Saturday, July 27, 2013

Providence Journal Series: Rebuilding Liberia

Photo ©Professor William J Pellicio via the Providence Journal

Providence Journal staff writer Philip Marcelo has launched a series of short posts about Liberia, at the crux of one of Liberia's larger diaspora communities in Rhode Island and marking the passing of a decade since the conclusion of the Liberian Civil War.

Some of the posts are understandably pretty elementary, introducing the general reader to Liberia and its history. Of the posts thus far, perhaps the most insightful is an interview with Brown University trustee William H. Twaddell, who was Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Monrovia in 1992, early in Liberia's conflict period.

The series will culminate next month when Marcelo will visit Liberia. The above image accompanied a post last week on the Rhode Island-Liberian community's efforts to help rebuild the country (partly through remittances). Looks like Camp Johnson Road to me, c.2003.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Caldwell: 188 Years Old And On the Move

From what I have told you  today, you now know that you reside in a very historic place.  So what is your duty to Caldwell, you new Caldwell dwellers?  Your duty is to contribute to Caldwell’s development.   You see what government is doing to help you.  Government is widening and paving your main highway, which I guess you may want to call Caldwell Boulevard,  leading to many other places.  Just this Thursday the Ministry of Public Works signed a contract with Chinese contractors to build a new two-lane bridge across the Stockton Creek! But during the signing ceremony Public Works Minister Kofi Woods told you that you Caldwell people that were refusing to clean the new paved streets. What kind of thing is that? You expect government to build the road for you and come and clean it,too?  If you continue this kind of lazy, irresponsible and unpatriotic attitude, you will never make history as your forebears, the earlier people of Caldwell, have done.  And your township will go backward, not forward.   Is that what you want? We Liberians are good at expecting the government to do everything for us, while we do nothing for ourselves.  And the little the government does we want to destroy.  Do you remember what happened at the newly constructed Zolu Duma Bridge across the Mesurado River in Vai Town?  Not only did the people throw litter along the bridge and into the river; they also stole the lights on the bridge!
 Yet these are the same Liberians who always complain that the government is doing nothing for them.  But let me tell you that INGRATITUDE isone of the DEADLY SINS.  God doesn’t like, people don’t like it, and you yourselves sitting under my voice don’t like ingratitude.  People who do something good for you would be pleased if you said “Thank you.”  But that is not why they did it for you, simply to be thanked.  People do it because they feel it is their duty to help others.  But they are encouraged to do even more when people show appreciation, not only with their lips, but in their lives, by demonstrating their appreciation.
 You can show appreciation for what the government is doing by keeping Caldwell clean, so that visitors or people passing through will say, “We would  like to visit Caldwell again,   because the people here are clean and they love theirtownship and take pride in it!”  
This is the attitude that will empower you to embark on the transformation of Caldwell into a beautiful and progressive Township and maybe one day, a City.       

The above paragraphs are but a small excerpt, with some emphasis added, from the remarks Kenneth Best, publisher and MD of the Daily Observer newspaper, which the newspaper's Facebook page reports he gave on 25 May 2013, on the occasion of the 188th Anniversary of the founding of Caldwell Township. Caldwell, one of the oldest towns in Liberia, having predated the country's independence by a quarter century, is now but one of Monrovia's several sleeper suburbs which form a sprawling arc to the north of the capital, in the center of Montserrado County, and are collectively referred to by locals as "Across."

Mr Best's speech gave a lengthy chronicle of this part of Liberia, detailing Caldwell's settlement and mentioning a great number of prominent family names associated with various waves of arrival to Liberia, and so makes interesting reading for anyone excited by the minor actors of the country's long history. 

The Observer post doesn't mention if the 188th anniversary celebration was more formally observed than more round numbers, but Mr. Best dares to ask, as the hamlet approaches its 200th anniversary, if its denizens dare to dream of one day being a real city:

Then the people will say that Caldwell is truly on the move, with all its people putting whip to horsetowards transformation into a modern city!                

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