The 26'th of July was Liberia's 161's Independence Day. It hasn't been an easy time: decades of poverty and corruption and stagnation, and in recent decades civil war and poverty and corruption. But they don't seem to lose hope.
After Ethiopia was conquered by Italy Liberia became the oldest independent country in Africa, and it is a matter of pride. This year's National Oration was by Sakui Malakpa (a blind lawyer), who I gather was paid by the word:
Salutation (To be modified based on guests present)
Your Excellency, Madam President;
(Any foreign head(s) of state);
Your Excellency, the Vice President;
Honorable Cabinet Ministers and members of the Executive Branch;
The honorable Speaker of the House, Honorable President Pro Temp of the Senate, and Honorable Members of the National Legislature;
Your Honor the Chief Justice and Honorable Associate Justices of the Supreme Court, and Honorable Members of the Judiciary;
The Doyen and members of the diplomatic core;
Prelates, Imams, and members of the clergy;
Heads of autonomous agencies and academic institutions;
Heads of our political sub-divisions; chiefs, zoes and bardios;
The ever-industrious market women;
Students; distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!
Expression of thanks (which also could be modified for time)
Indeed, it is difficult to overemphasize my heart-felt thanks and profound gratitude for the invitation extended us to give the national oration for Liberia's 161st Independence Day Celebration. Madam President, I thank you for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The people of Wozi, my hometown, thank you. The people of Zorzor District, the people of Lofa County, and yes, the people of Liberia thank you. The union of people with disabilities thanks you.
I am also thankful to many who helped me along the way. Though deceased, I remember my loving "fathers and mothers" especially Malakpa, Godoe, Yasa Kortoe, and Luopu Yorgbor as well as my uncle Chief Mulbah Yawkaw.
I am exceedingly grateful to:
The Rev. Dr. & Mrs. Gerald Currens
The late bishop Payne and the Lutheran Church in Liberia
My brothers and sisters and the great people of Wozi.
I am especially thankful that my mother Kebbeh Yuufulu lived to see this day. Likewise, in this public manner, I must express profound gratitude to the late President Tolbert who, with the help of female police Sergeant Tulu Hilton, picked me up in Bomi Hills and sent me to Freetown on his personal scholarship. I owe a lifetime gratitude to that great Liberian.
(Greetings from wife and children)
Madam President, distinguished guests, given the influence of the great people before me, I know it is customary to start such a presentation with a blessing. With your indulgence, I will do so now. (Blessings in Loma and Kpelleh)
It was a century, six decades and a year ago this month when the architects of our great republic signed the Declaration of Independence drafted by Hilary Teage. Since that momentous occasion, Liberia has effectuated, and has been impacted by, prodigious and multifarious changes. The relics and consequences of these changes are ubiquitous, including those among our sister nations of the international community. These experiences show that, however we perceive or welcome change, it is axiomatic that change is inevitable. It is an ongoing process in our personal lives, our families, and our nation. This immutable process propels us to challenges, and affords us opportunities to be players or spectators. Thus, Madam President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, relative to our nation's interest, I will speak on the topic, "Coping With the Inevitability of Change: Our Challenges, Chances, and Choices."
From there he goes on to give a history review, complain about the character of famous Americans and colonists for whom parts of Liberia are named, and suggest revising the history books and renaming the capitol Monrovia to Dukweleh (or possibly Christopolis). He ends with exhortations to unity, respect, support for Ellen, and the rule of law and with a poem he wrote in '92.
His annoyance with famous figures from the past (Clay, Monroe, etc) is quite understandable, as he would have certainly been the target of their racism had they ever met. Still, they provided the opportunities he celebrates, for whatever motives of their own, and perhaps it is not entirely inappropriate to recognize and even celebrate them. With eyes wide open, of course.