European Federation of Liberian Associations
July 28th 2018
Almere, The Netherlands
By : Emily Ekua Erskine, EFLA Keynote Guest & Speaker
Excellencies, Isaac Nyenabo, Ambassador of Liberia to the Benelux, Paul Tate, Chargé of the Permanent Mission of Liberia to Switzerland and the United Nations, Mr. Nicholas Doe, President of the Liberian Association of Holland, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Leadership of the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA), I am delighted to speak on the occasion marking the 171st Independence day celebration of the Republic of Liberia.
My special thanks go to Excellency Paul Tate for his relentless support to Liberians and for serving as an example of humanity and humility, to Mr. Mike Müeller, Vice-President of Dual Citizenship in the diaspora, for his unwavering support and advice since EFLA’s formation, and to our sister Dr. Liane Ursa, for her steadfastness, determination and very positive energy in helping the Liberian cause.
This evening, to mark our independence, we would like to focus our attention on challenges Liberians in both homeland Liberia and in the diaspora are facing, Liberian diaspora’s contributions to ease those challenges and how to cement our efforts and see Liberia lifted up once again.
Over the past decades, our people have been experiencing food insecurity, scarce or hardly direct access to water and electricity, collapsed health and education systems, unemployment, disillusion, urban demographic explosion (Monrovia), marginalization and lack of skills, only to name some.
This general climate of insecurity at different levels of our society cannot be adequately addressed if all Liberians, especially diaspora Liberians who have been involved in Liberia’s development agenda from time immemorial, are not recognized as being a part of this one big puzzle which is our country Liberia.
Diaspora Associations and Federations like EFLA were founded on the sentiment of “Love for Liberia” at a time when war was waging in Liberia. Liberians in the diaspora wanted to see Liberia lifted up, they have always strived to share responsibility in the poverty-reduction and reconciliation process.
Diaspora Liberians’ contribution is directly linked to poverty-reduction and national development. Diaspora Liberians engagement covers mainly:
- Private or personal remittances to family and friends through financial contributions and donations of different nature;
- Securing social and economic well-being of family and friends.
These remittances are estimated at USD 350 million annually, whereas our annual national budget is USD 550 million.
Homeland Liberians value the contribution of diaspora Liberians in the poverty-reduction and reconstruction process, nevertheless, in order for the impact of diaspora contribution to be greater, a major component of that one big puzzle should be recognized as such.
Liberians in the diaspora have been promoting dual citizenship as a clear guarantee of national interest and consciousness for Liberia. The request for dual citizenship is over 12 years old. That major component of that one big puzzle can only be recognized where there is unity and love. Living in the diaspora does not mean that homeland Liberians love Liberia more than diaspora Liberians.
All Liberians as well as homeland Liberians love Liberia.
Liberians in the diaspora and homeland Liberians were all born into the same family and have the same parents, ancestors/forefathers, history, names, culture, grew up in the same communities! This is an established fact and remains unquestionable and irreversible! Liberians in the diaspora’s brothers and sisters in homeland Liberia cannot deny that they do not have the same parents, ancestors, did not grow up in the same homes, do not have the same friends and relatives, do not speak the same languages, do not have the same family names, etc. Their names have not changed, their parents have not changed, their ancestors have not changed, their history has not changed, their country cannot also change.
From Liberia’s recent history, all Liberians (Liberians in the diaspora and homeland Liberians) bear indelible wounds from the 15-year old war, be they physical, psychological, emotional, which only wisdom, love and unity can mend. Recognizing dual nationality is a part of the healing process and will allow all Liberians to reunite and be considered as one big family. It is only if Liberians are united that they can make a greater difference.
Today, Liberia is celebrating 171 years of independence, and is known as Africa’s oldest Republic. Liberians are proud of belong to the oldest Republic on the continent. Dual citizenship is not only a trend in today’s Africa, but is becoming the norm. Sadly, Africa’s oldest Republic has denied herself her role as the leader of this noble cause and is still not acknowledging her importance in assuming this role.
The Liberian diaspora has made several attempts in various forms to appeal for dual citizenship and hope to see Liberia continue to lead noble causes such as dual citizenship, to reunite homeland and diaspora Liberians, to recognize the strength and power of diaspora Liberians who have been fully contributing to the development of Liberia as citizens, to see specific strategies and plans put in place in homeland Liberia. The Liberian diaspora is willing to collaborate in the establishment of operation centers abroad to facilitate the implementation of these strategic plans.
Dual nationality will support national reunification, reconciliation and national development.
Liberians in the diaspora would like to see one Liberia, void of division, representing peace, love and unity.
In union strong success is sure!