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August 24, 2012 is the 165th commemoration day of Liberia’s national flag. The day was set aside in 1847 after Liberia had declared her independence a month earlier on July 26, to pay homage to Africa’s First Republic own “star and stripes”, which was a contrived rendition of the USA’s cherished “stars and stripes”.

But, whereas the US “stars and stripes” is without question a singular national symbol that invokes an uncommon feeling of pride and engenders a poignant sense of shared patrimony among Americans, in Liberia, the jury is still out about whether Liberia’s imitated “star and stripes” is fully representative of that nation’s common heritage, or simply a relic of its troubled past when the so-called Americo-Liberian minority dominated and excluded the majority indigenous Liberian population from participation in the formation of what was then the lone independent polity in Africa.

That dominance of the Americo-Liberian minority, who were the progeny of the African American founders of the Liberian nation, came to a bloody halt on April 12, 1980, after a successful military coup ushered in the nation’s first indigenous Liberian head of state. There was widespread jubilation across the country that the rule of the descendents of the US born settler minority had finally come to an end, and now the majority indigenous Liberians had the chance they had been denied since the founding of the nation, to play a pivotal role in contributing to the national discourse of the country.

Some of these revisionists therefore proffer that the words on the seal be changed to: “The love of liberty brought us together.”

But, while the coup succeeded in ending the Americo-Liberian dominance over the Liberian political landscape, there are those Liberians who still advocate for the revision of Liberia’s national symbols, which they contend are ill-conceived and prejudiced relics from the dispensation of the Americo-Liberian when the majority indigenous Liberian population were excluded from contributing to the formation of the Liberian state.

And, not unlike the Liberian flag, proponents for the revision of Liberia’s national symbols also contend that Liberia’s national seal, which bears the words: “The love of liberty brought us here” not only speaks exclusively to the US repatriates’ experience, but it is a glaring representation of their segregational approach to, and deliberate disregard for the inclusion of the indigenous Liberian heritage and experience during their conception of Liberia’s national symbols.

Some of these revisionists therefore proffer that the words on the seal be changed to: “The love of liberty brought us together.”

Also, the Liberia’s Declaration of Independence, particularly where it states: “We, the people of the Republic of Liberia, were originally inhabitants of the United States of North America”, followed by a listing of the injustices the African American founders of Liberia suffered in the US, have also been cited by these revisionists as another blatant misrepresentation of Liberia’s collective heritage and experience.

Speaking a month ago during his speech as the National Orator on Liberia’s Independence Day, Dr. D. Elwood Dunn, one of Liberia’s most prominent historians and scholars, noted that during the early years of the Liberian nation, there were competing visions regarding the legacy of the nascent nation, but that it was those whose vision it was to create a “little America” in Africa that succeeded in advancing their vision while ignoring others.

Therefore, he said there was a need to re-define Liberia’s national heritage to fully represent the nation’s diverse heritage. This remains an extremely sensitive topic for Liberians and one that not only inflames passions, but has, over the years and still now, seared the Liberian people’s sense of cohesiveness.

But, it is part of Liberia’s convoluted history and a discussion that the nation will have to have as Liberians strive to arrive at a national consensus about whether their national symbols are comprehensive reflections of their shared patrimony.


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