Speech Delivered By Honorable Mamansie Kabba
Assistant Minister for Administration Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection At
Celebration in Observance of the 173rd National Flag Day of the Republic of Liberia August 24, 2020, Ministerial Complex, Congo Town, Montserrado County, Liberia
HE. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia
H. E. Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor, Vice President, of the Republic of Liberia
Honorable Dr. Bhofal Chambers
Speaker of the House of Representative
His Honour Cllr. Francis S. Korkpor, Sr.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia
Honorable Albert Tugbe Chie
President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate
Members of the Legislative Branch of Government
Members of the Cabinet of the Republic of Liberia
Members of the Diplomatic Corps and other Foreign Dignitaries Here Present
Representatives of Local and International Organizations
Members of the Fourth Estate
Students and Teachers
Distinguish Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to preamble my speech at this memorable occasion by thanking the national political administration of Liberia under the able and farsighted leadership of His Excellency President George Manne Weah for preferring me to deliver the August 24, 2020 Oration. I see my selection as not only the trust and confidence this current national political administration has in the young people of Liberia, but it is also, among other things, a continued manifestation of the increased relevance this administration places in bringing young girls and women to the forefront of shaping and contributing to the proper reordering of the Liberian state in a manner that emphasizes leaving no one behind. It is also symptomatic of allowing the girls and women of Liberia to competitively and actively participate in the national discourse and the political space of the motherland. I remain grateful.
Today, I stand here representing the Liberian reality of the youth and young women of Doe Community, New Kru Town, Clara Town, Via Town, Logan Town, PHP Community, etc. who have increased hope in working to achieve their dreams and are reenergized to work and break glass ceilings by acquiring education and pushing tactically and strategically to gain their rightful places in the space and place called Liberia. From Peace Island in Monrovia to Pleebo in Maryland County, from Quardu Gboni in Lofa County to Dwehken in River Gee County, from Botota in Bong County to Zorgowee in Nimba County, from Gbar Grand Cape Mounty County to Sass Town in Grand Kru County, from Unification City in Sinoe County to Marshall in Margibi County, from Bopolu in Gbarpolu County to Toe’s Town in Grand Gedeh County, ect., a message has been sent out to the youth, especially the young women of Liberia by my selection to speak here today that they too can have the hope of being not only speakers at national events but also most importantly as partakers in the affairs of bettering the motherland and having space at the table, regardless of their names, origins, backgrounds, stories, religions and ethnicities.
Exactly one hundred and seventy-three (173 years) ago today, our founding fathers bravely hoisted the Liberian Flag on August 24, 1847, signifying to the whole world that we are a free and sovereign nation. Today, we are here in this Hall of the Ministerial Complex celebrating another year of our National Flag. As we have gathered here today, we should be cognizant of the fundamental human principles upon which this nation was created. These principles are freedom, justice, liberty, and respect for human dignity.
The National Flag of Liberia also referred to as the Lone Star, is the National Ensign of the Republic of Liberia, visible evidence of the country’s sovereignty and independence as well as a symbol of pride and dignity within the comity of nations. It is our invariable stamp on the world map that unifies every Liberian, home and in the diaspora; presenting us as One People – regardless of our regions, religious beliefs, or ethnicities.
The making of the National Flag of the Republic of Liberia was a historic event of great significance for Liberia – this epic occurrence propelled Liberia to be Africa’s premier pacesetter in our revolutionary struggle for independence, self-determination, and collective identity, which inspired other African States to pursue with all their energies and determinations the process of regaining their independence. I have deliberately used the phraseology regain their independence because I have been convinced that before imperialists and colonialists descended on the African continent, partitioned it and seized control of our people and continent, our people were a unique and independent people who sadly crumbled under powerful external forces and influences into colonies. So, I have come to submit to you all, Liberia and the world at large that what is today seen in African countries as days of independence are not days of independence but must be rightly called days of the regaining of lost independence.
The National Flag was designed and produced by a committee of seven (7) distinguished, talented and visionary ladies, led by Mrs. Susannah Lewis. The others were Minty Draper, Matilda Newport, Mary C. Hunter, Sarah Draper, Collinette Teage and Rachael Johnson. On July 10, 1847, Governor Joseph Jenkins Roberts of the Commonwealth of Liberia, who later became our first President, commissioned these eminent ladies to produce the Flag for the Republic of Liberia so that it could be hoisted on our inaugural Independence Day. The Flag could not be hoisted on July 26, Independence Day due to circumstances beyond the committee’s reach. However, it was hoisted on August 24, 1847, making this day one of supreme significance in the annals of Liberia’s illustrious history that should forever be revered.
