- 30 Apr
VP BOAKAI RAPS TUBMAN UNIVERSITY SPEAKERS BUREAU at the Academic Gallery Complex in the Morning and Engages Students under the Palaver Hut in the Afternoon–TU Campus, Harper City, Maryland County
Monday, April 25, 2016
Honorable Members of the Maryland County Legislative Caucus Present;
Superintendent Betsy Kuoh Toe and other Officials of the Historic County of Maryland;
Mayor George Prowd and other Municipal Leaders of the City of Harper;
President Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell and the TU Administration;
President Isaac George and Distinguished Members of the Faculty Senate;
President Mark Toe and Esteemed Members of the Student Body;
Special Honored Guests and Well-Wishers;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is so good to be here again after nearly three years! I believe it was in late April of 2013. I see a lot of wonderful changes, tremendous improvement, an army of students so eager all over the Campus, a campus bustling with activities and a University full of life! Thank you for the warm and very enthusiastic welcome all of you have given me and members of my delegation since our arrival here a few days ago.
I especially want to thank your most outstanding and fabulous President, Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, for all she has done so much to make this historic Institution not just a success, but the pride and joy of Maryland County and Liberia.
I know we are literally just a couple of months away from a poignant and sentimental transition that is before Tubman University–marking the eve of the retirement of TU President Dr. Elizabeth Davis-Russell, which we are told comes in June. Since it is highly unlikely that I will make it here for that auspicious ceremony, let me take a moment to say to you, Dr. Russell, a big thank you for such diligent service to country.
The words of gratitude expressed by the President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on behalf of Government during your investiture ceremony, effectively captured our appreciation for your service to this county, this country, and our people. You are also such a motivating character not only to the struggling female population of our own dear country but, even further, to all women who aspire to challenge the proverbial glass ceiling. This is particularly so for women who seek to lift themselves out of the traditional state of marginalization which so commonly turns out to be the lot of the majority.
You have indeed served well this nation and people. And nothing pleases me more than being able to convey to you, your flowers as you still count among us very much alive and kicking.
Let me say again as I said to you in my April 20, 2013 address on the TU Campus that it is to a luminary as you, that the famed Indian Literary Giant, Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, would say,
“I slept and dreamed that life was happiness.
I woke up and saw that life was service.
I served and learnt that in service happiness is found.”
Dr. Davis-Russell, you have done your part, and we wish you well.
And today I need not tell you how honored I feel to join this rostrum of esteemed speakers of the Speakers Bureau of the William V.S. Tubman University.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen from Academia and the larger community,
I remember that it was a beautiful evening when we arrived on campus, and today as we headed to this program, I noticed the robust activities around here. As I looked on the faces of the students, I noticed that you are energetic, enthusiastic, full of zeal and anxious to learn. Each of you looks ready to be inspired by your professors and each other.
Then I reflected for a moment on the future of our country and what the years ahead will look like for my grandchildren and your children’s children. I asked myself if we are on the right trajectory to securing the future of our country and those coming after us. Are we doing those things and setting up systems that secure our role in the comity of nations? Some of you are shaking your heads—maybe not physically–and suggesting that we need to do more.
You know, the thing about the future is that it is inevitable. Whether you prepare for it or not, it is bound to come upon us. And these days, the future comes at us at a much faster pace than ever before. We live in an age of accelerating returns, in which technological advancement moves at an exponential rate. In ten years, no industry will look like it does now. In twenty years many, if not most, of today’s jobs will be completely obsolete.
But you, young people and students should not overlook or underestimate your own importance to the future of our society and also the part you are expected to play to make it a success. To prepare for the future you need to shape it for yourselves– or someone else will determine what the future means for you. You have the intellect, guts and imagination to design systems and advance solutions to make this country a success.
The time to start preparing for the future is always in the present. As we take a thoughtful look around us today, we cannot avoid the specter that is approaching us in the next few months; this whirlpool of democratic interactions that we are on our marks for. The role you play in the events of the next several months, especially the democratic exercises that we are launching into, will determine in large measure how much value and stock you put into this country’s direction and future.
In that regard, I would like us, for the next few minutes, to have a conversation that will be as relevant as it is meaningful, on a modest and straightforward topic, “The TU Student Community and Our Democracy: A Call to Think Liberia, Love Liberia, and Build Liberia.”
Aware of the essentiality of good leadership to any thriving democracy, we all do agree that those we position at the helm, as a matter of necessity, must be imbued with the serenest of qualities. They must be driven by pristine virtues that motivate, invigorate, and correctly embolden the citizens to strengthen their faith in the direction of the nation.
The process of Thinking Liberia, Loving Liberia and Building Liberia begins with asking ourselves if we honestly are patriotic. Have we been true to this country? Have we given to it all that we could? Have we treated it better than a vacation spot? Do we really love this country? What is patriotism? Is it love of one’s birthplace, the place of childhood’s recollections and hopes, dreams and aspirations? Is it the place where, in childlike naiveté, we would watch those that we call leaders kick it around?
