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Liberia: Wake up

It is about time that Liberia under the leadership of president Sirleaf be told to wake up.

Why is our president not playing any leading role in mediating in the conflicts of Africa? Every now and then, she raves about being the first elected female president in Africa and a mother to so many. But when it comes to living up to that role in resolving conflicts on the continent as a mother or the only female in the “boys club” would do, President Sirleaf ducks and waits to lean on the side of popular opinions especially the one supported by the United States. In the 1960s, Liberia played a pivotal role and was very instrumental in fighting for the independence of other African countries under colonial rule. At some point she would even take other countries to court for discriminating against and stepping on the God giving rights of fellow Africans. Now with widespread abuses, strives and wars on the continent, it is inconceivable that Liberia will abdicate that role to “just come” South Africa and concentrate only on begging alms and justifying the poor management of grant money. Any time I see South African President Jacob Zuma or former president Thabo Mbeki attempting to resolve conflicts in Ivory Coast, Libya and other trouble places, I say to myself “this should be Liberia’s role.” But unfortunately, Liberia is so preoccupied with re-introducing herself to the World stage, crying poor mouth and using “we are just from war” as an excuse not to face the challenges of the 21st century. Our president rarely summons the best in Liberians or rallies them for action but instead expends all her energies in making the whole world feel sorry for us so as to keep their help and protection coming nonstop.

It saddens me that such pathetic posture will dominate Liberia’s foreign policy and participation in global affairs. We can’t be asking for help forever and begging other countries armies to protect us. Liberia is not an NGO that her president will make rounds every fiscal year to make year-end expense reports of where the donations went and justify why she needs more and more help to keep the country running throughout eternity. For Liberia to earn trust, regain her respect, attract investors and make her mark, she needs to dust off such pathetic nature and position herself as a partner and not a universal recipient of philanthropic goodwill and leftovers. Let us find what we can do best and perfect our skills in that area so that others will want something from us too. In the 60’s, Liberia was training lawyers and political scientists to represent other African countries in the World Court or champion other African causes. That was the Lone Star of Africa! Although still poor, Liberia did not allow her suffering to define every agenda of hers. How then in this 21st century that our Harvard trained president abandon this role and make us look like perpetual beggars! I hope I am not asking too much from a president heralded as the “Harvard trained Economist.” After six years under the Sirleaf leadership we can receive with one hand and still give back with the other hand. That way, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be poured back into our bosom.

Wake up Liberia. Come on Iron Lady, Mama Ellen, Harvard Trained... show your juice. The multinational force is not going to be around forever. The gifts will not be coming forever. The European Union will not pay our Auditor General forever. The pockets of NGOs are deep but they will not be with us for ever.

As Egypt was to America in the Arab World or Liberia was to America during the World wars, we can become strategic again if at least we start to intervene in African conflicts. Let America and other World powers depend on us to make sure democracy is the way to go in Africa. But if we keep our hands between our legs or give chorus answers to the many questions of democracy and the rule of law in Ivory Coast, Guinea and other places instead of leading the effort, we will not stand out but remain another country recovering from civil conflicts crying out for help, for a long time, maybe forever.

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