Liberia (Africa)

Oorlog in Afrika en elders is nie ‘n mooi gesig nie.  Geen oorlog het wenners nie.  Die sterkste oorleef wel, maar soms is daar meer letsels,  selfs traumatiese gevalle soos vrouens wat brutaal verkrag is en waar hulle geen hoop op herstel het nie.  Gaan dit in die lande ook oor minerale, daarom die radikale geweld om die mag en beheer te besit?  Soms word kinders aangewend om oorlog te maak.  Suid-Afrika is nie ver agter nie, want kinders en jeudiges lei strooptogte, brandende besighede en huise en selfs misdaad is aan die orde van die dag waar drankwinkels summier geplunder word.  Lees meer oor Liberia.


LIBERIA

It is generally believed that before 1822 there were 16 different tribes living in what was called the ‘Pepper Coast‘, ‘Grain Coast’ or ‘Malaguetta Coast’. The American Colonization Society (ASC) was created in 1816.
Liberia is a multilingual country where more than thirty languages are spoken.English is the official language. None of the languages group forms a distinctive majority. The native languages can be grouped in four language families: Mande, Kru, Mel, and the divergent language Gola.

The U.S. Government had provided Liberia some financial support, but Washington expected Monrovia to move toward self-sufficiency. … As a result, on 26 July 1847, Liberia declared independence from the American Colonization Society in order to establish a sovereign state and create its own laws governing commerce.

The Flag of Liberia or the Liberian flag bears a close resemblance to the flag of the United States, showing the freed American and ex-Caribbean slaves offspring and bloodline origins of the country. The Liberian flag has similar red and white stripes, as well as a blue square with a white star in the canton.

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INDEPENDENCE

The Republic of Liberia, formerly a colony of the American Colonization Society, declares its independence. Under pressure from Britain, the United States hesitantly accepted Liberian sovereignty, making the West African nation the first democratic republic in African history. A constitution modeled after the U.S. Constitution was approved, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts was elected Liberia’s first president.

The American Colonization Society was founded in 1816 by American Robert Finley to return freed African American slaves to Africa. In 1820, the first former U.S. slaves arrived at the British colony of Sierra Leone from the United States, and in 1821 the American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia south of Sierra Leone as a homeland for former slaves outside British jurisdiction.

The American Colonization Society came under attack from U.S. abolitionists, who charged that the removal of freed slaves from the United States strengthened the institution of slavery. In addition, most Americans of African descent were not enthusiastic to abandon their native lands in the United States for the harsh West African coast. Nevertheless, between 1822 and the American Civil War, some 15,000 African Americans settled in Liberia. Independence was granted by the United States in 1847, and Liberia aided Britain in its efforts to end the illegal West African slave trade. Official U.S. diplomatic recognition came in 1862.

With the backing of the United States, Liberia kept its independence though the turmoil of the 20th century. A costly civil war began in 1989 and lasted until 1997, when Charles Taylor was elected Liberian president in free elections. His administration has been criticized for supporting the rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. Some three million people live in Liberia today.

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In the front parlor of a dilapidated mansion with a god’s-eye view of the Atlantic a group of young men huddle around a light fixture that washed in from the sea and is covered in barnacles. They chip away at it with a hammer and a machete to open it and see if it can be made to work. They are not having much luck, a commodity that is in short supply around here. The building has no electricity or running water. Wind pushes through broken windows. There are holes in the roof. Rainwater has collected in puddles on the grand marble staircase and throughout the house, a faded yellow modernist structure on the edge of a cliff in the sleepy city of Harper in southeastern Liberia about 15 miles from the border of Ivory Coast.

The short iron fence that surrounds the regal mansion, known locally as “the palace,” bears a monogram—“WVST,” for William Vacanarat Shadrach Tubman, Liberia’s longest-serving president, known for his 27 years of autocratic rule beginning in 1944. But the home of the man called “the father of modern Liberia” because he opened the nation to foreign investment and industry is now in ruins and occupied by squatters, a symbol of how decades of political turmoil have shaken up the old order established by freed American slaves.

