Looking Back for a Successful, Tomorrow

Reads: 246  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This paper is about Liberia’s Socio-economic Problems. Liberia can be found on the west coaast of Africa.

Submitted: May 08, 2012

A A A | A A A

Submitted: May 08, 2012

A A A

A A A


 

Through my high school history classes taken in Liberia, I learned that Liberia is located on the West Coast of Africa; on the north by the Republic of Guinea, on the east by the Republic of Cote D’ Ivoire, on the west by the Republic of Sierra Leone, and on the south by the Atlantic Ocean. According to the United States Department website, Liberia’s population is approximately 3.887million. Liberia was founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society (ACS), and the Americo-Liberian—or settlers—issued Declaration of Independence, creating the independent Republic of Liberia on July 26, 1847. Throughout those years, The True Whig party dominated all sectors of Liberia until April 12, 1980, when indigenous Liberian Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe (from the Krahn ethnic group) seized power in a coup d’etat. In addition, Liberia was traditionally noted for its academic intuition, iron-mining, and rubber. Liberia was a major exporter of iron ore on the world market and in 1970s and 1980s, iron mining accounted for more than half of Liberia’s export earnings (Bureau of African Affairs).

Understanding a brief history about Liberia is very essential since the country as a whole will be discussed in this paper. From the brief history on Liberia’s past leaders before 1980, it is understood the country had a monopoly system of government, which is a system that is dominated by one political group or government. From my High School economics classes taken in Liberia and my business classes taken at the Community College of Aurora, I come to understand that monopolies are not beneficial for anyone but the government or company that has control. Without competition there is no incentive to limit prices or increase quality and choices. In fact, from my high school history classes, I learned that actual development started in Liberia under President Samuel K. Doe’s leadership.

Through my high school education in Liberia, I learned that the leaders prior to 1980 were only primarily concerned about what they could do in order to stay in control of the country’s assets, rule the people of Liberia and do little for Liberia or its people because they did not have the country at heart. Due to this, the Liberians were not given the opportunity to fully participate in their country affirms as a results, their country’s activities were run based on how a certain group of individuals wanted it to be run. With that being mentioned, the Americo-Liberian, citizens of Liberia, and politicians of Liberia who are made up of these ethnic groups, are to be blamed for Liberia’s socio-economy destructions, and not only the developed countries. 

James D. Smith, who is a writer of the perspective website in Atlanta, Georgia distinguished the Americo-Liberians, Congo-Liberians, and the indigenous Liberians as follow, “Liberians who have connection with slavery are called “Americo” or “Congo” while [Liberians] call those who are indigenous to the land, Country. About 98 percent of the population of Liberia belongs to the latter category, which is the “Country”, while the former makes the remaining two percent” (Smith 2).

Looking at a brief history of these ethnic groups will give readers a proper understanding of why the conflict that has existed among Liberian ethnic groups in the past continues today. Mr. Smith continues that, in the early 1800’s, several organizations in the United States decided to aid freed men of color to relocate to their ancestral African continent—specifically in the are now known as Liberia. Over the years, many former slaves were shipped to Liberia as would be expected, the original inhabitants did not welcomed these “encroaching”—these free men who arrived were unwanted, displaced and homeless freed slaves. Disputes and fighting over the land ensued and a bitter legacy was established. Furthermore, freed slaves who were shipped to Liberia carried with them many of the characteristics of slavery. They made sure that education was not available to the natives, just like the slaves were not given education. And these natives’ people paid taxes without representation (Smith 2). Looking deeply into how this background knowledge on these ethnic groups will give a better understanding of why they have a strong effect on Liberia socio-economic destructions. 

As author Gabriel Williams, who became the youngest journalist to win the Daj Hammarskjold Memorial fellowship, one of the most prestigious awards in the international Journalism, wrote in his book called, Liberia: the heart of the darkness that Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf made a revelation regarding Washington, D.C. based Association of Constitutional Democracy in Liberia (ACDL) support toward the National Patriotic Front Liberia (NPFL) a rebel group lead by Liberia’s former President, Charles Taylor and dominated by the Gio and Mino ethnic groups in an interview published on March 27, 2000 which stated: The ACDL did raised the grand sum of $10,000, hardly an amount that could do very much. Initially, we had committed ourselves to try to do more. But within the six months or so, i.e. around the middle 1990, we had withdrawn any support and any connection with Mr. Taylor and his group on account of the serious atrocities which were taken place, some affecting long standing political allies of ours (William 82-83).

