News / Africa

US-based Liberians Kick off Independence Anniversary Celebrations

Liberian singer Friday the Cell Phone Man entertains Liberians during independence day festivities in Washington, DCLiberian singer Friday the Cell Phone Man entertains Liberians during independence day festivities in Washington, DC
x
Liberian singer Friday the Cell Phone Man entertains Liberians during independence day festivities in Washington, DC
Liberian singer Friday the Cell Phone Man entertains Liberians during independence day festivities in Washington, DC
James Butty
Friday (July 26) marks Liberia’s 166th independence anniversary.  For Liberians in the United States, the celebration began Saturday with festivities on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy in Washington. 

For many of those in attendance, the occasion was not only a time to celebrate, but also a time to reflect on whether 166 years of independence was worth celebrating, particularly after the nearly eight-year administration of Africa’s first-elected female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Jeremiah Sulunteh, Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States, said the country has made some progress under President Sirleaf in spite of many challenges.
 
"For me, I feel strongly believe that we have done a lot.  Even though we still (have) got challenges, we have come a long way.  We had an unfortunate situation where we fought years of war.  We destroyed the entire fabric of the country.  To rebuild takes time, and I think that there has been steady progress made, even though there are still challenges ahead. But, I feel the peace we now have to be one thing to celebrate," Sulunteh said.
         
Assistant Minister of Labor for the Sirleaf administration, Miateh Gonoglay, agrees that one of the challenges the government faces is high youth unemployment.  But, she said this was not unique to Liberia.
 
"Unemployment is a critical issue, but we are doing our best to put in mechanisms in line with the president’s own broader national development agenda.  We’ve been working on quick impact employment projects that will stimulate the economy.  I do believe that, in the near future, we will be able to solve some of those problems, or be in the direction of solving of those problems.  But, it is a tedious thing," Gonoglay said.
Butty Report
Butty Reporti
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
 
Veteran journalist Kenneth Best said, while there has been some improvement in infrastructure development like the rehabilitation of some roads and bridges, Liberians have been disappointed in President Sirleaf’s performance in fighting her self-declared war on corruption.
 
"The president herself once told the people that corruption is endemic and it’s hard to get rid of it.  Unfortunately, she hasn’t done enough to fight corruption because one of the big problems is that she gave her son, Robert, a high profile position and people accused her of nepotism, which is the one thing that she criticized (former presidents) Tolbert and Doe about," Best said.
 
Best said that, despite the accusation of nepotism, President Sirleaf has been steadfast in her determination to keep her son in the position as head of the National Oil Company of Liberia.
 
Speaking last year in the Netherlands, President Sirleaf defended her decision to put her relatives in government positions. She said, “We have to place certain people close to us in positions to carry out our mandate of reform at the level of competence and honesty that is needed.  There are times when you have to hire relatives, even when it’s a temporary measure, to achieve your objectives.”
 
Attorney and former journalist Kwame Clement, and a possible presidential candidate in the 2017 election, said Liberians have every reason to celebrate their independence because 166 years of independence is a reaffirmation of what Liberia as a country means for Africa.
 
But, Clement said Liberia still has a lot more to do to fulfill its development potential as a nation.
 
"I think it’s clear we need reconcile our people, we need to put our shoulders to the wheel, and need to do the things that matter when it comes to development, innovative approaches to health care, bringing education to the people, galvanizing the entire country, and instituting a national bias in favor of education.  May be some of these things are easier said than done, but the work has to be done," Clement said.

Liberians danced to the music of local Liberian musician Friday the Cell Phone Man and ate a variety of their national cuisines.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid