posts

On Fine Art Soundbooth

Artistic blacksmith Manfred Zbrzezny and woodcarver Anthony Sartuh discuss what it means to be an "artist", how to promote art in Liberia, artists" responsibility to society, their favorite artistic pieces, and the sacrifices casino artists must make. For more information on "arms to art" please visit  Manfred"s website.     … [Read more...]

Project Websites Created

  Nasseman.com - Rabbie Nassrallah Rabbie Nassrallah, aka Nasseman, hails from Liberia on the West African coast. Born in 1979 to a Lebanese father and Liberian mother, Rabbie grew up in Liberia’s bustling capital, Monrovia. As a young man, he witnessed the devastation of Liberia’s 1989 – 2003 civil war, a period which helped to shape his strong sense of social justice. Rabbie began performing when he was eleven, and rose to prominence in 2005 with the hit “Till We Meet Again”, written … [Read more...]

"Our Job Here Is Not Easy"

  Radriffa slept sideways on the bed beneath barred windows, the morning light filling the room to wake him gently. His father, Peter Toby, sat beside him listening to the crackle of a handheld radio, taking in the day"s headlines. It was quiet that morning in Monrovia, and I stood in the corner of Toby"s one-room household processing that awkward feeling that comes when you peer into someone"s intimate moments. As a twenty-five year old grad student from the U.S. I felt more than out of … [Read more...]

TakunJ The Struggle to Make it

  He thought he was a quiet and unpopular guy — until one day he attended the same show as the president. When Madame President entered the hall the crowd went wild and started screaming. But when he entered, there was even more noise. Click to view galleryHe is Takun-J, Liberia's leading hip-co artist. Hip-co ("co" as in colloquial), is a style of music that is unique to Liberia, because it is the way that people freely speak and relate to one another. It sounds like a mix of rap … [Read more...]

On Faith Soundbooth

  Together Liberia trainers and Newhouse School graduate students Andrew Hida and Bob Miller conducted a "storycorps" style audiobooth on the topic of faith at the Church of Pentecost in Logan Town, Monrovia.  Featured in this soundbooth were Edward Embiasu & Benjamin Godopiaso, John Fred Yon Jr. & Prince N Shereef as well as Joseph, Georgina & David Acheampong. … [Read more...]

A Lesson in Patience and Reverence

  “You’re an uncle!” I heard my mom shout through the tiny earpiece of my cellphone. “Yukiko had Emmalyn early this morning.” I had to plug my other ear in order to hear her correctly as I stared out from behind metal bars into a chaotic sea of concrete, tarps, and corrugated steel as a pair of roosters looked right back at me chuckling to themselves. I will always remember the date, August 9th, 2011, when I became an uncle, standing in the printing press room at the New Democrat as a … [Read more...]

On Music Soundbooth

For more information on on best online casino Rabbie and TakunJ  please visit TakunJ.com and Nasseman.com. … [Read more...]

Laughing In Liberia – Quincy T

Quincy Terence Juleh, is a Liberian median widely known as Quincy ‘T’ who believes that his art is in his nature. According to Mr. Juleh, his joke telling gained the attention of the Liberian people through the nation first privately own radio station Radio Monrovia during the crisis in the country. At the time of the war in Liberia, Quincy ‘T’ believed that his comedy show was a method that he used casino to keep people in-door and relieve them of stress. Chuckie Taylor, the fearful son of … [Read more...]

FrontPage Africa Reporters

During a photography training focused on light, participants, David Kolleh, Tom Nyenur, Jetee best online casino J. Tarr, and others, photographed each other using various lighting conditions. Window light wins again! … [Read more...]

The "Bossman" in Action

casino … [Read more...]

Prayer and Pictures

Sunday morning David Kweku Acheampong drove us to Logan Town to attend the church where his father, Joseph, is an elder. Joseph preached, and we were met with so much kindness and warmth. … [Read more...]

Politics… Sometimes It’s a Kickball Game

Beyond the tension (see the "Being the other" blog post), Saturday was about community. FrontPage Africa reporter and photographer, Nat Bayjay, and I spent the day touring his neighborhood, Clara Town, which he referred to as a "slum" on the outskirts of Monrovia. We were met with so much kindness and warmth as we wandered the dirt streets, avoiding soggy puddles from this impotent rainy season. We made our way to the new soccer field donated to the community by the current president's, Ellen … [Read more...]

Being the Other

Everyone should feel what it"s like to be "the other" – to look around and find yourself in a sea of unknown, to be the one without power, at the mercy of human kind and kindness. During a soccer pitch dedication, a gift to Clara Town from the ruling Unity Party, a small group of young men were racing to the best online casino field, megaphone in hand, yelling words I couldn"t make it out through the distorting device. I saw their energy. I ran in close; I began shooting. "FUCK YOU!" Over … [Read more...]