Someone rightly defined Patriotism as a demonstrative attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. This attachment, also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed in terms of different features relating to one’s own nation, including ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.
Another aspect of thinking Liberia hinges on selecting leaders that also, as the definition suggests, have a demonstrative attachment to this country. The key word there is “demonstrative attachment.” Someone whose actions in the past have shown that they deeply care about this country. But more often than not many of us fall for those frivolous attributes in leaders that we choose who end up producing results that are counter to our dreams and inimical to our national advancement.
One such attractive temptation that has regularly shown in our selection process is the undue consideration for the depth of the pocket of the one seeking our favor. This tendency becomes even more worrisome when no thought is given to the source of the wealth and the circumstances surrounding its accumulation. Yet still others are driven by their consideration of familial, ethnic, sectional, and or religious affiliation. In all this, the critical question of competence is almost always compromised.
Evidently, we do find, and have found, mounds of pitfalls in selections that are grounded in the use of these sorts of yardsticks. And this is what leaves our governance system and our national coffers hemorrhaging time and again.
By truly Loving Liberia, you are bound to endow yourself with the acumen to identify that true leader who exemplifies the highest qualities of honesty, humility, foresight, level-headedness, integrity, and importantly, loyal and faithful to country. Your laser search must find not the minutest shred of greed and avarice in his/her fiber.
The call to THINK LIBERIA, LOVE LIBERIA AND BUILD LIBERIA thus becomes as imperative as it is meaningful. Thinking Liberia above self-serving interests is a pursuit that is not Rocket Science but is equally not a piece of cake. It carries with it a huge demand to be selfless and more broad-minded in thought, more humanistic in mind, and more altruistic in heart.
If LIBERIA is the key factor that occupies your mind when you take your actions steps in your political interactions, you are bound to be immune from the trivialities that only go to lower the bar. If you are thinking Liberia while in search for a suitable leader, you cannot avoid giving greater consideration to the life the contenders have lived long before casting their nets for the highest office in the land today. You sure will probe their deeds of years long before today, their demonstrated demeanor in positions of power and wealth, as well as their consideration for the common people.
In a political landscape like ours, as in many others, it is not uncommon for the field to be flooded with all manners and variants of personalities clamoring around for support. And in stepping forward to seek your support, many do perform cosmetic make ups on themselves to help present them in the most attractive light.
Fully indulged in THINKING Liberia and LOVING Liberia one cannot resist that huge urge to be a part of efforts at BUILDING Liberia. And when Liberia is built it stands to benefit all. Hence my call to all of you to THINK LIBERIA, LOVE LIBERIA, and BUILD LIBERIA.
To you–this army of promising students–I should give you the forewarning that building in those virtues that make one a good and contributing citizen are not as easy as we would want it be. It takes sacrifice—at times even self-denial—and self-discipline. In real life the road leading to vice and evil is usually well paved while the one to goodness and Godly reward is found to be rugged and thorny.
It is sure not that easy to eschew theft in the midst of kleptomaniacs. In classes in which you sit there is always that heavy weight of temptation to cheat, particularly when peers engaged in the act. It takes a huge dose of self-restraint, self-confidence, self-pride, and that profound sense of justice to stave off greed and not allow it to drive you to inflict harm and grief onto others.
I should commission you to go out there and take on the difficult challenge of serving as harbingers of good citizenship, displaying the highest virtues in your interactions with your peers and your seniors. In your love for Liberia, let your actions and utterances stimulate positive responses in others of your age group. Always take the higher ground. I pray you are very much aware that you can only be ready for this role by preparing yourselves within these walls and in your communities. Avoid short cuts that border on bending or dodging the rules only for your personal gain.
Try to earn whatever you get, never indulging in practice of accruing things by the employment of unsavory means to the detriment of your law-abiding colleagues. Avoid envy which breeds undermining. Always know that you do not reach success by standing on the corpses of others. Be dutiful and help in the position you hold so that your deeds serve as the thrust that sends you up to higher levels. Avoid greet as greed poisons everything it touches.
Always strive to ensure that the measure of your success is determined by your level of preparation. It is in that context that I always quote Henry Hartman, the Iconic American Graphic Designer, who so cogently noted that, “Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity.”
Let us bear in mind that our greatest and most valuable treasure is this one LIBERIA. Let us give her the best leader we can find—that valuable gift that believes in the letter of spirit of thinking loving and building Liberia, nothing more, nothing less.
And so must we, ladies and gentlemen. We need to look at this old issue of selecting our national leaders in a new way. Not simply for today but to make our tomorrows more rewarding, more fulfilling, more compelling because of the changes we make today. With your help we can think anew, we can take deliberate and careful action to select a president and other leaders and act anew on the new issues before us today.”
More than 450 years before the birth of Christ, The Chinese Philosopher, Confucius, said: ‘What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.’
Well, let us do it together. We’ve heard what we have to do. We’ve seen what we need to do. Now is the time to do it and together we can. Do it! Let us think Liberia; let us love Liberia; and let us build Liberia.
Thanks you. God bless us all. God bless Liberia.