Liberia: Monrovia’s Residents Decry Hardship, COVID-19 as Reasons to Snub Liberia’s 173rd Independence Day celebration
Monrovia – On July 26, 2020 Liberia will celebrate its 173rd Independence anniversary. Because the date falls on Sunday, a presidential proclamation has called for the day to be observed and celebrated as a national holiday throughout the country on Monday, July 27.
The proclamation by President George Weah also outlined that the official program in observance of the day will be held on Monday at the grounds of the Executive Mansion under the theme “Standing Together in Time of Pandemic.”
This year’s celebration is being observed as Liberia, like most parts of the world, is grappling with COVID-19 and the economic hardship caused by the disease.
In the wake of the presidential proclamation, FrontPage Africa’s microphone visited Monrovia and spoke with cross session of residents and asked on what they make of this years’ Independence Day Celebration.
Kpehe Blama, Legislative staff: “July 26 celebration this year will not be as compared to the past years. As you maybe aware, we have this COVID-19 which is still on the ground. While it is true that the President has cancelled the state of emergency, the Government is still asking us to observe the protocols given by the Ministry of Health. In that vein, I think it will be necessary to keep the social distancing. So, we all can together fight this COVID-19. In my mind, we don’t even have to celebrate it because you cannot be in the midst of this worldwide pandemic that is claiming the lives of other people and even making the economy to be static in the whole wide world. In fact, what are we celebrating? Are we celebrating sorrow? So, in my mind, it will be better that we all sit at our various homes and just continue to ask God to help us so that this sickness can be over in our country. The issue of celebrating the ’26 is not relevant right now.”
Finda Bono, Vendor, Carey Street: “The previous celebration used to be alright. But you know the government just relieved the lock down. Since the lockdown, business has not been going the right way for me. So, This ‘26, I will sit at my house. My husband died and as a single mother, I don’t have anyone to go to for help. I just want for the government to do better for us because we were really expecting good things from them. That’s why we voted them. But now, it is not easy. It really stink in our mouth now [very disappointed).”
Isaaac T. Cheapoo, Legislative Staff: “First if all, let’s understand what celebration is. It is a joyous mood. You celebrate based on something that you have achieved. But unfortunately for us, we have not achieved anything nationally. What we have achieved is COVID-19 keep increasing. That’s all we have achieved. Amid the lots of State of Emergencies, we still have not achieved. As we speak, it is July 23rd and you have not paid any civil servant. So, how do we celebrate? Our children will be naked with bare foot in the community and our homes will be empty and no food. And you say stimulus package. Today is in limbo. Where are we heading to as a nation? There should be no celebration. If you are celebrating, the road from Ganta to Zwedru should be under pavement, it is cause to celebrate. But as we speak, schools have not opened yet, but you opened nightclubs. Paramount priorities are not been given attention to. So, there is no cause absolutely to celebrate any Independence Day until 2023.”
Mamie Harris, Vendor, Carey Street: “This year’s celebration is very bad. That’s why I am not going anywhere. I will sit with my children at home and praise God for blessing us and saving our lives. No business running. When we come on this road, we sit here whole day and we get nothing at the end of the day. It is not small thing we are going through in this country. We are only living by God’s grace. The Government should do something because this sickness is really stopping many things from happening.”
Massaquoi: “I have three children that celebrate their birthdays in July. So, that day I will be celebrating with my family. But the debate that we should not celebrate our Independence Day because of the condition cannot hold water. In the whole world, every country celebrate Independence. Because it is the day we celebrate freedom. If you refuse to celebrate it then just say because you are poor, you will not celebrate your birthday. So, we should celebrate. I am just advising them to keep safe and do what the Ministry of Health says.”
Johnson C. Wesseh, Civil society activist: “From my own point of view, celebrating is of no use. I believe the celebration is not about a handful of people, it is not about the aristocrats or the elites. It should be about the commoners. We all own Liberia as our property. “The definition of the world freedom in my understanding does not apply to us in Liberian now. If you are free and moving about on the streets doesn’t mean you are free economically. Economically we are being enslaved. You can tell from the prevailing situation where basic commodities’ prices are escalating uncontrollably and you cannot make the masses who cannot afford to make ends meet celebrate July 26. You can’t have a cup of rice at L$50 and L$70 and want celebrate ‘26. And sadly, it is happening in Monrovia. What about the hinterland, in places like Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Grand Kru and Maryland Counties? They are all up and government is not exerting effort to bring relief to the people.”
Onesimous Nagbe, street vendor: “I will be celebrating it but it will not be like last year’s celebration. No money coming. Everything is just looking cold. Last year’s celebration was very good. At least people were buying from us. Money was coming in. Once money is coming in, things can be alright. But for this year’s celebration, nothing. We are not experiencing anything good. The Coronavirus has taken over everything. Last year we made profit. The corona was not in town and things were moving smoothly. This year nothing. People are just complaining. But for me, I will celebrate it. I stand with those in favor of celebration because it is my Independence Day.”