Liberia is in a festive mood this week as the country prepares to celebrate its 160th independence anniversary this Thursday, July 26.  For Liberians living here in the United States, the celebration began Saturday, July 21 with an all-day picnic and cultural performances on the grounds of the Liberian Embassy in Washington. In Liberia, the government has launched a Liberian Renaissance in commemoration of the 160th Independence Day anniversary.

 Lawrence Bropleh is Liberia?s minister of information.  He told VOA the Liberian Renaissance aims to change minds and attitudes and reclaim the future for Liberians.

?For a 160 years, four generations, we have gone up the scale, we have gone down the scale, then digresses in our action. Now we are moving progressively to try to rekindle the Liberian spirit. What can we do to make a difference in this reconstruction and redevelopment of our Liberian nation? We believe the Liberian Renaissance needs to be created. We need to change our mindset; we need to change our attitudes, the way we think about politics, the way we think about government, the way we think about our neighbor down the street. If we don?t disabuse ourselves from the attitude of enmity and violence, nothing we do to move this nation forward would do us justice,? he said.

Bropleh said the government would embark upon an information campaign to educate Liberians at home and abroad about the new Liberian Renaissance.

 ?We?re starting with a teaser before the ?26? celebration. We have banners; we?ve got television clippings; we have jingles going on. But then after the ?26?, we will have major town hall meetings around the country; we will have listening and learning dialogue. And then we will invite the ministry of education, labor, agriculture, gender and development to begin to infuse this kind of thinking into the curricula because this is going to be an ongoing exercise,? Bropleh said.

He said the 160th Independence Day celebration this year would be different from previous celebrations because the government is trying to reclaim the future with its Liberian Renaissance message.

One difference is that we are reclaiming the future. We have Kimmy Weeks, a young Liberian who for the first time will be the national orator. Half of our population in this nation is young people, and we believe that in order for us to change our minds and change attitudes and reclaim the future, you have to now invest in the young people because they will be the ones to move this nation forward,? he said.

Bropleh said Liberia is safe despite the fact that the government has in the past week arrested a number of people for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

?Let me emphatically say that the arrest of those who are trying to subvert the peace in this nation has had no bearing on the lives and the normalcy of people in this nation. There is no curfew; no one has been affected by this, and we want to assure our citizenry within the border and outside of this country, our investors and the world at large that the sustainability of the peace process is assured in Liberia,? Bropleh said.