Madam Johnson-Sirleaf and her fellow NPFL members were mostly Americo-Liberian. With that, one can see how they somehow contributed to the civil war of Liberia, which led to the destructions of the country. She claimed through the above reference that she and her group withdrew and did not contributed a huge sum of money in the NPFL attacks against President Doe and the Liberians, but the truth of the matter is they still supported the war whether it was a small or a large amount. From basic understanding of the U.S.-Liberia or Africa relations, I have realized that when the U.S government is not in favor of a certain political leader of Africa, they usually take that person from power at all cost or bring their political career to an end. And perhaps she knew that the U.S. government was going to take President Charles Taylor down and that was why she and her group withdrew.

For instance, due to the strong ties that President Samuel K. Doe created with the U.S government as I previously mentioned from the United States Department Website; the U.S. government did not do a thing to his government when his administration centralized power into their hands. She is definitely a smart woman, and no wonder why she is known as the ‘Iron Lady’ which simply means she is a strong headed woman and one of the strongest women politicians that Liberia has. This justification was not enough for the Liberian people after contributing towards the massive killing in their country. For example, if she and her group had not supported Mr. Taylor in taking war to Liberia, perhaps he might not have had the edge to do so. She alone with some members of ACDL group were Americo-Liberian and looking at the history of Liberia, one would say that they might have wanted to gained power back and ruled the Liberian people as the Americo-Liberian did in the past since President Doe was from the Krahn Ethnic group.

Looking at the background notes on Liberia from the United States Department website, it is understood that after President Samuel K. Doe or then Sergeant K. Doe of the Krahn ethnic group along with other plotters overthrew and killed President William R. Tolbert Jr., the Cold War or Ethnic War was at its peak in Liberia (Bureau of African Affairs). Readers can see from these references that the only means through which Liberian’s past presidents gained the seat of presidency was through bloodshed until 2005 when Liberia’s conducted her first and ever free and fair election without bloodshed and Madam Johnson-Sirleaf of the NPFL group who somehow supported President’s Taylor and his group in overthrowing President’s Doe by taking war to Liberia won the Liberians votes.

Through questioning Liberians living in and out of Liberia who was not from the Krahn ethnic group in Liberia of President’s Doe and Madam Johnson-Sirleaf leadership, I got to know that although President Doe was not as educated as Madam Johnson-Sirleaf, but his government was the one who undergo most of the changes in terms of development in Liberia now. Furthermore, President’s Doe made the Liberian currency to have value on the Liberian market as the result, commodities were cheaper, as a result, the Native or Country man could afford to buy at a lower rate, pay his monthly rent, support his children, and build houses without having to go through much expensive but Madam Johnson-Sirleaf government is the opposite. As writer Mark Gregory, a world service business correspondent who interviewed Philip Wesseh, a managing editor of the respected Inquirer newspaper says, “Prices are increasing on a daily basis. Even the Liberian dollar is depreciating, so the economic situation is very bad” (Gregory).

Although about five years has passed since this interview, but the U.S. dollars are still hard on the Liberian market. The government of Liberia needs to minimize the U.S currency from on the Liberian market in order for the Liberian dollars to have value and prices on commodities to decrease. If the U.S. currency continues to flows on the Liberian market, merchandise prices will continue to increase and their country economy will stay the same in terms of regulation of prices and the native-Liberian who cannot afford to purchase in U.S. dollars will suffer.  From personal experience of the time I spent in Liberia, although some commodities were purchase in Liberian dollar but it was mostly purchase in the U.S. currency and employees were paid in the U.S currency. These are a few things that the government of Liberia needs to look in if they really want their country to move forward.

 From writers Smith and William, one can see how the Liberian politicians are serious sources behind Liberia economic destructions. Take President Doe for example, during his leadership, he prioritized his ethnic group over the other ethnic groups of Liberia which offended those other ethnic groups and they not knowing better decided to fight President’s Doe and his ethnic group through violence or war; President’s Doe and his ethnic group did the same in return. This has been going on in Liberia for a long period of time; even though some Liberians may claim that it is not as it used to be but the discriminations among Liberia’s ethnic groups still exist in and out of Liberia.

 From basic observations of the past two years I have lived with the Liberian in the U.S., I can say that discriminations do exist among them. Most of these Liberians living in the U.S. would prefer to group themselves. Of course the act of discriminating is obvious but the Liberians need to realize that discriminating among themselves will do them no good but harm. Although one would find these Liberians working together but the distinctions would be seen among them mostly than the cooperation. I have also observed that one of Liberia’s ethnic groups who take themselves to be superior over the other ethnic groups are very passionate about being in leadership, which is a good thing because they can do whatever it takes to accomplishing their task. But on the other hand, if those ethnic groups which they consider their inferiors are to be in leadership roles, they get intimated and would undermine that ethnic group or individual of that ethnic leadership. Liberian ignored these things but it is strongly going on and until they can face these things or until these things are properly handle, Liberian will not be able to unite and develop their country and it may be passed on to the future generation of Liberia.

The oppositions would say that, Liberia’s past leaders would not have done what they did if the developed countries had not strongly supported those leaders. For instance, as discussed previously of the strong ties President Samuel K. Doe created with the American government, the U.S. government supported him and ignored the favoritism his government was carrying on in Liberia. And besides, a mother is to be held responsible for what her child does since she was the one who trained her child. This can relate to Liberia-U.S. relationship in that the U.S. government is to be held responsible for what goes on in Liberian since they are knew as the mother country for Liberia through independence. As author Ledgerhood Rennie who is a correspondent of the British Broadcasting Corporation reported in his report on Liberia’s: A year of slow progress, the international government would spend billions of dollars supporting war, but when it comes to developing the countries of which through their support of war had left a scorn on, the international communities would leave all the responsibility on that country or donate small amounts of money (Reenie). It is time that the leaders of Liberia realize that the U.S. government or developed countries has done more than enough in hurting their country.

Even though this is human nature, but for the time I have lived in America, I have realized that most Americans would careless to know anything about a person (African) who does not have a certain quality that can be of benefit to them or has the knowledge on a certain thing that they would want to know. Take the classroom for example, some American students might not speak to their fellow students from the start of the semester but out of a sudden they would speak if he or she wants to acquire certain information from another student who is knowledgeable on that material. Although African students can do the same too, but the American students can be found doing such a thing more frequently. This can also be applied to countries; take the American government for instance, they only cares about Africa or Liberia because of what they can take from there and not necessarily what they can do for Africa or Liberia. The Liberian government is not blind to these things but they have chosen to abandon it perhaps of their own personal reasons.

While the above viewpoint is correct but the question to be asked is, can these developed countries want development for Liberia more than the Liberian themselves? Just as another mother cannot prioritize a brighter future for another mother’s child over hers is the same as those developed countries cannot want development for Liberia more than Liberian themselves. After all, those developed countries want to remind developed. Even though the opposition claimed through the above example that a mother is to be held accountable for what her child does since she was the one who trained up that child but training up a child is one aspect, that child practicing whatever training that his or her mother has placed in his or her is another aspect. And besides, what if that mother had tried her utmost best to see to it that her child has a good future but the child has chosen not to? An illustration of this can be found in a statistics that shows that the international communities have been donating to Liberia since its Civil War.

According to writer Christof P. Kurz of the CDA Collaborative Learning Project on Liberia, Liberia ranks among the largest recipients of international aid of the past few years.

Liberia received USD1.25 billion in overseas development aid in 2008, as much as the significantly larger Ghana (USD1.3billion with a population of 23.4million) and more than three times as much (in per capita terms) than neighboring Sierra Leone at a similar stage in its post-conflict reconstruction process. Almost 50 percent of U.S. aid to Liberia in 2008 was allocated to what can be roughly considered 'peace building' activities, including what USAID terms ‘stabilization operations and security sector reform,’ and governance and democracy promotion (Kurz 7).

 

With such a huge amount of donations Liberia is receiving or has received from the international community such as the U.S., one should not say that the international communities are not helping Liberia in their development process. It might be that the politicians of Liberia are not using these funds for the purpose of which they were given. It is just a small amount of seeing how self-seeking politicians are; especially Liberia politicians. For the time I spent in Liberia, I would see government officers who are not capable of buying an expense cars owning them and  living in the best of houses while the government struggles in meeting the demands of an ordinary citizens of Liberia. And the worst part of it is that, most of these officers would not give account of how they generated the source of their wealth. It is obvious that these politicians of Liberia who are in such an act are using these funds to live an expensive lifestyle that they cannot afford. The politicians of Liberia should put their needs and wants aside and prioritized their country when these funds are given. If these politicians of Liberian can do the job and eat some of the money, the Liberians would careless because they are seeing these funds being used properly.

Not only does Liberia receive International aid from developed countries from around the world, but they also receive aid from the U.S. Government. According to the U.S. Agency of international Development (USAID) website, it is understood that “The U.S Government provides assistance to Liberia, and the USAID operates bilateral missions to Liberia” (USAID). This assistance is to help the Liberian people developed themselves and their country.  Ordinary citizen who do not have any interest in the government made not receive any of these assistance, because the Politicians of Liberia or some citizens of Liberia who may be privilege to distribute these funds among their fellow citizens would give these assistance to their interest. For example, when I was in Liberia, if a scholarship of ten Liberian students were available, those government officers would serve their interest first—even if they did not meet the qualifications of those scholarships—before an ordinary citizen. The leaders of Liberia would make the application forms available for everyone to apply but when the list of those who were qualified comes out, strange name would be seen. Those potential ordinary Liberian citizens would end up not getting the scholarship because they did not know anyone in the high authority.

A typical case of the above point can be found in the scholarship opportunities that have been posted on the on the Government of the Republic of Liberia official website which states,

The Chinese Government, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Liberia is offering an opportunity for four Liberians to benefit from scholarships in the following fields: Aircraft Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Meteorology, Civil

Engineering, Information Technology (IT), Chemical Agriculture, Education (Pedagogy),

and Natural Resource/Environmental Law. The Lebanese Government, in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Liberia, is offering an opportunity for five

Liberians to benefit from scholarships in the field of administrative information

technology and nursing. The requirements were as follow:

-be Liberian nationals (who have previous degrees and expertise in the priority fields) (applied to China only);

-be no more than 34 years of age at the time of applying;

-possess undergraduate qualifications with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

-possess a secondary school average of “B” or above (applied to Lebanon only); and

-Have passed the West African Examination Counsel text (WAEC) 2009-present (applied

 to Lebanon only) (Government of Liberia).

 

It is impressive that China and Lebanon are giving Liberian such an opportunity to help them

improve their lives but the requirements for the scholarship opportunities given makes it hard for an ordinary citizen of Liberia to receive any. The question to be asked is what are these countries getting in returned for these scholarships? Are they getting more than what they are offering or it just does not makes any sense to question what they are getting in returned since it is knowledge that are being offered to the Liberians? As stated in economics, there is no such thing as a free lunch. That is to say that, these countries do not just give these scholarships out for free without getting anything in return.

Although those Liberian students who may be accepted for these scholarship can contribute greatly to their country upon learning but perhaps their country resources may be gone upon finishing their studies. Base on the qualifications of these scholarships, only the top officials’ guys in the government may receive it or again their interest. For instance, there are many young Liberian students who are in the nursing fields and are not financially stable to further their education and the scholarships requires that the person must be 34 years old. The country economy is struggling in poor health system and these young brains are being wasted. In the sense that, these young brain of Liberia who are not financially stable to pay for furthering their education. The government of Liberia is not blind to the fact that the present generation of Liberian will be the future leaders but they have chosen to ignore it. Apparently, the government of Liberia wants their country to continue to be run by the same group of individuals it was previously run by prior to the leaders of 1980 that is why they would prefer to give these scholarship to their interest even if they are not qualified than an ordinary citizen of Liberia who is qualified.

