28 October 2009

Liberia: National Identity Remains A Key Issue In Country - Minister Woods

Public Works Minister Samuel Kofi Woods has uncovered that the issue of national identity remains a fundamental point in the Liberian history. According to Minister Woods, the discussion surrounding dual citizenship continues to be debated in some quarters, and added that Liberians continue to refuse to recognize the need for national reconciliation between those at home and those returning from abroad.

Minister Woods, a formal student activist and leading whistle blower in the fight against injustices in the Liberian society, made the remarks when he served as keynote speaker at the 4th annual convention of the New Kru Town Association of the United States of America (NEKTAA) over the weekend.

The annual convention carrying the topic, "The post war challenges and opportunities in New Kru Town." was an occasion full of excitement and historical prospective, and that the Minister used the convention to Share his thoughts on the three key issues to the New Kru Town organization, outlining them as the crisis of repatriation, the impact of U.S based Liberian organizations on Liberia and the way forward for New Kru Town.

On the crisis of repatriation, Minister Woods said, since the 1800s, Liberians have been returning to Liberia due to love for their country. These returns, the Human rights advocate added, have been characterized by discord, feelings of marginalization and discrimination from far away land and cultures.

"In spite of these returns or repatriations, the minister continued, we are still redefining ourselves, contending with the crisis of identity, legitimacy and the lack of cohesiveness as a nation. We are fragmented on every issue, balkanized at all levels and resistant to what may be good, decent and honest." Minister Woods maintained.

Minister Woods who holds several awards in Human rights advocacy around the world said, a system was developed in the past which preyed on Liberian citizens, thereby subjecting the nation to a state of serfdom. He said, the plundering of our society through coercion, the use of brutal force and naked power became even more pervasive. This kind of leadership according to Minister Woods defies human decency and makes us culpable.

Commenting on the second issue, Minister Woods intimated that the role of US-based Liberian organizations like the NEKTAA have had a minimum impacted in transforming Liberia. "Beset by conflict and Persistent discord, lawsuit, the internal leadership struggles and the bundle of egos must be purge," he urged.

He added that national reconciliation in Liberia will not be possible if Liberians abroad survive on distrust and return to Liberia with the bitterness of life abroad. He further disclosed that for the last two years, he had counted more than ten Liberian organizations of different categories engaged in some of the most serious conflict of accountability and transparency. "If you cannot account here, resolve your differences; what then can you offer Liberia upon your return my friends?" Minister Woods questioned his fellow compatriots.

He also challenged the leadership of NEKTAA to unite their community and show a significant difference. He urged them to encourage Logan Tow acre issues in New Kru Town, Minister Woods cautioned his compatriots to adopt a child in New Kru Town and be responsible for their education. Amidst cheers and delight, Minister Woods asked each person attending the convention to pledge a minimum of US$50.00 to a child in New Kru Town.

Also speaking at the occasion, the retiring national President of NEKTAA Jay Nagba Sloh said, he was extremely proud of a son of New Kru town contributing immensely to the transformation of war affected Liberia. He said, he was grateful for the sacrificial services Minister Woods was rendering NEKTAA and Liberia as a whole. Mr. Sloh recalled Minister Woods' many contributions to the political, social, and economic development of Liberia, beginning at the University of Liberia in the 1980s as a student leader, then moving up the ladder as an international human rights icon, Minister of Labour, and now, Minister of Public Works.

"Minister Woods is always willing and proud to identify with his origin, the New Kru Town which is widely known as a slum community, adding, he has always express happiness for his beginning in squalor, slum and deprivation which according to him, inspired and motivated his courage for perseverance." Mr. Sloh reiterated.

He also paid special tribute to the Inquirer Boss Philip Wesseh who wrote an article when he received the Reebok International Human Rights award with a caption: "Something good can come from Saigon".

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