T. Q. Harris, Jr.
In the neighborhood where I grew up Superman was the handyman who, between periods of extreme intoxication, told stories of his exploits as a fighter pilot in wars that never happened, or the many awards he received from imaginary U.S. presidents. In fact, I don’t believe he ever left the county. The name Superman, I suppose, he earned for fixing things; or, was it because of the cheap highly potent liquor he drank almost daily? Regardless, as children, we loved listening to his stories.
During one of the storytelling sessions, Superman made a profound statement which, as an 8-year old, I lacked the capacity to understand but never forgot. Years later the meaning would become clear as I realized my country had been drifting aimlessly like a ship without a rudder.
As I recall, this is what Superman said: “If today the sun did not come up people in this country would not have gotten out of bed.” This implied that Liberians did not operate on a schedule and the government had no plan for running the country. Since becoming involved in Liberian politics I have often reflected on the words of this lowly man who no doubt understood the problem quite well though many considered him a drunk.
Now election season is upon us and, yet again, the focus has turned to personalities rather than the issues impacting our lives. As you are aware, this will be the second presidential and legislative elections since the end of the brutal war in 2003 that killed tens of thousands of Liberians and destroyed the electrical grid, water supply, sewer system, roads, bridges, air and sea ports, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches as well as our way of life and everything we had accumulated. Yet there hasn’t been an explanation as to why the war was fought, or who is responsible for the disaster. As a result, there is much uncertainty in the air.
Could the violence again erupt? Why was the duly elected president forcefully removed from office by the international community and taken to jail for crimes he allegedly committed in Sierra Leone; yet nothing has been done about the exact crimes in Liberia? Will the Special Court find Charles Taylor guilty or not? Why were millions of dollars invested in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission only to ignore its recommendations? Can there be sustainable peace in Liberia without justice? What will happen after UNMIL leaves the country? If the candidates are not screened, what is the likely outcome of the 2011 elections? Will anything change?
Perhaps you haven’t yet formulated opinions regarding the issues; if so, you might want to start by asking the following questions: What kind of country do I want to live in? What are my personal long-term goals? Where do I see myself 10 years from now? At the current rate of progress, where will Liberia be in 10 years? The answers will help you in selecting the right candidates. Besides, if you are going to decide the future of this nation shouldn’t you at least know where you want to go?
I would like to share some of the reasons for my decision to seek the Presidency: 1. I believe there will be no significant progress as long as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf or a former leader of an armed faction or anyone who directly supported an armed faction is the president. These individuals must step aside for the sake of progress; 2. I believe it is imperative the economy is expanded and diversified with the goal of creating a vibrant LIBERIAN MIDDLECLASS within 15 to 20 years; 3. I believe education must be given highest priority with the goal of achieving 98% literacy within 30 years; 4. I believe Liberia’s moral foundation must be strengthened and special attention given to creating a national identity; 5. I believe corruption must be reduced by at least 90% within five years; and 6. I believe there must be total restructure of government with the goal of transforming Liberia into a post modern international financial center and an active laboratory for Green Technologies. Log into TQ Harris Vision for the New Liberia: www.tqharrisforpresident.com/TQ_Vision.html
We have a plan for the transformation of Liberia that everyone can rally around. It presents a clear picture of what Liberia is capable of achieving under the right leadership. Going forward we must have a well-defined agenda for nation building, because Liberians have lost out on numerous opportunities due to uncertainty as to where the country is headed.
It has been almost forty years since Superman’s comment regarding Liberia’s lack of direction; sadly, today his words still ring true. It is high time the right people are put into office so Liberians will no longer get out of bed because the sun came up; rather we will rise each morning with passion, purpose and goals to fulfill! This, however, will depend upon the decisions you make this election. Remember, your vote will affect the lives of 3.5 million people. We hope you take this responsibility seriously.
The Author: T. Q. Harris, Jr. is a member of the Free Democratic Party (of Liberia) who is expected to be a Presidential candidate in the 2011 Election. Mr. Harris in 1997 was the Vice Presidential nominee of his Party. He is currently the Chairman of Liberian Contempt UPS. To get more information: http://www.tqharrisforpresident.com/; http://www.friendsoftq.org/; http://ssomail.charter.net/do/mail/message/mailto?to=liberia1%40charter.net; and Phone: (562) 256-4271 Liberia: (231) 6 538827