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In the Newsroom

March 18, 2009
Liberia rebuilds but fragments of the fighting remain

The streets of Monrovia. Photo: Megan Thompson

The former executive mansion in Monrovia. Photo: Megan Thompson

Producer Megan Thompson just returned from reporting in Liberia, where she encountered daily reminders of the country’s civil war as Liberia emerges from its past.

In Liberia, we listened to many stories of the 14-year civil war, but we also found stories we didn’t ask for: The hostess whose mother was killed, the driver who said he once painted his face with blood, the government intern whose family was almost slaughtered because a wall surrounded their home (soldiers thought that meant they were rich).

The civil war ended six years ago, but it tore apart this small West African nation. From the balcony of my hotel in downtown Monrovia, I looked out at the former executive mansion — now a shattered shell of a building, pocked with bullet marks and surrounded by trash.

The hotel owner told us that while he fortunately fled to his native Lebanon, about 100 people moved into the hotel to seek refuge from the fighting. That night in my dimly lit room, serenaded by the car horns and cacophony of the streets below, I wondered: Who was hiding in my room? What were their war stories?

Liberia is slowly pulling itself back on its feet and rebuilding. But everywhere you go, fragments of the fighting remain. Under the leadership of President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, electricity and water are being restored, schools are being built and Liberians everywhere are trying to find a way forward, away from the past.

In another sign of change, a brand new luxury resort has just opened on the outskirts of Monrovia. One night at the shiny new bar, the bartender tells us about his mother, also dead. He studies the drink recipe book intently, serious about learning this new trade, and talks about trying to make a future for himself: “You just have to move on.”

– Megan Thompson

Read correspondent Lynn Sherr’s blog post from Liberia: Liberian summit celebrates African women with laughter.

Watch for Worldfocus’ upcoming series on Liberia in the coming weeks.

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Comments

10 comments

#10

Please i need advice where is my uncle no where to be found can you help me.

#9

I was born in Liberia,Africa and I now live in the United States.GO LIBERIA!

#8

I believe that Liberia should keept 75%of her in come in liberia from all other country that want to do in business in lliberia.Any country that do business with us should build same Manfacturing in liberia for our people to work at home

#7

My fear for Liberia is a nation that has not learn a lesson from the wrath of GOD.There is still ritual killings,voodoo practices,GOD is angry.Haiti is a recent example of HIS anger.

#6

Neil P. I agree that the very founding of Liberia in 1822 was flawed. However, this should not be an excuse for condoning injustice in Liberia today. The advancement of education amongst all ethnic and social groups should”ve by now removed the stigma and promoted a more equitable and just society.

#5

Liberia will raised again only by seeking God first,remember righteousness exalts a nation,but sin is a reproach to any people.

#4

How much progrss is Liberian leaders doing to emprove the country with US AID of $500,000,000
over five years, especially for a country that is only 2.5 million people

#3

I would like to know the circumstances of the death of King Adam Lujata and his wife.Who is responsible of those deaths.Thanks.

#2

I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW THE PRESENT CONDITIONS OF PEOPLES LIVING IN LIBERIA

#1

Liberia was established when former American slaves were shipped back to Africa. These freed slaves felt superior to the native tribes in Liberia and exploited or displaced them.
Those who do no see others as social equals can never build a just society. This seems to a common trait among all humans groups.

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