First frame in Clara Town

Shooting the first frame is always the hardest. I find every time, no matter where in the world I am, I have to drum up the courage and, fearing rejection, walk up and say "hi." Usually that leads to pictures; rarely do people say no. But there is something about human nature, best online casino or maybe just something about me, that wants to avoid that rejection at all cost. After it has all played out and I"m looking through the images at the end of a hard day, I can"t imagine having not … [Read more...]

Bridging Past and Present

It"s haunting. Echoes of war all around, but life moves at such a blurring speed it would be easy to not notice. Yesterday I crossed a bridge where a photograph was made by Chris Hondros during the war. I instantly knew the place because that image had become an icon of the conflict in Liberia. Later it was a Pulitzer finalist. The photographer, Hondros, was killed in Libya in April documenting the conflict there. The image from the bridge, taken in 2003, of a Liberian militia commander … [Read more...]

A rough road towards education in Liberia

Martina Johnson is a 26 year old woman who dropped out of  elementary school. Although she's determine to get back to school, but she's faced with a new problem. A few days ago Martina gave birth to her third child. As a single parent she's left alone to cater to her children as well as her self. "I want to go back to school to complete the rest if my education" she said, "but there is no one to look after my kids while I'm in school," Martina continued. She has to wake up at 5am every morning … [Read more...]

Rocking The Web at the Ushahidi iLab Liberia

  We're at Ushahidi iLab in Monrovia Liberia conducting training on how to update their fresh new sites, they are crafting their very first posts as I type! Here with me are Rabbie Nass, Kindness Nehwon, Arkie J. Tarr, Clarence Nah, Maik Schadler, Manfred Zbrzezny, Takun J, Nora Rahimian, Ansu Kromah and Joseph C. Weah Jr. Sites we're working … [Read more...]

Liberian Golden Image Awards

  Last Tuesday Rabbie and Ja-Rock, our guides to all things cultural, took us along as they performed at the nomination ceremony for Liberia’s first annual Golden Image Awards. The awards are designed to showcase those who have contributed to the post-conflict growth of peace and arts. Accompanying the nomination ceremony was a small art fair, which, aside from our friends’ performance of course, was one of the highlights of the day. It is difficult on a visit to Monrovia to find … [Read more...]

His dream: To be a doctor

  The 2011 graduating class of Cestos High School has decided as a class project to undertake the construction of a palava hut. This palava hut will be used for students to gather and discuss issues pertaining to the school. The cost of the project is estimated at $1,500 U.S. The 29 students in the class had to contribute $500 Liberian each. Donations from sponsors so far have amounted to $500 U.S., bringing the total amount raised to about $800 U.S. As senior class president, Ogache … [Read more...]

Access Denied; Girls Higher Education

  Minnie Wah wants to go to college. But it's more likely that as a girl she'll end up in the local school in Cestos that teaches girls simple trades. That school is right behind Cestos High School. Forum for African Women Education is a trade school where girls go to learn skills such as pastry, tie-dye, sewing, and cosmotology. "I have been in Rivercess from my birth but I have not seen any girl leave from here to go to Monrovia to attain university," said the school … [Read more...]

Reach Out and Touch Faith

  Rewind back to 1987 for a second. The clip-clopping beat in the background is Depeche Mode's Personal Jesus and I was very deeply rooted in my Pentecostal faith at First Assembly of God in Ft.Wayne, Ind. My weekends were filled with dancing at the Seventh Level nightclub, bible in hand , and of course two or three church services. The furthest my mind drifted was to bible college in Minneapolis MN, where I was to be trained as an Assembly of God youth minister.  Yes people, me, a … [Read more...]

Forging peace

[swfobj src="http://togetherliberia.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/manfred-zbrzezny-by-peter-toby-together-liberia/soundslider.swf" width="960" height="670"]Manfred Zbrzenzy's work landed in the office of the vice president after one of Manfred's American customers bought about 20 candle stands and shared some with Boakai. The 50-year-old blacksmith was overwhelmed with joy when he heard the news. The VP has handed the candle stands out to visitors as a souvenir. Story, images and audio by Peter … [Read more...]

Pursing Education

  Kennedy Koloh worries about leaving his family to go to college in Monrovia, but his wife supports him if he can find the money. If he does leave, he will send for her and his two children to be with him. “I really want to pursue my education,” he said,  “but I’m finding it difficult.” Monrovia is five hours away. Right now he can’t make the move, casino because he doesn’t have the money to enroll at the University of Liberia. If he gets there, he’ll have to pay $70 U.S. per … [Read more...]