The Chinese government paves roads, imports the world’s cheapest commodities, builds governmental and non-governmental buildings and in return the Liberian government exports the country’s natural resources to China. As researcher Taylor Tan quoted in his article on China’s Oil Diplomacy in Africa, “of particular interest to the West is China’s growing expansion into Africa’s oil markets. It should be pointed out that although oil is a major and obvious source of Chinese interest in Africa, it is far from being the only one. China is actively seeking resources of every kind: copper, bauxite, uranium, aluminum, manganese and iron ore, among others, are all being sought out acquisitively by Beijing” (qtd in Taylor 398).

The Liberian government should take into consideration what will their country be left with when China discovers that their natural resources are limited? China will not be available anymore and Liberia will be at a lost. Their cheapest products will continue to flow on the Liberia market. However, there are some Liberians who made claim that China gives scholarships and import commodities at a cheaper price to Liberia which the past relationship Liberia had with other developed countries did not do. Instead, they only contributed largely towards the destructions of Liberia through the Civil War, and most of those developed countries only exploited Liberia resources without giving any thing productive in return. For instance, the U.S. government has influenced some of Liberians political leaders in the past; they would have the Politicians of Liberia do what they wanted to be done, and not what those politicians of Liberia were to do for their country.

Nevertheless, the leaders of Liberia at the time should have known better like President Doe did for instance, through the years I spent in Liberia, I come to know that he challenged the U.S. government on Liberian paying off their debts as a result, the U.S. government turned against him. From my college experience in the U.S., the Liberian government must have begged the U.S. government in helping their country move forward since America is known to Africans as the world super hero. The Chinese-Liberian relationship is helping Liberians not only in term of the Chinese building the University of Liberia or others building but Liberians are now owning their own stores and making businesses due to the Liberian-Chinese relationship. The Liberian Government needs to compare the value of their resources to the services the Chinese government are given to their country.

An additional reason that Liberians are to take charge of their feuds lies in author Philippa Atkinson, who is an independent consultant and a part-time Regional Representative for the Relief and Rehabilitation Network Paper, states in her paper on the war economy in Liberia, “…members of the factions and the government enjoy the profits on resources directly as they are earned and exported” (Atkinson 5).

These profits on Liberia resources are to be reinvested in the country economy and not be used by these government officers for their personal benefits because it was not the purpose for which those profits were generated. This clearly shows that some of the politicians of Liberia do not have their country at heart. If a political leader of Liberia is to take any of these donations for their personal use, let the work be done first. From the time I spent in Liberia and perhaps before I was born, this has been going on for a very long period of time. These government officers who prefer to take these funds to satisfy their personal wants or desires then to use it for the purpose at which it was given.

While it is true that Liberia is not the only country such a thing happens in, but it is severe there. On the other hand, these politicians of Liberia are from different ethnic groups and each may go into the government with the mindset of revenge on what the others ethnic groups past leaders might have done to their ethnic groups. For example, a politician form the Krahn ethnic group may want to revenge on the death of President Samuel K. Doe of their indigenous group—he was stripped naked and killed in the street of Monrovia, Liberia as starts on the U.S. Start Department website—when they get in power. It is time that the Liberian start to respect their leaders because no matter what that leaders might have done in the past, a leader is a leader. Although I am not trying to suggest that the Liberian investigate these thing because to do so their country would be going backward instead of forward and old womb would be opened but they are to put their past behind.

For the past two years I have lived outside of Liberia, I can say that Liberians are their own problems. Swaying away from the developed countries and Liberia, look at how Liberian differ from another African country. Nigerians for instance, although they have their own feuds but they would rather not live an average live in America and built a house or houses in their country than to live an average live in America and not built in their country or carry on some sought of development there. Most Nigerians living in American would give their selves a certain length of time, maybe five years to have built a house in their country. In fact the competitions among them are very hard. They have such a positive mindset towards their country and the spirit of motivations exists among them. In contrast, Liberians are a complete opposite of the Nigerians. Most Liberians living in America would prefer to live an average live in America and careless for carrying on some sought of development to their country or to build their own personal house of which they do not have to pay mortgage or bill to the government at the end of the month for. In fact most Liberians believed that they cannot do what their past leaders did not do for their country.

