At a well-attended national ceremony held on Friday, July 26 at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, Madam Gbowee, dressed in a Red, White and Blue Suit symbolizing the honor of national duty, began her address by saying: Truth in times of deception is revolutionary; however she noted that she chose to remain revolutionary because in her words “ Liberia Needs to hear some truth”.
According to Madam Gbowee, in order to do justice to the topic, she did a tour of cross section of Liberians and in some counties ranging from youth, disabled, students, and many others, in a bid to hear from them on how exactly they can be stronger together.
The national orator said the language of unity is key to be spoken by all because it has been the pillar and origin of the nation as indicated in the national anthem, but she wondered while unity has so far invaded Liberia, saying, “We preach, sing, and proclaim unity, but unfortunately, we can’t find it,” she asserted.
The Theme: “Together, We are Stronger”, is befitting for the occasion, Madam Gbowee stated, but marveled how can Liberians be stronger together in the presence of high economic conditions, when corruption is still at its peak, When those who were poor yesterday are living in mansions and are riding cars that can build a new school, when there is a serious war on women bodies, in some cases without any legal redress, including political appointments not based on competence rather on party affiliations, huge challenges in the health and education sectors as well as interest never national now, rather individual, among others.
The Liberia’s 172nd Independence Day orator then characterized Liberia’s problems into three divisions, namely: The No Position, The Opposition and The Ruling Positions respectively.
She said each of these positions come with nothing but retracts, more than the real word, retracts.
Under the No Position and in her research, means , the No Position is the majority but is mentally regarded as the minority.
This No position, she uttered, comprises of the common people whose children feel the pinch of the messy education system and poor health care, claiming that justice for No Position is non-existence as they barely have a meal a day and are currently living in abject poverty.
She said their political alliances are not developmental rather based on stomach infrastructure with direct interest in cash, T-shirts and bags of rice.
The Noble Laureate described the No-Position group of people as those who do not care and hardly participate in national issues even those things that are affecting them but rather usually say, “ That the people thing” adding that at the detriment of such when they elect what she referred to as SGG’S ( Steal, Grab and Go) they should not complain.
The Nobel Laureate furthered that the No-Position also contributes to some of the issues affecting the country as they are often seen throwing dirt in the streets when they are on public transport, but always blame government for just everything, “ We are not responsible for the dilemma Liberia’s finds herself in”.
At the same time, Madam Gbowee described the Opposition, which is the second group of people in Liberia, as the recycled politicians whose desperation for jobs at the detriment of the masses is unquestionable.
The Independence Day Orator said the recycled politicians even alien themselves with murderers, criminals, corned-artists and just anyone who speaks the same language as theirs, just to get into power.
She said they even fail to acknowledge that they too have contributed to the current national crisis, stating further that even critics of yesterday can easily become praised singers while their enemies yesterday are now their friends among others.
Madam Gbowee, a widely known Liberian feminist and peace advocate, told the gathering that the Opposition group of people often operates in a space of intense irrationality as well as suspicion of everyone they interact with including the Ruling Position.
Their attitude, she averred, also increases the high level of deception at the detriment of the society as no space for collaboration and partnership to solve the people’s problems are the order of the day among them.
Lastly, the Ruling Position, In this group, she said they always feel and come with the attitude that this is their time, winners take it all, have a severe sense of entitlement.
They, she pointed out, believe that they are always right, have certain live style, have no room for criticism and additionally holds no contrary views and see any and such view as enemies to them.
Moreover, she mentioned that they accept blind loyalists, which turn the story of the emperor with no clothes on as a reality.
Leymah intimated that leaders of the Ruling Position are often fed with lies by their own members, all for the purpose of jobs, jobs that some of them, she claimed, are not qualified for.
The Liberian 172nd Indepdence Day Orator also lashed at the Ruling Position group of having misplaced priorities with developmental agenda only and well written but the implementation is basically private own projects.
The national orator said the situations is a visual circle from generation where the opposition becomes ruling position, the situation shifts and exhibited with both positions on each other’s throat while the young people remain hopeless, homeless as drug addiction, high unemployment, the fight for ideological differences, the mortgaging of the children’s future as well as the selling of natural resources to people who are not developmentally oriented, the raping of girls and women as well as the abuse of them in society , including corruption are still unending challenges confronting the growth process of the country, while Liberia still crowds behind their neighbors as the people suffer and wash the groups clash.
“We can’t continue to do business as usual after 172 years, we are still searching for what it is to bring Liberia together,” she accentuated.
She observed that truth has completely invaded Liberia with lies gaining prominence.
“We lie to gain prominence, We lie to get positions, We lie to Authority, We lie about just what we have and don’t have, but truth will bring total unity to the country,” the orator said.
On the other hand, she frowned at religious and traditional leaders, who according to her, are now praised singers and political Imams and Pastors who shift their sermons and messages just to suit their political parties.
Additionally, Leymah said traditional and culture leaders also give political and undeserved traditional honors to people for self-political and or party lines or reasons.
Nevertheless, Orator Gbowee suggested that to be stronger together as a nation and people than it is, it is important to address the health care and quality education needs of the people of Liberia, including the challenge of unemployment, youth empowerment, the economic conditions and many more.
She wants the fight against corruption to be in action and not in words, stressing: ” How can you effectively fight corruption, when you cannot declare your asset”.
“For us to be stronger together, we must agree on a set of values that we will live by and ensure we teach other future generation which will further guide our national politics, including our everyday life,” she further intimated.
She warned that it will be impossible to live together if we don’t agree on a value of togetherness especially a value of transparency, equality and true love for country.
The 172nd Independence Day Oration delivered by Leymah Gbowee, which many think touched all sectors of the country, will now begin the national discussion going forward with some Liberians now beginning to analysis whether her oration was political, analytical or a practical reality.
Madam Gbowee, a widely known Liberian feminist and peace advocate, continues to excite all citizens to embrace peace, unity and harmony towards the greater good of the nation.
Madam Gbowee, who is the founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, is peace activist credited for leading a women's non-violent peace movement, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, that helped bring an end to the second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
The Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and the youth in Liberia. She is a founding member and Liberia Coordinator of the Women in Peace-building Network (WIPNET) of the West Africa Network for Peace-building (WANEP). Madam Gbowee holds a Masters of Arts in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, VA), a Doctor of Laws (LLD) honoris causa from Rhodes University in South Africa and the University of Alberta in Canada, and a Doctor Honoris Causa in Specialty Management and Conflict Resolution from the Polytechnic University in Mozambique.
She was named in 2013 a Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice, a Visiting Transnational Fellow at the Center for Research on Women and Fellow in Residence at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College.
Leymah was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. She is the mother of six children.