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Title Changed: Current news about Liberia.

 
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 10:13 am
Amen to that . . .
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 12:06 pm
I'm sure, you all are just joking about not knowing about Liberia.


Setanta

The book is by Hans J. Massaquoi, called: 'Destined to Witness : Growing Up Black in Nazi Germany (1999)'
["Neger, Neger, Schornsteinfeger. Meine Kindheit in Deutschland." 1999]
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 08:44 pm
I hope this isn't bad manners.
Bumping up in hopes osso has information about her family in Liberia.

Hub saw a scary pic on the news: a ten year old, holding a heavy firearm, pointed at a journalist. The child had on a teddy bear backpack.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 08:59 pm
I believe a famous picture from a few years ago was taken in Liberia.

It was a happy soldier walking down the street.
He was holding his enemy's hand.
Well, in fact he was biting the finger.
He was holding the hand with his teeth.
The hand was bloody, hanging like a wild flower.
It had been cut with a machete.
It was a war prize.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 09:02 pm
Sofia, that was the front page of the NYT today. A picture is worth a thousand words, indeed.

http://graphics7.nytimes.com/images/2003/06/27/international/28LIBE.184.jpg

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/pageone/scan/index.html
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 09:03 pm
Good Lord, fbaezer. Did you write that?
Is that true? It was very poetic and startling.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 09:08 pm
Thanks, sozobe. Hub saw it on TV. Glad to see the story's getting front page priority. I was a slob today, and didn't read the papers.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 10:17 pm
I don't read the paper enough and am not as up on this as you all. Will be back with more.

Backstory...my ex, loved husband until after, has a brother, and that brother, a man of about 24 at the time, joined the peace corps and taught carpentry in Kley, in Liberia. His girlfriend of many years was going to wait for him, as this is the one thing he really wanted to do, do the Peace Corps, and when he came home they would get married. She helped him pack, get all the required items, and so on.

About two months after the brother had left for Monrovia and then Kley, my ex answered the phone to hear the girlfriend say that she had gotten married (another long story, interesting in itself) and would we tell the brother?

We did. He had a frustrating time, as it is hard to teach carpentry without electricity or many tools. But he liked it there, and got involved with the people, and explored the waterways...

and after he came home and had been in LA a few months, he mentioned that a tribal woman was coming to LA to live with him. I was perplexed, mainly that he hadn't told us, but mostly glad, as I had two friends from Africa, one from Eritrea, and another from Camaroon, both of them lab techs, both really wonderful people.

She arrived and brother brought her to our house to meet us and ...it was strange. She only responded to them, paid no attention to anything I did or said (I who had these ideas of where I could take here and show her). She spoke english, but very very fast in a different rhythm that us Losangelenos. She behaved very subserviently to them, and apparently shunned me.

Well, time passed. I was both going to school full time and working full time, and we saw the couple once every few weeks. They got married. Brother has since told me he loved her and was happy. My hub was irate, he and his brother were raised in south LA, and my ex thought the brother being a condescending dogooder and bringing the lady to a hostile racist environment. Not wrong, really.

They had a child, my niece, who will be up to see me here in August. Child of a short irish american and a tall bright tribal woman. Presently heavily involved in hip hop competitions and taking geometry over again. Very very smart, very interested in behavior, very very social, tip top vocabulary, able arguer.

Much water under bridge, none of you'all's business...both parties at fault. In the beginning, stuff was mostly her fault, except that she was a stranger coming to a strange land. Now stuff seems to be his fault, and she has grown into a saner, wiser person.

She has two sons by an earlier fellow who live in Monrovia, who are "businessmen". She has about forty health problems, including sickle cell anemia, liver involvement, diabetes...but is a survivor.

Anyway, in our last phone call, she told me that Kley had been razed in the earlier fighting... several years ago.

The mom has been talking about taking my niece to Liberia to meet her two sons. In a previous phone call, it was me arguing that she not take my niece there this year, it is too dangerous. The most recent time I talked with her, she was telling me that she can't take my niece there, it is tooo dangerous.

I do want my niece to go there, but when she is 21 or more and ready. Right now, she is a jewel who could be a victim, even without this current rebellion.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 10:27 pm
Does the mother want to get out, as well?
I hope it is an option that your niece can stay away from Kley.
Your niece sounds wonderful. Is she around 16, 17?
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 10:49 pm
The mother lives in Los Angeles. Her two sons from before she met Brother live in Monrovia.

As to the war there, I brought this all up at all, since Mother agreed that Taylor is from her town.

Edited to take a bunch of family stuff out.
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jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 10:54 pm
Sofia wrote:
Hub saw a scary pic on the news: a ten year old, holding a heavy firearm, pointed at a journalist. The child had on a teddy bear backpack.


I saw this, too. Extraordinarily disturbing.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2003 11:20 pm
I see that I am trying too fast weave a complicated history badly here, and I apologize for that to all, including any of my family that reads it. What matters is tomorrow, and on that I have no clue.
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sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 07:20 am
This is very interesting, Osso. Looking forward to more.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 12:17 pm
Thanks, osso. I had misread, I think. I thought the mother was in Kley--th niece was with you or with her dad here in the states, and the mom didn't want her daughter returned to Kley.

If the mom is in LA, is her daughter with her?

Tribal surgery? (Feel comfortable not answering anything you don't want to.) The first thing I think of is the 'female circumcision'. Is this the tribal surgery. Not so much trying to get into this particular woman's business, as get an idea of life in Monrovia/Liberia.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 12:30 pm
Yes, that's the surgery. The mom is from the village, Kley, and not the big city, Monrovia. Don't know if the surgery is common in Monrovia.

My niece is presently living with her dad, not her mom; both of them are in the same general area of so. california. I live up by the Oregon border, and my niece flies up once or twice a year to see me.

I just talked to the mom. One of the sons is now with the rebels, and the other has fled to Nigeria. All hard news.
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littlek
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 05:19 pm
So sad.
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timberlandko
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 06:46 pm
Liberia, as Setanta explained, a haven for freed Ex-US Black slaves, adopted its US-Style constitution in 1847. Despite nominal democracy, the nation has been troubled by the chaos and Strongman Governments typical of Third-Worl nations. In the 1920's, US rubber company Firestone establisjed a rubber plantation system, and the beginnings of an economy. As usual in such instances, little direct benefit flowed to the average citizen. The tribal areas remained tribal, the cities remained slum-ridden, with enclaves of the Well-to-Do and Influential carefully (like, tall fences and armed guards) isolated from the wtetched masses. In 1943, Charles Tubman, a native Liberian with a solid western education began economic and social reforms, continuing with some success until his death in 1971. His successor, William Tolbert Jr, sorta slipped into graft and corruption, the reforms slid, and he was assassinated in a coup led by Liberian Army Staff Sergeant William Doe in 1981. Doe suspended the constitution, then, in a 1985 election that was roundly criticized, was elected President. A civil war ensued, with Charles Taylor emerging as the leader of The Opposition. Taylor assumed power in 1989; Doe was executed in 1990. For all intents and purposes, the civil war continued unabated.
An African-engineered peace treaty went into effect in 1995, and there was a lessening of violence, but no real stability emerged. Taylor, in another widely criticized election, was elected President in 1997. The disturbances continued, and in 1999, The US and GB threatened to suspend aid to anr ties with Liberia, due to the excesses of the Liberian Government's repression of its own people and its open support for rebels and terrorists in Sierra Leone and Eritrea. In late 2000, Government Forces began a major offensive against the northern strongholds of the current rebellion. There was some world outcry at the depradations and visciousness of the campaign. As 2001 rolled around The UN took notice, and imposed an arms embargo. A bit later that year, the Liberian Government launched an even larger, better equipped, and nastier offensive against rebels ... while still supporting and providing refuge for rebels from Sierra Leone. In January of 2002, an exodus of refugees, both from Liberia and Sierra Leone, began, raising alarms in surrounding states. Early this year, a previously insignificant rebel group, The Movement For Democracyty in Liberia, began making strong gains in the south and southwest of the country. In June of this year, Taylor was indicted by The World Court for war crimes commited both in his efforts to suppress his own rebellion and for acts his troops committed, with his explicit sanction, in Sierra Leone. He is also under indictment on similar charges in Sierra Leone.
About three weeks ago, Monrovia was essentially surrounded by various rebel factions under a tenuous and indistinct central command. Control of the countryside was entirely out of government hands, and commerce (what little of it as was left) was brought to an absolute standstill. On June 17th, Taylor offered to step down if a US-Sponsored Ceasefire can be arranged. As of this week, The UN has again taken notice, and a mission from The Security Council was en route to neighboring Nigeria, osstensibly to arrange for Nigerian Peacekeepers to restore order in Liberia. Hundreds are dieing every day, looting, rape, and assorted pillage is rife, with both street demonstrations and pitched firefights are daily occurences. France has indicated interest in "Seeking a resolution to the conflict, in concert with The US and other nations".
As typical of such things, these "Breaking developments" have been perking away for about a generation. With a population of some 3 1/2 Million, Liberia has seen roughly 500,000 war dead in the past 15 years. At least it has come once more to the attention of the world ... not that that is any reason to expect things to improve much in the foreseeable future.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 07:15 pm
This is a nation which could well benefit from a long-term UN occupation, à la Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Ibo in Nigeria bascially solved their tribal rivalries problem by exterminating the most part of the Biafrans. The Hutu and the Tutsi are a simmering pot, which could explode at any time. So, in Liberia, does the tribal dynamic continue to destabilize the country. In a gradual process, after the investment--principally German and Swedish--which Tubman was able to attract after 1945 began to deliver some prosperity, the distinction between the descendants of manumitted American slaves and the tribes began to fade, as intermarriage took place. Most often, a husband or wife took up the tribal allegiance of their spouse, the old culture of Monrovia offering no such cohesive community. Whatever remnants of an asecendancy of the American immigrants may remain has become a factor little different than the dynamic of the other tribal rivalries and grudges.

I feel that the unfortunate necessity is for a long-term, heavily staffed UN military mission, to complete disarm the countryside, and to assure the stability of the process--not at all alien in Liberia--of forming a legitimately elected constitutional government.
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 07:30 pm
Speaking of it now getting the attention of the world...reminds me of the long time conflict in Eritrea. My friend from there told me the conflict had been going on for more than thirty years; his brothers and sisters had quit school early to fight in the hills. I worked with him in the seventies, and always after that kept my eye out for word about Eritrea. Would see it once in a while, every year or two, a very short mention in, say, Newsweek. The rebels had gone, according to him, to the US for help against the Ethiopians, and didn't get it, and then went to the Chinese Marxists, and got a little. If I remember now, the Russians were backing the Ethiopians. Fuzzy in my mind. But in any case, this all went on and on and on, until relatively recently.
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fbaezer
 
  1  
Reply Sun 29 Jun, 2003 08:35 pm
Sofia, the picture was true. We published it on the front page, between 1997 and 1999, I don't remember. I couldn't describe it one phrase.

ossobuco, what a strange story! I hope they will all be OK.
Ethiopia? Still a mess.
http://www.worldpress.org/Mideast/302.cfm

Setanta, I totally agree on "the unfortunate necessity... for a long-term, heavily staffed UN military mission, to complete disarm the countryside, and to assure the stability of the process--not at all alien in Liberia--of forming a legitimately elected constitutional government."
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