How to Make Liberian Rice Bread: Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s Tips on good homemaking

Over ripe bananas and over ripe plantains- don’t throw out your food…

COOKING is an Art just as poetry writing: Find time to cook and bake every so often. Eat, laugh, dance, and celebrate you.

This recipe makes two to three medium pans, usually, Pyrex dishes are what I use. I usually freeze any leftover and it makes even better rice bread later.

Ingredients— three 2 packs of cream of rice, ripe plantains, 10-12 over- ripened

bananas, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs, milk, canola or cooking oil. Gather all of your ingredients on your left, and after measuring, you place them on the right to avoid doubling. Double this recipe to make more bread.

Instructions: First, cut up and mix (grind) three over-ripened plantains in a blender or Ninja blender with a tiny bit of water for easy mixing until liquefied, then blend bananas. Add a small bit of water if it’s too thick. Feel free to mix the two groups together. I use ripe plantains and bananas because they complement each other.

Recipe:

Recipe: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 pks of or 4 cups of cream of rice
5 teaspoons of baking powder
2 teaspoons of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
Stir all these dry ingredients and set down.
9 -10 cups of blended mix of banana plantains (In other words, 2.5 cups of
banana/plantain mix to each 1 cup of rice. I add another half, so two and half to one. If you do not do that, your bread will be too hard.
2 medium eggs, beaten in a small bowl then pour in bowl with all the first ingredients.
1 cup of milk
1 to1 ½ cups of oil

Stir ingredients in one big mixing bowl. The batter will be loose, easy to pour freely into a bowl almost like cake. The batter should not be thick and hard to pour. If bananas or plantains are not properly ripened and soft, the bread will be dry. Also, check the oil so you have as much oil as you need. Cut down on salt to taste. Some people add sugar, but I don’t. If your bananas and plantains are ripened well, your bread will be very sweet. Americans love the extra sugar, but you don’t need that much sugar, particularly, if you are as sweet as I am, hahaha.

Grease your pans from bottom to sides, making sure the pans are properly greased without leaving your baking pan soaked in oil.

After mixing all of the ingredients for about five minutes, pour batter into greased pans and bake for 50 minutes to an hour until the bread is golden brown. In 45 minutes, check the oven to be sure bread is not burning. Bread is baked when it is golden brown and moist.

With Liberian recipes, perfection with your rice bread comes after several tries since bananas and plantains are not created equal. And not only the ingredients, guys, even we are not created equally when it comes to crossing culture.

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Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Literature- a new generation of young Liberians breaking out with new writing:

I’m busy at work, collecting, accepting, reading, editing, working with my team of readers and helpers as we begin the long process of putting together what will be the first comprehensive anthology of literary works from the small African Republic of Liberia, West Africa. The book will include works from the early days of the republic to the present, with key authors whose work have never been seen outside of Liberia, but who are the foundation of some of us contemporary writers. Manuscripts are coming in, an October 31st deadline, fast approaching. Already, we are accepting and rejecting, a rolling process to give writers the opportunity to edit, revise or send in new work. What keeps me excited is not what we who are now the older generation of living writers from Liberia have done, in Liberia, and the diaspora; what excites me, rather, is the new group of young, aspiring writers, most, who have been my mentees, a new generation of millennials, college students and recent graduates who in trying to make sense of the struggling economy and lack of opportunities, are turning to writing their own stories as a means of survival. These young people who did not experience the Liberian civil war as some of us older generation of writers, are the inheritors of that war, its crumbled buildings, broken streets, poor schools, the long road out of a war that devastated the country for fourteen years. These young people are the future. They are the future of not only the nation, but also its literature. This is why I stay awake at night. One of such young aspiring writers who does not get enough attention, is Kerry Adama, a very talented, humbled and descent young man, who describes himself as a Servant Leader in the Campus Christian Fellowship at Cuttington University, where is is currently studying. He is 0ne of our young ones who gives us hope of another great Liberian writer. Below his photo is his poem, ” I Live Where Billboards are Broken.”

    I Live Where Billboards are Broken

BY KERRY ADAMAH KENNEDY

I live where billboards are broken,
my sweet home,
where cotton blooms and snapper fish lives.
This home, where our coconut trees
know our history.
I live with mice running up and down my home.
I live here where we dance to the sound of the Samba,
where kola nuts and pepper welcome us.
This land, of beautiful lakes and mountains.

I live here,
Where we don’t hear birds chirping in the morning.
My home isn’t like that.
We don’t wake to the singing of birds,
but we wake to the tussle of mice in our rooms,
running, investigating,
and ripping apart our documents.

In my room, I hear two mice discuss
How they will eat my black shoes.
One says he’s making his lair in them.
Another says my passport on the table
is good food
so he helps himself.

He chews on, but discovers the shoes too hard
for his old teeth. So, he stops,
and I laugh hearing them talk,
but I’m scared to approach them.
I wake to mice running,
and my mom making breadfruit soup
in the hot morning.

Here is Jee-Won’s Poem, My Mother’s Tale

My Mother’s Tale:
for My Mother

        JEE-WON M.E. ARKOI

She stood there on a Saturday morning,
painting a mental picture in her mind,
watching the heavy downpour
that had begun the day before
but still didn’t seem to be near the end.

Our bag of rice is empty, and if you know,
you know that you shouldn’t play
with Liberian people’s rice business.
In this Liberian household,
we eat country rice only.
She imagines the hassle she’ll go through
to “find car.” On this rainy, cold,
wet Saturday morning, she thinks
of the beans she cooked on Thursday,
the one Baby Arkoi likes, but didn’t enjoy
because she likes it with country rice
not the imported nyanmanyama.

She imagines Gorbachev market, Red-Light,
where the zogoes hustle rain or shine,
where there is mud, red, thick, stinking mud.
She imagines the portor, portor,
but like a hen who has waited for the rain
that refuses to cease, like a hen,
that keeps her children warm
under her wings while her heart breaks
from watching them starve,

like a hen, that goes into the rain ignoring
the cold, searching for the last rice grain,
Mama Arkoi put on her boots, got herself ready,
and ran through our flooded yard, into the rain.
Looking for rice for us her chicks,
my wonderful mother.
It’s Sunday morning, and it’s raining still,
Rev. Arkoi looks out the window,
pointing at the chickens in the rain.

Our Desse, my Esika though from another world,
relates to that country chicken
more than Mawein, the Lorma people’s stranger,
more than Sumowuo, a son of the soil,
Mama Arkoi looks at the chickens, and smiles
and then laughs, her laughter so alive
and sweet like the melodies of her people,

like the Lingala songs from her people,
the Congolese people, who know how to sing
so well, songs I don’t understand, but try to sing.
She laughs, thinking about yesterday’s
trip to Red-light Market.
Looking out the window, she says, “I remember.”

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CALLING ALL LIBERIAN WRITERS: Poets, Short Story Writers, Writers of Short Memoir Articles and Autobiography, Emerging & Established, to Submit Their Work.

Call for Submissions: “Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Literature”

Submission Dates: March 1, 2020 to October 31, 2020

Where to Send Submission: Email by word attachment to liberianlit@gmail.com

The Publication of Liberian Literature

With the support of the Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Author of several books, Poet, & Professor of English, Creative Writing, and Literature of Penn State University is seeking manuscripts from Liberian writers and all writers of Liberian origin or descent, established and emerging writers to submit their manuscripts of poetry, fiction, memoir articles, true stories, prose poems, and spoken word poetry about all subjects, including the Liberian civil war, post war Liberia, Diaspora experience, family issues, everything for consideration. Accepted manuscripts will be published in the new and first comprehensive anthology of Liberian literature in this modern era, entitled: “Breaking the Silence: Anthology of Liberian Literature.” All manuscripts will be considered for publication. Please follow the guidelines below to submit your work. Possible pub. date: Between 2021 & 2022.

Submission Guidelines:

  1. Only Liberians and writers of Liberian connection or descent should submit their work.
  2. All poetry, stories, and memoir or autobiography pieces must be type-written on word doc., word dox, (no pdf or other format)
  3. All work must be edited and polished to be considered. No amateur pieces will be accepted. (Get together with fellow writers to polish your work).
  4. Submit work that is yours only, and the anthology will have only first publication or one-time publication right (no compensation) with a signed contract from the publisher of the anthology.
  5. All work must be submitted by ATTACHMENT in word format to the following email: liberianlit@gmail.com
  6. Open submission date: March 1, 2020 to Oct 31, 2020 for all writers- new dated
  7. Contact the anthology email or Dr. Wesley if you know of other Liberian writers, dead or alive, who may benefit from this opportunity to compile our work in one volume
  8.  We are looking for work by Liberian writers from the founding of the Republic in the 1800s to the present. Forward us any tips, poems, stories for consideration
  9. Length & Number of Stories & memoir articles- 10 – 12 double spaced, 12-point font or 10-12 pages long. Send up to 2 stories (unless requested by editor for more).
  10. Poetry:  Send 3, 4, up to 6 poems (only the best will be accepted). Format: one poem on each page, single space your lines, edit and polish before submission.

For any questions, please contact liberianlit@gmail.com

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PATRICIA JABBEH WESLEY Reading Her Poetry for the 30th Anniversary of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin on August 5, 2020

Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s Reading

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The 30th Anniversary of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin (youtube live): Join me as I read my poetry at 12 o’clock Eastern time, tomorrow, August 5, 2020:

I’m excited about my poetry reading to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin tomorrow. I will be reading via zoom as the event is broadcast live through the youtube video link below as we read. I”m honored to be reading with another African writer, Koulsy Lamco from Chad, North Central Africa. I will also have the pleasure of a Spanish reader who will read my poetry in the Spanish translation for Spanish people all over the world and particularly, in Colombia, the home country of the Festival. Join me at 12 noon Eastern Time for the broadcast. My newly assigned reader is Valentina, a lady I work better with. We have already traded voice conversations as she needed me to pronounce the difficult words from the Grebo Language of Liberia, like: Gbaliahde, Tugbakeh, Kaluway, and Kwadi Chee, all in Grebo. Imagine translating English to Spanish, and then you are faced with a very strange language, so, I had a good laugh before I recorded the words in Grebo pronunciation for her. She is such a sweet person, I’m excited to hear her read each of my poems in Spanish. I also told her she didn’t have to do the popowlee chant, hahahah🤣🤣🤣, but imagine the Grebo Popowlee chant in Spanish, hahaha.

In its 30th year, one of the world’s most dynamic poetry festivals was forced to go virtual this year due to COVID-19, drawing together nearly two hundred poets from more than a hundred countries around the world, every area of the globe, represented in this very professional and well-organized festival or world poets for an entire month. The festival, founded 30 years ago by Fernando Rendon and his team of writers and supporters of poetry, peace and freedom, have dedicatedly served the world of poetry for three decades. My first invitation to the festival was in 2007, and my life has never been the same. I can say that the festival has inspired much of what I have done with poetry over the years since that first year. I was invited the second time in 2010, and again, I saw the power of words, of poetry, or writers, and was honored to meet poets from every part of the globe, to watch the power of words come alive and read to thousands of enthusiastic audiences for nearly two weeks each time. Well, tomorrow, at about noon, tune in to the link below and join us as another poet from another end of Africa reads with me and as our Spanish translators read each of our poems in Spanish. My third time being honored to join voices with poets around the world, I am very honored and humbled to celebrate poetry and life in this very difficult time in our world. This is a moment in the world that will be remembered in history, and you must join me and my fellow poet read for you, wherever you are on the globe.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixfWnrorCB8&fbclid=IwAR0VLLJzkHegt72nm-Rt9csOSYyVaFQk_dRPZLWft6Ybilb97BNOcmd4UX0

Here is a poem I wrote from my first influenced at the 2007 Festival.

Medellin, 2007
A Poem for Fernando’s Colombia

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
to God, how I wish I could take out my heart for you,
but how will I sing this song to you without a heart?
You, with so much heart for love and poetry,
for hope in the eyes of the little girl
who, with a scrap of white paper, wants me to say a word
to her, to autograph my name for her, in her name.
She tells me with that unusual smile how
she loves my poems, but she is only eight years old.
She and Carlos, the five-year-old brother, who have
pushed through the thousands to get to me.

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
where we go down from the mountain
into the bowl of a city, into the deep heart of a city,
so warm, a city where people still smile
and clap to a poem and cry for the war, a city
where concrete houses hold up the hills with muscles
of steel, muscles of pain, and somewhere along the roads
as the bus descends from the airport, the poor have
erected their own lives so sadly, waiting,
and yet, they overlook the city with hope.
From the edge of sharp cliffs and the side roads,
the burning lights and flames of the city, hard
and indistinguishable from anger.
But theirs is of the pain from the years gone.

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
Waiting can be so hard, Medellin.
But I love you from my heart. I love your laughter,
your warm hugs and kisses, your Spanish, so simply
plain and warm. I love even your tears that you
have shared with me when a poem I’m reading
touches you in that place where only a poem can go.
At the International Poetry Festival, you sit there,
along your hill arena, clapping, thousands of people,
sitting and thinking and listening and hoping,
Medellin, I have never seen anything like this before.
Thousands of people sitting for long hours
at a poetry reading, Medellin…
we wait for that day, Medellin, we wait.
Trust me, I know how to wait, and I know you do too.

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, President Barack Obama! We miss you!

It was Bob Marley, the great and mighty singer who inspired the entire world during his time here on earth with his music and vision of the world, who once said, “The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.” And with these words, we remember you today, inspired by your vision of the world, inspired by your audacity, your family life, and by your love for all those you led that we say Happy Birthday, young man. You are still young. You remind me that to be an immigrant is not a curse, that our children we give to America by our presence here can rise to change the world for us, and that, yes, we can be proud of our heritage, whether that heritage is biracial or whether it is part African and part American. May God grant you a hundred more years. God, bless America. God, bless Africa.

