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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora