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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs