By: Bedeskoe N. Tumbay
Patriotism is defined as one devoted love, support, and defense of one’s country or national loyalty. Patriotism as it is defined is an attachment to a homeland.
This attachment can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one’s own homeland, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects. It encompasses a set of concepts closely related to those of nationalism. An excess of patriotism in the defense of a nation is called chauvinism; another related term is jingoism.
The English term patriot is first attested in the Elizabethan era, via Middle French from Late Latin (6th century) patriota, meaning “countryman”, ultimately from Greek patriōtēs, meaning “from the same country”, from patris, meaning “fatherland”. The abstract noun patriotism appears in the early 18th century.
The general notion of civic virtue and group dedication has been attested in culture globally throughout the historical period. For the enlightenment thinkers of 18th-century, loyalty to the state was chiefly considered in contrast to loyalty to the Church and culture of one homeland. It was argued that Teachers or preachers were not allowed to teach in public schools since their patrie was heaven, so that they could not inspire love of the homeland in their students.
In this contest, as it is in our country Liberia, many of the influential proponents of this classical notion of patriotism are always left out national decision of the nation or the bodily ongoing fight for development.
Since Patriotism is the will of the members of a country to support the country and help it continue, than why have we as a nation experience huge capital flight by those who call themselves true Liberians?
I think if they are true Liberians as claimed, we will not have dozens of them leaving this country every 2-3 months to travel abroad for vacations to their families in different counties to which they take the money to settle their bills.
Normally, do you think building a decent house in my home town of Lofa county instead of in Monrovia will be a wrong decision? You answer could obviously be in line with my decision to development my homeland so that if even I don’t go and stay there due you some other conditions like educational pursuit, job location or need of some socialites, other relatives who stayed there will equally benefit from my sweat which could make me feel more relax and bless that others are benefiting from me as a son of the soil.
In many cases, Patriotism may be strengthened by adherence to a national religion (a civil religion or even a theocracy). This is the opposite of the separation of church and state demanded by the Enlightenment thinkers who saw patriotism and faith as similar and opposed forces.
I have personally over the time argued that the difference between patriotism and faith is difficult to discern and relies largely on the attitude of the one doing the labeling.
In his writing, Christopher Heath Wellman, professor of philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, describes that a popular view of the “patriotist” position is robust obligations to compatriots and only minimal Samaritan responsibilities to foreigners. Wellman calls this position “patriotist” rather than “nationalist” to single out the members of territorial, political units rather than cultural groups.
With the above, many of our leaders found in all three branches of government have not really shown their love for our country over the years they have served in leadership thus leading a bad path or legacy that have left our country under developed as compare to other African nations that our country-Liberia was far ahead of before the civil unrest.
This is also clearly indicated among members of past and present Legislature, who have over the years enrich themselves and taking their families abroad and living luxurious lives while the majority who stool under the rain, sunshine or bear some other conditions to elect them to those very positions they then served or are currently serving.
It is clear that the citizens will not look up to you as their leader for all that they need but what they need is empowerment through capacity building by means of oversight which will enable them to achieve what they want.
I believe that one of those many ways our leaders especially members of the Parliament could help our citizens is through agriculture. Agriculture which used to be one of the major source of income and self reliance of many Liberians has now become a black snake to our citizens.
Many of our citizens now relied on buying common goods especially food materials like rice, greens, cassava, sweet potato, yam, peanut, banana, which use to be available at in the back yard gardens of not all but majority of our citizens both in the rural and urban areas. Not only are those food stuff bought but they are been imported from countries that formally used to depend on Liberia for sullies.
I remember in the late 80s seeing maize farms in almost every community in and around Monrovia where there was space available.
The citizens are not been encouraged to go back to the soil by the government as well as the lawmakers are not enacting laws that will empower local farmers. Many citizens have left farming because they do not have the first capital to begin the process due to the lack of credit unions or banking institutions that could give farmers loan.
In this context again, I say if all the 103 lawmakers and the over 50 minister and head of government agencies are made to have homes and farms in their homeland counties, will it not be a way of job creating and empowerment of farmers?
Yes, if you agreed with me, it will surely be but those very lawmakers who have a particular part of every year to go for what they term as ‘Agriculture break’ have over the time filed to go to the people they represent to help show them the way or empower them with the allowance that is given to them for that break from the very tax payers money.
Although I have taken various stances regarding patriotism, on one hand, one of them it is that “The working men have no country and that “the supremacy of the proletariat will cause them [national differences] to vanish still faster and “in favor of tearing down all frontiers and creating a socialist world commonwealth.”
Although several surveys have tried to measure patriotism for various reasons, such as the Correlates of War project which found some correlation between war propensity and patriotism. The results from different studies are time dependent and this is what is happening and in our country today.
If scientist had designed a machined that could determine who are really true patriotic citizens of country by now I personally had bought one and many other Liberians will have join me to test those who come to us asking us to vote them during elections.
Since 1980s, the World Values Survey explores people’s national values and beliefs and refer to the average answer “for high income residents” of a country to the question “Are you proud to be Liberian it ranges from 1 not proud to 4 very proud), was found out.
Here is a case of a simple patriotic citizen of Liberia who has over the years held several administrative positions and in 2011 he was elected as a lawmaker of one of the most talk about counties of the Liberia-Grand Bassa County.
Although over the years, especially after the 14 years of civil unrest in our country, many have served and gone and many more are to come and serve, yet still, they will go and leave the space for others to come, generation after another. In envisioning, some of those who have service in the Legislature could bring back memories of people from various disciplines, culture social and professional backgrounds but yet still they were able to pave the way for others to come and continued from where they stop or took over from their predecessors leaving their foot print for history to judge them and their performances and this is in the case of Honorable Robertson N. Siaway, Sr.