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Young Scholars of Liberia 2020 Six Week Virtual Summer Writing Workshops with Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley: What a Success, Discovering New, Talent, & Honing of Old Talent

Here are The Young Scholars of Liberia 2020 Writing Workshop Participants

Thirty-three young Liberian writers and aspiring writers, mostly college students and recent graduates participated in our annual Young Scholars of Liberia Writing Workshop, facilitated by me, with the support of Friends of Young Scholars of Liberia who helped raise funds on GoFundme this year. The funds were used to purchase data coverage for these young Liberians to take lessons from me via Zoom. I purchased a Zoom subscription, and the Liberia team managed data purchase and distribution. Amazingly, we held workshops every Tuesday and Thursday, from June 2 to July 9, 2020. In previous years, I flew to Liberia for five weeks of teaching and tutoring in Monrovia, with participants joining us from across the capital city of Monrovia, Liberia, and surrounding counties. I would then fly to Maryland County to conduct more creative writing workshops for young people, hosted at the William V. S. Tubman University. After four years of consistent mentoring and workshops, we now have young Liberians publishing their own works and books.

Here are some of the photos from last year’s activities of Young Scholars of Liberia workshops : COVID19 has hit our organization hard. Many of the young Liberians we mentor across the country are now out of school, are unable to afford the high cost of internet charges, and have nothing to do. This year, I was forced to think of a way to help teach our young scholars, help them improve their talent and their writing skills, teach them as if I were on the ground, and thank goodness for Zoom. That effort was possible. Looking back on last year, we pray for better times next year so face to face workshops will resume.

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Decolonizing the Liberian Mindset: Our Roadmap to Finding True Independence After 173 Years.

The 173rd Independence Day Oration of Liberians in the Diaspora, Delivered by Dr. Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Commissioned by Focus on Liberia, USA

Nye-nyue-ah, Ah Bati-Oh, Nyeu-ah, Ah-Bati-Oh! My fellow Liberians, friends of Liberia, ladies and gentlemen: Today marks 173 years since Liberia declared her independence on July 26, 1847. In that Declaration of Independence, remember that there were African people inhabiting these parts of Africa, those who owned the land as the American Colonization Society (ACS) repatriated freed slaves from the United States of America between 1820 and 1847. In that declaration, however, those indigenous ethnicities or our tribal people were not included as citizens of the new republic. It took 99 years before indigenous peoples, or Africans were first allowed to vote in 1946. The founders of Liberia drew up laws and a constitution that prevented native Liberians, the majority, ‘they called “primitive,” from any participation. In 1904, instead of granting full freedom to the African populace, they instituted a kind of “Indirect Rule,” where government appointed officials became enforcers of government policies to control the indigenous people, 57 years after independence, with no rights to citizenship or rights to participation in government.  

What I want to conceptualize for you here is that African people who had suffered enslavement at the hands of white racist institutions in the United States, who had been denied any rights to participate as citizens in the United States, having repatriated to the homeland of their ancestors, had just carved out a “little America in Africa,” instead of an African nation. That exclusion of the indigenous Grebos, Krahns, Krus, Bassa, Kpelle, Lorma, Gbandi, Gola, Gio, Mano, Mandingo, Dey, Kissi, Vai, and more, did not end even after 99 years. That discrimination of African peoples, similar to the white supremacy culture they had fled was the foundation of what I call “the Liberian mindset,” that mindset of the colonized African in Africa, that culture of the superior-inferior people, steeped in an identity crisis for these 173 years. With this introduction, please allow me the opportunity to speak to you on the topic, “Decolonizing the Liberian Mindset: Our Roadmap to Finding True Independence After 173 Years.”

            By now, you must be wondering where this speech is going, but let me continue to remind you here that in this formation of our country, everything about the new nation was patterned after the United States of America, including our flag, our month of independence, our national holidays, the names of streets and cities, and everything that could be named, and even the capital city, Monrovia, were named in honor of the same old slave-owning nation that had rejected them since their forefathers were forcefully brought into the United States. The colonization of not only a republic, but also the mind of its people was beginning. In other words, an African nation was being created on our continent to be a microcosm of the United States of America, and not of Africa. From the very foundation of our country, here was Liberia, already deep in what I will call an IDENTITY CRISIS. The independence that our brothers and sisters sought by braving the hardship of the unknown, suffering much loss of life in the difficult terrain of these west African coasts was from the beginning, crippled by the question that has plagued Liberians since nearly two centuries ago. That question that continues to haunt us today wherever we go is the question of “who we are as a people and as a nation.” Are we Americans or are we Africans? Are we a colonized people or are we truly independent?

This is why we cannot celebrate milestones of our independence without recalling these ironic twists of fate that have led us to this moment. It is this long ugly history, riddled with discrimination and prejudice, violence and revolts that resulted in many wars between the indigenous peoples, including the Grebo and Kru wars. We must also recall that there was a 139 year-Americo-Liberian-led exclusive governing, and that it took the 1980 bloody, military coup for the first indigenous President to come into power. Those many decades of suppression also culminated in the 14-year-series of civil wars, the bloodiest in our West African region’s history. As we reflect on the tragedies of our history, we must however give credit to the brave settlers or freed slaves who traveled from a land where they were treated as non-citizens, enslaved for their race to these unknown coasts of West Africa, their struggles in wars with the indigenous, and their resolve to form the Liberian nation, despite the many hardships that befell them. We cannot also celebrate them without celebrating the indigenous African people that welcomed the newcomers even in the face of opposition from their own indigenous peoples. Yes, Liberians, ours is a history of contradictions, ironies, pain, and strength, but we have survived thus far, imperfect, but determined to succeed as one nation. But we must face the hard truths of the contradictions of our being, how we were formed as a nation, and we must resolve to change our circumstances, a change, without which we could never move forward.

