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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How Important is Electing Barack Obama this November? VERY: African & Other Immigrants- There is a Clear Choice Between Obama & Mitt Romney.

There is a Clear Choice: Obama is for you, who are often left out of mainstream America. Remember that.

How  important is electing President Barack Obama to you this November?  If you are an immigrant, particularly, an African Immigrant, you can no longer stay home, be silent, pretend this is not your country or let others vote for ‘their’ President. You need to claim the promised land that you have entered, and make a difference for the world. This election is the most important election, even more so, than the 2008 elections. President Obama and the Democratic Party are facing a great challenge this year because there is a clear choice. Your life will never be the same if Mitt Romney is elected as President of the United States. Get out your tennis shoes, talk to your children, talk to your neighbors, volunteer, and vote, like your life depends on it.

Don’t Let Obama Fight this Battle Alone- Join Before It is Too Late

VOLUNTEERING: Do you have to be a citizen to vote? Yes. You have to be. But, do you have to be a citizen to volunteer, to give your money to help Barack Obama get elected or to campaign with the phone bank or go door to door? NO. All you have to be is a legal resident of the US to volunteer. To vote, you have to be a registered voter, so get on with it, if you have not yet done so. Many other states have ended their voter registration, however.

I am a Volunteer, and each week, I make phone calls, open my home as a phone bank, etc. etc. Yesterday, during our phone call hours at the Obama for President office (The Local Democratic Party Offices), I spoke to an immigrant, an Indian or Pakistani woman, living in one of the most affluent areas of our town. She told me that she had never voted in her life even though she had been in America for decades and is over fifty years old. Why had she never voted? I did not ask her. But she told me that she did not know what to do. She’d just got her voter registration confirmation in the mail, just one day before the PA deadline. Wow, she made it. But she said to me, I do not know what to do when I enter the booth, how to vote. “I am scared.” Wow!

She is an educated immigrant, probably, a doctor, by where she lives in my community. But she has never voted in her life. Is this because, like many of you out there, she didn’t feel that her voice mattered? Well, this is America, the greatest country on earth, if you ask me, where every vote and every voice matters, where the law is on your side. Do not let all the noise about voter IDs and all the intimidation make you afraid to exercise your rights. Go, and get in involved, your life depends on it.

Examine the Candidates Against their Promises Despite the Confusion with Mitt Romney’s recent switch from what he would do with your health insurance, your Medicare, your Medicaid, etc. etc.

I spoke to another woman yesterday, a non-immigrant American. She’d just got a new job after losing her previous one. She lost her health insurance after losing that job. Now, the new job is making her wait three months despite her medical conditions. Times are hard, isn’t so? So, now, she’s waiting for the new job to kick in its insurance so she can see the doctor. But you known what? She told me that she was Undecided.

My question to her was, WHY? Why is a woman who has no health insurance, who is moving to a new one, thanks to God, undecided, and probably, will vote for Romney? I told her that she’s lucky to have a new job and a new health insurance. But you know what, “your new job/insurance under Romney will deny you treatment because it’s been many months since  you’ve been uncovered, and when you begin the new insurance coverage, you will be a case of Pre-existing condition.” Under Obama’s health care policy, she will have her Pre-existing condition covered. Wow! How hard is that to understand?

For us, immigrants, the stake is higher. A new president holds the key not just to your living condition in the US, but also, that of your life as an immigrant, immigration laws and issues, foreign policies toward the rest of the world, your children’s future and stay in this country, your life as a citizen or resident alien, wars or ending wars, and on and on. Stop pretending this is not your country. We all love America, and I know you do, too. God bless America, God bless the world, God bless you.

Writing as A Tool in Healing: Poetryforpeace Celebrates More than 100,000 Hits, Hundreds of Comments & A Loyal Group of International Readers: Here’s to You, My Poetry from Around the Web

AFRICA

                  —Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

The calabash
now shattered

her contents
spilled
like palm wine

across the regions
of the world.

                     I began blogging Poetryforpeace in late July of 2007 as an outlet for my overwhelming excitement after visiting Medellin, Colombia, a guest of the International Poetry Festival of Medellin in Colombia, South America, where I was one of 75 international world poets featured in that celebration of poetry. There, in Colombia, I saw a confirmation of my belief in writing as a source of healing all of the traumas we can experience as people. The Colombian people who by that year had seen 40 years of brutal fighting and disintegration of its people were confirming my belief that no matter how bitter the trauma, the pen is more powerful than the bullet and that writing can heal. This is because throughout my life, even as a child, I wrote to get rid of whatever bad feelings I had during those childhood and adolescent years, so now, this was another stage for me in the writing process.

MONROVIA 2008

——— Patiricia Jabbeh Wesley (Copyright: Where the Road Turns, Autumn House Press, 2010)

On the side walk, patches of people
linger late.

In the day, they are like rice grains
along the roadways,

and at night,
they wallpaper lame bodies
in the draft darkness
of the broken city.

Crowds of war returnees,
waiting for nothing,
day after day,

waiting for nothing
after refugee camp,
after their former cities
of refuge

spewed them out like dirt,
after wandering the globe.
After death’s passing,
they have returned

looking like returnees
from the dead.

The city is hot, burning like steel
with hunger.

The air used to belong to us here
one woman said,
there used to be a road
to take us back home.

Today, the road homeward is now lost
The road to Cape Palmas, filled
with dry bones.

But on the street,
a motorcade is coming.
Someone is living.
Someone is living on these bones.

     I was in the middle of the Liberian civil war when I began to use my talent in writing Poetry and prose to search for healing from the traumatic experience of the bloody Liberian civil war I was in. After my husband, children and I survived those first two years and moved to the US, I was so devastated, I needed something more than prayer to help me. I was so emotionally traumatized by the killing of numerous people we had witnessed, the torture my family and I had experienced, the ugliness of war revealed in the starvation many of us war refugees experienced,  the pain from watching children and the elderly die in the war, the bombs and the burning buildings, and all that war can bring upon any people, I could not stop crying. During my first years out of the war, even as a mother of then three little children, a wife and a professional person, I broke down every time anyone wanted me to say something about my experience of the then on-going Liberian civil war.

This was when I returned to writing. I decided in that first year of my arrival in the US, in 1991, to write down my memories of the war, to tell it all, first in a narrative of five hundred pages, writing that entire year. Later on, I found the strength to begin writing poetry again, my favorite genre in the writing process. I wrote endlessly, writing first about the war that had happened to Liberia, to its people, people other than myself. I was too hurt to bring images of the war close to myself in the poetry I wrote in those early years, poetry, that became part of my first book, Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa.   

CITY

                     —–Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

At night, it is like fire
spreading beneath us.
This vast city
aflame, and the plane groaning.

The city is more beautiful
from the sky at night.
At noon, it looks like
a worn-out garage,
a thing in the middle
of swamp country.

All the buildings are worn-out,
rusted to the bone
of steel, twisted
to make way so life
can go on.

Everything is bent and broken
along the hilltops.
I touch air to see if air
is still there.
The touchdown,

and we appear all worn-out,
too, like the city, broken.
All the birds
moved out long ago.
The trees too.
.

      It was then I discovered that the more I wrote down my hurt feelings, my sorrow, and bitterness from the torture I’d experienced, the less I cried, the less angry I was, and the more I could reason and accept my and my country’s situation for what was happening to us. I was becoming healed even though the war still raged. I know that healing for me also involved prayer and spiritual healing, but writing down my feelings meant that I was admitting that indeed, these things had happened to me and to my people, and yes, indeed, it was okay to feel hurt, and yes, I could indeed be healed. 

    Writing poetry set me free from all of the anger from watching the devastation of my beloved Liberia, dulled the pain of losing so many relatives and all I had worked so hard for, including losing my mother and stepmother, and even as more family members and friends were killed in that prolonged war, I would turn to my computer and write, using powerful images as they came to me to express my feelings. I wrote about everything, my anger, my fears, my hope, my prophesies about the end of the war and hopes of a day when we would no longer be at war. 

BLOGGING:

     So, again when I found another means of writing to find healing in blogging, I added this form of creativity to my poetry. Here, today, I celebrate Poetryforpeace, an international blog and its high traffic of my faithful readers and those seeking for something, many stumbling upon this site accidentally. I don’t feel deserving of your words of encouragement or your time taken out for this blog, but I feel a kind of connection to you. I feel like you are part of my life, and you do know where I am and where you are. It is for you that I write. When I write, I often think of people across the world who will read every word, even if those are few, even if those will find my accidentally. You and I are going to change the world.  My hope is that despite my slow posting in the past couple years, you will find something within the past of my blogging to hold on to until I find the time to revisit you with a few new words.

I want the site to bring everything to everyone. Some will find poetry; others will find politics; others have found mundane stories, news, etc. All have been welcome. Here, today I celebrate with a small sample of my poems, all, published poems in my four books of poetry. These were already scattered around the web, but are gathered for your pleasure. Enjoy and let’s live. Life is short and beautiful. Let’s keep our hopes for all the women around the world as we celebrate International Women’s Day and as we celebrate Women’s History Month. Happy Women’s History Month even if you’re a man. Remember, without a woman, there is no man.

BRINGING CLOSURE

          — Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (copyright: The River is Rising Autumn House Press, 2007)

Closure is such a final thing- the needle in the arm,
one last word or no last word at all, a death chamber

where the supposed convict lies waiting so the poison
will descend or ascend to the heart, a final beat,

and then sleep, that eternal thing none of us living
has ever seen. In California, today, a man is being

put to death, but outside, his supporters wait; candles,
flames, anger- the cold chill of death and life,

and a country that waits for all the arguments to die
or live on. The victim’s mother will see closure today,

they say, and move on after the murderer or the supposed
murderer is laid to rest with her son, side by side.

Death is such an ironic thing to know. To know death
is to know rot, hush, the lack of pain. It is 3 am

in Pennsylvania. Time, so deceptive, and arbitrary
and imperfect. Around the world, we all wait, for

the executioner’s poke into vein, blood meeting poison.
We are such civilized people, I’d say, dishing out death

in small poking needles. The newsmen tell us they
cannot find his vein. The awkwardness of asking the one

awaiting death to find his own vein so they can murder
him too- the executioner’s awkward fingers, the knowing

fingers- afraid of both the man and the art of killing the man.
I hate death. I hate the dying, the ugly process of dying,

the ritual of murder. So I too, keep vigil on my carpet.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell my eleven year-old daughter how

we have all murdered another human being. An eye
for an eye, so far away from my bedroom of dim lights,

a comforter or two, the surrounding hills in close view.
There is always a mountain here in Pennsylvania,

always that looming presence of life and death and the
far away feeling of the valley below, of being so far away

from home. There is no closure, I see, after the poison
has reached the heart, and the accused, stretched out, finally.

The victim’s mother begins to weep all over again-
as if this was just the beginning of the dying.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

I NOW WANDER    (Copyright: Becoming Ebony, SIU Press, 2003

                                                    Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

I raised ducks, pigs, dogs, barking watchdogs.
Wild chickens loose, dancing, flapping old wings.

Red and white American roosters, meant to be sheltered
and fed with vitamins until they grow dumb;

in our yard I set them loose among African breeds
that pecked at them until they, too, grew wild and free.

I planted papayas, fat belly papayas, elongated papayas,
tiny papayas, hanging. I planted pineapples, mangoes,

long juicy sugar canes, wild coco-yams. From our bedroom
window I saw plantain and bananas bloom, again and again,

take on flesh and ripeness. And then the war came, and the rebels
slaughtered my pigs, my strong roosters, my hens,

my heavy, squawking ducks. Now I wander among strangers,
looking for new ducks, new hens, new coco-yams, new wars.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

THE WOMEN IN MY FAMILY

                                        Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

The women in my family were supposed
to be men. Heavy body men, brawny
arms and legs, thick muscular chests and the heart,
smaller than a speck of dirt.

They come ready with muscled arms and legs,
big feet, big hands, big bones,

a temper that’s hot enough to start World War Three.
We pride our scattered strings
of beards under left chins

as if we had anything to do with creating ourselves.
The women outnumber the men
in my father’s family, leaving our fathers roaming

wild nights in search of baby-spitting concubines
to save the family name.
It is an abomination when there are no boy children.

At the birth of each one of us girls, a father sat prostrate
in the earth, in sackcloth and ash, wailing.

It is abomination when there are no men
in the family, when mothers can’t bring forth
boy children in my clan.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

WHEN I GET TO HEAVEN

                Patricia Jabbeh Wesley (1998, Before the Palm Could Blook

When I get to heaven
I’m going to shout hallelujah all over the place.
Dancing the Dorklor, the Wahyee,
the Ballet, the Rock and Roll.
I’ll dance the Brake, the Rap, Hip-Hop.
All the dances only sinners have danced.
I’ll sing Opera, the African way,
dance the Ballet the African way.

When I get to heaven
I’ll pray so loud, shaking hands the White way,
the Black way; greeting with kola nuts
as the Grebos do.
I’ll lie prostrate, to greet
the Yoruba way. Snap fingers to greet
as Liberians do.
There will be no boundaries, law laws, no rules.

When I get to heaven
I’ll sing the blues and dance the Sumu.
I’ll paint my face with white chalk and red rock,
sit with missionaries so all can see
I’ll pound my drums, shaking my Sahsah.
Blowing my trumpet the African way
Dancing to Jesus the African way

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DIRGE

                              –Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

So what shall I use to wipe my brow?
To bring back a life
snatched away in its prime?
What shall I say, and what shall I lay hands
so helpless upon to wipe the sorrow
from my brow?

What shall I wear to mourn a life
whose end has dealt us this blow?
Shall I wear black, so when our townswomen,
hearing the drums, come wailing, wailing
they shall see the sorrow
of my heart on my dark lappa?

Shall I tie a string around my forehead?
Shall I lie prostrate on The Mat?
Shall I cry tears for those you’ve left us to feed
when we ourselves cannot feed ourselves
in a land where the hungry, forever hungry,
keep the faith?

What dirge shall I sing?
Shall I recount the battles fought at Nganlun?
Shall I sing of blood shed at the cracking of a gun
when I myself am so afraid of the gun?
What shall I say when the women,
hearing my song, come wailing
and knocking at my door?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

FINDING MY FAMILY

                            Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

“Good friend, please help me.
Did you happen to see
two boys when you lived in Kataka?
One dark, chubby?
The other, light with dark eyes?
Good friend,
did you see them while you lived in Ganta?
One would have been ten
and the other this tall.
My big boy, Nyema, the small one, Doeteh.
Good friend, can you tell me
if they went to Tapeta?
Were they given weapons, did they kill?
Good friend, can you say
if they walked to Bassa?
Did they starve to death?
Good friend, can you say
if there was a mother walking by their side?
Was she healthy? was she treated well?
Oh, good friend, so this is where
they took them out of line?
Good friend, were they hungry
when they met their end?
Oh, good friend, I will follow
to wrap up their bones.
Thank you, good friend.
But how will I know their bones?

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

POETRY ABOUT OTHER COUNTRIES:

MEDELLIN, 2007

               —-Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

Medellin, Oh, Medellin…
to God, 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, to write it 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.
And 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.

Ghana Scores Against USA- Go Ghana Black Star- We Love You!


GHANA BLACK STAR, WE LOVE YOU!

AFRICA, WE LOVE YOU!


South Africa

South Africa was the first of the African countries to bring that pride and unity to us, and we were not disappointed in the 1-1 goal. An emotional match, many of us poised to celebrate South Africa, to celebrate the game on our continent, and the past of the host country.

Nigeria, West Africa

Afrique / Africa by David Diop (1927-1960)

Afrique mon Afrique
Afrique des fiers guerriers dans les savanes ancestrales
Afrique que me chantait ma grand-mère
Au bord de son fleuve lointain
Je ne t’ai jamais connue
Mais mon regard est plein de ton sang
Ton beau sang noir à travers les champs répandu
Le sang de ta sueur
La sueur de ton travail
Le travail de l’esclavage
L’esclavage de tes enfants
Afrique dis-moi Afrique
Est-ce donc toi ce dos qui se courbe
Et se couche sous le poids de l’humilité
Ce dos tremblant à zébrures rouges
Qui dit oui au fouet sur les routes de midi
Alors gravement une voix me répondit
Fils impétueux cet arbre robuste et jeune
Cet arbre là -bas
Splendidement seul au milieu de fleurs blanches et fanées
C’est l’Afrique ton Afrique qui repousse
Qui repousse patiemment obstinément
Et dont les fruits ont peu à peu
L’amère saveur de la liberté.
Africa my Africa
Africa of proud warriors in ancestral savannahs
Africa of whom my grandmother sings
On the banks of the distant river
I have never known you
But your blood flows in my veins
Your beautiful black blood that irrigates the fields
The blood of your sweat
The sweat of your work
The work of your slavery
Africa, tell me Africa
Is this your back that is unbent
This back that never breaks under the weight of humiliation
This back trembling with red scars
And saying no to the whip under the midday sun
But a grave voice answers me
Impetuous child that tree, young and strong
That tree over there
Splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers
That is your Africa springing up anew
Springing up patiently, obstinately
Whose fruit bit by bit acquires
The bitter taste of liberty.

Ghana, West Africa

I have been watching the World Cup of Nations 2010 being held in South Africa, and for the most part, I am intrigued by the unity among Africans in their support of African teams. Of course, Nigeria was defeated in its bid against Argentina, but Ghana’s win against Serbia was celebrated across Africa and in the world by Africans. Despite Nigeria’s loss, Africans remain proud of Nigeria.

Cameroon, West Africa

When Cameroon played Japan, the expectation was that Cameroon, the powerful Indomitable Lions would certainly defeat Japan. Disappointingly, Cameroon did not win that game and Japan walked away with the lone goal. But speaking to Africans on the continent, in the US and other places, one still sees that admiration for Cameroon and a love that convinces that despite our troubles in the continent, the love for our teams remains strong.

Today, Ivory Coast is up against Portugal in a very exciting game. Ivory Coast was not expected to lead in this match, but hey, Ivory Coast is playing very powerfully, and in fact, as I write, the goal keeper for Ivory Coast has just caught a very powerful ball that was supposed to be a goal. The Ivorian boys are playing beyond the expectation of everyone.

Ivory Coast

Today, Ivory Coast is up against Portugal in a very exciting game. Ivory Coast was not expected to lead in this match, but hey, Ivory Coast is playing very powerfully, and in fact, as I write, the goal keeper for Ivory Coast has just caught a very powerful ball that was supposed to be a goal. The Ivorian boys are playing beyond the expectation of everyone. The game has just ended with a goaless draw. What a great team. And are we proud of Ivory Coast!

The Ivorian boys are playing beyond the expectation of everyone.

Many of us football fans who have never followed the games in such a close way are following the games for one major reason:

The world cup is today being held for the first time on our soil, in our homeland, on a continent filled with the blood of suffering and pain. This is the homecoming for many. It is without a doubt that this is also an emotional celebration. The World Cup is not just being held in Africa; it is being held in South Africa, the home of pain and suffering under the evils of racism. Africans may have many problems, but the unity between nations is being tested. Ask an African to tell you who they support when an African team is up against a non-African team, and they will tell you they support the African team. It does not matter that we speak different Colonial Languages from region to region or from country to country. What matters is that Africans know that the languages and borders are only creations of an outside force.

YOUR PRESENCE
(by David Diop)

In your presence I rediscovered my name;
My name that was hidden under the pain of separation;
I rediscovered the eyes no longer veiled with fever;
And your laughter like a flame piercing the shadows,
Has revealed Africa to me beyond the snow of yesterday;
Ten years my love.

With days of illusions and shattered ideas;
And sleep made restless with alcohol;
The suffering that burdens today with the taste of tomorrow;
And that turns love into a boundless river;

In your presence I have rediscovered the memory of my blood;
And necklaces of laughter hung around our days;
Days sparkling with ever new joys.

I was listening when the commentator of the game between Ivory Coast and Portugal exclaimed that it is amazing that all of Africans at the stadium are cheering the African teams. Is that supposed to be a surprise? No. The games now being played on our soil are a cause for celebration that not only is the world coming together, but that Africa will prevail against the odds.

Dear President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Please Do Not Grant Former Warlords, War “Vigilantes,” War Criminals and Former Killers Any State Funerals

DSCN0982

The death news of and the request for a State Funeral for former Military leader, Charles Julu, militant of the Samuel Doe era and the leader of many military raids in which tens of thousands of Liberians were killed and massacred and our nation destroyed, should spark new controversies about warlords, war criminals and former killers. Liberians and peace loving people around the world should be outraged.

Sirleaf-Charles-JuluPresident Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in a photo, shaking hands in 2008 with Julu

I was reading an article in a Liberian newspaper in which citizens of Grand Gedeh are calling on the Liberian leader, Her Excellency President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to grant the former military leader/warlord, General Charles Julu a State Funeral. I do not have anything against the good people of Grand Gedeh or the family who earnestly believe in the good deeds of Charles Julu. They want the best for their son, one that carried out their war with expert precision, but as a peace loving Liberian, I am disturbed when Liberians cannot understand that those who have in the past massacred our people should never be rewarded whether in death or in life. Were I from Grand Gedeh County, of course, I would not want to lead this mission of calling on our nation to grant Mr. Julu the highest honor of our nation by giving him a State Funeral.

The legacy of the Liberian warThe price we paid in the Liberian civil war (fellowsblog.kiva.org/…/)

After all, all of us who lived in Liberia in the William R. Tolbert era, the Samuel Doe administration, and finally, during the bloody Liberian civil war know how much of the war was attributed to Mr. Julu and his inhuman militant spirit and to his militants. We know that many of us trembled when his name was mentioned because his name meant massacre and mass destruction.

Yes, he was serving “his country” in a way that he thought “best,” fighting to help his ethnic people win the war that destroyed hundreds of thousands of our people and our nation. We know that he personally massacred people, and there’s no history that can erase that blood, whether he is dead or not. He is the equivalence of Charles Taylor or Samuel Doe or any other warlord of the times. Yes, he was doing what they wanted, but in the business of executing this duty, he became known as one of the horrible criminals of those terrible civil wars that spanned fourteen years. Like any good person with a forgiving heart, I am sad that he died too, like many of those he killed. That no matter what we do, we all die and go to that same unknown. I am saddened that he could have done better for his nation, and I wish he’d lived differently. Maybe, he too, was a victim of the Samuel Doe craz, but hey, he did not bring peace to our land, and was not even a Liberian Statesman.

What is important and what I am glad about is that his death should not only throw light on his death; it must stir up other questions of war criminals who are still enjoying honor and respect from our nation simply because they have power. President Sirleaf will be judged by how she takes seriously all of the recommendations of the Truth Commission, which includes allowing those who destroyed out nation to face the consequences of their action. President Sirleaf, do not forget that the very people who are pleading with you today will be the ones to criticize you tomorrow about the very requests they are making. Do not heed them. Ironically, the very Liberians who believe in the TRC report that you should not run for a second term are the same ones who want to honor those who actually carried arms and orchestrated many massacres and killings throughout that bloody war. What in the name of God is going on here?

I am shocked and continue to be disturbed by those who want us to bury the past without allowing justice, without allowing those who caused the wanton destruction of the lives of so many to pay for their crimes. How can we build a nation over the bones and blood of so many innocent victims without giving them their proper respect and expect to still have a peaceful future? How can we continue to honor those who have not been cleared by this unbelievable Human Rights abuses and expect to build a peace-loving nation? When will we learn that tribalism and false honor does not bring fruitful rewards?

I lived in Monrovia most of the first two years of the civil war that began in 1989, and I was in Congo Town when the terror of the first months of the destruction of Monrovia took place in 1990. I watched as Liberian/Krahn military men roamed Monrovia, including my neighborhood of Congo Town, killing my neighbors and indiscriminately setting up barriers. And don’t get me wrong, I am not even from Nimba, and I saw what went on.

I saw them kill innocent Liberians who were fleeing the desperate city of Monrovia in the Exodus from Monrovia between June and August. I too, over and over, nearly was executed by these crazy men and women. I visited and prayed with the citizens of Nimba who took refuge in the St. Peter’s Lutheran and in the Methodist Church, brought contributions to them, provided my pigs to the Catholic Relief priests to feed the refugees, and shockingly, I wept when it was alleged that Charles Julu and his militants had led the the mostly Krahn army of Samuel Doe to massacre hundreds of those very people in the St. Peter’s Lutheran Church on July 29, 1990.

I saw the burning flames of Monrovia, and was in Congo Town when that massacre took place. I listened to the radio that July morning as the massacre was attributed to the vigilance of Charles Julu. All historical records show that he led the massacre, and today, he is dead.  So what shall we do- honor him now?

There should never be a State Funeral for him not because we do not acknowledge his “greatness”as a warrior, but because we do not think it is fair to honor people who kill innocent people anywhere on our globe.

Any Liberian with a conscience, whether that person is from the family of the late military leader or not should understand this common law of nature. I will not be surprised when others start calling for Liberia to provide lawyers for Charles Taylor’s trial for Human Rights abuses. I will not be surprised when Liberians begin to march in the streets in protest against Charles Taylor’s trial, and I will not be surprised when Liberians call on our government years from now to pay for a State Funeral for Charles Taylor, Prince Johnson and all the others who are war criminals and are today, enjoying the fruit of their killings.

The world should pay attention to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) because if we continue to ignore the facts that war criminals should be brought to some kind of justice, we are only postponing our problems. The laws of nature are clear and simple, and the laws of God are also clear and simple: one cannot be expected to kill masses of people and expect to be treated with well wishes throughout their life. One day, that person should be held accountable to the world for such atrocities.

I am certain that there are countless people who will go on the limb again and say, “leave this alone.” Liberians have always been cowards, not standing up for truth, and maybe this is why we never saw the most bloody war in West Africa coming for us. When will we stop believing that someone else will solve our problems? When will we stop being tribalistic, and fight more for justice and peace than for tribal affiliation?

I am from the Kwa family group that the Krahn people are also part of, so I am in a way more connected to the Krahn people than others who come from another family of ethnicity. I understand the warring nature of my people, but I know lies from truth, injustice from justice, and I know that today it is Charles Julu that people want to give a State Burial. Tomorrow, another tribal group or family group will call on the government to honor another warlord, another killer and destroyer of our nation, and then those who are calling on the government today to bury their son will be screaming against that call.

Let justice be done to all men and women. Do not honor anyone who died with the blood of our sons and daughters and with the blood of Liberian on their hands. We do not see the Rwandans or the Jews granting State Funerals to their former warlords and killers. Everyone who lived  in Liberia during the war or who can read any news from Liberia about the war knows that we cannot continue to pretend that what happened did not happen, and we cannot continue to be tribalistic and expect Liberia to change. Please, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the world is watching you. Do not grant anyone whose name was so feared a State Funeral. This is against Human Rights. This is not good for the future of our nation. This is not good for the world. Let’s wash the blood of our people from our nation by practicing true justice. With Love to all peace loving Liberians, I say, do not let the world continue to laugh at us.

The River Is Rising

————————Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

a song for Liberian women

The river is rising, and this is not a flood.
After years of drought, the ground, hardened

and caked in blood, in dry places, here we are, today.

River banks are swelling with the incoming tide,
coming in from the Atlantic just beyond the ridge

of rolling hills and rocks in Monrovia.

Finally, here we stand at the banks!
Finally, here we are, see how swiftly

the tide rushes in to fill the land with salt.

Fish and crabs and the huge clams and shrimps-
all the river’s creatures are coming in with the tide.

The river is rising, but this is not a flood.

Do not let your eye wander away from this scene.
Yes, all the bones below the Mesurado or the St. Paul

or Sinoe or the Loffa River will be brought up
to land so all the overwhelming questions
can once more overwhelm us.

But they are bringing in our lost sister
on a high stool, and there she stands, waving at those

who in refusing to die, simply refused to die.

This is not a song just for Ellen. This is a song for Mapue
and Tenneh and all the Ellens there are.

This is a song for Kema and Musu and Massa.

This is for Nyeneplue and Nyenoweh, for Kou and Glayee
and Korto, for the once solitary woman of war.

This is a song so Wani will also dance.

This is a song for that small girl child who came out
just this morning. They are still seeking a name

to call her- a river name, a name from the water
and from the fire too. That solitary mother in flight

will no longer birth her child by the roadside
where shells were her baby’s first bed.

Let the womb quiver!
Let church bells jingle!
Let hundreds of drums pound, Klan-klan-teh!
Let men bring out old trumpets
so the wind will take flight!

Let that small pepper bird on the tree branch cry
and sing no more the solitary song.

Let the Mesurado behind my home or what was my home
or still is or maybe, maybe, who cares?

The river is rising, but this is not a flood.

Let no man stand between us
and the river again!

(Title poem of The River is Rising by Patricia Jabbeh Wesley, Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh, 2007)

For more Information, visit the following links on the Liberian war and warlords:

http://www.prlog.org/10297805-massacre-of-600-liberian-men-women-and-children-19-years-ago-remembered-at-grace-lutheran-church.html

http://allafrica.com/stories/200807160771.html

http://www.analystliberia.com/charles_julu_killer_or_vicyim_sept26_07.html

This is what the leading newspaper in Liberia, Tthe Liberian Observer had to say about the dead General:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.voanews.com/english/images/AP-Liberian-boy-Truth-and-Reconciliation-Commission-for-Liberia-30may07.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2009-07-15-voa2.cfm&usg=__-KPriKQvJTP_Km1uG3IAElVX8_8=&h=210&w=210&sz=42&hl=en&start=20&um=1&tbnid=Lb9S7UHYjYeyDM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=106&prev=/images%3Fq%3DThe%2BLiberian%2BTruth%2Band%2BReconciliation%2BCommission%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1

Charles Julu Is Dead

Updated: September 28, 2009 – 7:13pm
News Section:

Gen Julu.jpg
The late Gen. Charles Julu
By:

Observer Staff

MONROVIA — A retired Liberian army general, widely known both as “the Rock” and “The Devil,” is dead.

Charles Julu died over the weekend in Monrovia after a brief illness, family sources said.

Prior to his death, the general’s admirers called him “the Rock” for his courage and bravery to remain firm in the face of uncertainty, while others viewed him as the “Devil” for his alleged ruthlessness.

Julu first came to public limelight in 1973 when Liberia’s 19th President, Rev. Dr. William Richard Tolbert Jr., accused him and others of plotting at the time to overthrow his government.

On account of those claims by President Tolbert, who was also a Baptist Minister and Preacher, Julu was disrobed as a military man.

It remains unclear whether he was ever prosecuted by Tolbert, who was later killed in a bloody coup on April, 12, 1980. The murder took place at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill, Monrovia, and Tolbert’s True Whig Party (TWP), which formed a one-party oligarchy, was dethroned by 17 non-commissioned officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL). Master Sergeant Samuel Kanyon Doe, a kinsman of Julu’s, became the new Head of State.

Doe became leader of the new military junta, the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), after the bloody coup, during which 13 former officials of Tolbert’s regime were placed on electrical poles and shot dead by the junta. Julu was appointed by Doe as Commander of the Plant Protection Department of the Liberian-American Swedish Mining Company (LAMCO) in Nimba County, Northern Liberia.

In that part of the country, the name Charles Julu became a household word as his controversial methods of operation continued in 1983 during the villainous Nimba Raid, which he led.

It was widely reported that followers of Quiwonkpah, a Gio, attacked the home of Julu in Nimba County. At that time, the finger of one of Julu’s children was reportedly cut off by the attackers as Julu was fleeing his residence.

But, in retaliation, Julu, an ethnic Krahn, is said to have gone on the rampage, rounding up and subsequently killing many persons, especially those he suspected of being involved in the attack on his residence and of being loyal to Quiwonkpah.

Indeed, Charles Julu was feared and controversial.

In an article published by Runningafrica.com entitled “Profiling A General Accused of Second Coup Attempt,” Thomas Kai Toteh, a leading author, writes:

“Though ex-Army General Charles Julu is innocent until found guilty according to the due process of law clause of the Liberian Constitution, many Liberians at home and abroad see him like an old thief who becomes the first suspect or even found guilty before he faces the law….

“Charles Julu was appointed chief of security for LAMCO in Nimba County by the late Samuel Doe. Charles Julu first came in the spotlight as a ruthless individual when he intimidated players of first division soccer teams who went to play LAMCO Enforcers, a team he served as a chief patron. On numerous occasions, he allegedly flogged some players of LAMCO Enforcers accused of being responsible for lost matches…

“During the 1985 aborted invasion, spearheaded by late Thomas G. Quiwonkpa, Charles Julu became a household name throughout Liberia when he allegedly dumped [an] unspecified number of Nimbaian children into wells in a vicious retaliation, eye witnesses said, against Nimba County, where Quiwonkpa hailed from.

“His reputation and that of [the] late Samuel Doe were marred by what was later dubbed the “Nimba Raid.” Consequently, the late Samuel Doe, in order to save face, transferred the ex-general at the Executive Mansion as a commander for the Executive Mansion Guard.

“Julu survived the [1990] rebel incursion after he fled to a neighboring country, where he resided until 1994. He mysteriously appeared in Monrovia during a power sharing government headed by Prof. David Kpormakpor. Charles Julu mobilized a handful of AFL remnants that happened to be members of his Krahn tribe.

“Despite the presence of West African Peace Monitoring Group in Monrovia and at the Executive Mansion, providing security for the transitional government, Charles Julu stole the show in the morning hours when he forced his way on the fourth floor at the Executive Mansion in an attempt to seize power.

“When news of Charles Julu’s presence at the Executive Mansion as a coup maker broke out in Liberia, especially in Monrovia, dark cloud[s] formed. Speculations fill the air and suspicious eyebrows were raised at ECOMOG….

“But ECOMOG gave him an ultimatum to step down or be forcibly brought down (dead or alive). The ex-general still insisted that he wanted to play his tape, even though some of his men had fled.

“Late in the evening, ECOMOG-trained Black Berets, along with ECOMOG Executive Mansion Guards moved on him while ECOMOG Delta Company launched artillery around the Mansion to scare him away. People ran helter-skelter around Monrovia.

“Charles Julu fled the Executive Mansion at around 6:00 p.m. and sought [refuge] near the Barclay Training Center, a military barracks near the Executive Mansion. Security was put on the alert for his capture and arrest.

“Charles Julu was on foot heading toward the Mamba Point area near United States Embassy when a group of National Security agents arrested him and turned him over to ECOMOG.

“He was locked up at the Post Stockade at the Barclay Training Center. No charges were brought against him as the Constitution of Liberia was unofficially suspended due to the civil conflict.

“Charles Julu became a free man by force on April 6, 1996 when fighting broke out amongst four of the warring factions in Liberia. [The] National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) of Charles Taylor and United Liberation Movement of Ahlaji Kromah (ULIMO-K) moved to arrest the late Roosevelt Johnson of ULIMO-J backed by Liberia’s Peace Council (LPC) of George Boley at the Barclay Training Center (BTC).

“It was not confirmed whether Charles Julu took part in the fight, but unreliable sources said he gave orders to defunct Liberian Peace Council (LPC) and ULIMO-J militias to defend the barracks, his only rescue at the time, with their blood…”

Julu was also Commander of the Executive Mansion Guard Battalion in 1984. He remained in that position until 1985 when Gen. Thomas G. Quiwonkpah launched his abortive November 15, 1985 invasion in which Quiwonkpah was killed by loyalists of Head of State Doe.

Julu was also accused of involvement in other acts of atrocity in the Liberian civil war; but a few months ago, he appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), where he outlined his experiences and/or role in the country’s armed conflict.

In his public testimony before the Commission, the retired general categorically refuted claims of his involvement in mass killings.

He was accused of burying hundreds of children from Nimba County in a mass grave, a claim he also denied. At one point, he pointed fingers at Prince Y. Johnson, now Nimba County Senator, of being behind such lies.

Julu again came to public attention during the invasion of Charles Taylor’s then armed rebel group, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) military onslaught against the government of Samuel Doe, when he (Julu) commanded government troops into several battles in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa and Bong Counties.

It was during the 1990 war in Nimba that Julu was accused of bundling scores of children into a truck from Nimba, killing them and burying them in a mass grave.

Under the command of a valiant Nigerian Army General, Adetunji Olurin, ECOMOG, the West Africa Peace Monitoring Group, then stationed in Liberia, opened fired on the Mansion and Julu and his loyalists, who took over the Mansion under the umbrella of New Horizon for New Direction, were all booted out of the Mansion.

Giving his testimony before the TRC a few months ago, Julu said he came to Monrovia on September 14, 1994; and the next day he moved into the Mansion which he captured with ease.

Before the TRC, Julu defended his takeover of the Executive Mansion. He said the move was intended to prevent then NPFL leader Charles Taylor from taking over the government by force of arms.

Julu, who was also former Chief of Staff of the AFL, further told the Commission that his action was aimed at filling a vacuum which, he said, was created as a result of the expiration of the tenure of then transitional government.

Early in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration, Julu was again charged with an attempted coup plot, but was acquitted due to ‘lack of evidence.’

The people of Grand Gedeh are said to be mourning his loss.

0Copyright Liberian Observer – All Rights Reserved. This article cannot be re-published without the expressed, written consent of the Liberian Observer. Please contact us for more information or to request publishing permission.

Fall for the Book Festival-2009—My Friend, Gabeba Baderoon and I, Patricia Jabbeh Wesley Read at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on September 19, 2009 at 2 pm

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Fall for the Book Festival Reading: Gabeba Baderoon and Patricia Jabbeh Wesley- Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009, at 2 pm. The reading takes place at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art on 950 Independence Ave. You are invited, and please, bring all of your friends.

THE FESTIVAL

Fall for the Book Festival 2009 began on September 6, 2009 with preview events, and will continue throughout the DC, Virginia and Maryland areas this month. Many great readers will bring their works to literary audiences through readings, discussions, and other festivities in libraries, institutions and other locations throughout the Washington DC area. This year, the festival is significant to me because my friend, Gabeha Baderoon, a poet, originally from South Africa and I will be participating in the readings as featured authors. Our reading takes place during one of the many preview events of the Festival. I would like to take this time to invite you to come and hear us read from our books of poetry, and enjoy the diverse cultures of Africa through our works. Our work will also surprise you because when you come to the reading, you will see that we do not only write about the great continent of Africa, but we also write about our experiences as  Americans and immigrants from another world, living in a new world, exploring all of the images both of our homelands and our new found home of America.

