Special Awards In Pictures

Monday, July 26, 1847, it was - you seized the moment and declared unto yourself independence, making you the first African and second black nation to do so. On that day, freed slaves became founders of a nation – a near-nightmare and impossibility for those once sold into slavery, hopes were born and dreamers thought their dreams of freedom, liberty and equality could now be realized. Those (inhabitants) whom the former slaves met on your territory rhymed in unity: Independent at last! Independent at last! Thank God Almighty, we are independent at last! A day of joy and laughter, of decorum and serenity – that’s how it must have seemed to the proponents of independence.
Through the vicissitudes of time, some of your children started to arrogate unto themselves the monopoly of wisdom, thus leading you through short cuts to chaos: one group of people started suppressing the other. The seedy-thought that political power was some kind of Mandate from Heaven soon germinated, to an extent that names and origins were used to determine what rights, freedoms and sayings individuals should have and opportunities to access. In your early years of sovereignty, the typical African politicians emerged and started getting used to the trappings of power. This would go on for nearly 133 years!
Then came December 24, 1989 – the beginning of two brutal bloody civil wars. Thousands of your children were killed – yet you were silent, destroyed and did nothing because you were condemned already as unworthy of being a mother. Hate and animosity had besieged them! Such horrible past can be neither unremembered nor scrubbed from the memories of times; women and girls were raped, and child soldiers raised. The events of 1989 – 2003 demonstrate “man’s inhumanity to man”. How is it possible that you would forget all these, because even water appeared thicker than blood? Your children inflicted enormous pain on themselves, and for 14 years, peace went into exile. In spite of all, you survived; you moved from a thorny past to a now-tormenting present. Weep not, Mama Liberia! Our actions in the past caused you immense suffering and sorrow, and they are even repeated today, but you can rest-assured such melancholic past will not be replicated.
For 170 years, you’ve been weighed down by poverty, and hunger continues to starve your children. A privileged few have, for too long, stagnated and marginalized their compatriots. I can imagine you in anguish, perturbed by the high degree of ethno-centrist demagoguery in display by few of your children against the greater good of the rest. I can imagine you in disgust for holding the rank of the fourth poorest nation on Earth and the dubious distinction of the most corruption election in the Guinness Book of Records: the Elections of 1927. I can imagine you want to take that desired sleep, but how can this be when the education system is a “mess”? I can imagine you seek the comfort of the cool wind, but how can this be when the health sector is appalling - women deliver unsafely, malnutrition and infant mortality rates are high, no treatment for curable diseases, and expired drugs are still imported into our markets while substandard ones exist? I can imagine you struggle to make clean water and energy available for your children, but how is this possible when patriotism is no longer alive? I can imagine you strive for transparency and accountability, but this battle can only be won when there is some sanity in our politics. I can imagine you have the thought to make an intermittent pause to reflect on the achievements you are told you’ve made, but where are the achievements, when the annual Gross Domestic Product per capita is no more than US $470? Where are the progress when one of Africa’s oldest airports and runways – RIA – as well as other infrastructures including roads lie in ruins? Where are the success stories when only 2 out of 68 concession agreements may benefit your children? Where are the gains when children are dying from hunger and curable diseases and men and women seem to have nothing for which to hope? In spite of the agony you feel, it still seems nothing aches you. You have demonstrated that ahead of us lies a brighter and better future.
Mama, when I look at you from a distance – I see anger, frustration and regret because of the monstrous character of some of your children who made the solemn decision that they would treat you callously by squandering your resources and comfortably looting from your covers while amassing wealth! I see your thirst – for justice, equality and respect for rule of law – yearning to be quenched! In you, I see an avid quest to end injustice, eliminate violence against women and children! When I look at your face, I see despair but determined you are! When I look in your eyes, I see tears but ‘Weep not Mama Liberia’. Despite the existence of the forces of micro-felony and unprecedented corruption, weep not! Despite the problem of leadership and deficits in governance, weep not!
Mama, I look forward to the day when you will sit at the dinner table of civilization where you will not always plead for or solicit donations or be seen as an acceptor particle as chemists would put it, but rather a donor to some other nations. Weep not, Mama Liberia! The day is coming when your day of misery will be turned into eternal happiness and unremitting glamour. Keep hope alive!
Abraham M. Keita is a global child rights advocate and high school graduate. He fights for justice for child victims of violence, especially sexual violence and speaks for quality education. Keita envisions a world free of violence against children and the rule of law is upheld. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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