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Liberian Officials Welcome SRDC and the Library Project

This article originally appeared on the Web site

This article gives some details of the agreement between the Liberian grassroots organization known as Sehwah, the African Union, and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) to proceed with the planning and construction of what will be the first-ever Public Library in Liberia, located on a two-acre plot of land in the capital city of Monrovia. The new library will service the nation-states of Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Guinea-Conakry.

Statement from Sehwah Liberia on the Sehwah-SRDC Public Library Project in Monrovia, Liberia

In a 29 January 2019 consultative meeting with The National Arcade Director and full teams, the African Union Ambassador to Liberia and SRDC/Sehwah Liberia representatives held our first discussion to harmonize the public Library and the future sites for the library.

The National Arcade (GOL) and SRDC/Sehwah Liberia Incorporated, and in collaboration with the African Union Regional Office-Monrovia, Liberia organized the National project for Liberia which aimed at discussing the proposed sites for inclusion of the National Public Library Property. The project is to enhance capacity in implementing the education system in Liberia.

Based on the importance and a special need for the first National Public Library to be constructed in Liberia, the African Union ambassador welcomed this project and the plan to fund it from the African Union and the international partners of the AU for Liberia. Successful Finance Planning for the 2 acres of land is designated for the National Public Library in central Monrovia.

February 10, 2019: Mrs. Louise W. McMillian [Siaway], Founder of Sehwah Liberia Incorporated, visited the land for the proposed public library site in Monrovia and discussed a partnership agreement with The National Arcade of Liberia and based on the conversation, the decision was reached for the African Union Ambassador to Liberia to represent the AU for the library in regards to financing the projects for the first public library ever to be built in Liberia. The next step is property analysis for the architectural drafting technical team to design the library base on the land space, etc., associated with the project.

The mission of the National Public Library of Liberia is far reaching and deeply motivated. As a first repository for the Republic’s rich history, it will be a beacon of knowledge, unity and inspiration for all. This Library will be a state of the art complex.

“The historic Liberia Public Library will be vibrant community buildings for peace and security for the country and will embrace the opportunity to observe, interact, and consider human events in the realm of ideas that will empower the people to make a difference in their communities and socially impact the nation with the pride and self-esteem of a modern nation to contribute meaningfully to the development agenda. SRDC will provide technical support.” (Statement from the African Union Ambassador)

The African Union (AU) Ambassador to Liberia, Ibrahim M. Kamara, has said the Union is satisfied with the level of peace and security in the country since the end of the 14-year civil conflict. Kamara also said it is the responsibility of the AU to support the development agenda of Liberia, which is a founding member of the body, in the name of Pan-African solidarity.

The Ambassador recounted that the National Public Library will play a significant role in Liberia to ensure that the peace and security the country now enjoys is continued.

SRDC (Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus) is a 501 (C-3) legally registered civil society organization based in Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California. The primary purpose of SRDC is to help bring the African Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union, and individual African countries, which will be mutually beneficial to Africa and to the Diaspora. Examples of such partnerships include the current project to build a new public library in Liberia, on-going efforts to encourage and work with groups like AFRICARE and the ASI (African Scientific Institute) to provide free technical training to African youth, gaining Diaspora membership in the African Union, working with the Pan African Parliament, etc. The SRDC promotes diplomatic training and engagement among African-descendent youth, endorses and supports the accomplishment of the AU’s AGENDA 2063, and sees itself as a positive representative and spokesman for Pan African unification.

The SRDC believes that working collaboratively; we are stronger in our quest to restore dignity, respect and sustainable development on the African continent and in the Diaspora. This group with support from Partners intends to construct a National Public Library for the benefit of thousands of residents of Montserrado County, and other counties and locals within the territorial boundary of the Country.

The Liberian Delegation Officially Announces the Commencement of the Library Project

On Day Two of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) 12th Annual International Summit, held October 25-26, 2019 in Charleston, South Carolina, the crowning achievement of the weekend was realized: the official designation of the Sehwah-SRDC Liberia Library Project. With assistance from a cooperative arrangement between Sehwah, a grassroots Pan-Afrikan organization in Liberia; the African Union; and the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC), the country’s first ever Public Library is now slated to be built on a two-acre tract of land in the capital city of Monrovia provided by the government of the Republic of Liberia.

Ms. Louise Siaway is Executive Director of Sehwah-Liberia. Over the last year, as Sehwah has solidified its cooperative arrangement with SRDC, Liberia is now home to the first SRDC organization on the Afrikan Continent, complete with an office space that has yet to be fully furnished and placed into operation. She is a former Assistant Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism in the administration of former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Ms. Siaway has been negotiating with the African Union on the need to work cooperatively with SRDC to construct what will be the first public library in Liberia.

“The strengthening of the relationship between SRDC and Afrika is working. With an office in Liberia, it is now a topic of SRDC in the Continent. So, we would like to call on the [Liberian] government representative for land. The government of Liberia gave two acres of land to SRDC’s project for the public library in Liberia,” she said as she introduced the National Archive Director-General of Liberia, Mr. C. Neileh Daitouah.

Mr. Daitouah made the official presentation of a deed to two acres of land in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, to Ms. Siaway.

“I bring you greetings on behalf of His Excellency, George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia and the government and the lovely people of Liberia. … We are delighted about the invitation extended to us to participate in the 12th Annual Conference of the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus … to bring together the Afrikan Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union. This endeavor of partnership is a laudable initiative toward regional integration and sustainable development. …

“As the 2019 Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus seeks to stimulate a constructive dialog, knowledge sharing, and formulation of a new social and cultural economy, and strategic efforts to bring the Afrikan Diaspora into a working partnership with the African Union and further highlights a part of its objective …

“And we underscore the importance of the objectives for this conference, that is to the sustainable development of individual Afrikan countries and further set the stage for the opportunity to share with you fellow participants, our initiative and exciting efforts to seek to promote and improve the educational center of Liberia, especially with what has to do with library development in Liberia.

“The lack of a modern library in Liberia is a serious impediment to the educational needs of the people in Liberia. As we have come to see, a public library is a powerhouse for acquiring knowledge. …

“We have been holding discussions with Ms. Louise Siaway, Executive Director of Sehwah-SRDC. She is a former Assistant Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism [in the administration of] Her Excellency, [former] President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and who has been negotiating with the African Union on our behalf, on the need to construct a worthy public library in Liberia and have as one component a Presidential Library that will profile the civic and vital accomplishments of past and present presidents of the Republic of Liberia for our present and future generations to know the role played and the accomplishments of their former and present presidents. …

“The African Union has agreed to construct the [national] library … and the government of Liberia will require that the land available is suitable land for said construction. …

“Subsequently, we received the letter of confirmation from the Liberian Land Authority about the availability of land for the construction of the public library in Liberia by the African Union in partnership with SRDC.

“On behalf of the government of Liberia, we are pleased to present that aforementioned letter of confirmation of land. …

“On this note, it is my honor to invite the Director of Sehwah to receive from us on behalf of the government of Liberia, the letter confirming the availability of two acres of land.

“As we conclude, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we look forward to the realization of a dream come true. The construction of a Public National Library in Liberia by Afrikans working in partnership with SRDC. Thank you and may God bless you all. Liberia is home for all Black Afrikans.”

Ms. Siaway then invited the Minister/Counselor for the Liberian Embassy and the SRDC leadership to the podium.

“I would like to call on our Assistant Ambassador, Dr. Horne and the leadership of SRDC. This is the official turning over of the deed to SRDC and to let you know that the government of Liberia and AU, African Union, welcome the Children of Afrika. And all of our delegation from Liberia, Sehwah-Liberia, are honored to present this, like we said last year: Bridging the Gap Between Us.”

Ms. Sophia Togba Mawle, Minister Counselor of the Liberian Embassy, representing the Liberian Ambassador to the United States, The Honorable George S. W. Patten Sr., officially presented the Land Deed to SRDC’s International Facilitator, Professor David L. Horne.

“Indeed, we need to come together as one. For the common good of our people. Indeed, we need to raise up our hands, in our collective, to raise up and run with this vision. We are here, and we are here in our capacity to support this effort. …

“Indeed, it is an honor, on behalf of the government of the Republic of Liberia to present at this time, to the leadership and members of Sehwah, to Dr. David L. Horne, the Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus in the Americas, we want to take this time to present to you this deed. … We want to raise our hand to say, We are one from the Motherland, and we are going to build the Motherland to our collective. We want to present this deed; even as you galvanize the resources, even as we go about this vision, we know that it will come to reality in the Republic of Liberia, this Library Project that will serve the sub-region – Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea [Conakry], Ivory Coast. Yes, We Can!”

Discussion of the Liberia Library Project and the January 2019 Visit of SRDC to Monrovia, Liberia

Mr. Nvasekie Konneh, Public Relations Officer for Sehwah-Liberia, then made a more detailed presentation about the future public library, including photographs of the prospective building, the land that has been prepared for the construction, and the recent visit by Prof. Horne, Bro. Kumasi Palmer, Bro. Fred Lincoln and Sis. Deborah Wright as representatives of SRDC to Liberia to commemorate and celebrate this important new partnership.

“Today, I have come humble in my stance but progressive in my thoughts about a vision of unity and connectivity concerning our cause as Afrikan people. The SRDC must come together with us and accept the view that the continent of Africa is ours and not allow others to do more than us. This vision has already been casted and we must all own it so as to move forward as a people, united in progress.

“We must treat the continent of Afrika and its people just as the Jews from all over the world consider the state of Israel as their home.

“We should not sit on the sideline and complain about other groups of people investing on the continent and extracting the natural resources of this great continent. Today, everybody is talking about China, or Russia. Everybody’s coming to Afrika, right? To extract resources for, I guess they would say, our mutual benefit, but most likely it may benefit them more than us. But we, the sons and daughters of Afrika, those who have come from the Afrikan Continent, and the Afrikan Diaspora in America and the Caribbean, we must come together [for] building for our own benefit.

“We have to be part of those who will make history and not watch as history is written.

“Our contribution will be noted and generations yet unborn will see that we have provided them a cultural inheritance that has no monetary value. Let me say that as we gather here today, we have to take a seat at the African dinner table of development and cooperation amongst our brothers and sisters.

“Through this movement, we must go back and educate our children about our connection to the African continent and the Diaspora as a whole, meaning the partnership that exists between the native Afrikans and the Afrikan Diaspora must be taught to our children on both sides of the Atlantic so that the children of Afrika will know the connection and the children over here will understand the connection.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of misconception … particularly among young people. I remember years ago, when I was in the US Navy. I served many years in the US Navy, I served on two battleships, and I was stationed in Philadelphia, but I realized there’s a lot of misconception. Many times, when I come home around Afrikan people, I hear some thing they say about Afrikan Americans, and when I come among my Afrikan American Brothers and Sisters I hear them say something about native Afrikans. And it disturbs me. And I feel like there is a lot of communication that is needed for all of us to understand and to work together as one people for one common agenda.

“SEHWAH Liberia is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainable development, through building cultural heritages initiative and advocacy for women and children in Liberia. So, our partnership with SRDC is geared toward promoting this kind of development agenda for both our areas. Because I believe, for a lot of Afrikan Americans, you feel the deep connection to the land of your birth. There’s a lot of great people that have done a lot of great work, for this connectivity we are having today. I’m a writer. And I can go back to Accra or Johannesburg and … coming to today, we have to understand that there is a lot of good work that is being done; we are only building on the foundation that has been laid by other people before us. Whether it was Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, their vision is the same one we are building today. I remember several years ago, when Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan organized the African and African American Summit; I was here when the first one was here. … So, that work has been going on for a while, and Sehwah is coming to continue the work that has been going on for all these many years.

“Last year Dr. Horne and a delegation from SRDC went to Liberia, and we attended the SRDC program last year in Baltimore to basically bring us together for one common purpose. And as you said here today, this library project must be brought to reality for future benefit.

“This is the land that is being demarcated for the library project in Liberia. That’s the land where the library is to be built in Monrovia.

“And this is the “blueprint” [a proposed version] of the library.

“As you can see here, Dr. Horne is being greeted by the joyous people of Liberia, celebrating the arrival of his delegation.

“Making reference to 1822. What some of you may not know, after the Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, some Afrikan Americans decided to go back to Afrika to start a country. And though there might have been a lot of negative things about the coming together of the native Afrikans and the Afrikan Americans, but a good thing is that we have a nation called Liberia as a result of it. Coming together. And we will also have to understand it took a lot of sacrifices for the people to leave everything they had known for hundreds of years to go back to Afrika, to an unknown situation, When people who have been separated for hundreds of years come together, sometimes you can have some commotion, some misunderstanding, but at the end of the day, we have the Republic of Liberia today.

“This is more of the interaction between Dr. Horne and Liberians [enjoying] Sehwah’s program, which was a very elaborate program with government officials, the former vice president of Liberia was present, as you can see here.

“There’s a saying that a picture says a thousand words. So, for all of us here that are seeing the slide show here with all of these pictures, be assured that the relationship between Sehwah and SRDC is well cemented in our history. These are art and cultural artifacts that are on display at the occasion as well. Cultural dancers in Liberia serenading the delegates with beautiful Afrikan songs and dances.

“The wife of the late vice president of Liberia [center of the photo] was also in attendance at the program.

“It means that SRDC visited Liberia last year. It was a high profile event that was covered by the Liberian media. … And of course, there is a lot of enthusiasm in Liberia for this wonderful project. So we would like to extend great thanks to our Executive Director Ms. Louise Siaway for having the vision to initiate such a project, and we would also like to show our appreciation to the members and leadership of SRDC for deciding to partner with us to undertake such a wonderful project.

“SEHWAH Liberia and Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) initiated a partnership in Liberia for the purpose of strengthening engagements with stakeholders in Africa and Diaspora.

“2018, we had the honor to enter into partnership agreement for sustainable Development on the continent and Diasporas. Both agreed that there are ample opportunities in bringing the African Diaspora into a working partnership between Africa.’Bridging the gaps between ourselves’.

“We all have to be proactive in these endeavors because there is no time to standstill but to create financial, social and moral method to make this journey a success.

“Thank you.”

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