Liberia: Pres. Weah Plants Cotton Trees on Providence Island to Represent Descendants of the Indigenous People and Descendants of the Settlers

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MONROVIA – President George Weah has identified national unity and reconciliation as a cornerstone to all national development efforts and, at the same time, the basis for combating all forms of discrimination and exclusion.

According to the Liberian leader, the model for genuine national unity and reconciliation should be inspired and founded on positive cultural values, citizenship building, good governance, economic empowerment, and the rule of law.

“As we commemorate our National Bicentennial, let us recollect memories of all of our ancestors — their various ways of life, their respective histories and cultures, and the way they co-existed with each other as long-lost brothers and sisters returned to the Land to form a unique and united country,” President Weah said.

He said citizens should continue to embrace the tenets of national unity as the country moves towards a reconciled and democratic nation whose citizens are at peace with themselves, their neighbors, and the world.” 

Said President Weah: “As a country which has emerged from a divided past and a recent civil war, national reconciliation is our only option for survival and continuity as a nation.”

President Weah also wants Liberians to embrace the commemoration of the country’s 200 years of statehood towards strengthening national unity and peace.

President Weah spoke Friday at the flag off of the Bicentennial program in Monrovia.The event will be celebrated throughout 2022 from January 7 to December 10, 2022, with the official opening ceremony taking place on February 14, 2022. 

The Bicentennial celebration is a year-long event that intends to celebrate the Africa’s oldest republic. The founding, however, began with the arrival of freed black slaves from the United States of America on what is now called Providence Island 200 years ago.

At Friday’s program, Pres. Weah planted two cotton trees at the historic Providence Island – venue of the program – which he said  replaces what is referred to as the male and female cotton trees symbolizing descendants of the indigenous and the descendants of the settlers.

The two old cotton trees have spent centuries resting on the historical Providence Island. There is no symbolic meaning as to why the two cotton trees are referred to as the male and the female cotton trees.

President Weah said his desire to plant the two cotton trees was part of the national unification efforts the Bicentennial seeks to bring to every Liberian despite of their tribes, religious, political affiliation or creed economic status or so on.

“I will today plant two cotton trees today. I am informed that they will replace the male and female cotton trees that stood here majestically for probably centuries. They were even standing when the settlers came,” President Weah said.

The Liberian leader added: “By planting the seedling here today, on the official commencement of the 2022 Bicentennial, we are reinforcing the common heritage that unites both the descendants of the indigenous people and the descendants of the settlers. We are one people with one destiny.”

In remarks, the United States Ambassador to Liberia, Michael McCarthy, called on Liberians to work together to attract people from across the globe for the Bicentennial year-long celebration.

According to the US Ambassador, it is essential to create a safe environment for members of the Liberian diaspora and other visitors who are expected to visit during the Bicentennial year-long event.

“We all want this pandemic to be over. Let’s continue and ramp up our joint efforts. And looking beyond 2022, we can work together to make Liberia more attractive to both visitors and investors alike,” Ambassador McCarthy said.

Still speaking, the Ambassador said it was a joy to be standing on Providence Island – exactly 200 years after the first wave of free Black Americans arrived in 1822.”

“There have been so many incredible individuals over the last 200 years who built the relationship between the United States and Liberia.  I am humbled to be the one to mark this historic day on behalf of my government,” Ambassador McCarthy said.

He called on the gathering to pause and remember all those who made sacrifices, whether newcomers to this land or indigenous people.

The US Ambassador also termed Liberia as a nation of people drawn from many roots, adding that Liberia’s treasures are its tremendous diversity.

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