By Max Willie | USA |
Conceiving an idea and expanding it into writing is often motivated by my intellectual restlessness, or better put, alertness. Sometimes the impression that I create may be trivial; yet the result is found time and again to make lasting historic footprints. That is what many of my readers think. And this in itself serves to drive most of my writings.
My reflection the other day in March was on Liberia, a country where my ‘speck-string’ is buried. On that cold March day, I took a rather lengthy journey of Liberia in thought. I was thinking about the past, the recent past and present-day. At intervals, my thoughts beckoned both delight and melancholy.
Liberia is an extra-ordinary country of homage. And those who pride it may be doing so for reasons other than considering it merely a land of their nativity. The interruption of a decade and a half civil war is above and beyond.
The phenomenon called Liberia is most likely one of God’s ideas of grandeur and elegance; a country God imbued with fragments of every ingredient of His mastery. Consider the water falls, mountains, hills and the valleys; the seashores, the tributaries, the savannah and marsh lands, the flagrance of its greeneries and florae. Think about the tropical rain forests; the abundance of natural possessions and a population of a gallant stock of people; a mixture that exemplifies the country’s magnificence. In all reality, Liberia is God’s handiwork.
The country’s past and present is, and has always been the story of a resilient, courage mounting, persevering, creative nation of people, woven in bonds of family and community; a nation conceived as a gift to humanity. The Great Civil War of 1989 was a mere interloper.
Then again, the war’s outcome has ever since remained nightmarish to Liberians everywhere. The war came and has gone, roughly a decade and a half ago. To say the after effect is enormous, and the path to recovery is daunting, may be an understatement. Compare to most countries that have graduated from war, Liberia’s retrieval is painfully slow. Resolving the many contradictions and challenges continues to elude the citizenry.
What perhaps remains fixed on the psyche of many is that the 15 years of war with all of its attendant effects and teaching moments has yet to trigger the correctness of heart on the part of most of Liberia’s leaders to stand up and fight for the wellbeing of the country and its population.
The country is weighed down by an unimpressive government system, drowned in corruption, inundated with a miserable education system, scarcity of basic social services, and a huge unemployment. An appreciable health care delivery system is non-apparent. This is an objective truth that cannot be contradicted.
My thoughts of how it was like back then, often bring fond memories, but saddled heavily sometimes with grief, considering the recent and current plight of the country.
Although some of my formative years were lived far outside of Monrovia, the rest of my teen and consent ages growing up to full adulthood were spent in Monrovia, or in couple of its suburbs; a total of well over fifteen of those years so far have been spent in the United States recurrently.
In the mid-nineteen seventies as a very young teenager going to school at Haywood Mission, communities across Old Road where I lived, as well townships across Monrovia and its outskirts beamed with lights, and sectioned with paved roads and streets. Houses stood firm on their foundations. Hungry people were unnoticeable, beggars were scarce, only “old-man beggars”. Most crazy people were contained or confined. There was a surge of movie theaters and playgrounds; and football fields were found everywhere. See-saws and swings hanged in backyards. Children had enough at the table. In the country as a whole, schools and colleges held to high criterions, and media houses embraced top to toe standards of journalism.
Hospitals and health centers were in-and-running. Cities and towns enjoyed memorable period of jauntiness and jolliness.
That was back then. And the imagery lingers on. Yet, under all of this I never stop visualizing the inevitable re-arrival of Liberia. On the other hand, in the real world, I was blaming everybody else including our government and its administrative system for Liberia’s current woes. I often found comfort from where I’m situated in the U.S. to press in writing or in speech against the government for the insurmountable challenges that have beset our country. My emotions have a better of me sometimes.
In the U.S. where I reside currently, I drive through and across America’s highways all the time. On all of my journeys I drive pass many signs and billboards placed conspicuously along the freeways. As I drove through New Jersey’s US Route 1 other day in March, I noticed a particular sign, reading: “DON’T CURSE THE DARKNESS; LIGHT A CANDLE”. I was amused over the message inscribed on the sign. The utilitarian quality of the sign sparked a tickling smile and consumed me; the words of the sign kept steering at me even after I had resigned from the hustle-bustle of the day and when I was acquiescent at home.
Before long, I grasped a nagging feeling of guilt, a mental burden resting on my conscience for being a mere on-the-fence observer of the situation in Liberia, while at the same time showing derision and scorn for those who are visible in Liberia and are championing the cause of the country no matter how meager their efforts may be; of course corruption aside.
The thought of simply heaping criticisms, and not availing oneself for constructive engagement or for service, ought to shame one’s conscience.
This is the point of my departure from the unabridged adversarial attitude I had harbored and espoused about our government over the past several years. Now prepared, excited and needing to be back in Liberia.
Yes indeed, curse the darkness, but let’s light a candle!
About the Author: Max Willie is a Liberian native. Max currently lives in U.S.A. His new book WHEN COMETH LIBERIA’S ‘JERRY RAWLINGS’: CALL FOR A RIGID CONVERSION IN LIBEERIA is soon to be out.
Presently on the market:
‘WHERE CHARLES TAYLOR WENT WRONG’: A Series of Straight Talks on Former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s Missteps in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Get a copy from any bookstore in U.S. or elsewhere or at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com or www2.xlibris.com or simply search ‘Where Charles Taylor Went Wrong’ by Max Willie; yet still, visit the Library of Congress – 101 Independence Ave – Washington, DC 20559-6000