Sunday, October 28, 2007

Last Post Ever

After 16 months we're leaving on the Astreus flight tomorrow. The experience of Liberia has been crazy, and not always enjoyable, but we've seen a lot of positive change in a short time; Liberia's getting better all the time. The city has started paying people to clean up trash, electrical poles are going up all over the place, and soon they're going to start repaving Tubman Blvd. Heck, you can even get cinnamon rolls in the morning now!

I can't wait to see this place in ten years' time. The other day a friend showed us an old postcard of Monrovia from the 1970's and the place looked downright beautiful. Hopefully those days are coming back again. It really depends on the desire of individual Liberians to live in peace with each other. And a lot is riding on the willingness of the diaspora to come home and contribute.

Yesterday out on Old Road I got stuck in a mud bog and couldn't move my company jeep even with the 4WD engaged. I was immediately surrounded by a mob of 20 young men. To be honest, I was a little concerned for my safety. But instead of doing me any ill, without a second's hesitation, the guys volunteered to wade through the mud and push me back to dry land.

When I told her the story, my ladyfriend said, "This country's really changing."

Here's hoping!

Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good Sign for the Economy?

Yesterday morning in the heavy commuter traffic we inched along beside the employee bus from the Ministry of Commerce & Industry and the whole staff was singing together joyfully.

Monday, October 22, 2007

CNN Covers the Female Peacekeepers

Just got this email from our friend Angela who works for one of the big INGOs in Liberia:

I thought that you might be interested in a story shown last night on the CNN International Series “World’s Untold Stories.”

The show aired last night and is largely about the experiences of women and girls during Liberia’s war.

Additionally, India’s female peacekeeping police are prominently featured for their role in training the Liberian police force (men and women).

If you have installed the appropriate software, you can download and view the two parts of the piece at this website: Then go to the piece on Liberia’s Female Peacekeepers! Please feel free to share with all who are interested – it’s a ready made advocacy piece for women and girls in Liberia!

NYU Liberia Event TOMORROW

The NYU Master's Program in Global Public Health presents:
The New National Health Plan & Policy in Liberia: Opportunities
and Challenges in the Reconstruction of a Post-Conflict State


Minister Tornorlah Varpilah
Liberian Deputy Minister of Health for Planning, Research, and Human
Resource Development


Mr. Alexander S. Preker
Lead Economist for Health, Nutrition, and Population, The World Bank

"The vision of the Ministry is a nation with improved health and
social welfare status and equity in health.
We wish to become a model of post-conflict recovery in health and
social welfare." - Minister Tornolah Varpilah

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
12:00 - 1:30pm
NYU Kimmel Center for University Life, Room 910
60 Washington Square South, NYC
Free and Open to the Public

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

To Change the Culture of Work

Liberia is a country where begging someone for money is one of the most common forms of social interaction, and is not looked down upon. People have traditionally looked to government for their daily cup of rice, mainly in the form of civil service jobs, where extra-legal fees can be charged on transactions and whole extended families are fed from the proceeds. Institutions (govt, NGOs, businesses) are commonly seen as fair targets for the extraction of resources for personal gain, and every man's goal is to build or belong to a strong patronage network.

This is all well and good as long as you don't mind perpetual poverty and periodic civil wars. So, in recent days, government ministers and the presidency have been making statements designed to change the way people view their own roles and the role of government. At least in words, they're trying to encourage a culture of entrepreneurship and a rejection of dependency.

Speaking at the graduation exercise of the party's sponsored computer training program, Vice President Boakai said, "Unity Party did not necessarily come to power to provide jobs for the whole country."

However, he maintained that the UP government came to power to provide quality leadership.

He disclosed that there were lots of misunderstanding in Liberia when people vote for a party that wins elections.

He said some of them (voters) can be frustrated over jobs allocation and provision.

Here's more of the article. And if you're interested in this topic, don't miss this short book.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Bednets for Malaria, Yes. But How?

Social marketing, for the uninitiated, is the practice of packaging and selling necessary public health stuff like condoms and essential drugs to change people's behavior for a social good. It was conceived as a way to increase coverage at the margins by targeting those who'd rather buy something than get a handout.

In recent years, groups have been experimenting with social marketing of bed nets, which are seen as an effective way to combat malaria in places like Liberia. Now the WHO is suggesting that it's not working:

Recently, Dr. Arata Kochi, the blunt new director of the World Health Organization’s malaria program, declared that as far as he was concerned, “the debate is at an end.” Virtually the only way to get the nets to poor people, he said, is to hand out millions free.

“The time for social marketing of bed nets in a big way is over,” Dr. Kochi said in an interview. “It can become a supplemental strategy for urban areas and middle-income countries.”

NYT link.

And here's an interesting discussion of the issue at our favorite econ blog, Marginal Revolution.

Call to Write the IMF on the Liberia Debt Issue

Center for Global Development is at it again, sticking up for Liberia in Washington:

And what of the foreign debt? Most was borrowed by Samuel Doe in the early 1980s, and has not been paid since 1984. With penalty interest, Liberians today are stuck with the bill: $4.5 billion, equivalent to a massive 3,000 percent of exports, the highest ratio in the world. The major creditors all have pledged to forgive Liberia’s debts, but the process is stuck at the IMF, where the Board has been debating for a full year how to share the costs of the write-off. A solution seems at hand, but it isn’t done yet, and meanwhile Liberia must wait (if you feel so moved, write this week to the Managing Director of the IMF (email and ask for fast action to resolve Liberia’s debt crisis).

Thanks Sarah and Paul for the link.

Monday, October 08, 2007

$5.7m in New Aid from Germany

MONROVIA (AFP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised Liberia four million euros (5.7 million dollars) to rebuild the country ravaged by civil war as she wrapped up her first sub-Saharan Africa trip on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Govt Signs $65.7m Agreement With USAID

Meanwhile, the United States government has assured the Liberian government that, "it is estimated that, subject to the availability of funds, USAID will provide an additional US$75,611,000 in fiscal year 2008 for a grand total of US$141,352,441."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

UN Cuts Back Liberia Peace Force

The United Nations Security Council has extended the UN peacekeeping force's mandate in Liberia for a year. But the council decided to reduce the 14,000-strong UN Mission in Liberia (Unmil) by almost 20%, and also to cut back the 1,000-strong UN police.

Thanks again for the link, Nicolas. They will continue to extend on a year-by-year basis. I wonder how long they'll ultimately stay. We were just talking about this the other day; I'm hoping for another three years at least.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Congress Rejects Bill to Seize Taylor's Assets

MONROVIA (AFP) — Liberian lawmakers have shot down a bill to allow the seizure of the assets of former president Charles Taylor -- standing trial for war crimes -- and his aides, a parliamentary official said Sunday.

Isaac Red, spokesman of the House of Representatives said the proposed bill was unconstitutional.

"The parliament had so many problems with that bill," Red said.

Thanks Nicolas for the link.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Nice Web Media Project

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has a great new blog with lots of human interest stories about Liberians here and abroad. Their team is currently on the ground in Liberia.

Don't miss their short movie about soccer players in Staten Island.

And let me take this chance to thank the Pulitzer Center for getting these important stories out. In an era where most media outlets say they can't afford cover international news in depth, the Pulitzer Center steps in and provides the funding to get reporters into the field, without even demanding any editorial control. If you're a reporter and you have a good international reporting project for funding, check out their guidelines.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Staten Island Liberians Story in the NYT

Thanks for the link, Paulo.

Monday, September 10, 2007

NYC TRC Sessions

In New York; The Staten Island Liberian Community Association, Inc. (SILCA), and The Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Diaspora Project will present a Workshop with the Republic of Liberia TRC Commissioner Massa Washington. The organizers are encouraging all Liberians and Friends and Liberia within the Staten Island and Tri- State areas to attend.

PLACE: African Dance Hall
(Opposite CitiBank on Bay St.)
568 Bay St., Staten Island, NY 10304
DATE: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007
TIME: 11am - 5pm
Admission Is Free! Refreshment Will Be Served!
CONTACTS: Telee Brown 718-496-7492; TRC 1-800- 799- 3688; R. Arkoi 917-365-7903


P.S. I talk once in a while to expats who work with the TRC, and they all reluctantly admit that there seems to be little public support for it in Liberia. We in the international community are all for the TRC idea, and many consultants and lawyers are shipped over to make it happen, but Liberians themselves aren't real enthusiastic, as far as I can tell.

First Post-War Diamonds Shipped

A shipment valued at about $222,000 left Liberia last week, government spokesman Laurence Bropleh said. He declined to name the exporting company or give details on the shipment's destination. The Liberian government received a royalty of about $6,000 from the shipment, said Gabriel Williams, a deputy government spokesman.
"This amount may look small but we have to start from somewhere," Williams said.

A Night Club in Monrovia

Thanks to DJ Alex.

Friday, September 07, 2007

More Charges Against Chuckie

MIAMI: The son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor now faces five counts of torture after a U.S. grand jury added four counts related to his alleged activities in Africa.

U.S.-born Charles McArthur Emmanuel, also known as Chuckie Taylor, was charged with one count of torture last year. Now he also faces related charges, including a count each of conspiracy to torture, use of a firearm in a violent crime and conspiracy to use a firearm in a violent crime.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Millennium Villages Coming to Liberia

I have it from an unimpeachable source that the controversial Millennium Villages project is coming soon to Liberia, probably first to Kokoya District, Bong County, and later to somewhere in the Southeast, per the president's request. The proposal is still in draft form.

Here's an excerpt from a blistering critique of the MV project that appeared recently in Harper's Magazine. And here's discussion from one of the greatest econ blogs, Marginal Revolution.

Ban on Child Street Sellers: Good or Bad?

BBC radio this AM had a story about the EJS government announcing it will now start to enforce a ban on underage street sellers. In Monrovia, many busy corners are clogged with kids selling gum, candy, socks, pillows, brooms, whatever, and it's really depressing to see. But my first thought was, "Uh-oh. What will be the social costs of this decision?"

Let's start from the assumption that we all believe that children should be in school, and should not out on the street, working or otherwise. Then let's try to get into the heads of the policymakers, consider the options before them. My goal here is pure harm reduction.

Givens: People are extremely poor, school is supposed to be free but there are always unaffordable hidden fees for uniforms and such, unemployment is 80% or more, and for a variety of reasons children are the main breadwinners in many families.

Now, should the government choose to enforce a ban on child street selling?


  • Might reduce rural-to-urban migration of youth, an important national goal.
  • Might get more kids into school by forcing the hand of parents who favor income over education.
  • Gets kids off the street, or at least some of them.
  • Shows that the government is serious about education.
  • Hurts kids who can't afford school; might increase child hunger and mortality.
  • Government has no capacity to enforce the rule that school is supposed to be free.
  • Might increase the crime rate. [I have no doubt, here.]
  • Cops will go nuts and start beating and stealing from kids left and right.
If you can wade through all the nonsense, this story in The Analyst gets to some of the gray areas.


Oh, and apparently EJS is also backing that ridiculous ban on wigs at school.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Government Builds Wall Around Palm Grove Cemetery

I' m sure it was a cost issue, but it would have been much prettier if they could have put a fence around the cemetery. Suddenly one of the most interesting features of the Monrovia cityscape is hidden behind a big ugly concrete wall [and since the photo was taken], topped with razor wire. Chris Herwig photo.

Surfing Liberia Story in Time Magazine

Link here. Thanks Johnny.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bad Idea: Executive Wants to Appoint Mayors

I can't find much online, but BBC radio says that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf wants to be able to appoint the mayors in towns across the country.

[She] has been lobbying with the legislature to allow her [to] appoint local government officials for now because [she argues] there is no money for elections. [Opposition parties say] the attempt to appoint municipal and chieftaincy officials violated the Liberian constitution.

It's true there's no money for elections, but this is madness. It goes against the whole decentralization effort. Talking about it the other night, our French friend said, "They tried that in France, and that's when we had a revolution."

Friday, August 31, 2007

Road Show in Monrovia

From an email:

UNMIL Public Information/Community Outreach is launching a new initiative - Boutini Road Show - a mixture of music, comedy and dance to be held at densely populated spots in Monrovia weekly or bi-weekly. This Show will be launched by the Liberian Deputy Minister of Defence at 16-00hrs on Friday, 31August at Monco Business Centre.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

"Dialogue for Democracy" in Monrovia: Sept 5th 2007

Liberia Democracy Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy (US NGO) are holding a 7th edition of the “Dialogue for Democracy” series, under the theme: “Towards an Effective Criminal Justice System: Law Enforcement versus the Protection of Civil Liberties”.

Venue: Conference Hall, Ministry of Gender & Development

Gurley Street, Monrovia

Date: Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Time: 10:00 AM -2:20 P.M.

Thanks Shelby for the tip.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Electricity Event at US Embassy Thursday

Monday, August 27, 2007

HIV Prevalence Lower Than Feared...Maybe

According to the new report, "Of the 1.5 percent national prevalence rate, there is high percentage among females, which stands at 1.8 percent, while males accounts for 1.2 percent. There is a higher prevalence rate in urban areas, especially Monrovia, [the capital] than the rural zones."
Less than 2% prevalence is low compared to neighboring countries. But there's considerable doubt about the results.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Call For PeaceCorps to Return

Thanks Callista for the link to this pretty convincing argument for the US PeaceCorps to come back and assist in shoring up the education and health systems:

  • Liberia was one of the first Peace Corps countries and one of the most successful programs for 27 years.
  • More than 3,000 Peace Corps volunteers and staff members served in Liberia.
  • Liberians, especially the new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, consider Peace Corps one of the most effective development groups ever to work in Liberia.
  • Peace Corps educators helped to make Liberia’s schools some of the best in West Africa, from primary through university.

Cabinet Reshuffle Details

The new foreign minister is Olubanka King Akerele, a former minister of commerce and United Nations diplomat with 20 years' experience, a statement said.

The country's Justice Minister Frances Johnson Morris has been moved to the ministry of commerce, while the former foreign affairs minister George Wallace becomes special adviser to Johnson-Sirleaf.
And something happened at the Ministry of Gender and Development, too. Anyone know the details?

AP Story.

Wow This is Stupid

MONROVIA, Liberia: The attempt to bring normalcy back to this war-recovering West African country was extended to girls' hairstyles Friday with a nationwide ban on weaves or hair extensions for students, education officials said.

"Things are rapidly going out of hand and we have to arrest the situation," said Education Minister Joseph Korto. "Girls wearing weaves and attachments pay more attention to their looks than to their lesson."

The penalty for breaking the rules is a US$1,000 (€735) fine.

Full story.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

World Bank Gives $37m for Ag & Infrastructure

The World Bank has agreed to finance Liberia's $37 million Agriculture and Infrastructure Development Project, which will entail the rejuvenation of the country's infrastructural capacity and agricultural development initiatives. According to Liberian finance minister Antoinette Sayeh, the project will also cover other initiatives, such as improving the management of the National Port authority, the rehabilitation of a water treatment plant in Monrovia, and the reconstruction of and maintenance of major roads and bridges in the region. The grant was given to Liberia in response to the nation's call for emergency funds, largely for the reinstatement and repair of war-damaged infrastructure. (Source: World Bank gives U.S. $37 million for old bridge, others/The Inquirer)

Breaking: Reshuffle!

BBC radio says there's been a big cabinet reshuffle in the Johnson-Sirleaf Administration.

P.S. NPR radio has a feature story this morning on the end of Temporary Protected Status for Liberians in the USA.

Liberia and the 'Resource Curse'

According to this BBC piece, there's a new report by something called Partnership Africa Canada, urging the government to use this historic moment to unshackle Liberian resource exploitation from Americo-Liberian minority control.

The government feels pressure to get industries up and running immediately. But there is a danger, the report says, that many of the elite "see the return of peace as simply a chance to return to business as usual, an opportunity to recreate the Liberia they and their forebears knew, and exploited, for more than a century".

Amputee Soccer Video at Wall Street Journal

The Amputee Football Federation of Liberia is a single, small answer to one of the most intractable questions in postwar Liberia: what to do with 100,000 former militiamen, many of whom started fighting as boys and grew up thinking that the unspeakable was acceptable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

IMF Will Triple African Countries' Voting Rights

International Monetary Fund director general Rodrigo Rato has promised to triple the voting rights of African member states after acknowledging that their existing voting rights were inadequate. "We are conscious of the fact that current voting rights of African countries are insufficient and not representative enough", Rato said, adding that there was a possibility of appointing an African deputy director general. Although the African nations once enjoyed 11.2 percent of voting rights, their share has plummeted to a mere 2 percent over recent years. African countries have been protesting against calculating these rights according to financial contributions alone, and have implored the IMF to consider other factors, such as population and economic development. (Source: IMF promises to triple voting rights of African nations/AFP)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Snowe Gets Out on Bond

Disgraced House Speaker finally had his bond request honored yesterday. Accused of stealing a million bucks or so, I guess the court saw him as kind of a flight risk.

Mr. Snowe and some other ex-officials of the erstwhile National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL) are in court for allegedly stealing from national coffers while in power.

He has been charged with "Theft of Property" for allegedly misappropriating over US$1M from the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Company (LPRC) during his stewardship as Managing Director.

Blacked Out Charles Taylor Billboards

This happened about a month ago. As far as I know, these were the only pro-Taylor billboards in town.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Wheelbarrow Story Rolling Along

This stupendous photoessay by Chris Herwig is featured in two glossy magazines this month: a (pricey!) Dutch design mag called DAMN, and the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society of the UK, Geographical. Text by me!

New CD of Old Liberian Classics

Songs of the African Coast: Cafe Music of Liberia
A collection of unique popular music recorded in 1948 in Liberia by ethnomusicologist Arthur Alberts. The music is a mix of genres echoing Calypso and early jazz (and includes songs made famous during the folk scare of the 60s like "Chicken is Nice," "Gbanawa," "Woman Sweeter Than Man" and "Hold Me Tight"), played by small ensembles (usually piano, guitar and bass, occasionally some hot horn work, too), and sung in English. Includes detailed notes and interesting photos. The 18 recordings, along with the accompanying commentary, showed the intricate connections between African and American music.


Speaking of which, I just won this item on eBay. I already have a promo copy of the record with no cover, but I wanted to read the liner notes. Apparently Gayflor lives in the US and still tours cultural festivals all over the world. The record has one really nice dancefloor jazz track like something you'd hear on Gilles Peterson's show. Cool you can see the Masonic Lodge in the background of the cover pic.

Very Slow Drawdown of UN Peacekeepers Announced

I like the slow pace of this planned drawdown, as announced yesterday:

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended on Thursday the more than 14 000 peacekeepers in Liberia be reduced by about 5 000 over the next three years, starting in October.

But Ban said it was "too early to determine" when to withdraw the entire peacekeeping force, which would depend on the state of the domestic police and army in the West African nation, which has been beset by years of large-scale corruption and warfare that spilled into the region.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Liberia Doc Makes it to Toronto Film Festival

Chris writes:

Did you hear that the film "Iron Ladies of Liberia" made it into the Toronto Film Festival? Heard there is a big screening at the opening of the UN General Counsel this fall as well...will be good PR for Liberia and Ellen.
The festival starts in 3 weeks. Here's a blurb on the documentary:

With the exclusive access, African director Siatta Scott Johnson and Daniel Junge follow President Sirleaf and her closest aides behind the scenes during their first year in office.
And here's a clip, where the filmmakers had access to a cabinet meeting. I wish we had footage of cabinet meetings in the US!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Three Thoughtful Expat Liberia Blogs

Emily, Rupert, and Molly from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government are working for the summer inside various government ministries.

Surf Movie about Liberia

"Sliding Liberia" [trailer at YouTube] follows a group of young surfers to Liberia in search of more than perfect waves. As they travel through the West African country, devastated by decades of brutal civil war, they record the stories of people they meet along the way----people like Alfred, a young boy who became Liberia's first surfer after finding a bodyboard while fleeing from rebels. Besides rediscovering a world-class point break that could be the best-kept secret in the surfing world, the surfers find something much more important----a way to travel responsibly in the 21st century.
Website coming soon.

In other Liberia cinema news, another crew was here recently making a movie out of this book.

And to continue the thread, you know that movie "Lord of War" with Nicolas Cage? Was it actually filmed in Liberia? I haven't seen it since before coming here.

Youth Peace Conference in Monrovia, Sept 20th, 2007

Registration is already past, but this looks like a worthy event (wait, read the comments! -Ed.):

The 2nd African Youth Peace Conference is a follow –up to the first Edition held on September 20 – 21, 2006 at the World Bank Country Office, Abuja, Nigeria, organized by Centre for Advocacy and Development in Africa (CADA Nigeria) in Partnership with West African Youth Network, Clean & Green Cities Foundation, Peace Corps of Nigeria, and with support from UNHCR Nigeria, UNDP Nigeria, World Bank Country Office Nigeria and Universal Peace Federation –IIFWP to Commemorate the WORLD PEACE DAY.

The focus of the 2nd Edition is to assess the contribution of the Youth in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Africa, with particular emphasis on the four issues identified at the first Edition as the root causes of Youth Restiveness in Africa, (i) Poverty (ii) Weak Governance (iii) Development choices (iv) Unemployment.
Link, with contact info.

Big Int'l NGO Stops Taking US Food Aid Funding

CARE, one of the world's biggest charities, is walking away from about $45 million a year in federal funding, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.
Fascinating story from the International Herald Tribune. This issue is important in Liberia, where local farmers can't hope to compete with US food aid imports. But it's a thin line; Liberia still has no food security, so at what point should food aid stop? The story really gets to the heart of the issue, that of the international NGOs perverse incentive to continue the practice in the interest of their own jobs. And don't get me started about that horrendous US Farm Bill.

M.I.A. Track About Liberia

I haven't heard it, but Sri Lankan/Brit singer M.I.A. has a song called "20 Dollar" on her new album, which she says is about her recent visit to Liberia.

The New AFL

The Wall Street Journal has an informative piece about the training and the trainers of the New Armed Forces of Liberia.

Thanks MarietotheD for the link!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Taylor Trial Delayed Yet Again

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The war crimes trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been postponed again after his new defense team asked for a delay until January 2008 to prepare fully, a court spokesman said on Monday.

Bong County Arms Cache Myth Busted

I've been out of the country for several weeks, but I heard on the BBC this AM that Gbarnga, Bong County had a tense few days recently when someone found a big cache of what were supposed to be illicit arms, which had rival tribes pointing fingers. Turns out the stuff was a bunch of scrap.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Former General Accused of Coup Plot

I just heard a version of this story on NPR online:

MONROVIA, Liberia, July 19 (UPI) -- A former Liberian army commander has become the first in the country to be arrested for "subversive activities" since the country's 2005 elections.

Former Gen. Charles Julu, who led the presidential guard under former Liberian leader Samuel Doe and planned a 1994 coup attempt, was arrested and accused of planning another rebellion, the BBC reported Thursday.

"There is hard evidence that this man was trying to plan a coup," Liberian Information Minister Laurence Bropleh said.

Bropleh said investigators have video evidence to back up the government's accusations of coup plotting. He said authorities in Ivory Coast are assisting in the investigation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sombody Blacked Out the Pro-Taylor Signs In Monrovia

As previously mentioned here, and often mentioned in articles by visiting international reporters, for about six months now there's been a pro-Charles Taylor billboard posted at the corner of 20th Street and Tubman Blvd, behind a high wall with razor wire on top.

Not long after the sign was posted, it was defaced with acid, but you could still read it. Then a few weeks ago, just in time for the start of the trial in the Hague, two smaller signs were added in the same location, one of them reading "God willing, I'll be back." Just the other day, someone got over the wall and painted them all over with black paint.

BBC: US fans 'adopt' Liberian players

Players from Liberian champions Mighty Barrolle are breathing a sigh of relief after the club's fans in the USA agreed to help pay their wages.
Thanks, Nicolas!

Saving You Some Work

If you need to contact SN Brussels Airlines office in Monrovia, this is the main number:

+231 06 520 777

It took me half a day of calling everyone I know before I finally found a working number!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Liberia Movie in DC Today

Our friend Matt in DC found this on the AP daybook:

12:30 p.m. LIBERIA-FILM _ Infoshop and The World Bank host a screening of highlights from the upcoming documentary ``Iron Ladies of Liberia,'' with a discussion by the filmmaker, Siatta Johnson, a Liberian born journalist and a founding member of Omuahtee Africa Media.

Location: J1-050, World Bank J Building, 701 18th St. NW

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Liberian Football Fans Shouldn't Despair

Liberians were pretty depressed a couple of weeks ago when the Lonestar lost a home match to little ol' Equatorial Guinea. But if it makes them feel any better, this comes from a friend who's a citizen of Equatorial Guinea:

"I am not impressed. There are so many Brazilians and other foreigners playing in the EG team that it is hard to tell what country is being represented."

Hold your heads high, Liberians!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Crappy Liberia Coverage in Time Magazine

This story is annoying. It's supposed to be a scary warning about the West African country of Guinea-Bissau as the newest narco-state.

