May 14 every year is set aside as National Unification Day by an act of the National Legislature. The purpose of this day is to bring Liberians together to mend their differences. It can be recalled by historians that in the early history of Liberia, there was confusion between the settlers and the indigenous, especially over lands claimed forcibly from the indigenous and also excluded them from being part of the decisions making process of the country. It was predicated on this that the 18th President of Liberia, William V.S. Tubman, through an act of the National Legislature, in 1961, declared May 14, every year to be celebrated as National Unification Day.

 

The official ceremonies for this Unification day of Liberia were held on the historic Providence Island under the theme: "Together We Stand".

 

Delivering her unification message at the occasion, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said, "our nation has a duty to be thankful to God and offer gratitude to our friends who helped us sustained our peace and help us consolidate our efforts to nation building process." President Sirleaf said, Liberia tomorrow will be better than her today if we stand together as a nation.

 

The Liberian leader continued by saying, "I like us to pay special tribute to the Late President William V. S. Tubman, who, because of the deprivation and human rights violation, deemed it prudent to make this day becomes reality. Today’s theme together we stand is one which we heard but our people have not put into practice."

 

She indicate that Liberians deserve the right to be who they want to be, knowing that they can no longer be left aside because they belong to certain political, physical or cultural difference. Indeed, she maintained, Liberians yearn for the same equality and justice, unification, noting that is not about tribalism but about patriotism, we celebrate not for ourselves but for our children and children unborn.

 

President Sirleaf said: "If we stand together as one, no single group can make claim to this nation so today I extend my hands of friendship for this administration and we must all work together for the betterment of Liberia."

 

Also speaking, former Information Minister and historian Emmanuel Bowier named the challenge towards unification as mutual respect. Mr. Bowier reminded participants at the program that the essence of unification was not at the time yielding its intended results because in 1820 mulatto-color Liberians excluded indigenous from government. It was in 1904 that Liberian citizenship was given to indigenous Liberians but with no right to vote and express their view, he recalled.

 

Mr. Bowier recounted that the first female Minister of Defense in 1950, Ethel White, was never a member of cabinet, because she was a lady; while the first Liberian to graduate from Harvard University, P.G. Wolo, as a Minister then, was never a member of cabinet because his wife was an indigenous and was known as a "lappalonians" and could not attend government functionaries with lappa. "Gone are those days when other Liberians could not be identified because they were of certain class, culture, religion and tradition. Today, the person we look up to as our head of state, commander in chief is a woman and is also a lappalonian; therefore, there have been and there is significant improvement," Mr. Bowier concluded.