Liberia

An emerging frontier on the last-chance continent

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has what might be one of the most impressive CVs of any head of state in the world. Africa’s first elected woman president spoke at IESE Business School in Barcelona two weeks ago, in a session titled Africa: The last chance?

Backed up by a numerous entourage, including Dr Richard Tolbert, chairman of Liberia’s investment commission, she had a clear message for the audience: Liberia is open for business.

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April 8, 2010 2 comments

Interview with Saki Tango Golafale

This is the second in our series of interviews with Liberian bloggers from Ceasefire Liberia blog. Read the rest of the interviews here.

Today we are talking to Saki Tango Golafale, a student at the University of Liberia.

Where do you live and what do you do when you aren’t blogging?

I live in the Wood Camp community of Paynesville city where I have been for almost four years now.

When I am not blogging, I am involved with many things. I work in a chemistry lab at the University of Liberia, am involved with voluntary community actions that center around environmental protection, and in organizing programs for the chemistry association which I head at the University. I lead a small group of young people who are also sensitive to the environmental issues.

Since you have studied a lot, can you tell us something about how education is structured in Liberia? What is the school system like? Is it easy to go to university?

Education is the foundation on which all our social structures depend for nation building. The school system is still struggling from the destruction from the civil war, but hopes are high to get pre-war status. I would refer you to this site for more on the structure and system of education in Liberia.

Going to University in Liberia is getting competetive as more and more people are being encouraged to learn. There are two state run universities and five private universities and colleges. Fees are getting high and infrastructure and manpower capacities are major priorities of most universities.

You’re also a poet. What makes you write? Will you let us publish a bit of your poetry?

Writing, I think is a basic requirement to survival in this literate world, and this should be the business for every educated man. What a man writes is how he thinks or feels. If I think the world is small, I can reduce that into writing, usually poetic writing, telling someone why I think so.

For me, poetry reflects life’s realities. What I go through and how I feel are sometimes reduced into writing especially poetic writing. One of my poems, “Life’s Load” is an example of a real situation I believe every human being encounters. My most recent work titled, “My Poem”, is below:

My Poem

I like to write my poem at night
When quietness rules the world
And then I blend my ideas to fight
An attempt to encourage a word

I like to think before I write
When solitude rules my life
Awake I am with perfect sight
I continue in the strive

As I describe the mobile cloud
I read my poem out loud
With friendly tone
I tell the moon
How I feel so proud

I like to cook my poem with spice
To make it sweet for all
Like palm butter with country rice
My poem is a diet for all

Copyright ©2009 Saki Tango Golafale

Some of my other poems are published on Sea Breeze Liberia.

You moved to Sierra Leone in 1990 to escape the war in Liberia. How was that?

Yes I moved to Sierra Leone in 1990 to escape the civil war in Liberia, but adjusting to new and unfavorable conditions of life was very hard. I was eight years old then, and I was introduced to hard labor for survival. I worked in a diamond mine and also traded goods at some point in time. As a third grade student from Liberia, I could not attend school because I never got used to the learning environment. Life was unbearable as a refugee.

When Sierra Leone was invaded in early 1991, things only became worse as I lost my brother and my aunt in cross-fire. This was painful. My family and I had to come back to rebel held Liberia.

I recently visited Sierra Leone after 18 years and I saw life and peace. Here is a link to my post about the visit on ceasefire Liberia.

Are Liberians religious? What are the main religions?

Liberians are religious and since the war, in which religious institutions played a major role, religious institutions have increased their activities. There are a lot of churches and mosques these days. Christianity is in dominance while traditional beliefs and Islam follow. But Christianity and Islam are the most actively involved religions.

Check back on Friday for the next interview.

Read more:
Liberians changing their world, one story at a time
Interview with Nat Bayjay, manager of Ceasefire Liberia blog
Will the real Liberia please stand up? Ceasefire Liberia on Blogs of the World

April 7, 2010 0 comments

Interview with Nat Bayjay

This is the first in our series of interviews with bloggers from Ceasefire Liberia, previously featured here on Blogs of the World.

First, a quick introduction – where do you live and what do you do when you aren’t blogging?

I’m Nat Bayjay, a proud Liberian by nationality. I live in Monrovia, Liberia. I’m a journalist by profession and I work for the most Liberian-read online news source called FrontPageAfrica. I’m also the blog manager of CeaseFireLiberia.

The second part of the question is difficult to say becuz I spend most of my time on the internet. But when I’m not blogging, I’m making researches on stories to make follow-up and during very less busy time, I watch European soccer matches on TV.

How long have you been managing Ceasefire Liberia? What are your greatest achievements with the site?