Still Life

  End of the day at Rivercess High School, Liberia. … [Read more...]

Education Delayed, But Not Denied

Benjamin Menyongar is finally a high school graduate this summer. Now the 30-year-old from Cestos City wants the same for his three children after passing the West African Examination Council (WAEC) test. Benjamin suffered through 14 years of civil war and was abused by rebels who forced him to work for them. It delayed his education and ultimate dream — to go to college in Monrovia. That is a particular difficulty for Liberains who live in rural areas, far from the city. Benjamin returned … [Read more...]

Kindness Nehwon

“The story telling was kind of new to me, because what we do here is we only collect stories that deal with the politicians. To really go to the common people and get their stories is something we don’t really do here. People in Rivercess are very friendly. They are willing to talk to people, to explain their stories. The students were kind of sorrowful because they have only one high school. So, so, sorrowful. And talking to them most of them want to continue their education to go to college. … [Read more...]

In Monrovia, you must "be the traffic"

Being a passenger in Monrovia traffic is a special experience. It’s a white-knuckle carnival ride — without the carnival glitz but with all the thrills. Our drivers — most often David Kweku and his father, Joseph — surely could meet and beat the challenge of any street in any big U.S. city. They are unflappable and oblivious, oddly good-natured about it. I had a friend some years ago who seemed immune to the cold weather, while my wife and I were freezing. “What’s your secret?” we asked. He … [Read more...]

Takun J – Hip-Co in Liberia

Takun J is Liberia’s premier Hip-Co artist. In terms of musical genre, Hip-Co (Co as in short for colloquial) is uniquely Liberian. In short, it’s music of the vernacular, the way people speak and relate to each other. Hip-Co evolved in the 1980s and has always been socially & politically bent. In the ‘90s it continued to develop through the civil wars, and today stands as a definitive mark of Liberian culture. Takun J has climbed his way to the top of the scene and is widely know both here … [Read more...]

Clarence Nah

“It was something new. It was something I will take with me for the rest of my life. The story technique, I think it works best because you get down to the people and you get to tell their stories. Instead of you telling the story, the people tell the stories themselves. So I think that is a good thing.” -Clarence Nah … [Read more...]

Fufu and I

Ever since I made plans to come to Liberia, I was intrigued by the prospect of eating the various foods of West Africa. In preparation for the trip, I downloaded Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" show on Liberia and Ghana to get a feel for the place and the food. I found the local staple to be Fufu. Funny name, interesting taste and texture. I would have to wait about a week after arriving in Monrovia to have a taste of the regional delicacy. Why the wait? Well, the place where we are staying … [Read more...]

We get a surprise at church

For the second Sunday in a row, we attended services at a Pentecostal church this past weekend. This one was a 40-minute drive outside Monrovia, right off the Atlantic. (In fact, the final stretch of “road” that carried us there was a bit of hard-packed sand no more than 25 or 30 feet from the crashing waves. (Since I can’t swim, this prompted me to get an early start on my prayers.) The service was very similar to the first week, though there were two dozen parishioners this time and not … [Read more...]

You can “click,” or make it “explode”

Liberia could be the only country with a national handshake. The greeting actually can be a whole series of moves after the shakers lock hands, or it can be a simple, vanilla shake, as long as it ends with the distinctive “click,” where the shaking parties grasp the tips of each other’s middle fingers and snap. The best shakers can produce an arresting click, audible across a room. The worst? Silence. A complete misfire. Epic failure. This befalls many rookies visiting the country for … [Read more...]

Peculiar Greave

Before the outbreak of the first civil war, the Monrovia Zoo was a source of peaceful memories for families and children. Set on the banks of the Mesurado River in the forested backyard of an old Swiss man and his Liberian wife, it was the only zoo in Liberia. During the war soldiers came and shot dead all the animals. Afterwards they massacred everyone in the neighborhood. The Swiss man and his wife managed to escape to Sierra Leone, and in recent years have returned to their old home. Today … [Read more...]

Finals

At Rivercess High school, graduating seniors celebrate the completion of their final exams. This year, 27 of 29 students passed the West African Examination Council, which determines whether nbso online casino reviews or not one may proceed to university. Most students apply to University of Liberia, one of the only two universities in the country. Without a viable host connection in Monrovia however, it’s impossible for students to financially support themselves. Most remain in Rivercess. … [Read more...]

