Liberia’s Cultural Walls Shall Crumble If the Boikai-Koung Administration Does Not Move Swiftly!

For fifty years I have endeavored to preserve and promote the little I know about the culture and history of Liberia. While doing this, I raised young people who today are adults and are in power. So, I expect that they will join forces with me to preserve what is left of our Liberian culture while at the same time mending the broken pieces of our culture so that the cultural walls of Liberia don’t come crumbling down like the Walls of Jericho! But trust me.

This is not far from happening if the Boikai-Koung administration does not act swiftly! It is an open secret that the culture of Liberia is at the brink of total collapse. The lack of national cultural identity and the ignorance of the present generation about what Liberia means and is to global black culture and freedom is quite alarming.

Added to this dilemma is the fact that most young Liberians cannot speak the local languages of Liberia that are identified with the ethnic groups they and their parents originate. Thus, Present-day Liberian youth are quick to tell you, “I can’t speak that thing oh!” Well, ask them what language they can speak. “I can only speak English,” but ask them to write a sentence and you will soon find out they cannot write a fitting sentence in which the subject and verb agrees and/or is punctuated correctly.

So, what kind of future citizens will Liberia have in the next ten years? What are we teaching Liberian children in our schools and universities when they cannot speak local Liberian languages nor the so-called lingua franca of Liberia (English) that they claim they can speak?

Even at cultural events such as marriages or feasts Liberians dress up like Ghanaians and Nigerians, with no connection to authentic Liberian dress codes. Hence, sadly, it is obvious, it may only be a matter of time before the cultural walls of Liberia come crumbling down! Every day, Liberians scramble for government jobs to enrich themselves overnight but when you talk about culture, what you hear is, “Oh, that thing not important!”

And, when you even look at the national budget, you cannot find anything on culture, yet those in power think Liberia will continue to exist if its citizens have been brainwashed by alien cultures and have no clue who they are.

If this continues, it will be partly responsible for the failure of President Boikai’s presidency and the crumbling of the cultural walls of Liberia because the culture of Liberia is at the brink of collapse. No amount of cultural dance can save the people and the Republic of Liberia.

It requires intensive civic and peace education and cultural awareness programs in our schools, universities, the reconceptualization of the national curriculum of Liberia and the production of local culturally relevant instructional materials produced by Liberian scholars and writers, intensive community engagement projects throughout the length and breadth of Liberia, especially for an administration that has the establishment of a war and economic crimes court on its agenda. I want to close with reference to the 1986 Constitution of Liberia:

Chapter II, Articles IV, and Article  V (a)(b)(c) below.

Chapter II: General Principles of National Policy Article 4

The principles contained in this Chapter shall be fundamental in the governance of the Republic and shall serve as guidelines in the formulation of legislative, executive and administrative directives, policymaking and their execution.

Article 5: The Republic

The Republic shall:

(a) aim at strengthening the national integration and unity of the people of Liberia, regardless of ethnic, regional or other differences, into one body politic; and the Legislature shall enact laws promoting national unification and the encouragement of all citizens to participate in government; (b) preserve, protect and promote positive Liberian culture, ensuring that traditional values which are compatible with public policy and national progress are adopted and developed as an integral

part of the growing needs of the Liberian society; © take steps, by appropriate legislation and executive orders, to eliminate sectionalism and tribalism, and such abuses of power as the misuse of government resources, nepotism and all other corrupt practices.

A word to the wise, is enough. Have a great day!

About the Author

Rabbi Prince Joseph Tomoonh-Garlodeyh Gbaba, Sr., is a Liberian playwright, theatre director and artist/scholar with fifty years of experience as a Liberian cultural expert. He holds a B.A. degree in English from Liberia College, University of Liberia, an M.F.A. from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, M.Sc. Ed. from St. Joseph’s University in Elementary and Special Education, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from St. Joseph’s University.

Dr. Gbaba is also the founder and Executive Director of Dehkontee Artists Theatre, Inc. (DATI), the oldest surviving collegiate theatre organization in Liberia. DATI was organized at the University of Liberia in 1977, forty-seven years ago. DATI initiated a peacebuilding program in Liberia since 2015, with two active chapters in

Liberia: the DATI Gbenelue Chapter in Maryland County in Eastern Liberia is headed by Meshach Sieh Elliott and the DATI Dugbor Montserrado County Chapter in Monrovia is headed by Henry Fayiah Tamba as County Director. Both chapters comprise Liberian college students and college graduates from various universities in Liberia that took oath to promote peace and national unity and the preservation of Liberia’s cultural heritage.

DATI is raising funds to construct the first school of the performing and visual arts and center for peace and cultural studies in Liberia. You can donate by logging on the DATI website: www.dehkonteeartiststheatreinc.com and click on the “Donate” button.

Thanks for your support.

Dr. Gbaba can be contacted at gbaba5@aol.com.

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