Tubman was born in Harper but his paternal grandparents were slaves in Georgia. They were released in 1837 by their wealthy mistress, Emily Tubman of Augusta, and sent to Liberia, founded in 1822 by the American Colonization Society to serve as a haven for the once enslaved. But instead of creating a proverbial land of liberty that made a clean break from their brutal past, the settlers—called “Americo-Liberians” or, if they were Africans who had been trafficked but not to the United States, “Congos”—lorded over the “natives,” denying them political rights and acting like the slave masters they’d escaped. They forced natives to labor in the fields and on rubber plantations, and taxed communities for merely existing. Well-off settlers donned hoop skirts and tailcoats, opened Masonic lodges and built Methodist churches in a conscious effort to emulate the American South. Tensions between Americo-Liberians and natives smoldered for decades, and though Tubman’s administration granted natives the right to vote, among other benefits, the conflict exploded nine years after he died, with a violent coup led by the native soldier Samuel Doe, ending the Americo-Liberians’ dominance.

READ MORE:
The world created by former slaves in Liberia was a cruel paradox for more than 150 years
Liberia – history 

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AFTER THE WAR

“We are the victims; we cannot get tired!” “We want justice!” and “Yor leave us oh! Dah justice we want!” were among an estimated 4,000 Liberians who gathered early Monday morning to memorialize the deaths of 250,000 thousand people who died during the Liberian civil war. The march, through the streets of Monrovia, also supported the call for the establishment of a war crimes court.

The November 12 date for the March was chosen because of its significant place in Liberian history. It is exactly 33 years ago that Thomas Quiwonkpa and men mostly loyal to his Gio tribe, staged the 1985 coup d’etat aiming to unseat former President Samuel K. Doe.

The coup failed. Doe emerged victorious. In retaliation members of Doe’s tribe murdered many innocent Gio and Mano people. But there was also another side of that story. When Doe and his loyalists were in hiding, Krahn people, who had no connection with Doe were also killed.

It is this dark and gruesome past of bloodletting that the organizers of the Justice March decided to bring alive.

“We want to speak to the conscience of the Liberian people. So that, through our protest action, we can relive what happened and remember all the innocent people that died that day,” said Franklin Wesseh of the organizers of the Campaigners for Justice.

The protest brought together people from all walks of life, most claiming to be victims of the war. One such protester is Prince Seah. Seah was only 12 years old when he was recruited by the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Young and inexperienced, he lost one of his legs while fighting. He now begs on the streets to survive. He too wants justice.

“I beg everyday just to eat because I am crippled. Every day they (commanders/bosses) pass by me on the streets. They don’t care,” said Seah “I see their children going to school, my heart can be burning. I need justice because my life is destroyed.”

As the protest progressed other people joined in. From the sidewalks along the streets, some criticized their actions, citing security concerns. Henry Tarh was also a child soldier who lost one arm but he is ready to move on. “You want justice for whom?” he asked. “Look at them. They are opposition people who do not want this government to succeed, they just want another war to come.”

Wesseh said people like Tarh are just repeating rhetoric from the current Liberian government. “The government must remember that we still have that voting rights. If they want to play politics with this war crimes court issue they must know that a day will come when they will need this large crowd to vote for them.”

Pundits say they are watching to see what comes out of the protest considering its connection to the same date in 1985. This is a reference to the fact that the coup was short-lived. Since that time some analysts have accused Quiwonkpa of waving a white flag in a bid to oust Doe. Yet others pointed to the lack of support as key reasons why Doe was able to regroup and foil the coup.

Supporters of a war crimes court in Liberia hope their current campaign will have better luck than Quiwonkpa’s coup.

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AND THEN

Peace has now outlasted war in Liberia.

But for 14 years, between 1989 and 2003, a brutal civil war ravaged the nation leading to the death of close to 250,000 people. Women were raped and mutilated; warlords recruited child soldiers to fuel the conflict; tens of thousands of people were displaced and fled the country. The full freight of the war, its callousness, and its collateral effect have continued to remain a defining marker of the West African state.

Photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros were there at the height of the infighting and captured some of the war’s most harrowing moments. The duo was there right up to 2005 when the guns fell silent, a peace deal was signed, and the nation began a slow trudge towards recovery. Their photos—powerful and plaintive—documented the senseless nature of the war and galvanized the world to take action.

The tragic reality we now know is that both photographers were killed in another African war. Hondros, a two-time Pulitzer finalist, and Hetherington, an acclaimed filmmaker and an Oscar nominee, died in Libya in 2011 while covering the armed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi.

To honor their lives and legacies, an exhibition at the Bronx Documentary Center in New York dubbed “War and Peace in Liberia” is showcasing a selection of their poignant images, some of which have never been showcased publicly. Together, the photos capture the paradox and perplexity of war: a tender moment between a soldier and his girlfriend; the mutinous face of a child soldier; and most of all, the triumphant emotions of a militia commander after he fires a rocket-propelled grenade.

The photos show just how far Liberia has come. In 2005, following successful peace talks in Ghana, the country voted in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first democratically elected female head of state on the African continent. In late 2017, following the election of ex-soccer star George Weah as president, Liberia had the first peaceful transfer of power in 73 years. Even the exultant, bare-chested rocket-launching militiaman, Joseph Duo, became reformed and ran for office in the polls.

As a nation recovering from war, Weah’s administration still faces critical issues from boosting healthcare and providing basic amenities to tackling inequality and unemployment. Yet juxtaposing the peaceful election and the serene political transition against Hondros and Hetherington’s gruesome photos show the positive course Africa’s oldest republic has taken in the last decade and a half.

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ECONOMY

FrontPageAfrica has received unconfirmed reports that Total Liberia has already sold several of its filling stations outside the nation’s capital, including the ones in Sinoe, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties.

Total Liberia is the largest importer of petroleum products in the country and second highest tax payer.

Economic pundits have warned that the pullout of Total would seriously injure the country’s revenue base.

They are also fears that several other companies including concessions are reading between the lines and studying the variables while observing how adequately the government would handle the prevailing situation. Pulling out is also an option for some of these companies.

Exclusive Superstore, according to reports, is considering shutting down its Center Street branch due to the high cost of operation and low patronage. The management is tight-lipped on rumors of shutting down that branch under the pretext of carrying out renovation.

DITCO, a renowned electronic store in Monrovia which has been dealing in the sales and supply of electronic gadgets and home appliances decided to close its doors to the public after 58 years of operating in Liberia.

Unlike other stores and investments said to be on the verge of closure, DITCO did not hold back its reason for the sudden closure. In a notice posted on the gates of its stores, the management wrote.

“Management of DITCO wishes to extend sincere thanks to its numerous customers for their support for the past 58 years. Regretfully, due to our slow business, we are compelled to close down for time indefinite.”

Several attempts to get comments from the Minister of Commerce on the closure of DITCO and the impact it may have on government’s push to attract more investors could not materialize. The Minister failed to respond to several phone calls and SMS sent to him.

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New ‘Person of Interest’

But with the new testimony, it is now certain that more questions will now be bombarded at the former president’s son. The House of Representatives on Monday instructed its Chief Clerk to write the former CBL Deputy Governor, inviting him to appear before plenary. It is unclear when Mr. Charles Sirleaf will face the plenary.

Mr. Sirleaf has been a person of interest since news broke of the missing billions. At one point during the ongoing investigation, the Government of Liberia placed Mr. Sirleaf and several other staffs of the CBL on a travel ban.

‘The 15 Billion Was Infused into Economy’

Meanwhile, another member of the CBL Board of Governors, Madam Elsie Dossen Badio, during the Monday appearance, informed the House of Representatives that the money was printed, brought into the country and infused into the economy; adding: “It was done in the best interest of the country’s economy.”

“To the best of my knowledge, we did the resolution based on a request made by the Governor to the Legislature to print additional notes to put into the economy. The 15 billion came into the country and was infused into the economy. We acted in the interest of the country in replacing mutilated notes,” she stated.

Like other witnesses, Mr. Kollie Tamba, another board member, insisted that the Bank got its authority to print additional money from the Legislature.

“Our resolution addressed the mandate from the Legislature. We were specific about the amount,” he added.

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