|On our way to Fessibu|
At the age of three years we left Monrovia to seek refuge in Lofa from the war. My mother, aunt, cousin, and I walked four hours to get there. Considering our age at the time, they did most of the walking for which today I am grateful for. When we arrived my grandmother’s family welcomed us. My great grand mother Gayduo, several grand aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Given my age at the time, I have limited memory of my time spent there. However, the little I do remember intrigued me to return for two reasons. 1) To prove my memories right after so many years of living outside of the country and 2) learn more about the place my extended family call home.
Fessibu, Lofa County
Yes! I returned to the place I sought refuge.
Refuge from hunger that gaged others to eat one of their own.
Refuge that shielded me from watching babies gutted out of pregnant women.
Refuge that helped me sustained my sanity.
Refuge that brought me back to Liberia.
As I ran to the foundation that once protected me from the evils of the world, the chill breeze swept by leaving me with a kiss from Gayduo my namesake. I knew I was being welcome, by the woman who business swag educated over fifteen kids.
I stood on the foundation of the house, and I saw faces smiling back at me, allowing me to reminisce over the little I remembered, running tiredly down a hill to a place I no longer recall after a game of hide and seek. Skipping through a dark hallway, stopping for a taste of Fufu, and Palava Sauce at each room door. Hiding from the so-called country devil that came out when kids were supposedly bad. I remembered the feel of the sand between my toes, as the ground I stood on was once a sanctuary for games like hopscotch, lapa, jumping ropes, around the world,etc.
As I walked away, and saw faces I no longer remembered, but I once ran to for refuge, I knew I was walking away from something. I had longed for the moment my feet will touch the soil of Fesssibu for so long, and as I walked away from the happy faces that greeted me, I wonder …is Fessibu still a place of refuge?
|Still shock by what I saw|
Lofa County was one of the most productive counties in Liberia, producing minerals and coco for export. Today towns are plaster with signs of NGOs showcasing projects they are implementing. Yet, with all the ongoing, and completed programs one cannot see the physical results they are yielding. As I drove away a little boy ran towards the car to ask for “lil something” in Liberia that means money, explaining through grasping breath that he needed to buy food for the day. With the experiences I have had in the past given money to young men on the street could be potentially dangerous. There is a 50/50 chance the money will be use for food, or drugs. Thus, I have created my personal method for determine who I should give “lil something” to, and who I shouldn’t ( a bias method I must say). Making a quick judgment based on his appearance I came to the conclusion that if I give him any money it would be use for drugs. Consequently, I left him staring after the car with anger and sadness fusing out of his eyes, after I explained I could not help him.
As we drove away from Fessibu it became obvious the place that was once a safe haven for me, possess new terrors for others. Terrors perpetrated by the errors of decisions makers since 1847. Un-rational, unethical, selfish, power driven decisions executed in the interest of few, is now hunting a generation fighting daily to ensure tomorrow does not come. How do we make Liberia a place of refuge?