One gets quite an insight into a country from the newspaper. What is covered, how the stories are covered, what the perspectives are...
I arrived in Liberia this week - here is a general sampling of the main stories featured in the country's main newspaper:
1.FRONT PAGE: Taylor Loyalists Warn American 'Boys and Girls'
This story covers the reaction of a former (NPP) government chairman, to American forces raid on ex-President/tyrant/war monger/war crimes detainee Charles Taylor’s residence (with search warrant) this week. Mr. Cyril Allen states” Those American boys and girls are lucky they did not encounter ex-fighters in the building, because their heads would have been cut off!”. He further warns, “They should try it again!” (apparently foaming at the mouth).
2. also FRONT PAGE: Brutalizing Girl was Little Matter
This story is about a current Senator Nathaniel Innis, who brutally attacked his very young niece (she looks about 8 to 10 years old in the photo), without cause last week. I have to quote the rest because I just couldn't believe what I was reading.
"Sen. Nathaniel Innis said the devil and Satan fooled him when he brutally beat up his niece on Monday." When asked about the incident, the Senator said: "Anything that besmear my character, I should call on your hournalists because they will say, it's a Liberian Senator. The incident will incur negative raves on Liberia, hence journalists should help cover up such actions".
Then, in response to the labour minister, who had called for his prosecution, Sen. Innis said: "Liberia is a big elephant meat, he better cut off his own and be silent. He wants to use my little matter he missed it big time. Sen. Innis is the wrong man to to reckon with". ....
No charges have been laid.
There is full page advert for this weekend's Anti-Rape concert. It is fully funded by the UN, with performers coming from around the region.
Liberia's years of war, under Charles Taylor, legitimized mass rape, and now that the war is over, the hundreds of thousands of boy soldiers are finding it hard to learn new ethics. Rape is still rampant. Taylor's soldiers also murdered their parents at his command and cut limbs off everyone in their path. Women and children were not spared...
The extreme violence has ended, but the rapes continue daily, despite the fact that Liberia elected their first woman as President and that many of the key positions such as Chief of Police have been assigned to women. The society still sees women and children as objects and in a place where abject poverty is everywhere, the frustrations of the powerful are taken out on the weak and the small.
Will the Anti- Rape concert do anything? Will it help raise consciousness? The word in town is that many people got kickbacks in the organising committees and that the budget was highly inflated to allow for personal pockets to get filled.