The Radio is Coming to You

During our sojourn to the seaside town of Cestos, capital of Rivercess County, we launched the Soundbooth, an audio documentary project modeled on NPR"s StoryCorps. The idea is to have two people very familiar with each other - a mother and a daughter, a teacher and a student, a pair of friends - interview each other on a story or topic relevant to their lives. StoryCorps has been doing this for a while, and has a great archive of American stories, told in conversational, intimate style. We"re … [Read more...]

Together Liberia on UNMIL Radio

Together Liberia on UNMIL Radio by Together Liberia Trainers and participants were invited to speak on the United Nations In Liberia's (UNMIL) radio program Front page to discuss their experiences durning the training and thoughts on the state of the Liberian media. Project director Ken Harper, trainers Steve Davis and Bruce Strong were joined by participants Kindness Nehwon and Clarence Nah. … [Read more...]

“Gaffa girl” makes mark in rap

Having spent the last two days working on the set of a real, live reggae video, I can now add “gaffa” to my CV. I am someone with few, if any, practical visual media skills. So how did I end up on the production team for what might be the most polished music video to ever come out of Monrovia? The story starts, as the best ones always do, in the hotel bar. Exhausted after a day of media training in the sticky Liberian summer, I was trudging through the bar to the dining room when Sayeed, … [Read more...]

Rivercess

  Cestos City is located 180 miles Southeast of Monrovia. A seven hour drive on dirt roads through remote rainforest, the county’s capital sits where the River Cestos meets the Atlantic Ocean. In the early morning groups of school kids online casino begin their long journey to class, arriving in boats from across the water, then walking two miles down the only road in town. … [Read more...]

After Echo

Situated next to a monument of Liberia’s first President, Joseph J. Roberts, the ruins of the Ducor Hotel is one of Monrovia’s haunting relics of civil war. Like many of the city’s buildings its skeleton stands charred and gutted, looking over the water. Along the periphery the afternoon continues with a sense of normalcy. “Sad when you see a hotel like that, when you know once upon a time man…” … [Read more...]

Local radio is key to Liberians’ stories

We began this week by spending two nights in Cestos, the capital of Rivercess County. One of the aims of the Together Liberia project is to give greater voice to people in communities outside of Monrovia. The print media here in particular seems to concentrate mostly on big-city politics. I have yet to see a single story on life outside of the nation’s capital. It might just be that I am not reading widely enough, but I don’t think so. I am trying to talk to as many journalists as I can, and … [Read more...]

To the media, the answer is “yes”

I continue to be amazed at the uncommon access we get here while working on our stories. Bureaucrats, as well as everyday people, haven’t caught on to what’s become the default answer to the media in America: “No.” Instead, here we ask — and our sources say “yes.” They are happy to have their stories told. Earlier this week, to start off on a set of stories about education, we walked the campus of the local high school in Cestos, south of Monrovia, without escort. And we stumbled on exactly … [Read more...]

Suppression Inna We Nation, It Makes the Poor People Weep

Corruption bringing poverty And poverty putting my sisters on the street... They abuse us many days And misuse us so many ways - Nasseman, 'Bonkey' We were first introduced to Rabbie Nassrallah, aka Nasseman, last Wednesday night, by Sayeed, the manager of our guesthouse. We didn't realize at the time that we were meeting Liberia's premier reggae star, nor just how quickly he would become a significant part of our project. Rabbie has been living in Monrovia his entire life, … [Read more...]

Education in Cestos, Rivercess county

It was all about education. As media trainers, we improved the storytelling skills of our journalism students. As storytellers, our students focused on education issues in one of the poorest counties in Liberia. As foreigners, we were schooled in both the best and worst parts of traveling in Liberia. Smiles, beaches and cool breezes welcomed us to Cestos. Most locals took us in with open arms, showing us the warm hospitality of a rural community in Liberia. Unfortunately, a robber and some … [Read more...]

On the road to Rivercess …

We were told the drive to Cestos, in Rivercess County, should only take about three hours. It's roughly 180 miles. But I should have know better. Always double times and add some more. In the end, it took close to seven hours to travel to Cestos. The road was paved for half the distance. The other half was like being locked inside a pinball machine, bouncing around in the back of the van, trying to keep my head from slamming into the door. But the sights were good along the way. Here are a few … [Read more...]

Impressions

“To just have that initial interaction, to get a feel for the life and the warmth and kindness that I saw. You know initially there was this apprehension to let us photograph them, but once we spent a nbso online casino reviews little bit of time with them, there was this really incredible spirit that they had…” – Sung Park, University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication … [Read more...]

