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.
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
“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

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs