A prominent Liberian has described as unconscionable for any nation on earth, it is wrong and unacceptable; in spite of “our superficial differences in identities, the fact is that if Liberia cannot care for Liberians – if Liberians cannot find, at home, in the land of their birth, the best chances to succeed in life – no country will care for Liberians more, and no country will provide more for a Liberian success.
According to Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, also, too many of our citizens, like you, our graduates, who now hunger for, and have earned the right, to the opportunities they need to lift themselves and their parents out of the claws of poverty, are finding the opportunities unfairly restricted and difficult to come by.
He said, this does not mean that every Liberian will work in the government. But it means every Liberian, to the extent that they are ready to work hard, as well as discipline and invest in themselves, they must be enabled to own and participate fully in their economy, and have their interests prioritized in the management of and benefits from the natural wealth of the country. At the heart of it, this really is why nations exist – to provide the best possibilities for all of the citizens of a nation.
Cummings added that perhaps the failing of the nation, and the lack of equality in opportunity to all of our citizens, are best exemplified, in how our leaders are placing and prioritizing the interests of citizens of other countries over the interests and concerns of Liberians.
Like your arduous journey to this graduation will prove, there will also be no shortcuts to turn our nation around. No one will do it for us. No one must do it for us. On the evidence of the numerous failing grades in the government’s report card, we are forced to conclude that our leaders are not up to the tasks we have assigned to them. They have not just failed us but they continue to show they lack the competence and capacity to learn from their failures, and to do the right things for the country.
They continue to divide, deny and receive. Rather than the broader focus on building a nation, they are hells bent on building what they like to call a “mighty party” but what they really mean is a commitment to generate ill-gotten wealth for themselves and their friends as they render the country poorer, and drain the nation of hope, Cummings noted.
On this day of joy for what you have diligently achieved, it is with a heavy heart that I pronounce to you, what many of you perhaps already know: All is not well beyond the walls of your school.
A struggling nation is not as yet ready to receive you with the opportunities you truly deserve, as a failing administration has lost its way, and too many of our people are suffering for the want of opportunity.
This brings me to my second point: You do not have to fail yourself because our leaders are failing us. You – each of you – today, and always, can choose to be different.
Along with the education you have received, may I urge you to adapt a set of values and principles that may seem uncommon, and even naive, to have at this time in the country. But I still urge you to do so, and to hold it so dear to yourself that you will not allow yourselves to compromise it.
These include being honest, including to yourself, and demand nothing less of others with whom you are to interact. Hold yourself in high regard and to as high a standard as possible. Respect all persons but by no means must you put yourself down for anyone in demanding respect for yourself.
Never forget that our souls are priceless and therefore also must be the values with which we must cherish our thoughts, decisions and expressions. Guard all of these jealously so that they do not fall to the cheapness of manipulations and deceptions.
The ANC Political Leader informed the grauates that “in your life’s undertakings, settle not for anything other than giving only the best of yourself. Be truthful, especially to yourself, about what you can and cannot do; and then whatever you know you are capable of doing, do it to convince that no one can and will do it better. Always stand, if even alone, for that which is just and right, because in the end, however long, right will prevail over wrong.
As it is often said, tough times don’t last – tough characters do. Toughen your character so that you do not bend easily and fall for everything. Embrace new opportunities to learn because it will constantly refresh and improve your value.
In the end, however you may choose to worship, trust God. Believe in His divine ways and extend goodness to all of God’s creation. Keep an open mind, and be just and fair to all, in the pursuits of your dreams and ambitions he said.
Finally, he explains, my friends, let me tell you a story of a boy from Point Four, on Bushrod Island. Everyone called him Junior Boy. He was the 3rd of 4 children. His father was an educator and an Episcopal priest, and his mother was a midwife and a business woman. His early school years began at the government-owned Monrovia Demonstration Elementary School, on Clay Street. He used to love to play football but never really became good at it. Early in his school days, he knew he was really good with numbers.
Narrating further he said, on Camp Johnson Road, where his parents first lived in a small apartment in the Jallah Compound, after which they moved to Point 4, he grew up learning the value of family, not just a family of parents, and sisters or those to whom he was directly related, but family extended to the entire neighborhood and community, as he ran about like every Liberian child, making lifelong friends and feeling at home in his community.
According to him, Junior Boy would make it into the College of West Africa from where he would graduate from high school. He sought and gained enrollment at Cuttington University College in Suakoko, Bong County. He was not the first in his class, but he was never lacking in effort to give his best.
In his 3rd semester at Cuttington, he received a grant to attend Northern Illinois University in the United States from where he obtained his undergraduate degree. He returned home and was employed at the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) from where he would later gain another grant to pursue postgraduate studies, Cummings stated.
He stuck with his love of numbers, and with nothing more than his faith in God, and belief in himself, the boy from Point Four, black and with a foreign accent, would climb a most difficult and improbable ladder, to reach the highest levels in corporate America, lived and worked across some of the best cities in the world, and attained heights beyond his wildest dreams, so far away from home, said ANC’s Political leader..
According to him, today, hardly anyone calls him Junior Boy, and many have forgotten that it all started in Point Four, on Bushrod Island.
Unmasking the saga, Cummings pointed out that “the boy is me”. He intoned that, and while his story is not a common tale, it is also a measure of what is possible for every Liberian child born everywhere in Liberia.
“You see, it doesn’t matter if you come from Point Four or Saclepea – it doesn’t matter if you went to government-owned school or a faith-based institution – if a nation can truly afford the best quality of education to all of our children, they can rise to heights unknown not just in Liberia, but anywhere in the world” Cummings added.
Of course, I am proud to have retired from Coca Cola at the level of Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer, with managing authority over several thousands of international employees as well as a budget of over USD 1billion. And yet, even that does not come close to how proud I am to be a Liberian, and to inspire all Liberians to believe that my story can be the story of many others he indicated.
ANC Political Leader disclosed that this is why, without much noise about what we do, the Cummings Foundation has invested over 1.2 million in health, education, women and youth empowerment, and entrepreneurship across Liberia.
“We do not require anyone we support to be a partisan, or to be from a particular tribe, gender or religion. For me, it only matters that you are a Liberian, and that you are desirous of giving your best efforts to better yourself.
The more we have given – and we will not stop – the more I have realized that firstly, we must do more, for more of our people, and secondly, our people do not desire to be beggars or to be robbed of their dignities. What Liberians seek, like all people everywhere, is a fair and equal chance, to stand up on their own so as to care for themselves and for their families, Cummings stressed.
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