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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs