In Honor of the Printing Machine

Hightech stuff, circa 2009. Never used.

Gift of a well-intentioned regional development agency. They incidentally forgot to include a toner – the kind of toners that cannot be found in-country.
The printer has been moved around so much since, that its manual and a power cord have long been lost.

Meanwhile, we shall continue to use this beast’s minuscule distant cousin – the one that spits single-sided papers as fast as if it was digesting them first.

Silver lining: printing is so painful that we’d rather save the trees.

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Happy 164th Independence Day, Liberia!

Liberia is the only country in the world to have gained its independence not from a colonial power, but from an NGO. Imagine the implications this has in terms of statebuilding?”
Hon. Amara Konneh, Liberia’s Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs

After claiming independence from the American Colonization Society in 1847, it sometimes seems that modern Liberia is battling to re-claim its independence from being an “NGO Republic”.
During the war’s 14 years, in the absence of a strong legitimate central government to report to, international NGOs were the ones calling the shots; their emergency relief services much needed by a population fleeing their burning villages and pillaged homes. Continue reading

China in Liberia

“We like the Chinese. At least they don’t interfere in our internal affairs.”
Liberian Public Official

Last week, on our way back from Buchanan (Liberia’s third largest city) our car broke down. We stopped by a nearby village, asking for a mechanic. On the other side of the road, some dozen children gathered, screaming and waving: “Chinee’ woma’! Chinee’ woma’! Come come!” It took me an elbow from a colleague and a translation to realize that the cheers were directed at me. The road we were parked on links Monrovia to Buchanan, and was built with Chinese funding a couple of years back. The Chinese workers on that project were the only non-Liberian people to have stopped by these villages.

Continue reading

Liberia’s coast: with stability will come tourism

560 kms of sandy, mostly unexploited coast, dotted sparsely by fishermen villages. Coconut trees and dense, deep-green vegetation. California-standards surfer waves. 5 hours away from Europe, and a summer season that stretches from December to May.

This, too, is Liberia.

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Photos are of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County (Surf town- Piso Lake on one side, the Atlantic on the other) and CeCe’s beach (and a nearby fishermen spot), Montserrado County.

If the situation remains stable, one day when the world hears Liberia the first thought to come to mind won’t be that of Charles Taylor, crimes against humanity, or helpless refugees – but rather that of a bonfire by the beach to the sound of African drums.