Interesting premise, but even as it mentions Liberia only once in a list of countries, somehow more than half of the pictures they used (I'm talking about the print version) were taken in Monrovia. Are they suggesting that Liberia is some kind of narco-state as well? Or were they just too lazy to find a photographer in Guinea-Bissau?

Imagine if Time Magazine did a story about New Jersey being the car theft capital of the USA, and then half of the pics were taken in Massachusetts. Would that make sense? No. Would people in Massachusetts have the right to be offended? Yes. Time's editors are just assuming there's little chance that their audience will notice or draw the distinction between the various countries in deep, dark, scary Africa.

Furthermore, they print a picture of a pile of alleged cocaine cash, all in Liberian dollars, and I guess the reader is supposed to think it's a huge stash of filthy loot. But to the educated eye it looks like an amount of LD worth about US$8. Come on! I have that much LD on my dresser after changing a ten dollar bill!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Freeport Fracas the Other Day

This is a couple of days late, but I was out of town:

Monrovia - Allegations that Liberia's seaport police were stealing fuel shipments sparked a brawl between national and port forces that sent dozens to hospitals on Monday, authorities said.

The skirmish broke out early on Monday when members of the national police force tried to arrest the suspected port officers, said National Police spokesperson Alvin Jask. He said the fighting shut down the port and only abated after United Nations peacekeepers were called in.
Speaking of the port, I met a guy at a party the other night who works for a gigantic shipping company. He says something like 30,000 containers come into Liberia every year, and about 4,000 containers' worth of goods are exported. His company maintains a staff of 40 persons to shadow the port workers and make sure everything gets done.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Taylor Finally Appears In Court

The trial has been postponed until August 20.

Here's a blog that's been set by George Soros' OSI and others to monitor the proceedings in a neutral way:

Trash is Greatest Public Health Threat in Monrovia

The UN Environment Programme has called on the government and private sector to repair the country's broken system for collecting trash.
The message is important, but oh the irony in the UN Mission, with its budget of 9 times the size of the government budget, calling on the government to do something about it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Alleged Baboon Man Denies Transforming into Baboon

From The Analyst:

The man who was arrested recently by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP), for allegedly transforming himself into an animal “Baboon” to terrorize the people of Po-River Township in Montserrado County has been sent to court to face prosecution. Police preliminary investigation conducted at the National Police Headquarters in Monrovia said the defendant transformed himself into a baboon on numerous occasions.

He told this paper in an interview yesterday at the National Police Headquarters that at no time did he transform into a baboon to terrorize and assault people in the township.

“The people lied on me; I am a farmer, who is currently doing my farming business. I never did what the people say I do”, said Quoi in an angry mood.

Taylor Trial Delayed Again

THE HAGUE, The Netherlands -- The war crimes trial of Charles Taylor has been postponed again with judges now ordering the resumption of the case against the former Liberian president August 20, the court said Monday. "A decision was taken last Thursday [June 28] and the reason will be explained in a hearing tomorrow [Tuesday]," spokesman Solomon Moriba of the Special Court for Sierra Leone said. A week ago the resumption of the prosecution case was put off until Tuesday this week because of Taylor's ongoing problems in assembling a defense team.

Friday, June 29, 2007


MONROVIA, June 28 (Reuters) - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf launched the country's first census in 23 years on Thursday to assist reconstruction after a devastating 14-year civil war and improve future elections.

The last census, in 1984, registered 2.5 million people in Liberia. Up to 250,000 people were killed in the civil war that began five years later and hundreds of thousands of others fled abroad, many never to return.

"For more than 23 years, there has been no accurate data on the demographic variables of the country," Johnson-Sirleaf said.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Big News Day

Monday, June 25, 2007

News Roundup

  • Charles Taylor is boycotting his trial again.
  • The CDC political party is severing ties with George Weah.
  • The big cabinet reshuffle that was supposed to happen has been postponed or cancelled.
  • A new UN report says millions are being lost to tax evasion.

Random Pics

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Potato Greens Prophesy Pt. 2

Conversation with a guy I met last night:

Me: Hey have you heard of this prophesy about eating potato greens?
Guy: Yes I have.
Me: Are you eating potato greens, then?
Guy: No I am not.
Me: So you don't believe in the prophesy?
Guy: No I don't believe it.

Dude's taking his life into his own hands!