The Paradox That Is Liberia

A teenage boy lives with his family on the third floor of an abandoned office building on Broad Street in Downtown Monrovia, Liberia. Teenaged school children mingle during a break between classes at Cestos High School. The school district in Rivercess County offer one Primary elementary and one high school for the entire county. Often children walk several hours to attend or get a ride on small motorcycles to get them to school. A young girl sells fruit to residents and tourist … [Read more...]

Hungry to vote

“Mark,” my cab driver around town Saturday, didn’t hesitate when I asked him who would get his vote for president in October or November. “Ellen,” he said, as President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson is called. Mark then produced a shiny card from his ash try — his voter registration card. He said he was going out of his way to keep it clean, because the sooner he used it, the better. Indeed, when the vote will be held is in some doubt. A referendum will determine if the vote should be pushed from … [Read more...]

Church welcomes our team

We arrived at the church an hour late; one of our two taxis had broken down. Joseph, a taxi driver and presiding elder in the church, was dressed to the nines in an orange blazer and navy tie. He had told the congregation that he was bringing foreign guests, and was obviously anxious to deliver on his promise. The church was in the middle of a very poor neighborhood. Because of the rain, there were deep, muddy puddles in the road that our low-slung taxi struggled to get through. People along … [Read more...]

Video Vignettes from Liberia

Here are some short video pieces cut together from footage of our first few days in Liberia, taken in different spots we explored around Monrovia - our home guesthouse, a fancy hotel overlooking the ocean, and the beach lining the Sophie neighborhood in Congo town. Hopefully they give you a few tastes of some of the things, both good and bad, that we"ve been witnessing on our trip thus far.   The Compound Luyken Guesthouse is located in Congo Town, a neighborhood on the Southeastern … [Read more...]

Connections Easily Made In Liberia

It’s all about connections in the new Liberia, just as it is everywhere else on the planet. That said, I still was a bit taken aback with the information I gleaned the other day while strolling on the Atlantic Ocean beach just a quarter-mile from the guest house where we are staying. On the sands, I ran into a young man and his dog. We shared a laugh when we introduced ourselves and heard an echo. Steve, meet Steve. My new friend Steve Kollie was a bit shy but warmed quickly. We … [Read more...]

Images From Training

It"s been a great week. We completed our first series of training sessions yesterday. Through lectures and exercises, we guided the students through lessons on story development, interviewing techniques, audio storytelling, writing, photographic storytelling and key principles, such as ethics. Next week, we head out to the countryside to put those lessons into practice as we start producing election-related stories. … [Read more...]

More Politics Over Lunch

William Morris by William Morris, of online casino the Liberty Party, shares his thoughts about the role of a free press in the upcoming elections. We approached Morris and friends at their lunch table. … [Read more...]

The Rainy Season In Liberia …

The rainy season runs from May to October in Liberia, dropping an average of 170 inches of rain. Most nights, we"ve had thunderstorms and heavy rains that have lasted through the night. During the day, sporadic rain showers have made us run for cover.           … [Read more...]

Together Liberia on Truth FM, The Leading Lady

Together Liberia on Truth FM, The Leading Lady by Together Liberia   Believe in yourself. Don’t be bitter. Don’t be negative. You can do it. From 10:15 to 11 every Friday night from a studio in downtown Monrovia, “The Leading Lady” on Truth FM 96.1 talks Liberians into believing in themselves — and, she hopes, out of their feelings of despair. Matenneh-Rose Dunbar may not be a psychologist, but she sounds like one on the air. All of Liberia is her therapist’s couch. Her … [Read more...]

Day 1 of Training In Liberia

The training sessions started today. At the end of the class, we gathered for a photo. … [Read more...]

Class Is In Session!

Our first class of students showed up Wednesday, and they put in a full morning and afternoon of work. We’ll be working with them at our headquarters in Monrovia all of this week; next week we plan to travel out into one of Liberia’s 15 counties to find stories to tell there. The idea is for our training and outing to serve as a template for two more rounds just like this one. We hope to equip our trainees with the skills (as well as some equipment) to continue this kind of work long after we … [Read more...]

More Political Talk Over Lunch

Long before Election Day, politics makes great table talk. This is the second installment from a best online casino political conversation we stumbled upon at the Krystal Oceanside hotel — a take on the media and Liberian politics by Amos Swaray, press and public relations director of the Congress for Democratic Change. … [Read more...]

Media that matters

As the Together Liberia team sets out on this project to empower Liberians to tell stories to their fellow citizens and the world, I"ve been inspired with confidence that media tools have the potential to transform lives and, potentially, the way the country operates. We"ve already seen that Liberians have taken steps to tell their own stories through the media and enable other Liberians to do the same. The Together Liberia team visited the headquarters of the Liberia Media Initiative for … [Read more...]