I’ve been managing CeaseFire Liberia for one year now. My greatest achievements are helping CeaseFire Liberia to let its many readers know about happenings in Liberia via stories I’ve been writing ranging from politics to social and even human-interest and cultural stories, as well as helping to recruit some bloggers for the site who write voluntarily, tirelessly and committedly for the site.

Is it hard to recruit bloggers for Ceasefire Liberia?

Yes, to some extend it is difficult to recruit bloggers for the site because everyone nowadays wants to be paid or compensated for whatever contribution he/she makes to whatever projects/initiatives. A lot of my colleagues who I try to recruit soon give up as soon as they realize that they won’t get pay or compensation for their works; however, it’s amazing how some of them continue to sacrifice just as I have.

At Ceasefire Liberia you are twelve bloggers in total, but no women. What do you see as the main reasons for that?

[please don't think I am criticising with this question! I know it is something you have worked on]

No, I in no way feel criticized for this question. As a matter of fact, it is very important that you included it.

It is not that no Liberian female is willing to blog. On the contrary, some of them really want to be a part of the exciting blogging world but are experiencing some hindrances like the lack of gadgets (camera, computer, among others) and have little or no access to internet facilities. Domestic internet is not affordable for the average Liberian and commerical internet is not affordable for most except a few who usually take advantage of such at their respective places of work, affiliation, and so on. A few Liberian women continue to express interest.

What do you love about Liberia?

What I really do love about Liberia is its people who are so quick to put the past behind them and move ahead despite a few of them whose actions depict the contrary.

What’s a typical day for you?

A typical day for me is to awake as early as 4:30am to do some reading or work, leave home by 6:30am. In most instances, I drink tea or eat oats or corn-maize meal for breakfast, but there’s nothing specific about the kind of breakfast eaten becuase I sometimes eat twice a day or sometimes thrice.

The rest of the day is spent either blogging, searching for news among others and returning home between 9:30pm to 10:30pm.

What one thing do you want the world to know about Liberia?

One thing the world needs to know about Liberia is about the scars left behind by the 14-years civil war.

Such scars include the tramautic conditions as well as the physical ones. Others which are very important too include the ever-slowing education system of the post-conflict nation and the lack of opportunities for many to pursue higher education due to financial constraints.

Nat is the manager of Ceasefire Liberia blog and also blogs on his personal blogs Natlyn’s blog and Entertainmentlib.

Update: Rising Voices also interviewed Nat about his work with Ceasefire Liberia. Read it here.

Read more:
Liberians changing their world, one story at a time
Blogging in Liberia on Blogs of the World

April 6, 2010 2 comments

Liberians changing their world, one story at a time

When journalist Ruthie Ackerman founded Ceasefire Liberia blog in May 2009 she found that Liberia’s young people were very excited about the opportunity to tell their stories to the world.

The site now has twelve contributors from Liberia and abroad, all keen to tell their stories. And these are stories you can’t get anywhere else; although the first signs of a revival of Liberia’s tourism industry are starting to appear, for now the country is still off the list for most travellers.


Credit

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April 5, 2010 2 comments

Ask a Liberian

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about featured our first Liberian blog (Ceasefire Liberia) here on Blogs of the World.

Therefore we’re very excited that some of the bloggers from the Ceasefire Liberia project have agreed to be interviewed on PocketCultures. As we wrote before some are living in Liberia and some abroad (mostly in Staten Island, USA).

We’ll be running a week of interviews – Ask a Liberian week.

So PocketCultures readers, we want to hear from you – what do you want to know about the realities of life in Liberia, Liberian culture, Liberian people?

Tell us your questions here in the comments, via Twitter, or by filling in this form.

Read more:
Will the real Liberia please stand up?
More West African blogs on Blogs of the World
Africa – name that country!

March 9, 2010 2 comments

Will the real Liberia please stand up?

In 2005 Liberia elected Africa’s first female president. The country may be best known for its civil war, but little by little things are changing.

Ceasefire Liberia is a blog about the real Liberia written by real Liberians – some are living in Liberia, some are living abroad (many in Staten Island, USA).


Pulling in the right direction. Credit

Recommended reading is the post on Liberian reactions to the Vice guide to Liberia (a much debated travel series about Liberia).

Want to discover more of the real Liberia? Try A Star is Born, Liberia’s answer to Britain’s got Talent; or take a look at the soon to be reopened University of Liberia; or the newly released reconstruction plan for Liberia’s capital Monrovia City.

Via Rising Voices.

Update: we’re planning a week of interviews with some of the Ceasefire Liberia bloggers. What would you like to know about Liberia? Tell us your questions.

Read more:
More West African blogs featured on Blogs of the World
Cross-cultural romance in Ghana
Africa: name that country! Can you tell Senegal from Tanzania? Test yourself here…

February 18, 2010 2 comments