Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Liberian Family Must Form Part of the Political Debate

By: ralph geeplay

                                                           Liberian children: future leaders

Liberians are embraced for political campaigning; the race officially began on July 5th 2011. As the nation goes to the polls to elect its leaders in what should be a smooth transition to democracy for the second time, the issue the Liberian people wants to hear must come out of the mouths of politicians.

While we still await the political slogans, catch phrases, and policy statements that are expected to drive the debates during this political spell, voters are readying themselves to glean the fact sheets of the candidates to see where they differ and how prepared they are for the Executive Mansion. Reconstructing Liberia in the aftermath of our war is not just about physical infrastructures repairs; it is also about the Liberian family.
What must not be overlook this season is an outstanding fact that, the Liberian family is in crisis.

It seems the simplest and trivial by comparison, when you want to talk about reconstructing the physical costs the civil war has ruined on the Liberian society: the economy, education, electricity, brain drain, hospitals, bridges, roads, and public and private buildings.

Post war Liberia hurts from so many societal ills and damages, that reconstructing the country and finding and fixing all the trajectories that will put the nation back on the course to prosperity seems almost an impossible feat.

The social stratums that should make our society function and hold are diminishing. It is safe to argue that the Liberian family was destroyed by the Liberian civil war says pundits, and this misfortune has had vary penalties for Liberian life.

Unemployment is at its highest level, healthcare is either unavailable or unaffordable, corruption is rampant, the cost of tuition is high – too high an unemployed parent, who just cannot afford to send a child/children to school; the cost of food is too high also that a just family cannot afford to feed their children as much as they want; crime is high and life in Liberia for a typical Liberian family is dismal.

The break down of the Liberian family can be attributed to many factors, but principally the mass displacement of families in the country and refugee camps around the sub region and the world during the war years account for the this community morass.

The Liberian civil war hurt us all. The effects are being felt everywhere. As such, Liberians from all ethnic, political and religious persuasions must come together to rebuild their country – our country for this generation and the next generation of Liberians

Liberia, as it is today grapples perversely with rapes, prostitution, corruption and arm banditry because the family structure has broken and rowdiness invasive, “that the Liberian family was dismembered by the civil war and rendered dysfunctional is not in question,” Wrote Emmanuel Dolo in September of 2008. He went on and lamented the shattering effects it has wrecked on our nation by calling it “the corrosive effects,” which he also said was due to our almost two decade’s long war. Dolo said current events in our country “on human relationships across a broad spectrum justify these sentiments,” adding, “Clearly, certain segments of the society were hit harder than others, and as a unit, the family experienced the most formidable jolt.

Liberian Family

What is also sad is that, the Johnson Sirleaf led Unity Party administration has done little to tackle these issues. Even the political opposition in the country have said little about the problem facing the Liberian family: The social stratum of the family has worsened and it is time for corrective actions.

Schools alone will not make students compete at the highest levels in the class room. Parental participation is also necessary. Education has plummeted as is evident by the mass failures year in and out, and the poor reading and writing skills of students graduating out of high schools today. All of these, because the family has gone kaput. If our society lacks social cohesion and solidification in times when it is most needed then the cursory observer would ask, when would this serious dilemma ever be addressed, and for how long will it be ignored?

Just as the family has broken down so has violence against women and children in the Liberian society increased, very sad indeed. When women and children are not protected in the Liberian life by men and boys, what kind of society do we think we would have cultured and nurtured for future generations. Liberian traditional laws are also discriminatory in nature and bias, and have done little to sustain the pace of growth needed to breed the Liberian family in the 21lst century.

The nation’s customary laws are pigeonholes against women and are prejudicial. This issue must be looked into, it must be addressed. Liberia cannot remain a decent country and a civilized emerging democracy with such huge conflicts.

Teen pregnancies and early marriages, still to a great regret, do not help in building and rebuilding the family in Liberia. For example, in 2004, the United Nations estimated that thirty six percent of “girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed. There has been a slight increase in the average age of first marriage in Liberia.” These are disapproving facts that must claim attentions; the civic society must instruct and bring pressure to bear on the national government, so that resources are deployed to strengthen the Liberian family. For example, single mothers must receive help and scholarship from the state for school, hospital expenses for them and their infants. Young Liberians who are raising familes must also see attention come their way.

The nation’s political leadership and those aspiring for higher offices this election season must work very hard to save the Liberian family, because the Liberian family is the most important unit of society; and its cohesiveness is needed to cultivate an emerging social class of individuals from which the leaders of tomorrow will flow.

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