Traditional Cassava fights have begun – Bong County excited!

Never before have the Kpelle people revealed their secret of the traditional Cassava fights to outsiders, until this year, when I stumbled over one of the traditional cassava swords and – puzzled – asked my local friends about its purpose and meaning. The century old tradition of cassava fights takes place as both a functional approach to ease tensions between villages and a rite of passage for young men on the edge of manhood. After successful participation, the young cassava warrior – ca’wa – becomes a formal member of the agricultural group, now being allowed to assist in the annual cassava harvest. During the traditional wars, all other disputes are suspended – a tradition that seems remarkably similar to the Olympic games of ancient Greece. However, it was not possible to reveal the origins of this tradition. The traditional cassava fight is an...

Free Rodney Sieh, free press in Liberia!

A travel back in time

Edward surprised me today with a picture he found while searching for something else. Unfortunately, he can’t remember when it was taken, but looking at the children, and bearing in mind the location (Kpellimue), it can only be 2005. On the very left side, you can see James, and second to the right his sister Naomi. While I am quite used to tons of pictures and other devotional objects about children, this marks indeed a strong contrast! However, I am most happy to have an older picture, and so is James.

Totota – the research community!

Listen to the Tropical Rain

Enjoy 21sec of tropical rain! I am leaving my porch at 0:15 and enter my living room. Last night, it rained from 8pm until 9pm this morning! Pre-Order your 72min CD now! $129.- free shipping.

A new bike

Critical Journalist arrested – Newspaper shut down

Wednesday, the editor of one of the few critical newspapers in Liberia was arrested after failing to pay a fine of $1.5m to a former government official. A court decision was made against him, stating that the newspaper falsely reported about corrupt practices of said official. The farce is, an official government report stated him to be corrupt, however after his resignation no court action was taken by the government. Journalists and news advisors concur that the newspaper was closed due to it’s constant effort publishing corruption practices, sexual abuses and other major crimes. Further, this newspaper was the only one not accepting bribes, trying to publish correct and justifiable news. Read more on...

HRW: Liberian Police Corrupt

Now it is official. Just a day after my post on corruption, HRW follows me and publishes a 64p-report. I must admit, they cover more than just my single experience. Some interesting picks from their report: Elite armed units, such as the Police Support Unit, were frequently cited for violent abuses. I wrote about this on my old blog (still in German). It is sad, yet true. The police is not here to help you. They are the real rogues. Still today, this issue is not settled, and Totota citizens have received only a fraction of the money that was stolen from them. Thus it is not unexpected, that a recent UN assessment of the LNPF finds it unprepared to take over the country in terms of security. HRW further states, that Liberia’s anticorruption institutions, which should keep police corruption in check, are weak. Surprisingly, the new anti corruption law had passed the House of...

Find the difference!

Bribe the police?

By mistake, Olando did a turn where e everybody turns, but noone should. So here’s a riddle for Transparency International Fans: Should I borrow my driver $5.- to bribe the police, or let them take him into custody, and pay the ‘official penalty’ of $150.-? And who should pay that?