Yes, we must celebrate us and our nation, but before we celebrate far too much, let us also remember that we now stand again at another crossroads in the world when the ugly symbols of hate and brutality against Africans and other color peoples around the world are being revisited and symbols of repression, suppression, and discrimination are being  demolished. We are at a new crossroads where we are accountable not only to revisit how we hope to shape our future, but also to confront the demons of how our past has impeded us as a people. It is about time to tear down all of the barriers erected in our nation’s founding, untruths about our history, who we were and who we want to be as a nation. We must revisit all of those mistruths written in our founding documents and in our history that have divided us as a people.

The refusal of some to face our history with honesty, where to mention the injustices perpetuated by Americo-Liberians against indigenous peoples always results in accusations that you are being divisive, must end. We must face and tear down all of the discriminatory practices and thinking that have marred our minds and our being as Liberians. As we debate tearing down the symbolic images of slavery and discrimination, let me remind you that until we tear down the Liberian mindset, we cannot make progress or develop our country. We must tear down our Liberian mindset that is rooted in our ugly history, that mindset that has given Liberians a confusing identity, and thus, has thrust us into a world where we expect very little of ourselves, believing  that we are nothing unless what we are or what we become is achieved by or through government. That mindset teaches the Liberian from generation to generation that someone outside of us, outside of Africa, or that America, or the western world is our redeemer.

Without going into the details of our history of nearly two centuries of discrimination and Americo-Liberian ideology of the right to citizenship, leadership, superiority, and privilege, I must insist in this speech that our biggest problem as Liberians is our MINDSET about our identity as Africans. We have an identity problem. That identity problem is rooted in the colonization of our minds, as I have stated, from the very beginning of our nation’s founding. We may assume that we know that we are Liberians, and that we are West Africans, and thus, Africans, but do most of our educated and literate people believe this? If you doubt me, gather a few Liberians in a room and ask them about their hometowns of origin, their villages, their indigenous languages, and you will see their reactions. We are the only Africans who are afraid to be true to our identity as Africans, afraid to own ourselves, our indigenousness, our languages, and our culture, our indigenous songs and our traditions, our villages, and our very being. Many Liberians even with the most resources do not know their hometowns, have never visited their hometowns or ever cared to know what their hometowns look like. Many Representatives and Senators from far flung counties in our country do not really know their home districts.

We are the only Africans whose founders ingrained in us the fear of being African. If you want to know how true that is,  just begin reading about us, our history, or asking your elders, or watching people around you when you speak your indigenous language, and you will understand that Liberians have an identity crisis problem. Identity crisis as a mindset is a grave problem for any nation. This is why when a nation is founded, there is a Declaration of Independence that clearly defines what that nation will be, and in that definition, how its people will carve out not only their nation, but also their being as individuals. That declaration is the mindset of the new country. One of the fathers of Africa who led Ghana to independence in 1957, a visionary for African Unity, Kwame Nkrumah once said, “I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me.” Who are we? Are we Africans or Americans?

In his fight for his country’s independence, another African leader and the first Prime Minister of the then The Independent Democratic Republic of Congo, Patrice E. Lumumba in his August 25, 1960 address to the All-African Conference in Leopoldville, Congo, once said, “We know that Africa is neither French, nor British, nor American, nor Russian, that it is African. We know the objects of the West. Yesterday they divided us on the level of a tribe, clan and village…They want to create antagonistic blocs, satellites…”  

The very idea of independence, of becoming a nation is rooted in the definition of statehood and the idea of belonging to a place, thus, an identity. Here, these leaders in other African countries were establishing the clear fact about their identity, who they would be, the mindset they wanted their people to have. Independence is not a simple word because it symbolizes freedom from being colonized both in body and in the mind. The reason people come together to establish a nation for themselves is not only to protect their borders from outside encroachment or from foreign intervention, but mainly to forge an identity for themselves as a sovereign people in the world. When the beginning of a nation is however, confused, when those forming the nation do not see themselves belonging to the continent of their new homeland, or when they do not bring together all of the diversity of their peoples and include them in every aspect of the new government, that nation is deeply crippled. And if for centuries, the cultures of the majority people are marginalized, the languages shunned, the music, frowned on, shoved aside as western culture is promoted, that confusion about identity will continue to eat into the nation’s strengths and aspiration, into the people’s need to be inspired, or to free themselves of neocolonialism.  No nation that is built on two concepts of identity can prosper. A nation, that embraces all of its diversity of cultures, the settler and the indigenous, uniting its people from the very beginning will always prosper even though wars may arise, and centuries may elapse. This problem of identity, the fear of ourselves is the root of why we Liberians continue to struggle with ourselves and with our thinking.

 Our mindset has been colonized for 173 years, my people, always wanting to belong to America even before war drove tens of thousands of Liberians into exile in the US. Why do we cling to America if not for what America can do for us, you may ask. That old mindset of belonging to a place other than ours, that refusal to own what we are and have, and to own our homeland is like someone who purchases a house through a bank loan and thinks of the house as belonging to the bank, and therefore does not care for it. Many listening to me today may deny my claims that we are a people afraid of being true to ourselves by pointing to the new fashion to dress and look African, the popular culture among our people today, and for many, only for the purpose of being exotic. Dressing African or looking African is not enough if you are embarrassed to speak your own languages or hate your languages or believe that being from a certain place or tribe makes you inferior. And I know that there are other Liberians who hold on to the new settler culture and some will claim that they have no tribal languages, and I respect that. I do not however, understand the majority of us Liberians, the 98% of us Liberians who are embarrassed by our culture, our languages, our rich cultural traditions, and the beauty and the power of being African. While we’re busy pretending to be something else, our culture and our homelands are dying.

On the other hand, pardon me, my Americo-Liberian friends, but for the sake of scholarship and not prejudice, I want to tell you today that Liberia is the only country in Africa where descendants of freed slaves are proud to call themselves descendants of slavery. They are the only Africans, whose forefathers, having been forcefully uprooted from their beautiful kingdoms and cultures, enslaved for hundreds of years by white American slave traders and slave owners, and repatriated from that country that they helped build with their blood and free labor when freedom for black people was in sight, are proud to call themselves “Americo-Liberians.” Think about it for a moment that the children of Israel who were enslaved in Egypt, after 400 years, their descendants returning to the “Promised Land,” proudly calling themselves, “Egyptian-Israelites.” Let that sink in. I can understand American blacks calling themselves “African-Americans,” because, they are Americans after all, and the fact that they still want to be called “African” should be a teaching lesson for us all.  And for the sake of scholarship again, let me also tell you that after nearly two hundred years of intermarriages with indigenous peoples, our sisters and brothers of settler descent must think with me that we are Liberians, all of us, and it behooves us to remove all of the barriers that make us a colonized people. In Sierra Leone, descendants of freed British slaves who were repatriated from the United Kingdom do not call themselves British-Sierra Leoneans even though Britain played a greater role of colonizing and building Sierra Leone far more than the United States that abandoned its freed slaves to fend for themselves in Africa. Remarkably, the US also did not officially recognize Liberia as a sovereign state after independence until 1862, 15 long years later.

These anecdotes, including the ones about indigenous peoples not celebrating the beauty of belonging to their ethnic groups are intended to help you visualize the extent to which our mindset has been deeply crippled by the culture of exclusiveness created at our nation’s founding. Our indigenous forefathers were excluded and treated as less than human beings, were the “slaves” in the households of Americo-Liberians and to a government that learned how to enslave their subjects just as their slave masters taught them in the American South. So, in the establishment of the new nation, they created a system in which our fathers had to renounce our identities, our names, our cultures, in other words, disown ourselves in order to participate in the ruling class of the Americo-Liberian government. That culture of discrimination has shaped our mindset that still haunts our politics, our social lifestyles, our family life, and all that we are as a people today. And until we confront that identity crisis, no changing of symbolic images or even the constitution will unite or redeem us.

What is the Liberian mindset and why do I believe that we have a colonized mindset? The Liberian mindset is that of the “Master–Servant,” “Country–Civilized,” the “Conger–Country,” “Indigenous–Americo-Liberian,” the “Big Government/rich vs. helpless People,” the “I can’t do anything for myself unless government does it for me,” mindset. That mindset is also reflected in the “America-is our savior,” “Foreign Person–Preferable,” “Liberians are useless without outside help,” defeatist mindset that destroys a nation. No nation can develop with this mindset. We must rise above this culture of prejudice and helpless dependency if we must grow.

A couple years ago, some in the Liberian Diaspora community in the US who saw themselves as opponents of President George Weah’s government and sought to rise up against him without giving him even two years to do the job for which he was elected, were seeking various ways of bringing down his newly elected government. Many were calling on the United States to set up a War Crimes Tribunal. The idea of a war crimes tribunal was not a new concept to many of us educated and well-thinking people. What was remarkably wrong about that thinking was that these Liberian born people were asking a foreign government to institute a war crimes tribunal in another sovereign country as a way of disrupting the new government. This was the Liberian mindset at its best, a mindset that resorts to seeking assistance to solve our problems before investigating how we as a people could solve our own problems. The United States may have the word, “United” in its name, but it is not the United Nations or the African Union. Not long after that, I began to read debates about others who were lobbying for US Congress to pass a resolution to make Liberia a “Protectorate of the United States,” and that other idea made me want to cry for my country. Here were we, citizens of an independent African country, basking in the dream and hope that our country would become recolonized by America. Fellow Liberians, here we are today, celebrating our 173rd year of independence, and deep within, we are still searching for our identity, searching for the answers to our problems by turning to colonial powers, dreaming of being recolonized by outsiders.

Many decades ago, as African countries sought independence from the brutality of European colonization, the thinkers of the continent reminded our people over and over about the divisiveness of colonization and its destructive powers. Their words still ring true today. Again, it was Patrice Lumumba, eventually killed before the freedom he fought so hard for was realized, who said that “These divisions, which the colonial powers have always exploited the better to dominate us, have played an important role — and are still playing that role — in the suicide of Africa”, and Kwame Nkrumah, another African liberator put it differently by reminding us in his “Africa Must Unite,” speech in 1963 that: “The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart.” – . “We must unite now or perish”.

            I cannot close without mentioning another founding father of African unity, President William V. S. Tubman, Liberia’s 18th President and father of our then Unification Policy , a leader who helped bring together Liberians across the nation. Another president, the dynamic William R. Tolbert had the vision to bring change to our country. A president I met and hoped would have brought us closer as a people, attempted to change our mindset in his “Self-Reliance” policy which was beginning to produce fruits in my generation before he was killed. These two men, though they failed in many ways, were the closest we have ever come to changing the Liberian mindset prior to the civil war. Here we are today, in the 21st century, a people scattered around the world, away from our country where we are most needed, but we continue to see fractions of us attempt to tear us down as a people. There are many who still believe that only a certain group of people can lead our nation. That mindset, deeply rooted in our founding, cannot continue. Are we going to be Africans or Americans? I challenge all of us to return to our very being, what makes us great as Liberians, our true heritage as African, our diversity of purpose, but our unity must find strength in our patriotism, a patriotism that constrains us from selling our birthrights to foreign powers, constrains us against destroying one another. It behooves us to return to our culture, our languages, our literatures, our songs, our indigenous homelands, our country to help rebuild the broken cultures and towns. US President, John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” my people.

We cannot keep on celebrating while destroying ourselves, our unity, our country. We are one people of diverse languages and cultures, and it is in our combine heritage as descendants of freed slaves and indigenous peoples together, as Africans, all of our ethnicities that make us a unique as a nation. We can never succeed if we continue to run away from who we are as Africans, or tear down one another. A beautiful Liberian proverb says to us, “Teeth and Tongue may fight, but they will never stop working together.” One Liberia, one Africa forever!

Thank you. Popowlee-oh, popowlee-oh, popowlee-oh, oh…

Posted in Immigrant. Comments Off on Decolonizing the Liberian Mindset: Our Roadmap to Finding True Independence After 173 Years.

Liberia’s Two Edge-Sword: The Ebola Virus that Kills the Ebola Patient While Turning Away Other Patients for Fear of the Ebola Virus

Patricia Jabbeh WesleyThe Liberian Government Must Create an Adequate Center to Fight Ebola, Declare a State of Emergency, Adequately Educate the Citizenry and Medical Practitioners on The Deadly Virus, and Stop Medical Care Givers in the Nation’s Hospitals from Turning Away Desperate Patients Inflicted by the Virus or Other Illnesses.

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The Ebola Virus that is overtaking Liberia today is a two edge sword, and until the Liberian President, Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf slows down and directs her undivided attention and enough resources to this deadly epidemic, it may overwhelm her and the already desperate and poverty stricken Liberian people. Every Liberian everywhere should pay close attention now, and call on the government to do all it can to stop this epidemic from spreading; every Liberian everywhere should pay close attention now. When Dr. Samuel Brisbane,the Chief Medical Officer of the largest medical hospital in Liberia, the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia,  can be killed by Ebola, it says a lot about the country and its leadership. Why is this virus killing so many of the caregivers, very important medical practitioners as well as the ordinary people? When is the government going to designate a special center for the care of our desperate Liberian people who are inflicted by the disease? Why isn’t there a major center yet, a center, controlled by the Liberian Health Ministry where patients suspected of the disease can be taken?

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Small, Unprepared Hospitals Struggle to Handle A National Epidemic: Why? Are Nearly 200 People Dead Not Enough Yet?

images3images2The Ebola Virus, which is now recorded as the worst case ever, and has already killed more than a thousand in the West African region; it began in Guinea in February of this year, and moved on to the capital of Conakry, the capital of Guinea. The virus continued to spread to other countries like Sierra Leone, and by April, it reached Liberia through the Loffa County (northern Liberia) bordering towns with Guinea. The virus would have been contained had the government acted quickly, but soon, the virus reached Monrovia, and has now spread to other counties. But is Monrovia or Liberia, for that matter, the sort of place such a virus can be stopped easily? No. The Ebola virus in a place like Monrovia, a city overwhelmed by most of the nation’s population since the end of the war, is not a place where such a virus can be stopped unless the government with the help of the international community, devotes all its efforts to stopping this deadly disease. It may be too late soon, Liberians.

622x350“In this 2014 photo provided by the Samaritan’s Purse aid organization, Dr. Kent Bentlyly, left, treats an Ebola patient at the Samaritan’s Purse Ebola Case Management Center in Monrovia, Liberia. On Saturday, July 26, 2014, the North Carolina-based aid organization said Brantly tested positive for the disease and was being treated at a hospital in Monrovia.” __FOX News

Dr. Kent Bently, a US Fort Worth doctor, working with a humanitarian organization in Liberia is now infected with the virus. Dr. Samuel Brisbane, JFK Memorial’s Chief Medical Officer and numerous other nurses, caregivers, hospital workers, and others who are the first contacts with Ebola patients might have perished.  We do not need more people to die before there is a serious call to action, a serious statement calling on everyone to quit running from patients or hiding patients infected by the disease. There needs to be more to end this epidemic.

THE TWO EDGE SWORD DILEMMA: What is it?

The Liberian population which now mostly live in Monrovia due to the difficult economic problems, the lack of roads to interior counties, the lack of schools, hospitals, supply of goods or even an adequate means of transportation from the interior counties to the capital city are caught in this new web of a strange disease and ignorance of the disease. Where there were already a very limited access to good medicine or medical centers or adequate hygiene due to the lack of running water to most of the city, the populace now has no where to turn for any and all illnesses they’re inflicted with.

When your relative gets ill with malaria or when a woman is about to give birth, when someone has pneumonia or typhoid or any other major or simple illness, they have no place to go. Many have died at the doors of the J.F. K Hospital and other medical centers after being turned away by nurses who believe that every case coming to them is an Ebola case. Even pregnant women have died in labor due to this ignorance. But can we blame the medical practitioners who have been the first victims of the deadly disease? Maybe we can. Maybe we should not only blame their ignorance for turning away desperately ill people, but we should also blame the government for not establishing one major Ebola unit so patients with no symptoms of Ebola can have a place to go with their illnesses. How sad!

A CALL TO ACTION IS NECESSARY:

I believe that all Liberians, whether at home or abroad should work together to assist in ending this deadly epidemic. Whether this action is to help your own family members in Liberia understand the need to be careful, the need to report all suspected cases, the need to treat themselves with malaria medications in order to eliminate all confusion about what it is someone has or whether Liberians at home can petition their legislators to quit campaigning and talking politics to prevail on their government they lead to take drastic action and provide the resources needed to combat the disease, there needs to be some action. This is the time for real and true leadership. A nation’s leaders must first care about their people and put them first before themselves.

Liberians living in Liberia must also help themselves by changing heir usual habits, by promoting good hygiene, by ending promiscuity  or sleeping around with every man or woman they can sleep with, stop raping little girls, stop using your bodies for money since the virus is spread through contact with the body fluid of an infected person. The Ebola virus is contagious when the patient is seriously ill, and that patient of course, dies within a few days of being infected by the disease. Maybe this change of habit, of the change in illicit sex practices will help curtail the disease. The government might build a major center, might provide the resources Liberians need, might help teach through public education, how Liberians can combat the disease, but it will take each and every individual to change their old ways of life, and to be honest and not put others at risk when one has the disease. Liberia, my heart bleeds for you, and I call on the Liberian leadership and President Sirleaf to do all she can to help bring relief to our desperate people. We have already lost too many people in the past two decades.

It is not enough to stop shaking hands, my people. Liberians must understand that Ebola can wipe out the best of its population too fast too soon. It is almost too late!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

FACEBOOK CRASH AGAIN?

525955_3918535810654_251717200_nFacebook users will soon again notice another crash of the social media system in less than a month. Many users like myself are beginning to see a new error message that reads:

“Sorry, but this page didn’t load properly. Please try again.”

Or is it just a few people? My question when such a thing happens with such a widely used social media outlet both in business and in personal communication, I wonder what will happen to business and people around the world if Facebook suddenly crashes one day, and cannot come back up. I am not worried, just wondering. The last time Facebook crashed, it was Oct. 21, my father’s birthday. That day, I had planned to post a lovely birthday tribute to my ailing father, who lives in Liberia. But I was prevented from doing that for hours. At first, I thought the refusal of Facebook wall to work for me was just my problem, but soon, I noticed that the problem was widespread. This morning, at close to noon, Nov. 8, just a few weeks later, Facebook seems to be facing another crash. Is the social media overloaded or is it unable to handle the large world population using it to connect around the globe? How a major crash be prevented?

Well, I’m going back to my writing. Enough for Facebook. I had nothing much to say on Facebook today anyway. When you guys fix your problem, let me know.

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