Picking up the Pieces: Changing ideas & changing the way of life in Liberia
By: Ophelia S. Lewis

For those who desire freedom, Liberia is a land of promise, not a promised land. When Africans in their despairs were being removed from their homes by slave traders and while Africa was being divided by European powers, our tiny beloved Liberia stood alone as an independent state upon a continent of western colonies. The division of Africa would have been an accomplished fact in which Liberia could not have had a place. When the British held Sierra Leone to the west while the French held Ivory Coast to the east as well as Guinea to the north, our tiny beloved Liberia stood alone as an independent state. We also give accounts of the many struggles between the black-skin and brown-skin Africans, settlers and tribesmen, and the distressing difficulties of acceptance of one another. How can anyone not agree that Liberia's story is an impressive one of fortitude?

We have fought our wars, we have died, we have cried, we have mourned; now we must pick up the pieces and strive to put every Liberian life back together. Each of us must set the pace for others to follow, to become a part of the solution rather than a part of the problem. We must each challenge ourselves to make a positive difference in a Liberian life. It is up to us, Liberians, to build a nation of national consciousness.

We must pick up the piece of hope and dream of a better tomorrow for us and our children so that our universities, colleges and trade schools will engage in accepting students' applications for higher learning rather than being used as a place of shelter from stray bullets. We must give our children, Liberia's future builders, an equal chance to make changes for Liberia's growth in years to come. We must keep hope alive!

We must pick up the piece of joy and celebrate the laughter that once echoed with the drifting wind from the Atlantic as the voices of our children were heard from their games in neighborhoods, village yards, city yards, schoolyards and playgrounds. Playing together is a fundamental tool in learning to get along; in building togetherness so that when children grow up to become adults they can respect one another.

We must pick up the piece of prosperity and dare to travel the many roads to accomplish our needs of becoming teachers, taxi drivers, auto mechanics, small business owners, carpenters, governors, clerks, electricians, secretaries, journalists, doctors, rubber tapers, nurses, police officers, farmers, market vendors, ministers of the gospel, senators, soldiers, lawyers, writers, musicians, tailors, plumbers, artists, etc, etc, etc.

We must pick up the piece of pride and help to build Liberia into a nation that will compete with the rest of the world in economic growth, sports, science, and research for the benefit of mankind. We can build manufactories, create jobs, export merchandise and acquire wealth thru honest hard work. Liberia is blessed with many natural resources. How wonderful it would be to have malls or shopping centers built in every nook and spot throughout Liberia. Not just in Monrovia. If we build it, people will use it! Some may say that I am a dreamer, but I can assure you that I am not the only Liberian dreamer. Every human can appreciate things that somehow accommodate his or her needs.

We must pick up the piece of dignity and have our beloved Lone Star wave along side flags of other great nations of the world and be recognized as a people wearing the well-deserved badge of honor and respect. Our presence, along with our voices, must reflect the need for basic human rights in our country as well as around the world. We must stand up and be counted as peacemakers, not as abusers of human lives in meaningless wars.

We must pick up the piece of unity and consider our ethnic heritage as one; we must address our uncompromising conservatism of tribalism and embrace each other as one people with the common goal to continue the legacy of our brave mothers and fathers who sacrificed their lives for ours. Working together, Liberians are capable of acquiring greatness on God's planet earth.

We must pick up the piece of faith, regardless of your belief, Christian or Muslim, and treat each other, as you would like to be treated. We must be able to open the doors of our place of worship with eagerness to praise God/Allah together rather than with fear that it could become a place of massacre.

Our Progress or our Past? Liberians are faced with the same dilemma confronting people throughout the world - illiteracy, illness, poverty, human rights, opportunities and uncertainties. Why should the achievement of a better life for every Liberian seem hopeless when our struggle is not against outside factors? In Liberia, it should not be hate and segregation that must determine our future. We ought to use positive influence to create a good life for every Liberian in every community. Liberia will grow when each Liberian can produce something beyond his own needs. I believe in Liberia's progress because I have acknowledged Liberia's past, so success in Liberia is foreseeable. If not us, then our children will make this possible!
To be a Liberian means that you are a star, a Lone Star, unique in every way and by all measure, special. Liberty children, Lone Stars, where are you?


About the author:
OPHELIA S. LEWIS is from the noble city of Monrovia. A poet, essayist, fiction writer, and entrepreneur/publisher, she is the founder and CEO of Village Tales Publishing, based in Georgia, USA. She has published her own work, a book composed of poems and essays, My Dear Liberia, and two books of poetry, See My Heart and Journeys of My Heart. She is finishing up a short story collection with a thematic concern for positive African cultural settings. Websites: and Contact author at: