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 Johnson-Sirleaf, ruling party. Nat said the area is largely supportive of the opposition party, the CDC, and this soccer pitch is an attempt to get the people together to see the results of her presidency.

Color saturated everything. And the teams lined up to compete, but they didn’t play soccer; they played kickball. It was surprise for me, another curious difference in this African country from others I’ve traveled. In Liberia, fuel is pumped in gallons. We traveled in miles. Even the Liberian money is called “dollars,” and most vendors happily accept U.S. money over “liberty.”

A thousand or more people surrounded the field. Children frequently burst onto the pitch and were immediately chased off by teenage boys with switches. There was energy bolting around the field. The president was on her way. She was supposed to be there by three in the afternoon. Nat and I left at five. I don’t know if she came.

About Chad Stevens

Chad A. Stevens joined the school in 2009. Most recently, he was an award-winning documentary producer/editor at Mediastorm, a multimedia production company based in New York City. Stevens has also been a faculty member in the visual communication programs at Western Kentucky University, the International Center of Photography and Ohio University. Currently he is working on a feature length documentary film on the conflict over energy extraction in Appalachia.

Stevens has received two Emmy nominations, one Webby Award and many photography and multimedia awards in the Pictures of the Year International and NPPA Best of Photojournalism competitions. While teaching at Western Kentucky University, Stevens won the University Faculty Award for Public Service in 2006.

With a professional foundation in photojournalism and multimedia storytelling, Stevens’ career spans the spectrum of newsroom environments, multimedia production and international experience. While living in Africa, he produced multimedia projects for Save the Children, AIDchild and Literacy and Basic Education.

He is a 1999 graduate of Western Kentucky University and a 2009 graduate of Ohio University, and has interned at National Geographic Magazine, The Hartford Courant, the Muskegon Chronicle and the Jackson Hole Guide. During his time as a student at Western Kentucky University, he traveled to Palestine and other Middle East countries. He was named 1997 College Photographer of the Year.