News / Africa

    Liberian Diaspora Debates Reconstruction, Dual Citizenship

    Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrives for a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, February 16, 2012.Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrives for a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, February 16, 2012.
    x
    Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrives for a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, February 16, 2012.
    Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf arrives for a meeting of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Abuja, February 16, 2012.
    James Butty
    Liberians are observing 165 years of independence Thursday.  To mark the occasion, the Liberian Diaspora in the United States held a one-day symposium in Washington to discuss their role in the reconstruction and development of their country, and the importance of dual citizenship. 
     
    Former Liberian foreign minister Olubanke King-Akerele, in a keynote speech, proposed a public-private sector partnership whereby Liberians abroad can set up businesses at home. 
     
    But, she said Liberians in the Diaspora must return home in order to make the partnership possible.
     
    “I propose that serious consideration be given to the opening of a Diaspora Enterprise Entrepreneur Promotion and Investment Office back in Liberia.  In short, what I am proposing to you is [that] you have to be on the ground to help make what we want happen.  You cannot stay over here [in the US] and say we are waiting for the government of Liberia,” King-Akerele said.
     
    University of Toledo professor Sakui Malakpa called on the Liberian Diaspora to be part of the development of their country, irrespective of political and ethnic affiliations because, he says, there is no place like home. 
     
    He said this would be possible only if Diaspora Liberians are united.

    Butty report
    Butty reporti
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X
     
    “When it comes to the development of our country, we must unite our forces because, by definition, sectionalism, ethnocentrism, and tribalism are antithetical to a sense of national unity and national development.  In our collective action, we need to borrow from our National Anthem, that is, in union strong, success is assured,” he said.
     
    Malakpa called on the Liberian government to do its part by creating a political climate to ensure that Liberians in the Diaspora are welcomed home.
     
    Journalist and lawyer Kwame Clement called on the Liberian government and the legislature to create the political will for dual citizenship because, he said, there is nothing in the Liberian constitution that prohibits dual citizenship.
     
    “There’s nothing in our constitution that says you can’t have dual citizenship. If it were in our constitution, then I think there will be a more difficult route to changing it because our constitution says it can only be achieved by amendment.  But, it is a statute, and so it can be repealed simply by the legislature and by a law signed by the president.  So, it’s something that can be done in one legislative section, if the political will is there,” he said
     
    Clement said Liberia could emulate the example of other African countries like Cape Verde, by creating one or two legislative seats for the Diaspora.
     
    Senator Sumo Kupee of Lofa County is one of the sponsors of a bill proposed two years ago in the Liberian legislature to amend the Alien and Nationality Law and make dual citizenship possible.
     
    Kupee says the Alien and National Act contradicts Liberia’s constitution which guarantees all Liberians the right to citizenship.
     
    “The objective is that Liberians, wherever they live, for political or economic reasons, who may have acquired foreign citizenship, should not be deprived of their native citizenship.  Once a Liberian, ever a Liberian,” Kupee said.
     
    Former foreign minister King-Akerele declared her unequivocal support for dual citizenship, but only for Liberians. 
     
    Among the challenges Liberians returning home would face is what King-Akerele called a new cleavage, or division, in Liberian society between those returning home from the Diaspora and Liberians at home.
     
    “The cleavage is those went and those who stayed.  You are coming home; you’re going to take our jobs.  Isn’t it incredible that you have a new cleavage being developed in our society?  But, we’re going to stop it. You are not going to let [it] explode,” King-Akerele said.
                                                     
    Most Liberians at the symposium agreed in principle that the Diaspora has a role in the reconstruction of their country and that they deserve dual citizenship.  But, they said what is needed now is an awareness program to get Liberians both at home and in the Diaspora to understand that the benefits of dual citizenship supersede all apprehensions.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: vicky from: Liberia
    August 01, 2012 11:11 AM
    I agree with idea of dual citizenship, but even if the person is not a Liberian, should be given the opportunity to work in Liberia, when it comes to the development of Mama Liberia. I feel so ashame when I hear people say this our Country, this is how we live, when other countries are thinking about going ahead

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora