Poem: Is This The Flag I Know?

In Commemoration Of National Flag Day In Liberia – August 24,, 2019:

Waving high above Africa was this flag I know

A flag of symbolic pride

The cradle of hope and heroism

A valuable treasury of common purpose

An impetus of valor

The only flag Africa and Africans knew

It was indeed a continental insignia

Is This The Flag I Know?

As this flag flew high above Africa

The promise of independence was echoed

It inspired the budding spirit of brotherhood

No one could resist its captivating fragrant

Deep in it was a bond of common vision

An aspiration for a New Dawn

What an evoking emblem of resilience it was

Is This The Flag I Know?

Shinning so bright was a glowing Star

The Lone Star of Liberia

Its beaming radiance infused life into Africa

Hence, this Dark Continent came alive

This Rising Star gave Africa a new meaning

A sense of self-determination and self-worth

A sense of belonging and perseverance

No Star could have even done this

Only The Lone Star could stand up and shine

Even colonialism couldn’t stop its piercing force

Its brightness defied imperialism

By becoming a spring of enthusiasm

And a castle of dynamism

This White Star was an ensign of purity

It was a fountain of pan-Africanism

From it, morality rolled like a waterfall

Rising from the plain of the West Coast

There came this GREAT SYMBOL

A bequest of gallantry and bravery

An enviable legacy of Africa’s first Republic

A Republic once seen as THE LONE HOPE

And an epitome of justice and equality

Not bowing down to fear, this symbol rose

Is This The Flag I Know?

Amidst daunting challenges, a new nation was born

Out of this nation’s birth, Africa was inspired

The chorus for independence became so loud

Self-autonomy was a fulcrum of this melody

Nothing could prevent this mass revolution

Pan-Africanism became a bonding catalyst

Africa and Africans owe it to this FLAG

This red, white and blue flag have done so much

This flag bears an emblem of nationhood

It carries within it a fresh memory of sovereignty

In its colors, we renew our allegiance

Firmly holding unto those values of liberty

And vowing to protect a nation of indivisibility

This flag shall forever reign in stardom

What a venerable symbol to hold so dearly

It represents a small nation with rich history

Africa knows this flag

The World is a witness to its evolution

This ‘Lone Star’ will shine

Over all else, it shall prevail

This flag shall make us proud again

And Liberia will rise forever

All hail Liberia – All hail…

Is This The Flag I Know?

In memory of this heritage

Deeply engraved in freedom

We must salute this FLAG with humility

Reaffirming our utmost pledge and loyalty

Bequeathed by this unmatched inheritance

We must pride ourselves with this NATIONAL SYMBOL

It is your flag – it is my flag – it is Africa’s flag

The homage it deserves must transcend ethnicity

The design of this ensign has no link to disunity

Its true essence forbids religious intolerance

It is a replica of patriotism, solidarity and diversity

In abiding love, this flag is our collective image

Under it, we seek self-confidence, assurance and harmony

This symbol is a canopy of our collective destiny

Idolizing its iconic features is an imperative

Is This The Flag I Know?

Is This The Flag You Know?

Today is August 24 – a public holiday

O! Let us host this flag with audacity and delight

Why aren’t you hosting yours?

Why aren’t you resounding “I Pledge”?

Has this vow lost its essence or purpose?

Is this holiday losing momentum?

Why isn’t our flag flying on a lot of homes?

Where have you placed this national emblem?

Is it in your heart or in hiding?

Are you still proud of this flag?

Where is Susannah Lewis’ flag?

Where is Africa’s first flag?

Is it still THE FIRST FLAG after 171 years?

Even Liberians seem to be losing faith in this flag

I am weeping for my flag – Only resilience is holding me up

The flag of our forebear is not revered like before

Its value and significance are being diminished

Did school-going kids parade today?

Are rural communities celebrating this day?

As our collective PRIDE gradually erodes

Almost everyone seems too busy to recite “I Pledge”

Increasing hardship can account for this complacency

Illiteracy and inequality remain harsh realities

But blame this on leadership deficit

Blame it also on injustice and impunity

History may not forgive our generation so easily

Our flag deserves better than this

It abhors dishonor and disloyalty

We cannot forsake our flag

For it is our NATIONAL PRIDE

The least we can do is to salute it and recite “I Pledge”

Amidst rising displeasure, The Lone Star must shine

We must make it shine in unison and fraternal love

By abandoning this cherished idea of our founding fathers

We shall remain guilty to our conscience, country and history

We will also be discrediting those 7 women who made our flag

It is time to use those 11 stripes to heal our wounds

We must use them to end corruption and internal bitterness

We must use them to make our people smile again

Is This The Flag I Know?

A symbol once loved, revered and cherished

This flag must take its rightful position in Africa

The red, white and blue flag must fly sky-high

Patriotism is what matters

Good governance is indispensable in this pursuit

Let us now stand and wave our flag

With it, we shall rise together as a nation and people

Is This The Flag I Know?

The flag I know is a flag of honor and veneration

Is This The Flag I Know?

The flag I know is a flag that promotes genuine peace

Is This The Flag I Know?

The flag I know is a flag that unites for prosperity

Is This The Flag I Know?

The flag I know frowns on injustice and impunity

Is This The Flag I Know?

Yes, it is this flag I know –THE LIBERIAN FLAG.

With standing ovation, I wish all peace-loving Liberians a Happy Flag Day. May this Flay Day unite us for a BETTER and PROSPEROUS LIBERIA.

About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a youth and student activist who hails from Bong County. He currently studies Economics at the University of Liberia.

Commentary – Liberia: How We Forget To Vote On The Issues

Monrovia, Liberia June 20, 2018- Day after day it is becoming abundantly clear that most Liberians lack the political culture and know-how of voting on the basis of national issues presented by candidates.

A woman casts her ballot during presidential elections at a polling station in Monrovia
A woman casts her ballot during presidential elections at a polling station in Monrovia

Perhaps long-held mindset controls how Liberian voters choose their leaders on election day and only to regret soon afterwards for having chosen the wrong personalities.
On election day, voters appear oblivious about the countless vexing national problems that have been heaped on top of one another during several decades without complete solution to any by past leaders.

More often than not they begin to cry saying they chose the wrong leaders, but again fail to correct themselves during subsequent elections.

The chickens are coming home to roost.

Barely six months after populist votes brought to power a government run by the coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which promised to bring “change for hope” , critics accuse  President George M.  Weah led- government of violating  the constitution with impunity.
The government failed to appropriate funding in the recast budget for the timely holding of by-elections following the election of Mr. Weah and Jewel H. Taylor from the Senate as President and Vice President respectively.
President Weah and his officials, after six months in office, are yet to declare their assets in violation of the code of conduct aimed to ensure transparency and accountability in government.
Despite criticisms against two loan agreements amounting nearly $1 billion for road construction, legislators swiftly sealed the pacts without sufficient scrutiny.

Lawmakers Listening To Address
Some Liberian Lawmakers At Capitol Building

The government and blind party loyalists constantly rebuke  journalists and civil society members for seeking sufficient information on the projects including  total estimated costs, credibility of givers the loans and companies the creditors choose to do the work without involving the PPCC to ensure transparency and accountability. Environmental impact studies are nowhere mentioned.

Now, the National Legislature, in clear disregard for public concerns about national issues, recently gave president Weah a “blank check” when it comes to construction of roads; a major priority.

They further passed a joint resolution authorizing the President to seek more loans from wherever to construct dozens of “critical road corridors” linking all county capitals with trunk highways. Some loyalists even tell radio talkshow hosts that the President should negotiate loans “even from the belly of the devil.”

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Perhaps, buoyed by this overwhelming legislative support, President Weah was tempted while inspecting roads in central Liberia to label critics of his government as  “enemies of the state”.

Though Mr. Weah often promises free speech and press freedom leading him to resubmit a draft bill seeking to decriminalise  media offences, the enemy label on critics who use the media as messengers has  created mixed feelings whether this thin-skinned legislature will pass this guarantee for freedom of expression  that is cardinal in any democratic society.
West African Journal Magazine

History Feature: Who are the Krahns And Are They linked to Igbos, Ashanti, Akans and Yorubas in West Africa?

In West African history, we learn that three(3) languages evolved by 1 AD in the Niger Delta. These historians named: Mande, Voltaic (Mel) and KWA. The prominent Mande languages in West Africa are the Mandingo, Soninke, Woninke, (Lorma, Kpelle, Mano etc. in Liberia) .

African Kingdoms
African Kingdoms and Empires

The Voltaic (Mel) language group is predominantly (Mossi) resides in Burkina Faso, but spread into other neighboring countries- as is the case with other language groups.

Most Western historians continue to inform us that the Krahns in Liberia, migrated from the Ivory Coast. How can a group of people migrate from their own land and back to the very land all at the same time? The land of the Krahns extends from the Ivory Coast all the way to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Liberia.

In fact, the Krus/Klaos, Greebos, the Bassa, all these dialectical groupings belong to the same family. Do you know that the Sea side Greebos located in Maryland County called themselves Krai-Gborho? Interestingly, there is a Krahn section in Grand Gedeh County called Gborho.

Krahn People of Liberia and Ivory Coast
Krahn People of Liberia and Ivory Coast

The Western historians misinformed us when they wrote that around the 16th Century, the present day Krahns migrated from the Ivory Coast. This indeed is not true. When the French Colonial power created an artificial boundary, the Cavala River was used as an official boundary between their colonialized African subjects. The Krahns belong to the KWA groups in Africa.

In Liberia, the KWA speaking people can be found in 11 counties out of 15 and yet they are unaware of their connectedness as one ethnic group.
1. Gbarpolu County, Belle (Kuwaa);
2. Grand Gedeh County, Krahn
3. River Gee County, Grebo ( Glebo or Klipo)
4. Sinoe Counties, Grebo, Kru and Sarpo
5. Grand Kru County, Grebo and Kru or Klao
6. Maryland County, Grebo
7. Nimba Counties, Gbee and Krahn
8. Grand Bassa County, Bassa, Gbee
9. Montserrado County, Bassa, Dei;
10. Margibi County, Bassa
11. River Cess County, Bassa, Gbee

Krahn People of Liberia and Ivory Coast[/caption]Who are the KWA PEOPLE? Better yet–linguistically, like the Mande and Voltaic people, who are the ANTECEDENTS of the KWA PEOPLES in West African history?

Photo_Samory_Toure
Mandingo Legend Samory Toure

According to West African history, the Mande language group founded the first 2 major Empires, namely: Ghana(its prominent King was a Soso man called- Sumanguru. He was killed in battle against Sundiata.
This ushered in the Mali (Mandingo) Empire. The Voltaic (Mel) did not found an Empire- civilization of importance. Why?

The third(3rd) largest and most powerful West African Empire was Songhai. The hundred million dollars question is: Who are the descendants of the Songhai people in West Africa today? History is mute on the answer to this question.

The Kwa languages are divided into two groups. The larger Nyo group comprises 35 languages situated in southern Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. It includes the Akan Language cluster (more than eight million speakers); the Anyi and Baule languages (almost three million speakers), mostly in Côte d’Ivoire; and the Guang language cluster (about half a million speakers), mostly in Ghana.

The remaining 10 Kwa languages are termed “left bank” because they are spoken to the east of the Volta River of these languages, the Gbe cluster (of which Ewe is the best-known member) is by far the largest, with some eight million speakers (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Kwa-languages).

