Monday, April 11, 2011

Liberian Living: True Nationalism

I sure have missed writing. I am now a true African as I have acquired and gotten over my first round with malaria. Trust me, it was beating me up well!

I have to thank my Anty Nyemale at Krystal Oceanview Hotel in Mamba Point for helping me heal at full speed. Without her I would have been on the flight home and there would be no
more Liberian Living to enjoy. I encourage you to stay there if you need a hotel in Liberia, or at least visit by dining over the oceanside when you're in the area. The breakfast buffet for guests of the hotel kept meat on my bones and made me truly feel at home. What I like most about their hotel is the branding involved. In Liberia, when you rent a room, you rent a room. At
Krystal you get the little shampoos and napkins with their logo, similar to Western hotels. A
little touch like that may seem trivial to you, but I'd like to think Liberians can have the simple things when we vacation as well. I enjoyed my Krystal/malaria experience as much as one with
malaria can.

Malaria is scary because I know people can die from it. And before you ask, yes of course I was taking anti-malarial medication. However, I had heard that if you're in Liberia for a while
you're going to get malaria no matter what you do to prevent it. The first symptom for me was a really persistent chill. If you have a chill in tropical Liberia, you are sick. That's pretty basic. I was so tired at work and just cold. Everyone's answer for everything is, "oh you must have malaria," and how I wish they had been wrong.

The worst part of it all was the night my heart was beating through my chest. I just prayed to God, "please take half this pain away and let me live through the night." Malaria can really make you feel like you're dying! I had never cried from persistent pain before, and I don't even like getting my hair braided. Malaria feels like someone put their hand in your chest and is just looking for organs to pull out.

So there you have the experience if you ever wanted to know. I don't want it ever EVER again.

Anty Nyemale referred me to a great place for treatment called Snapper Hill Clinic near Mamba Point. It was such a drastic change from JFK Hospital, and it was still very affordable. All of my treatment, medicine, and lab work cost me less than $10USD. More important, the doctor there was able to diagnose other issues I wasn't aware needed to be treated. Your health can really deteriorate in Liberia, and you may just blame it on the filth, but I'm more confident there are good healthcare options after the care I received at Snapper Hill.
pre war operating table... frozen in time

very charismatic lab tech

extended stay bedrooms... way better than JFK

this tests your blood... how ancient! but it said positive for malaria, and they keep everything sanitized. Use what you've got!

Nah mine - A shortened version of never mind, which is what people say when they feel bad for you. For instance, since I was sick everyone said "nah mine yah," as their way to express their sympathy for my condition. When you say this, you may not even be at fault, but it's just how you show you care.

Foreigners and Liberia:
There's an interesting event going on in Liberia right now called the Liberian Mining, Energy, and Petroleum Conference. It's the first one of its kind and it made me feel good to see an event of its caliber being held in city hall. All the money makers of Liberia are here, but the Liberian bosses and board members are painfully few. I don't have any resolve on these problems. What can Liberians do to acquire the wealth in our country? Another war would make the foreigners leave, but then we would be isolated and in even more pain. Liberians don't think of long term investments enough to even sustain our country. Everything is done with the mindset of eat today, worry about tomorrow when it comes, and this keeps all the major business out of our hands. Last night the president's sister had a birthday party at Palm Springs Resort and Casino. All of that business would have been welcome at Liberian owned Myrtle's Beach at Kendeja, and they would have had a blast at a lower price, but if you want a resort and casino the Liberians haven't got the resources or drive to open one yet. So the Lebanese business benefits and takes our money back to Lebanon. We aren't helping ourselves, and now that mining and energy are becoming huge cash cows here, we still aren't herding the cattle. Shame on us for our mismanagement of our land. If you had a foreign company, wouldn't you capitalize on small, mineral rich countries as well?

The catch-22 is that I keep trying to appeal to you all for help. I want you to donate, but I don't want you to take all the business. My dispute is simply in my search for equality. There are Australian kids going to great schools because their parents work for a logging company in Liberia. But those are our logs, and a child born on the same day in Liberia probably will never benefit from those trees. The child will not even be able to read in sixth grade, yet they come from a wonderfully generous land of liberty. It's all almost a joke. We're not winning here.

I almost ate a sardine sandwich today. It was really cute and from PA's Ribhouse so I thought it was tuna salad. I'm certainly glad I asked because I have never had sardines in my life and the thought makes me cringe. Liberians love sardine sandwiches, but I love American food. Still as a Liberian, I'm going to want to keep the American feeling of a cheeseburger (no nutmeg) and sort bread. I want a real sausage for breakfast, not a chopped hot dog. I can't fully be Liberian as long as I don't shake my American preferences, and a big preference for me is nationalism. I want us to want to own Liberia. This feeling I will not shake. People think going to a foreign country will make their lives better, but we aren't focused on making this one supreme. The foreigners have money largely because of our land. We should just be more proud of ourselves than to let everyone set the terms for our lives and own our resources. We should not eat sardines because we should have earned the money to eat tuna (not that tuna is so posh). Why are we eating sardines in the first place? In America that is pet food. People should not be able to dress up the sardines for us and make us think we are being nourished while they eat our tuna off our coast. I'm tired of it.

I promise you we will soon talk fashion. Air France flies direct from Paris to Monrovia starting April 20th. I will soon be fundraising for my fare.

Special thanks to my friend Patrick Lancaster from AZ. He came all the way to his favorite African hideaway, Monrovia, and brought me my first batch of children's books. He even chose African American characters so the kids can see themselves in the stories! They're going to love them and I'm eternally grateful! Keep em coming guys!

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