 Furthermore, most Liberians would take their fellow Liberian’s success as a threat to them and would do anything it takes for them to do in making that person to not success at whatever thing are involved with. At times they could just end the person’s life. The irony about it is that, the person would have end his fellow Liberian live may not achieve what that person could have achieved. Although life in America is not as “Milk and Honey” as it is known in the world, but life is also better in America than it is in Liberia. There are many opportunities in America than in Liberia. For example, a person can go to school in America without worrying about tuitions if he or she keeps up with their grades which can rarely happened in Liberia. Liberians living in America should make maximum use of the opportunity they have to get educations and other essential skills they would need to better their life and take those things back to their country and help develop their country just as the Americans or people from other developed countries would take their country resources to their country for development.

Knowing that these things cannot be minimized all together, but it is time that the government of Liberia eliminates them to the fullest of their ability if they have their country at heart and wants to see it move forward.

All in all, the Liberians need to critically analyze the above issues that have been discussed in this paper, or look into them deeply as a means of moving their country forward.

Moreover, the Liberians should first be willing to accept their errors in building a new Liberia. Because unless they do so first, they would not pursue the change they are pursing now. In addition, the Liberians are to recognize that they are one and not Americo-Liberian, Congo-Liberian or from any ethnics groups when it comes to developing their country. Because when the international communities are giving funds to Liberia, they do not specify which ethnic group it should be given to but they give it to Liberia in general, or when a Liberian is to represent Liberia in a different countries, their representation will not be done based on their ethnicity, though technically they will also be representing their ethnicity, but the country they came from would be the major priority.

 Lastly, it is not too late for the Liberians to be known for their good work that they were known for in the 70s or 80s. All it requires are a dedicated people who are willing to leave the tribalism behind or the past behind in rebuilding a new Liberia. The unison is what the Liberians need mostly and they should also take into consideration, as a house can be broken overnight, it cannot be build overnight. Additional, the Liberians should understand that just as a mother cannot leave her children loss in her home and held on to another mother’s home to discipline her children while hers children are loss, is the same that those developed countries whom they are blaming for their country’s economic destructions cannot leave their country problems and held on to Liberia to fix theirs economy for them or be more concern about Liberia economy than the Liberians themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Atkinson, Philippa. “The War Economy in Liberia: Political Analysis.” Relief and Rehabilitation

Network Paper. May 1997. 1-32. Print.

“Burean of African Affairs. Background Notes: Liberia” U.S. Department of States. N.P.

February 17, 2012. Web. February 28, 2012.

“Government of the Republic of Liberia.” The Executive Mansion of Liberia. The Executive

Mansion of Liberia. N.D. Web. February 8, 2012.

Gregory, Mark. “Liberia’s Economic Struggles. British Broadcasting Corporation. British

Broadcasting Corporation. August 13, 2003. Web. February 28, 2012.

Kurz, Christof P. “Cumulative Impact Case Study: The Cumulative Impacts of Peace building

Liberia.” Reflecting on Peace Practice Project. Collaborative for Development Action.

June 2012. 1-61. Print.

Rennie, Ledgerhood. “Liberia: A Year of Slow Progess.” British Broadcasting Corporation.

British Broadcasting Corporation. January 16, 2007. Web. February 28, 2012.

Smith, James D. “Liberia’s Ugly Past: Re-writing Liberian History.” The Perspective. The

Perspective. N.D. Web. March 13, 2012.

Taylor, Tan. “China’s Oil Diplomacy in Africa.” International Affairs 82:5 (2006): 937-959.

Print.

“USAID African: Liberia.” U.S. Agency of International Development. N.P. N.D. Web.

February 28, 2012.

William, Gabriel I.H. “Liberia: the heart of darkness: Accounts for Liberia Civil War and its

Destabilizing Effects on West Africa.” National Library of Canada Cataloguing:

Trafford. 2002. 80-85. Google Book. 202.

 


© Copyright 2018 Joshulyn. All rights reserved.

Booksie 2018 Poetry Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Joshulyn

Popular Tags