In Monrovia, you must "be the traffic"

David Kweku and his father, Joseph. PHOTO BY STEVE DAVIS

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 answered that his philosophy was “to be the weather,” to just accept it.

In Monrovia, you indeed must “be the traffic.”

Here’s a quick guide on what to expect if you’re ever a passenger in Monrovia traffic. (This could apply if you ever drive here, too, of course. But that would be — how can I say this politely? — unwise.)

The left turn in front of oncoming traffic: It’s best not to wait for an opening, because most likely there will never, ever, be one. Inch, inch, inch … into the teeth of online casino the traffic. Eventually, someone will stop.

Honking: It’s like breath itself here. Your driver will randomly honk from start to finish of any trip. Occasionally it will be a honk with purpose — usually to warn pedestrians who crowd the roadsides or the motorcycles that squeeze into every crevice. But usually honking is just what drivers do. I am not sure how others distinguish the purposeful honk from the habitual one. But somehow, they do.

Potholes — or more accurately — craters: The rainy season brings out the worst in Monrovia’s roads. Monrovia’s ubiquitous low-slung yellow Nissan and Toyota taxis are reduced to a crawl to navigate the worst of these chasms. When you bottom out on the really deep ones, you’ll feel the rumble in the seat of your pants.

Motorcycles: They became the vehicle of choice for most every young man after the second civil war. Cars cost too much, and motorbikes are real traffic beaters. The record on a single bike, at least as far as I have seen, is four grown men.

Just last Friday, my driver Joseph was bumped by a car as it passed him. We lost some paint. The next afternoon, we were “thumped” by a motorcyclist trying to squeeze past us.

I got a big laugh when I suggested Joseph get the driver’s license number of the car that scraped us. His reaction suggested I needed to relax and “be the traffic.”

About Steve Davis

I am an associate professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.