Liberia celebrated 168 years of independence Sunday with mixed feelings about the state of progress in areas like the economy. In an informal survey conducted by the independent FrontPage Africa newspaper of Liberia, some Liberians said their country has regressed in the quality of education, health care, the fight against corruption, employment, and good governance.
Here in Washington, hundreds gathered Saturday at the Liberian Embassy to participate in an all-day cultural extravaganza to mark the occasion.
Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh said, although Liberia faces some difficult challenges, still people have reasons to celebrate their 168th independence anniversary. “A year ago when Ebola struck Liberia and whole West African region, Liberians could not celebrate their independence the way we do today.
Our hearts are broken for the lives lost, including 4,700, including 192 health care workers, who were helping trying save lives. But today, we thank God that we have the courage, the opportunity to celebrate another independence of our country,” he said. At an Independence Day diplomatic reception on Friday, the ambassador honored and paid tribute to some of those who helped Liberia during the Ebola crisis, particularly health workers.
Doctors Samuel Brisbane, Abraham Borbor and Michel du Cille, who died while fighting the Ebola disease, were honored posthumously. Dr. John T. Wulu and the People’s Congregational United Church of Christ were also honored for giving material support to the fight against Ebola.
Sulunteh also thanked the international community, including the United States, for what he called their “robust and outstanding support.” “We remember those who suffered; we remember those who died; we remember those who labored to get us where we are.
Even as we do so, we appreciate the international community and our development partners, especially the United States, who came up with an outstanding, robust support, and [the] resilience of the Liberian people, together with the strong leadership of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, to get Liberia where it is today,” Sulunteh said. U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Bisa Williams said the longstanding special bond between Liberia and the United States will remain forever strong.