Liberia Reading List
Two things to read if you're reeeeaaally interested in Liberia:
- The Johnson-Sirleaf Administration's 150 Day Action Plan (.pdf). It helps answer the question 'What the hell would you do if you inherited a bankrupt, war-ravaged shell of a country, and what order would you do it in?' Looking at the list, you can see her going slow in some places (lawmakers haven't been asked to sign the anti-corruption pledge yet), using a tender hand (giving pensions and severence pay to former police and soldiers before making army or law enforcement reforms), and thinking way ahead (establishing Women and Child Protection Units, giving food rations to families who send their girls to school). Not to take sides against the famous soccer star who lost the runoff election, but somehow I can't imagine a George Weah administration being quite this progressive and proactive.
- The World Bank's Rapid Social Assessment from last year, which at under 100 pages is a nice shortcut to combing through shelves of books on the early and recent history, anthropology and sociology of Liberia. And it's written with an eye to solving the country's problems. Not for the casual reader, but highly recommended for anyone who's coming here to do Development work. I was particularly happy to see mention of the pervasive 'culture of silence', which the authors say leads to "arrangement" (conspiracy) in social interactions, and the tendency of people to simply tell you what they think you want to hear, no matter how far from the truth.