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

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

AFL Widows’ Protest

On Friday, January 6, a day where we expected to pick Suzi up from the airport, unexpected protests/disturbances by widows of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) caused traffic all over Monrovia to come to an absolute standstill. All over the city, at every major intersection, these women who were promised compensation from the government for their lost husbands sat, for the most part, peacefully while hundreds of cars sat in a standstill for hours. Most of these ladies were generally peaceful but I did run up against one group of ladies at an intersection that weren’t too friendly to say the least. I was sitting at the office for most of the day doing my day-in/day-out thing knowing that I had to get to an internet café in town to print some colour pages for a report that had to be handed in to UNICEF. When I heard about that protests and disturbances I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to get downtown into some of the action and get some worthwhile media for the blog. To actually get into town I had to ride motorcycle (only because motorcycles can fit between parked cars and up onto curbs).

After weaving in and out of parked cars and through a small community in the middle of Monrovia that I didn’t even know existed (between Randall and Center Street for all you people who know the layout of downtown Monrovia) I finally arrived at my internet café after carving a line of dust through a few coal pots of potato greens on the way to my destination. I ended up having to cut through this community because of this one intersection where apparently ladies had bricks and rocks in their hands, taking aim at the brave men and women who tried to invade their territory. I promptly turned my bike around when the started coming towards me yelling and screaming. No harm, no foul I guess!

It was on the way back from the internet café that I decided it was time to get serious and get some pictures to actually document the happenings. For those who know Monrovia, I parked my bike on the corner of the Capital and Jallah Town Bypasses and decided to get into the action. There was one other reporter, a little more official than my freelancing skills could claim, but he turned out to add to the backdrop for some of my pictures. There was a ton of Syrian UN Military officers on the scene, probably 30 or so, but they didn’t seem to mind me gallivanting through the chaos and snapping random pictures here and there…even if they were the ones being photographed. Maybe it was because they couldn’t see beyond their flak jackets and full out riot gear.

I heard that later in the day Ellen Johnson Sirleaf went out onto the streets to personally talk to these ladies and their grievances. I’m sure her words mentioned something about how justified her gianormous presidential inauguration budget is and the ensuing benefits to these ladies. Actually I really don’t know what she had to say to these ladies, whether there was any promise of compensation or not, but traffic was back to normal the following day so either what she said actually meant something or these ladies are just scheming about their next plan of action. Only time will tell…


  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Gareth Evans said…

    ON the AFL Widows...

    I have heard that the Government is giving them what is due... at a rate of 50 a week.

    My driver told me that and so it must be true!!

    And again... Kev You rock!! Ever thought of taking up investigative journalism? You could investigate UFO sightings etc!


  • At 2:50 PM, Blogger Gaillie said…

    Oh, Kev- I'm so glad you weren't beat up by a bunch of women! How would I ever have held my head up again?

    Keep your stick on the ice-

    Mom :)

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