April 13, 2009
An impatient Liberia confronts high expectations, sacrifice

In this extended interview, the U.S. ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield,discusses the positive example set by Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and some of the challenges faced by a country rebuilding since the aftermath of its second civil war.

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4 comments

#4

Thank to everyone that is helping Liberia to move forward at this time in our history.I believe, fellow Liberians we can offer something to the world that any other nation can not gave the world. We are great people and let keep it up.

#3

Quite impressive Ambassador Greenfield!There is one key factor you zero in during your interview, and I think you were very right about it:”Liberians are still struggling with their identity.” Because of this important aspect of Liberian-ness that is missing,there seems to always be a problem even in governing Liberia.Perhaps this is so because Liberia was not actually colonized as other west African countries like Ghana,Nigeria and Sierra Leone were.Other west Africans struggled to get the freedom that they now enjoyed but we Liberians did not.In “Beyond Words” published by Pearson for college students in the United States, it’s mentioned that “identity is clearly wrapped up in our stories and in the physical selves we inhabit.But who we are is also influenced by the groups we belong to as a result of our nationality,upbringing,or education;the race or ethnicity we are born into;the religion we inherit or choose;or the gender we inhabit.” But due to the fact that Liberians don’t even have a national language and/or don’t take pride to even identify with their local dialects,it will always be difficult to identify Liberian identity.Ambassador Greenfield said Nigerians or Ghanaians can easily be identified because they are nationalistic .They were brought up that we.Liberians were never.That Liberian identity that has been missing will always be unless and until Liberians try to know who they are rather than trying to appear to be who they are not.

#2

thank you so much for showing this show i needed to know how liberia was doing after long time from
the civil war. i had some friends i was worried about. thank you once again

#1

The leadership of Liberia should not make the mistake of thinking they know better than the masses.

Maybe the masses see what the power structure don’t in Liberia. In many cases it is assumed that because one is poor that makes them some-how retarded to what’s going on. They talk to each other and word of mouth is as powerful as any mass media. Just because mass media does it orders of magnitude faster does not ultimately make them more powerful. Why? You forget trust and common ties. People are more less trusting of distance and believe more what people around them say. Media arrogance says that a news story from “over there” is as powerful as the person(s) stories who are looking them in the eye, sitting next to them, playing socker with them in childhood, etc. real or rumor.

My point?

The masses are looking (via word of mouth) at the instability around them in neighboring countries and asking themselves who has the possible resources to help them be shielded from that instability. The ties with the U.S. are already there. They don’t have to build new ties they already exist. The path of least resistance, right? Liberia is already a sovereign nation. A sovereign nation that (at least among its masses) gets that it can’t go it alone. The other countries only offer instability. The U.S. is one of the most (overall) stable countries. We’re not perfect but we’re nowhere near a Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, I think you get the point.

I agree that not respecting indigenous culture is a concern, but both America and Liberia needs friends. Why screw up a good thing. If anything, America needs to help Liberia more because America needs friends around the world. Why would we call countries friends (Europe betting America’s demise after Lehman Bros. at least until their own finance ministers explained they were in it)that turn around and not be our friends and shun those who want ties with us, i.e. the Liberian flag and all the other symbols that make it clear that they want to be close to us. That makes no sense.

Ask America not only to build infrastructure but to help Liberia export indigenous art, export Liberian indigenous clothing, export Liberian indigenous wares, export Liberian indigenous films as well as the broader populations art, films etc.

Let Liberia’s soul searching become an industry within itself. If the power structure focuses on its own egos “telling” the people what they want I see failure on the horizon.

If the people want to be linked to America, let them and build upon that instead of trying to REINVENT Liberia which will just create factions within the country. Factions ALWAYS, 100% of the time create problems and settling the factions (not creating them) leads to stability. So why create a faction in the first place? Nationalism vs America.

I see a faction between nationalism and American ties being developed by the current power structure.

They say the other leaders of Africa are going backward, the current president of Liberia is not immuned because she’s a woman. That would be a mistake to think that.

In an interview with Tavis Smiley she expressed that she had always felt growing up that she was not African enough, does that human past direct her decision making today and in the future? Does she somehow feel that making Liberia more seperate from the U.S. make it more African? What African countries are willing to help, the very ones that are deemed backward so that at the end of the day she chooses backward so as to feel more African?

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