Veronica Doe, daughter of the late President Samuel K. Doe has blamed the underdevelopment of Liberia on former slaves who returned to Africa from the United States and settled in Liberia.
Speaking during programs marking United Nations International Indegineous Day which was held in the central city of Gbarnga, Bong County, Ms. Doe indicated that the Americo-Liberian hegemony carried out abuses and repression of Indegineous Liberians from 1847 to 1980 that culminated into the backwardness and underdevelopment of Africa’s oldest black Republic.
Madam Doe said the Americo-Liberians lack of respect and recognition of the God’s given rights of the Indeginous people of Liberia was alarming.
She pointed out that the time has come for the indigenous people of Liberia to rise-up and claim their rights if Liberia so as to must move the nation forward.
The ex-President’s daughter disclosed that for over one hundred years, Indegineous Liberians were not allowed to go to school unless they changed their Indegineous names to Western ones.
She added that Indegineous Liberians were so heavily marginalized to the extend that Americo-Liberian led-governments institutionalized their social neglect and other forms of abandonment.
Ms Doe: “As an Indegineous Liberian, you could not go to school unless you attained a name from the dictionary. Indigenous Liberians had no voting rights, and denied participation in national decision making.”
She explained that when ex-slaves arrived on Liberia’s soil in the 1820s, Indegineous people received them with opened arms and treated them like their brothers and sisters but added that no sooner had they settled, they began to ill-treat the Indegineous.
“Indegineous people are the right owners of Liberia, they are the backbone and face of the country, they are the yoke of the country but, yet, their rights were never recognized by those that were entrusted with national leadership even up to the point where basic services were never part of them despite the uninterrupted payments of hut taxes.”
While commending the UN for declaring August 9 each year as International Indigenous Day, she called on Indigenous people world-wide to rise up and live to the test of time.
It is time for Indigenous people to rise-up to claim their land, to advocate for education, safe and clean drinking water, better environment and equal rights in their respective countries.
Madam Doe also called on Indigenous people everywhere in the world to demand improved basic social services, right to employment and to benefits from their God’s given natural resources.
Speaking at a jammed packed auditorium of the Gboveh High School, she asserted that it was not until April 12, 1980 after the military take over when the first Indegineous president who happened to be her father, took over the helm of leadership that native Liberians began to realize the sense of belonging in their own country.
She commended her late dad for ending the over one century of Americo-Liberians’ repressive rule of the Indegineous.
Ms. Doe said the Indegineous people deserve praises and commendations for remembering their repression and segregation by the Americo-Liberian hagemony.
She urged Indegineous people to unit and beat their swores into plowshares. Ms. Doe however, called on them to be in readiness to resist the reoccurence of the vices that retarded the development and growth of the Indegineous.
She called on them to speak with a singular voice if they must resist every effort aimed at returning them to the painful and horrible days in the body politics of Liberia, noting that “such history must never be allowed to avail itself again.”
Another speaker at the program was former Liberia’s Ambassdor to the United States and Canada, Mr. Jeremiah Sulunteh.
Ambassador Sulunteh recalled the day when as a young student, he was rejected to attend a government run shool in Monrovia.
According to Mr. Sulunteh, in those days, authorities at the Matilda Newport Junior High School denied him enrty to the institution for being an indigenous.
Ambassador Sulunteh said the April 12, 1980 revolution ended such ugly social pattern and indicated his joy that Indegineous’ names have now taken over every fabric of the Liberian Government, stressing, can you imagine a Sulunteh serving as Ambassador to USA and Canada, he asked rhetorically.
The former Ambassador stressed that effort of the social change is credited to the gallantry of those that risked their lives on that fateful day of April 12, 1980 that changed the course of history in Liberia.
“As President Doe went painfully to the great beyond 30 years ago, his legacy will linger, he will always be in the pages of history for the right reason, the Indegineous people will always remember him for his high level of gallantry not only for himself, but for his fellow Indegineous,” he said.
Also speaking was former Bong County’s Representative, Joseph Cornomiah, who paid homage to the late President Doe. He said the late President encouraged the participations of Indegineous people in every strata of his government.
He wondered why would brothers and sisters backed by State’s authority subject their own flesh and blood to such unfavorable treatments for more than a century.
He commended Mr. Larkpawolo and folks of Indigenous Movement of Liberia for coming together to observe the International Day of the Indigenous People.
Cllr. Daku Mulbah, former Montserrado County Attorney for his part, decried the ill-treatments of Indegineous people but said the time has come for Liberia to move in a direction that will immensely benefit the Liberian State.
He challenged the Indigenous Movement of Liberia to reach out to every nook and corner of Liberia to educate indigenous people on their rights.