Kevin in Liberia

Its Purpose: to raise awareness of current social, political, ethical, and spiritual issues within a relief and development context in Liberia. Its effectiveness is simple: It relies on me, the author, to provide insightful, and often debate-sparking material that will encourage you, the reader to get engaged through comment contributions, emails, and promoting others to read, re-think, and respond to the important issues discussed.

I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom. ~ a prayer by Blaise Pascal

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sad Times in Liberia


Its been a couple weeks since my last post and there has been a little action in Liberia since then. The second round of the elections has come and gone with little or nothing really major to report. The second round of voting took place on November 8th and one thing I noticed while driving into work was the lack of people standing in lines outside of polling stations. My first suspicion was that voter turnout was extremely low and that was part of the explanation but the other side of it was the fact that there were only two candidates on the ballot and people were being filtered through the polling stations like coffee through Bev’s coffee maker at the SP house. As a lot of the world already knows, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has captured victory of Liberia’s elections and is to become the first female president in African history. George Weah, the “other” candidate, has claimed electoral fraud somewhere in the process and has appealed to the Supreme Court. The feeling is that his appeal isn’t going to go anywhere and that Ellen is here to stay. Whether that is good or bad remains a question, but for now I think everyone is just happy to have the process over and done with. Having said that, George Weah supporters, primarily made up of ex-combatants, apparently don’t like to go down in defeat without making some noise. In the last few days there has been one tear-gassing incident that happened down at Mamba Point right near the EU compound and the US embassy. There are always rumours of George Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) supporters causing trouble but for the most part “Jorge” as the small, or next to no, Spanish population call him has kept them very well behaved. The have had traffic diverted around the National Election Commission headquarters from a block on either side so that these mobs of CDC supporters can’t get near the headquarters and create who knows what. Besides that its just a matter of taking things a day at a time and every day that passes in peace is one more day toward a peaceful future for the entire country of Liberia.

What else is new here? Well, I got in a minor accident on the motorcycle the other day. It was nothing major, I was just pulling out of Ryan and Gareth’s driveway and I hit a little sand and just bailed. As I fell to the ground all I was worried about was my laptop in my backpack. I protected it as I went down and it came out without harm after it was all said and done. The bike ended up landing on the top of my foot which ended up being pretty painful. It got all swollen for a day or so but I can actually walk on it now which is nice. A funny thing that happened the same day that I got into the accident was that I had to drive from the Royal Hotel back to my office which is about two blocks away. I was going to drop my bike of there and have my friend Trisha drive me back to Ryan and Gareth’s place where we were going to hang out that evening; that was the plan. So here I am with a bum foot that I had to use to switch gears. As I was driving back to the office I could use my bum foot to get into second gear but just couldn’t convince the bike into third. The Albert Einstein that I am tried to take my right hand off the throttle and reach across my body down to my left foot to switch gears. Not a good idea. My bike started wobbling and I almost crashed again…this time on concrete. Trisha was following me in her car and didn’t know quite what to think as she watched me try to pull this manoeuvre. I’ll just blame it on the bent handle bars from the first accident.

The only other big thing that has happened recently and is in the process as I speak is the fact that a lot of my good friends are leaving this interesting country. It is interesting to be more of a “veteran” of Liberia, as far as the short-term ex-pats are concerned, and see people come and go. This week alone, five of my really close friends have, or are, taking off. Courtney and Steven from Samaritan’s Purse left last Sunday. Its sad to see them go. Courtney was fun to be around and a worthy Settlers combatant and Steven was one of the more hilarious persons I have ever met. “Whaaaahaappen?” Sarah, a multiple Settlers winner, left on Wednesday and it just seemed like someone forgot to turn the tap off. When the water starts pouring its hard to turn off. I’ve been here long enough to get to see these people come and go and see the impact that they have not only on their projects and organizations but the people around them. These three people were just fantastic.

Next on list of people to go, and the one that will be the hardest to replace, is Ryan. He leaves on Friday night. There are some things about certain people that when you meet them you just know you’ll be friends with them for a very long time…or you feel like you’ve known them forever. Ryan likes to call this the “lattice” (for more on the lattice check out Ever since we played that first game of Settlers on the balcony of the SilverBeach house with our headlamps Ryan and I knew we’d be friends for life. Well, I don’t know if that is totally true. Ryan said he didn’t even know what I looked like until the second time we met. I know its hard for him to see when his hair is so out of control and like a golden retriever. Well, we’ve had many fun times and conversations: Robertsport, many Settlers games, the Bong Mines, many fish fries, crazy trips in African fishing canoes, pyramids atop the Dukor Hotel, talks about God and religion, the lattice, and many talks about pretty much anything under the sun. It’ll be a shame when Ryan leaves but he has informally promised to visit B.C. I’m sort of tentatively planning to go visit him in South Africa while he is doing his masters there. When he leaves it won’t be the last time we ever see each other….which most likely is the case with some of the other people that are leaving.

Surf was definately up at Robertsport! Steven looks like he is still wondering "Whaaahaappen" from his surfing episode at Silver Beach
Posted by Kev-o-rama