The West African nation of Liberia suffered through an on-again, off-again civil war for 14 years from 1989 to 2003. As many as 250,000 people were killed. The country was economically devastated: Roads were destroyed, sewage and water largely ceased functioning, and electricity was knocked out throughout the entire country. A generation of young people, many of whom were child soldiers, never received a formal education. Many were psychologically traumatized by a brutal and at-times bizarre war.
The country has been at peace since United Nations peacekeepers came to Liberia in 2003. There are signs of recovery – a freshly-paved road or new restaurant bring hope – but progress has been difficult and slow. Formal unemployment remains alarmingly high, upwards of 60 to 80 percent.The World’s Jason Margolis spent two weeks in Liberia to examine the challenges of rebuilding a war-torn nation.
While in Liberia Jason Margolis asked people there how they felt about the war crimes prosecution of Charles Taylor. Anchor David Baron speaks with Margolis to find out about the reaction in Liberia. Read the full story here and
The West African nation of Liberia needs a functioning judicial system badly for many reasons, including for settling land disputes. During the country’s 14-year civil war, which ended in 2003, many Liberians fled their country. In the past few years many people have returned home, and some have found other people living on their land. Read the full story here and Download MP3
There’s an expression people use in Liberia: Monkey work, baboon draws. While that might make no sense to an outsider, the meaning is crystal clear in Liberia: If I do the work, somebody else should not take the credit. Proverbs like this are a powerful and common form of communication used throughout Liberia. Read full post here and Download MP3
A new sewing factory in Monrovia is producing t-shirts bound for the United States. It’s staffed by 32 Liberian women, and an American boss who has returned to his native country. The enterprise is trying to become one of the first start-up factories in the world, and the very first in Africa, to manufacture “fair trade certified” apparel. The women receive a fair wage, health insurance, and a monthly bag of rice. Read full post here (Photo: Jason Margolis) Download MP3
Reporter Jason Margolis got a chance to sit down with President Sirleaf in her office and ask a range of questions about how her country can economically recover after 14 years of Civil War. Sirleaf took office as the president of Liberia for a six-year term beginning in 2006. She will run for re-election next year.
The Ducor hotel in the Liberian capital of Monrovia was once considered one of the finest hotels in all of Africa. The hotel shut its doors shortly after civil war erupted in Liberia in 1989. During the war, the Ducor became home to thousands of squatters. A few dozen remain today. A Libyan company now has plans to revamp the old hotel. A few old employees of the Ducor took reporter Jason Margolis around for a tour. Watch the slideshow.
Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, is swarming with young men who were former child soldiers in Liberia’s civil war. Most of the young men are uneducated and have few job skills. Many have short attention spans, trouble saving money, and are prone to petty crime and violence. A team of American researchers and Liberian social workers are researching how, and whether, this culture can be transformed. Read full post here and see Jason’s photos of Liberian youth.
Before Liberia descended into war, the country was an African travel hotspot: five-star hotels, beautiful beaches, and a rich cultural history. Today, tourism dollars would certainly help Liberia’s economic recovery. But is Liberia ready to re-open for tourists?
Read the full post and see more of Jason’s photos from Liberia.
The 2010 soccer World Cup has opened with a spectacular ceremony in Johannesburg. It included a tribute to the six African teams that have qualified for the tournament, symbolized by six branches of a baobab tree. It’s the first FIFA World Cup on African soil and in Liberia, too, soccer fever is palpable, even though Liberia’s team isn’t even playing. Jason Margolis has more. See more of Jason’s photos from Liberia.