So let me give a little background here. Mary Broh is the Mayor of Monrovia, well sorta. She wasn’t elected by the people, she was appointed by Ellen, and I’m not sure (someone correct me if I’m wrong) that her appointment has been confirmed by the rest of the government. Broh has made headlines with her aggressive clean up campaign in Monrovia. She’s even sparked some public disturbances. While the city needs to be cleaned up, and definitely needs to have some zoning and right of way laws enforced Broh’s methods are a little harsh for such a fragile country. She just shows up and bulldozes homes and businesses that aren’t up to code, knocks over street stalls, kicks over wheel barrow and scratch card booths. She’s even physically assaulted a few marketeers.
Again, I think we all agree that Monrovia at some point needs to cleaned-up, but the country is also still very, very poor. To completely destroy someone’s livelihood in a country with 80% unemployment because they’re too close to the sidewalk may not be the best way to help. Further more, Broh’s campaign is being carried out in a very random and ad hoc manner. There’s no transparent process that is being applied to help people know when and what she’ll be doing. Also the law on squatter’s rights and zoning isn’t clear. And even if it is clearly written out in some volume in city hall, the common Liberian has no idea what there rights are, what the law says, and what due process they should expect. Because of Broh’s ties to the president many feel that she can just do whatever she wants. All these things undermine the rest of the governments attempts at earning back the trust of the people through good governance. And finally, it’s much easier to destroy something than to build it back up. Yes she’s cleaned up a lot of shanty towns, but now there’s just piles of rubble. She’s not building new markets to replace the stalls she burnt down (yeah she even burns stuff down), nor is the government supplying land for people to build new homes on.
In response to this an associate of mine has printed up some “Don’t Raze Me Broh” t-shirts. Obviously playing off of the “Don’t Taze Me Bro” line made famous in the US elections last year. The idea is to help people speak out against the poor governance practices Broh is demonstrating. If you want one they’re $8 each. We even have girl sizes. And with each shirt you buy another shirt will be donated to a Liberian to help them protest as well. If you want a shirt drop me a line. Shipping is extra.
Ironically, when two of the t-shirt creators were buying blank shirts in Water Side market, Broh showed up and slapped one of the vendors just as the t-shirt creators were buying shirts. Broh then stopped to shake the white peoples’ hands. Amazing.
Speaking of victims of Mary Broh… A while ago some of the amputee guys I try to help told me that a guy from Europe named Jean Risse was going to give them over $1000USD to start a car washing business. I was impressed at the amount, that’s quite a loan here. Since the guys would need to email their new business associate I offered to do all of that for them since they don’t exactly have access to reliable internet (technically I don’t have access to reliable internet, but that’s all relative here). So I’ve been emailing with Mr. Risse who works for a microfinance NGO called 2Unite. After a lot of back and forth, and some pointers on how to write a business plan, Jean agreed to wire over the funds. So I’ll keep you posted on that. I’m excited for the guys. If all goes well, this could make a huge difference in their lives. Jean put a little blurb about this project on the 2Unite website here, and here it is in English, sorta.
I was at the TRC conference for Reconciliation a few weeks ago. The conference was held at the Unity Conference Center in Virginia, Montserrado County. I was super impressed by how nice this facility was. While it had obviously suffered during the war, it was still a very nice facility. I really like seeing things that remind you of what Liberia was before the war. To that effect I learned this week that the fall in GDP brought on by the war was the largest in recorded history. If you want to see the Unity Conference Center head out towards CeCe beach or hotel Africa and take a right at the sign.
On the way to the Unity Conference Center I was pulled over for not having the safety sticker that says proves my vehicle is safe. I would go off about how ridiculous the stickers are, how you can spot the cars with no bumpers, turn signals, or head lights with out a sticker, and this is just one more way to harass drivers, but that’s not the point. So I talk to the guy for a while and I tell him there’s no process for getting the stickers, that I was never told I needed one at the Ministry of Transport when I registered the vehicle, and that no one really knows where to go to get a sticker. After talking for a while the police officer tells me “The ticket for not having a sticker is $75[USD] (which is absurd), but since you work for TRC, just give me $35[USD].” To which I replied, “I’m not gonna bribe a police officer.” Then the most amazing thing happened. He looked at the window, yelled at the cop who had my license and was writing a ticket, “He’s not gonna bribe us. Lets go.” And they left. Not only that, but they left in such a hurry that the one cop left his hat in the car. Thus the picture above.
I thought long and hard about it, and decided it’d be better to be a nice guy than a jerk, so on the drive home I gave the officer his hat back. I think he’ll leave me alone for a while. And I did finally catch the LNP’s traveling safety inspections, after driving to two different places. Here’s the officer checking that my horn works.
Finally, someone here sent me this picture of a shot up van durring the war. It’s pretty incredible so I just wanted to post it. It really gives you an idea of how bad the fighting was and how intense it got at certain points. I’m told this vehcile used to be parked by the bridge in Freeport.