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GABEBA BADAROON– POET

Our Published Books:

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Gabeba Baderoon, here presenting at a previous occasion, will be reading from her collections of poetry, including  “The Dream in the Next Body” “A Hundred Silences,” among others. I believe Gabeba will also read a poem or two from newer poetry. Gabeba is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Women’s Studies at Penn State University. She is particularly dear to me because she is my friend and colleague. Over the last two years since I first met her, Gabeba and I have collaborated on various projects, including presenting on a panel on African Women’s Literature at the African Literature Association, visiting one another’s African Literature classes at Penn State talking on issues to our scholarship, reading together at other poetry events, among others. This fall, she and I will be part of a discussion on a panel with the African author and friend of ours, Binyavanga Wainaina, when we will discuss the topic, “Who Owns African Literature.” In November, I will be visiting Gabeba’s Comparative to read from my new book, “The River is Rising,” for the benefit of her students who are currently reading the book. Gabeba and I usually compliment each other in our readings, if you ask me. This is because my own poems and poetry reading complement the silences in Gabeba’s images, the beauty of softness of her language and the vividness of feelings her work brings to the reader. Where my images can be brutal in its portrayal of war and ruin, Gabeba can bring the softness, and where my poetry may often burst out with humor, she can bring calm and seriousness. All of this is from my own observation, but you will have to speak to Gabeba yourself or hear us read to know. I have read all of her books not because she is my friend, but mainly because her voice as a writer originally from South Africa is a necessary voice in this contemporary day of poetry, and because I believe poets have a lot to learn from each other.

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Patricia Jabbeh Wesley performing at the City of Asylum Poetry-Jazz Festival 2008

Our Published Books:

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Here I am  above, reading at another occasion. My books above include, “The River is Rising,” “Becoming Ebony,” and “Before the Palm Could Bloom: Poems of Africa.” I will also read from a new manuscript. I am shamelessly inviting you and your friends to attend our reading on September 19,2009 because unless you come, Gabeba and I will have to collaborate again this time by reading to each other.  I don’t want to say anything about myself because when you attend the reading, you will get to know my poetry and about me. The one thing, I’d say is that I am also a professor at Penn State, but I teach Creative Writing and English mainly, specializing in poetry writing. When you explore the rest of my blogging, you will get to know me. We are both fortunate to be among 130 writers from across the US who will participate in this important occasion, and it will be our honor to come hear us at the Smithsonian. Sherman Alexie is the main reader, I think. Don’t take my word for it. Visit the Festival site at:

http://www.fallforthebook.org/participants.php

http://www.fallforthebook.org/2009_FFTB_program.pd

———————-POETRY FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT———————————————————-

The Sound of My Name

————-              By Gabeba Baderoon

To step into another language
direct the breath
swell the mouth with vowels
feel the jaw configure itself around the word
write another script on the tongue

Russian
A woman learning Russian describes
the new inclination of her head,
her chest, her hands,
the muscular changes in the tongue
the way sibilance tightens
the upper lip
like bee stings around the jaw
the movement of air over her throat
a subtle invasion
taking possession of her mouth

Arabic
I teach you to say the first letter of my name,
a sound between g and h,
for which there is no letter in English.

Breathe in,
take a sip of water,
make a flat oval of the lips,
breathe out.
Remember the sound of the exhalation.

Clear the throat.

Between the two is the start of my name.

image

The River Is Rising

————————Patricia Jabbeh Wesley

a song for Liberian women

The river is rising, and this is not a flood.
After years of drought, the ground, hardened

and caked in blood, in dry places, here we are, today.

River banks are swelling with the incoming tide,
coming in from the Atlantic just beyond the ridge

of rolling hills and rocks in Monrovia.

Finally, here we stand at the banks!
Finally, here we are, see how swiftly

the tide rushes in to fill the land with salt.

Fish and crabs and the huge clams and shrimps-
all the river’s creatures are coming in with the tide.

The river is rising, but this is not a flood.

Do not let your eye wander away from this scene.
Yes, all the bones below the Mesurado or the St. Paul

or Sinoe or the Loffa River will be brought up
to land so all the overwhelming questions
can once more overwhelm us.

But they are bringing in our lost sister
on a high stool, and there she stands, waving at those

who in refusing to die, simply refused to die.

This is not a song just for Ellen. This is a song for Mapue
and Tenneh and all the Ellens there are.

This is a song for Kema and Musu and Massa.

This is for Nyeneplue and Nyenoweh, for Kou and Glayee
and Korto, for the once solitary woman of war.

This is a song so Wani will also dance.

This is a song for that small girl child who came out
just this morning. They are still seeking a name

to call her- a river name, a name from the water
and from the fire too. That solitary mother in flight

will no longer birth her child by the roadside
where shells were her baby’s first bed.

Let the womb quiver!
Let church bells jingle!
Let hundreds of drums pound, Klan-klan-teh!
Let men bring out old trumpets
so the wind will take flight!

Let that small pepper bird on the tree branch cry
and sing no more the solitary song.

Let the Mesurado behind my home or what was my home
or still is or maybe, maybe, who cares?

The river is rising, but this is not a flood.

Let no man stand between us
and the river again!

GMAIL is Down Again, Today, Sept. 1. Take Note Below

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For some time now, Gmail has been down.  I have posted an explanation from the Gmail site for your information.

Today’s Gmail problems

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 1:15 PM

Posted by David Besbris, Engineering Director

We know many of you are having trouble accessing Gmail right now — we are too, and we definitely feel your pain. We don’t usually post about minor issues here (the Apps status dashboard and the Gmail Help Center are usually where this kind of information goes). Because this is impacting so many of you, we wanted to let you know we’re currently looking into the issue and hope to have more info to share here shortly. If you have IMAP or POP set up already, you should be able to access your mail that way in the meantime. We’re terribly sorry for the inconvenience and will get Gmail back up and running as soon as possible.