The Flag, which represents a great heritage that reflects a nation of one people and one destiny, consists of eleven (11) strips symbolizing the eleven (11) signatories to the Declaration of Independence. The eleven signers include: Samuel Benedict, the first Chief Justice of the Republic of Liberia, Elijah Johnson, John N. Lewis, John B. Gripon, Hilary Teage, Beverly R. Wilson, Anthony W. Gardner, John Day, Ephraim Tiler, Amos Herring and Richard E. Murray. Jacob W. Prout, Secretary and the Twelve (12) participants of the Constitutional Convention did not sign the Declaration of Independence due to unforeseen circumstances. The strips consist of three distinct colors: Red, White and Blue. There are six red stripes and five alternating white stripes, totaling eleven stripes, each representing one of the eleven signers of the Declaration of Independence of Liberia already mentioned earlier; a blue field, in the upper left corner of a rectangular form with a single white star in the center of the blue field depicting Liberia as the sole independent republic on the African Continent at that time. The color red symbolizes the blood of those who died in the struggle for independence; the color white indicates the purity and lucidity of all our forebears toward each other; and the blue for the dark continent of Africa as it was then depicted.
On October 25, 1915, the Legislature of the Republic of Liberia approved an Act that declared the 24th Day of August each year as “National Flag Day” to be observed as a “National Holiday” throughout the Republic of Liberia; indicating the importance of annually commemorating the day by all citizens of the Republic in testimony of their allegiance and loyalty to nation via our National Banner. Our Flag is the embodiment of our national existence as a sovereign entity; that when looked upon, should promote a spirit of deep national pride and unwavering patriotism.
Liberia has experienced its unfair share of trials and tribulations. We have endured nearly a decade and half of the civil conflict which did not only take away the lives of over 250,000 Liberians, but also tore the fabric of our society apart and subverted major tenets of our culture. Once peace was restored and the smoke had settled, the Ebola Virus Disease showed up, erected unnecessary checkpoint before our progress as a people and made efforts to wipe away most of our gains. During the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections, Liberians demonstrated a unified stance in favor of democracy and good governance by conducting free and fair elections which led to our country’s first peaceful democratic transition of power in 70 years. This was a defining moment in history, because Liberia served as an example for countries with recent histories of armed conflict democratically transitioning from one political administration to another. Now, as the Pro-Poor Government works to serve our people, under the farsighted leadership of H.E. President Dr. George Manneh Weah; mysteriously the COVID-19 pandemic has come as our biggest enemy to progress. These are the harsh realities of our contemporary history as well as the situation we find ourselves in today. As a courageous, ambitious and resilient people, I am convinced that we shall overcome, put our people and economy on the proper trajectory and place our motherland on the irreversible path of progress and development.
Liberians: here and abroad, I beg your indulgence and undivided attention for a little bit longer. As we are gathered in this Hall on this 173rd anniversary of our National Flag; reflecting on our collective successes and failures, I want everyone to now look up at our National Flag; observe it majestically swaying in the wind. Let this be a time of reflection; let’s think about what each of us can do to make Liberia a better place as the motherland deserves the best of all of us to allow it leap impressively into occupying an excellent and admirable place within the family of countries the world over. Let’s remember that it is our collective responsibility to ensure that how we do what we do, when we do what we do, where we do what we do and why we do what we do Liberia must be first always. Let’s think about how this beautiful Flag binds us together and commit that we can disagree without necessarily being disagreeable as a people, as I am convinced that what continuously binds us as a unified people is more important than what attempts to divide us. Being LIBERIANS should engrave on our mental sheets that we are a One and Indivisible nation with freedoms and civil liberties that we must all always enjoy as individuals and collective shareholders in this country of ours. Like shareholders in any business, arrangements are always made to fight jealously to ensure that the business does not get bankrupt and collapse. We as Liberians must in our actions and inactions ensure that Liberia succeeds.
As we draw close to the mid-term Senatorial Elections, with the signs of creeping violence across the country; I want to admonish us to be civil and reflect on the National Flag as a Symbol of Patriotism and Unity. Let us hold together as Liberians to move our country forward despite our political differences which are understandable realities in a democracy. Reject violence and give peace a chance. Nobody’s ambition should be placed over and above Liberia’s ambition that you feel that when you do not succeed in your ambition, Liberia should not succeed. Liberia is far bigger than the ambition of a few persons who will participate in the elections in December. So, I call on all to put Liberia FIRST!
Allow me to suggest that if there is none that we can really point to; then we need to mobilize around the spirit of “UNITY.” For, we need unity more than ever before, as we fight the deadly COVID 19 Pandemic. I believe that there is much more that unites us as Liberians than that which divides us. For if we are united, we can draw up enough strengths to work together to consolidate any progress we have accomplished and build a more viable nation that future generations can be proud of. My fellow countrymen and women, UNITY is a required element and a driving force in the transformation of this society for a better Liberia. So, let us unite knowing that Liberia is all that we have got to protect, improve and subsequently handover to the future generation.
Finally, let us observe and celebrate this day knowing and recommitting ourselves to bettering the motherland. Let us not leave anyone behind as we work to lift our motherland higher. Let us join the President’s well-placed efforts widen the space and place for equal and increased participation of Liberian girls and women in decision making that promotes women political participation.
As the flag waves, let those evil and heartless boys and men who rape our children, girls and women wave goodbye to those undesirable mindsets and attitudes of committing rape and other sexual gender-based violence. Rape must not only be minimized, but also must be stopped as the lives and future of our girl children, girls, and women matter. Get your knees of rape and sexual gender-based violence off the necks of our girls and women in Liberia.
Our lives and future matter!
May God bless us all and the Republic of Liberia for which the Flag stands.