Emperor Mansa Musa - Courtesy of Youtube
Depiction of Emperor Mansa Musa – Courtesy of Youtube

The KWA language group of West Africa is inextricably linked to the People of Songhai Empire. The name of their prominent King was– Assibai. The name as-si-bai, is a Gao word which means: “the unexpected. ” King Assibai’s Kingdom was captured by Mensa Musa- King of Mali Empire. King Mensa Musa personally toured prosperous Songhai Kingdom and met the defeated Assibai. King Assibai paid homage to King Mensa Musa, thus sparing his life. But King Mensa Musa took two(2) sons: Ali and Sulieman as royal hostages. The boys were in captivity for decades until the death of Mensa Musa. They broke free and founded the Songhai Empire. Ali the older brother became king.

The Songhai people honored Ali with the Gao word: “SOONI” (pronounced as- Zoo-ni which means in Gao “to remove somebody from water. To rescue from drowning) . The prefix- “soo” means to remove. And the suffix- -“ni” pronounced as “nee” means – water, rain or river. Other examples of Gao language as repository exist in history books. Niger- “good/ delicious water, became a Country. ‘”Bani” is another Gao word I came across while reading West African history. It is a used by the Gao people to describe the area where the Niger River split up to form a huge tributary- moat city in the middle of the river. Once again, the prefix
“Ba” pronounced as bah means “father” , the suffix- ni as stated above means, water, rain or river. Hence. “Bani” means father of rivers. This is a brief overview of KWA PEOPLES contributions to West African history that many are not aware of.

Recommendation

There is a need for African nations, especially Western African nations, to invest in Research within their respective University History Departments, to conduct an in-depth studies and understanding of precolonial African History. Western scholars did well, considering, that most of them didn’t understand nor speak the languages in Africa and yet they were able to develop volumes upon volumes of text books on African History. We have an obligation as African scholars, to write the ‘true’ History about Africa.

Map of West Africa
Map of West Africa

According to some Western historians and such medium as britannica.com, Kwa languages are classified as a branch of the family consisting of 45 languages spoken by approximately 20 million people in the southern areas of Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Ghana, Togo, and Benin in the extreme southwestern corner of Nigeria .

Yes indeed, the KWA groupings in Liberia, are genetically and linguistically linked to the Igo, Ashanti, Akan, Yoruba, etc., Dr. Barry Fell & Edo Nyland were correct in their research when they reflected in the following: “Igbo is in the family of Niger-Congo languages called Kwa by European linguists, which includes many Nigerian and West African languages like Ashanti, Akan, Yoruba and Benin (Edo).

Igbo Mask -- Courtesy of University of Iowa
Igbo Mask — Courtesy of University of Iowa

Igbo, I find to be closest to the original mother of that language family. In fact my finding is that in order to not let the Igbo know that it was their language that birthed the others, the linguists invented the word Kwa, which was originated from Akwa Nshi (Igbo for ‘First People’, also the local name of the Nigerian monoliths that represent First People on the planet (http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~legneref/igbo/discussion2.htm).

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots ( Marcus Garvey).

Sources:

Davidson, Basil, 1966, Africa in HistoryDeGraft-Johnson, J. C., 1954, African Glory – The Story of Vanished Negro Civilizations

De Villiers, Marq & Hirtle, Sheila, 2007, Timbuktu

Harris, Joseph E., 1972, Africans and their History

Mckissack, Patricia & Fredrick, 1994, The Royal kingdom of Ghana, Mali and Songhay – Life in Medieval Africa

Robinson, Calvin R, Edward W; Battle, Redman 1987, The Journey of the Songhai People

Edmund Bargblor
Author Edmund Bargblor

About The Author:

Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an educator. He is a graduate of Cuttington University in Liberia, Howard University in the United States, and the Israel Institute of Technology. He is a former deputy managing director of the National Port Authority of Liberia. He can be reached at Ezbargblor@aol.com