be bought off by drug traffickers."
Liberia is 100 years older than China, Japan, India, South and North Korea, and Taiwan. Today, Liberia still looks to China, Japan, India, South and North Korea, and Taiwan for gifts, expertise, and other economic assistance. Liberian political leaders glorify themselves for successfully securing loans, debt relief, and gifts from these countries whose leaders worked hard to ensure political and economic independence in a short period.
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