Copy of In Union Strong, Sucess is Sure: Cultural Development is Critical to Developmental Sucess in Liberia
Despite its coastal geography and access to natural resources such as iron, gold, rubber, timber, and petroleum, Liberia has not been able to mobilize politically to utilize these resources to adequately take care of its citizens. Liberia ranked 177/188 countries on the most recent Human Development Index list, making Liberia one of the most underdeveloped countries in the world. Many are quick to attribute Liberia’s lack of development to high levels of corruption; stating bribes, high government salaries, and more. While this is all true, I believe that these statements are oversimplifying things and make it more difficult to appropriately tackle the problem. As Liberians demand change with the next government, more attention needs to be given to understanding the type of corruption that is impeding development in Liberia. The type of corruption that I believe is fueled by the lack of national pride.
Liberia lacks a unified nation state and a strong sense of patriotism. People tend to be more concerned with the advancement of their own group than Liberia as a whole. Some Liberians are willing to engage in corrupt activities such as taking bribes from foreign nations and corporations who only seek to exploit the country, placing their own self-interests above the welfare of the nation. These acts illustrate that many Liberians are intrinsically detached from their national identity.
A Call for Unification- We'll shout the freedom
Of a Race Benighted
Most modern day African countries grew out of colonialism. Some of these countries, such as Ghana, were able to unite against a common enemy to construct a strong national identity.
While, I am not arguing for Liberia to use a common enemy to spur on national pride or patriotism, I do believe that without a strong sense of national identity, the prospects of Liberia's development as a country are grim.
Liberia has many unique characteristics that can be used to encourage patriotism and a strong national identity. Some are listed below.
History: Africa's oldest Democratic Republic country: Liberia is one of two countries, along with Ethiopia, that escaped European Colonialism. We were established by black migrants from the U.S. and Caribbean. We were the second black country after Haiti to achieve independence.
Ethnic diversity: Pan Africanism. Liberians come in all shapes, sizes and hues. I often hear Liberians saying, “I am Kpelle and some of my family migrated from South Carolina, Nigeria, or Jamaica”. Most majority black countries around the world can be separated into 2 categories. Countries with indigenous African ethnic groups such as Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo. Or Countries belonging to the African Diaspora, Jamaica, Barbados, and Haiti. Liberia does not fit into these categories because we are both. This combination is truly unique, and Liberians should focus more on embracing it as oppose to disputing who is more Liberian.
Language: The national Language of Liberia is English, but the local vernacular is referred to as Liberian-English. As the name suggest, the base language is English, but phrases and words are taken from the languages of local African ethnic groups and African American vernaculars. For example, “kwi” is an adjective word in Liberian English used to describe someone or something that is civilized, white, or western. This word is taken from the Bassa language spoken by the Bassa people of Liberia.
Cuisine: As with language and ethnicity, Liberian cuisine is a mixture of both traditional African dishes and African American cuisine. For example, fufu is a popular Liberian food that is taken from traditional West African cuisine. Cornbread (African American Soul Food) and Banana/Rice bread (eaten in various parts of the Caribbean) are also popular Liberian foods.
Liberia has a beautiful and unique culture that can serve as a positive tool to increase national pride and spur development. While internal conflict is unavoidable in any country, countries such as Canada are testaments that multicultural countries can have a unified identity and be prosperous. While culture development is not the only solution, we must find a way to get more Liberians committed to the advancement of Liberia or we will keep seeing decisions made in favor of one person, a group, or another nation, and never Liberia.
Long live Liberia, happy land! A home of glorious liberty, By God's command!
By: Vonti Bright