There are a lot of articles about surfing in Liberia. But, this one by William Powers, who lived in Liberia during times of war and times of peace, made me ready to be reachin’ back.
I’m thrilled to have my photo of a stormy morning at the beach in Robertsport accompany it.
The next day, an old buddy from “Taylor time” picked me up in his dented Toyota. Harris Johnson, a computer technician in a Yankees cap, grinned as he gunned his car downtown, Monrovia’s fire-scarred skyline looking like something out of Mad Max. We passed over the bridge to Bushrod Island, a hardscrabble industrial section of town, and I spotted the ruins of a pre-war movie theater and remembered the exquisite little groundnut-soup shop that had been tucked behind it. Harris pulled over. Throughout the war, the place had always been half empty, but we found it buzzing with a lunchtime crowd. We were shown to the only seats left and heard from the kitchen the rhythmic sounds of cooks pounding the cassava-yam dough called “dumboy.” A pair of goats bleated from a room to our left as we savored each spoonful of peanut-flavored soup.
In February 2011, more than 40,000 Ivorians refugees fled post election violence and insecurity after two presidential candidates both claimed victory. Liberians, who had been refugees in Ivory Coast just a couple of years earlier, are hosting many refugees in villages along the border and others are being relocated to camps by UNHCR.
More Ivorians are crossing into Liberia daily as violence intensifies and civil war becomes imminent.
Commissioned by UNHCR. See more photos at www.glennagordon.com.
In the 1970s and 1980s, so many promises were made to Liberia and by Liberians. All of them would be broken over the next two decades. As part of a long term project I’m beginning, I plan to document the spaces of these broken promises. A couple of weeks back I posted about the Ministry of Defense, the first part of this series.
The Ducor Hotel was once a four star resort with a French restaurant and rooftop bar. The hotel promised to bring tourists and revenue to Liberia. Perched atop the highest hill in Monrovia, the view is breathtaking and the traces of grandeur are evident. During the war, the hotel became home to hundreds of squatters who left rural areas thinking Monrovia might be a bit safer. But war followed them to Monrovia.
After the war, many stayed until they were forcibly evicted a couple of years ago.
Now, the word on the street is that some Libyan investors have purchased the hotel and plan to renovate. Depending who you ask, they’ve been held up either because of the squatters still living in the area or because from the hotel, you can see straight into the American Embassy’s new compound.
The people living there just wait for life to make another decision for them. And until then, Nigerian peace keepers, former hotel employees, and a mishmash of other people call the Ducor home.
Lately, I’ve been more and more interested in portraiture. But, I can never seem to get one photo that I feel captures something about who the subject is. Maybe that’s because I’m not a good enough portrait photographer yet, or maybe it’s because there’s no one person who can be explained in one image.