Chief magistrate of the Liberian state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, must have been in festive mood today. She has hit her 74th years on Planet Earth--rare life’s journey many compatriots aren’t blessed to thread. As she celebrates, certainly the words of former American President Abraham Lincoln resonate: “And in the end, it is not the years in your life, it is the life in the years.” For the President, as far as know, she has lived a momentous life not just for herself but for mankind--Liberians in particular.
Long before she became President of Liberia, we are told, Ellen--as many of us fondly like to call her--chose the path of humanity’s service; living everyday’s life for the benefit of others. Even when she took a political position--Assistant Minister of Finance in the early 1970s--Madam Sirleaf resigned when government spending did not prioritize programs that directly impacted the ordinary people. Then, as a full-fledged politician, she refused to grab offers that would compromise her stance for silent impoverished majority but pressed on to keep government to its heel in the interest of the people.
Though uprooted from the home soil, still in the cause of the people, Madam Sirleaf organized philanthropic groups or donated to some in order to reach rural poor and put smiles on their lips. She brought humility and humanity to governance when she was elected President by raising the social, economic and political standing of women by appointing them in Government and awarding scholarships for females. It is said, “…when you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”
Besides those personal interventions in service for humanity, President Sirleaf will go down into history as Liberia’s leader that turned a critical page in the national life. She successfully broke the debilitating culture of political intolerance which decades before her tenure whisked off untold number of Liberians from the motherland. Today, many people can disagree with government, debate in very strong words, and go to sleep and to work without secret security operatives hunting you.
Additionally, as one commentator put it, it would have taken over a hundred years for Liberia to settle its indebtedness to the international community. And the payment of the over US$5bn would have hugely cut on Government’s service to the critical needs of the people and the country. But in less than three years of her incumbency, Sirleaf successfully negotiated the waiver of the debt.
In the next few years ending her second tenure, critics and opponents will demand more to be done. We at the Analyst Newspaper will continue to press the President to do more to reduce hardship, increase salaries, provide quality education, amongst other things. But the nation cannot forget the tremendous transformation of the country following years of conflict and decades of political neglect. Liberia, under the President, was lifted from the abyss of failed state to the glorious height of a respected nation.
Thus,as this linchpin of Liberia’s modern renaissance celebrate her 74th birth anniversary, Liberians cannot afford their President do so without compliments from countrymen for whom she has donated so much time, effort and her person to serve. Liberians have been a grateful people, and certainly, this heroine of national transformation deserves our heartfelt sentiments as she celebrate her natal day. We must put our differences aside, eschew our sense of hate and bitterness, and prove flowers to the 24th President of Liberia. We have done so, ourselves.