columnBy Augustine Konneh
On December 10 - 12, 2012 Liberians under the leadership of our President and witnessed by local dignitaries and members of the diplomatic corps, unveil a vision of Liberia in the next 20 years. This gathering took place in the historic city of Gbarnga, Bong County. The vision can be encapsulated in what follows: a resurgent nation arising from the ruins of a 14 years civil war, imbued with imaginative vigor, a spirit of innovation and a commitment to nation building and development.
By 2030 it is hoped to have completed the next phase of nation building in Liberia's quest to achieve a significant measure of socio-economic development and full national integration of the various peoples who nominally separated themselves as Liberians.
The goals of the vision are: 1. A fully reconciliation and unified nation; 2. A healthy and vibrant economy with the ability to provide enough jobs for most if not all able to work; 3. Empower the local Liberian business community; 4. A free, just, and transparent society with a set of core values among which is a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism, and the full empowerment of women and the youth.
The vision unveiled, entail a dynamic process of transformation and development that will considerably improve the infrastructure of the society and provide considerable improvement to the living standard of the people as well as a reasonable happiness and hope.
The vision begins by shifting from the initial stage of nation building which started at about 1847 but was brought to an abrupt halt in the civil war preceded by a brief period of political instability during the tenures of Samuel K. Doe and Charles Taylor. When the nation was founded in 1822 and gained its independence in 1847 some efforts were made to bring the various ethnic groups living within the territory that came to be known as Liberia under the umbrella of a largely settler administration.
While exerting control over the country, the administered peoples by and large remained separate from one and together from the settler population. The early efforts at nation building were feeble even if quite successful, as witnessed by the distinct perception by Liberians of different cultural groups of being collectively Liberians.
In Africa south of the Sahara, Ethiopia and Liberia were more conscious of being members of their own nations than other countries in Africa that came under colonial rule. The period upon which we have now embarked as heralded by the vision we have adopted could be described as the second stage of nation building in Liberia.
The vision urges all Liberians including women and the youth to rise to the call for action to transform society, involving a change in attitudes, aspirations, work ethic, and social and economic institutions and organizations.
As we can see a vision is an essential plan of action conceptualize for practical realization. A social vision is a blue print which identifies the contours of an aspired society. It is a starting point for action.
Nation building on the other hand is a multidimensional process for creating institutions and organization to serve the common good of once separated groups of peoples. It is a process of unifying a hitherto disparate connection of people without necessarily demining the differences. It is the process by which people are uprooted from their parochial anchorages to be welded together based on some relatively universal principle of political organization.
This process requires as tools modernization, re-socialization, and integration. Some of the institutions that may serve as useful agencies of the process are schools, colleges and universities, the military, the bureaucracy, cultural and political symbols such as a national anthem, patriotic songs, dress, linguistic expression, and a national flag.
I will now turn to the importance of national symbols. Symbols communicate messages and may evoke an affective response to the signified. The symbols I have in mind are the Liberian flag, the motto, and the seal. I wish to suggest that an "ideas box" be set up for proposal of a motto to replace the one we now have. The present motto as useful as it has been is believed not to be inclusive enough. It does not fully or genuinely represent all of the various ethnic groups that had lived in the territory that became Liberia when the nation was founded. A more inclusive motto will tend to evoke greater affection for the nation from those who may feel that they are not sufficiently represented by the present motto. For example, I wish to suggest the following: "The Love of Liberty holds us together," or "the Love of liberty binds us as one nation," or "On the love of liberty we stand."
Now that we have adopted a vision of the future and have identified some of the policies we should pursue for its realization, we need to seriously consider setting aside a fund through revenue measures to support the prosecution of the project of our vision. We also need to embark on its implementation stages and hope that succeeding administrations and leaders will see to the complete realization of the vision.