I have been slack to keep up with my days here, mostly because things started to blend together in workshops and work but today was different. Today was Liberia’s Independence Day. Technically July 26th is the date but because it fell on a Sunday the festivities were today (Monday). I’ll start with today and work backwards. Think Memento but not as well written:
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, locally referred to as Ellen or Mama Liberia, came to Gbarnga for this years celebration. This morning at about 10am she arrived at the administrative building in the city. My French speaking counterparts, their supervisor and fellow member of the CAP team, and myself traveled to the building to see her speak. We stopped off at B’s to pick her up but she was still cooking. So we continued on and walked around. I, with my light skin and familiarity with rule breaking, crossed the caution tape to the area that was “reserved for people with passes.” The French speakers and A with CAP did not follow me even though I came up with lots of reasons that they should be allowed in, they didn’t try. But, this meant I got up close and personal with many youth groups, women’s groups, tribal groups and of course, politicians. Luckily, I don’t know anyone so I can’t falsely venerate anyone and cautiously talk to them. Besides, when I’m by myself, I don’t need any help talking to anyone, they’re more than willing to talk to me. Even the women are entertained by my curiosity. Some pictures from the event are posted.
I got a call from B. and the driver and I headed to her place where she fed me a Liberian version of fried rice with goat. Goat is delicious, I never knew. There was also pasta salad, with lots of mayonnaise. The Liberians are close to my own heart when it comes to mayonnaise. Then B, Fabna and myself went back to listen to the radio of the program (since we were not VIP to get in to see the program), and then wander around the same path I’d already traveled.
This time it was much more interesting. I bought a map of Liberia (200LD, I talked him down to 160 but probably could have bargained more had I tried). We weaved our way to the top of the hill where the administrative building sits and found a perch that could see the tv screen showing the program inside and the crowd. The program itself was less than impressive, more about that later.