But still a white woman. Difficult to pull off, I know. The nurses who I chatted with weeks ago called me a Liberian Lady after I managed to mimic their dance moves with some success, and with my dance partner, I played the part quite well. I also bought two lappas, and was then corrected as to why I shouldn’t have bought the pretty blue one that I liked so much. If you want to know if the colors will run, taste it – she said. I tasted it. It was salty. Salty is not good. So I bought one salty lappa and one not so salty.
The Lappa story
First, as in most African countries, a lappa, or wrap or wrapper is worn around the waist like a skirt. It’s tied in a simple knot (like double knotting a shoe lace only without the loops) usually in the back. Sometimes it’s not tied at all, and just tucked in like a towel after showering. The nurses were telling a story about lappas and women these days. First, there’s a specific Liberian/west African dance that involves rapidly shaking your butt and not moving much else. I’m sure it’s been shown in some movie somewhere. It’s actually really hard to shake one’s butt that quickly, on beat, without writhing all over. And I have yet to actually attempt it since I can’t seem to get my body to work like that. The point is, this move was being performed on a national dance competition that was televised, sometime in the past couple of years. The girls were wearing lappas and one of the girls let hers fall during the dance to reveal that she was wearing nothing but a thong on underneath. The nurse who was telling this story seemed to think the girl did this on accident but that she was stupid to be wearing only a thong underneath on national television. It reminded me of the Superbowl half time show incident a few years back. Anyway, this story led to a discussion of girls not wearing anything under their lappas. All of the women (and most of the people I’ve met), stayed throughout the war, and were completely at a loss as to why any woman wouldn’t wear something underneath her lappa. What if you have to run? For instance. I chimed in, making my only contribution, that young girls don’t think about running from their homes and leaving everything they possess behind them. So no, they don’t see a purpose to wearing something underneath the lappa. It’s hot out after all.
The young girls, by this story, are oblivious to a lot of the troubles of the older generation. As is so often the case, the parents try to offer their children a better life than they had and then their children in turn do not appreciate or understand the history of their parents.
Then later, on the Lofa journey, I saw the Fistulas Mobile Clinic while eating lunch. Nothing upsets an unusual meal of unfamiliar foods more than thinking about fistulas. I associate fistulas with rape but now have the pleasure of knowing, no, here it’s mostly from child birth. The doctors, three, one man and two women, were eating at the same restaurant as us in Zar Zar. They seemed to be very chipper.
3 thoughts on “A Liberian Lady now”
How is your Liberian English coming along?
i'm understanding more, but still can't speak it.
Re wearing something under your lappa…
In Sierra Leone during the war women took to wearing bike shorts under their lappas. They are called “awareness.”