Sunday, December 7, 2008

Miami Beach

One of the things about Coconut Plantation (the beautiful gated community where we now live), is that it's right next to the sea; BUT although you can hear the waves, you can't see any of it. This is due to a very high perimeter wall.

On Sundays, besides the waves, one also hears very loud beach party music coming over the wall. Having seen some quite hectic beach parties before, and what with the nearby squatter camp on the beach, we assumed it was a rowdy, possibly less than safe affair. That is until Paul discovered that by standing on the little wall of our back porch, you can peek through the razor wire, and on the other side lies a lovely bit of cleaned-up beach, and an open, sandy plot with wood-and-palm leaf structures that look rather like they might be selling cool drinks, beers and snacks. Also, things seemed pretty quiet.

So yesterday we wandered around the far end of our compound, down a little path through the weeds, and in through a gate where we were warmly welcomed to 'Miami Beach.' It's clean, safe, and run by a bunch of very nice young men who pick up litter, provide security & make newcomers feel welcome. There's an entrance fee of about $1, at least for foreigners, and I guess the little food and drink shacks pay rent too.

And so, Lisa and Nompilo, we are in a house by the sea after all and will be going to the beach often. Maybe visiting won't be such a bad idea, now... :)

Update 9 Dec: yesterday evening we took a stroll around again for sundowners. Below is the view to the sea. Behind us the DJ was pumping out great West-African music (kept us awake later on), a few people were moving gently to the beat, and little families and groups of young people stood around chatting & just enjoying the evening, beach and sound. A few recognised us from the weekend and waved.

It was a place and a feeling I've been hoping to find for many years, and never really did at home, where beaches are for the rich and any cross-cultural space is stacked with baggage.

Now available daily at Miami Beach, just around the corner.

Women in Blue

We were at Golden Beach on Friday evening, and caught the end of an event where the all-female Indian peacekeeping force were providing security.

Private Pramila and a friend thought pale Sam & Tumi on a Liberian beach a charming curiousity (Pramila has left an 11-year old son at home while on this mission), so we took lots of photos.

The soldiers are part of the first ever all-female UN peacekeeping force, and one certainly feels safe in the presence of these strong, friendly, no-nonsense, sub-machine gun-wielding women. Here is a BBC article about their deployment in Liberia; it points out the significance of their presence in a country with a terrible history of rape and also sexual exploitation by male UN 'peacekeepers'. It's hoped that their presence will inspire Liberian women to join the police, while contributing to a more empowered image of women in general. Which it certainly does.

Private Pramila with friend & Sam

Sam, a soldier & me

Keeping things safe in central Monrovia:

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More music

Here's another cut from a song, Belleh by Friday "The Cell Phone Man" from his album also entitled Belleh - the first was posted on 30 November, here.

I bought the album from one of Monrovia's mobile music shops, a special trolley with stacks of CDs and DVDS on the top and sides, and a megaphone in the front for playing samples of the merchandise.

Our friend Mohamed explained that it is a Bassa tradition to name children for the day on which they were born. As for Friday's nick-name, I'm still trying to find out where that's from.

Reading List 1

There are some great reads relating to Liberia: some online, some quite easy to buy/order. In this and some more posts to follow, I'll share what I've found.

First, the Liberian Seabreeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings. It's as wonderful than the title suggests, and includes quality fiction, non-fiction, poems and even some art and photos. Each edition has a different theme.

In the current issue (Volume 5/issue2), I've so far read the poetry, have a look at the first five poets they are brilliant.

Friday, December 5, 2008


This is Sam's idea.
Post your questions as comments, and I'll answer them within this post.

Exhibition at JFK

Organised public expressions of culture, ideas and concerns are fairly rare in Monrovia. This rather beautiful exhibition has appeared in front of JFK Medical Centre, the main government hospital. The star design and colours are a reference to Liberia's flag. A message against abuse of women, or supporting women's rights, has been written on each star; most or maybe all of them by men.

These include: Become a feminist; Stop raping women; It's not too late to send your girls to school; I promise to protect women rights; I will be a caring and loving husband; Send rapists to jail; It's not her fault she got violated...

Telecommunications & Media in Monrovia