The Liberian businessman surface into the political arena after serving his people for several years in 2015 after seeing the need for a leadership that could hold the people at hear and move them to another level of life.
Since he assume office as representative of electoral District #5, in Grand Bassa County, he resolved to live in harmony, practice fraternal love, tolerance and under his people and been fully mindful of his obligation as their leader; it cogent to note the significant effort of his citizens, the Bassa Legislative Caucus, the 53rn National Legislature as well as his office staff who stood by him over the years in achieving some the his campaign promises to his people despite huge challenges.
Clearly, taking a new created district from nowhere to somewhere worth commending as such is in the case of Honorable Robertson N. Siaway, Sr. Grand Bassa County District #5. Before the 2011 elections, there two representations of his district and the citizens did not really know their region as to where they belong until the results of the 2008 national census were released bringing those two districts together as one which is currently district # 5.
As we are encouraging him to do even more through the support of the citizens, members of the 53rd National Legislature, I am more delighted to mentioned that the people of electoral District #5, as well as all citizens of Grand Bassa County are fortunate to have a son like Honorable Robertson N. Siaway, Sr., who by the grace of the Supreme God has allow him to make the necessary intervention on behalf of his homeland people.
At the national level, during the period under review (2012-2016), he has served his people with commitment, integrity and passion thereby describing him as one of the patriotic of our beloved mother land-Liberia.
Although not publicly said by the people but deep down in their hearts, I can truly the people of his district are satisfy with his performance over the say that they are satisfy then other citizens in other part of the country who have representatives as well and they believe in him through his developmental efforts and are happy.
The believability of his people in his leadership is based on the level of development that have been initiated and the completion of project which commute to about 85% of his overall performance in several towns and villages in his district as well as the entire county.
Among three main functions of a lawmaker in our country, including Lawmaking, Representative, and Oversight, Hon. Robertson N. Siaway, Sr., have been able to equally do the job of the people which have given him edge over many others who intend to contest against him or unset him in the coming October 2017 legislative and presidential elections.
At the national level in terms of lawmaking, Hon. Robertson N. Siaway, Sr. have accomplished through his sponsorship and co-sponsorship several laws including but not limited to a bill creating the Kpogblen Magisterial area, the patient right bill, the export added value bill among others.
Oversight being one of the major functions of a legislator, he have over the years lobbied with both local and international partners including the world bank group, UNMIL, UN, MILLA for the construction of several projects including Legislative projects for some infrastructure development such as elementary and junior high schools, heath care centers, hand pumps, pit latrine under his office health and sanitation program.
Most of those projects are presently completed while some others are nearing completions named the construction of, clinics, that the district is currently benefiting from noting also that he is not required to do these things but the need exist.
Development wide as a new district with over 30,000 inhabitants, there was nothing to show in the district and in just few years of his leadership, he had made some developmental gains through the County Development Fund (CDF), the Social Development Fund, and funds from World Bank as well.
Under this “TAKING EDUCATION TO THE PEOPLE PROGRAM” presently, this in ongoing construction of a High school complex in the district which is at its completion stage from the legislative funding with the initial amount of US$70.000 for the first face of US$275,000 project, it has teachers, quarters, bathrooms, offices and the classes under the program taking education to the people, thus bring relief to students who then had to travel 3-5 hours distances on a daily basis from their towns and villages to come to Buchanan, the county capacity to attain high school.
Comments from many of the resident and other political analysis shows that it is about now that the district can boast of some important developments unlike before when it was least developed.
Siaway who have decided not in-reach himself or send his children to best school in foreign land or buy properties and send his family and relative abroad like other lawmakers have done in the past and are presently doing, have been involved in an intense educational program which was one of the pillars of his campaign messages to the people of the district in 2011. And to achieve his educational goal, he established the Grand Bassa District Four student Association (GB-DIFOSA), as well as providing services in almost of the sectors of live including, health and sanitation, education, development and most especially in the agriculture sector.
Furthered more, as a result of his hard work over the years, through his lobbing power, the students were united and were able to get educational aid from the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC), and the Equatorial Palm Oil, (EPO) and on many occasion contributed to the county university union.
Recently, about 207 youth got trained in agriculture in Bong, Montserrado and Sinoe Counties respectively from the district in the creation of jobs.
With the highlight of his activities since he became representative of the district, you all can agreed with me that he is one of the patriotic citizens that Grand Bassa County has as well as Liberia in general.
This is why I think Representative Siaway has reposed trust in his people of the district as he seek reelection in the upcoming general and presidential elections.
In addition, holding constant his performance as compare to some his friends in the same legislature who make the salaries, allowances and all other benefits equally, his people are happy with him and they have seen the political and infrastructures development in several towns including Gborweh, Gbanfin, Baye, Nyonben Town, Kpogblen among others, making he is confidence that he will be reelected in the upcoming elections.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker is more confident and hopeful to be reelected back in the house due to his level of support to the district through representation, lawmaking and oversight that he has carry on over the years.
Yes, can we say that we still have patriotic Liberians among us who are willing to extra miles if given the chance?
About the author
The author of this article Bedeskoe N. Tumbay is a Liberian Based International Investigative Journalist, Documentary Film Producer, Director and Editor, a follow of the Press Union of Liberian, Founded of Life Multimedia Group Inc./ Foundation for Children Development Int’l. and have over the years won several awards for his critical writing.
He can be reached on -Cell: +231776535703/+231886535703