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Liberia: Monrovia

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Monrovia | Liberia | Africa

[Visited: March 2016]

We start our exploration of Monrovia at the monument to Joseph Jenkins Roberts, the first president of Liberia who was elected to power in 1848. A tall man standing over a black frieze, and my guide explains the scenes on it: the arrival of settlers from the US, mostly Caribbean islands, who picked Liberia to start a new life as free people. They inevitably clashed with the original inhabitants: the seeds were sown for problems that would eventually give Liberia a lot of trouble. After also exploring the nearby Ducor Palace Hotel, we descend Broad Street, and criss-cross the streets, the markets, walk to West Point, a big slum on the tip of the peninsula. Narrow alleys lead to open squares where people smoke fish, where signs of European football clubs are painted on walls, and to fish markets on the sea shore where big sharks, including hammerheads, and manta rays are just being hauled ashore to be cut to pieces and sold to the women waiting with their tubs.

Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Rickshaw in downtown Monrovia with a covered street market in the background

We zig-zag trough the neighbourhood again, young guys coming up to me to shake hands and chat, wanting to stay in touch, a link with the outside world. This entire slum has been closed during the Ebola period because of the poor hygienic conditions: people have to go to one of the few bath houses to be able to wash themselves. People are smiling at me, but I can feel everywhere that life is hard here. Life is a struggle, every day. Then, suddenly, we are out at the other side, where the slum stops at the top of the brilliant beach, just metres from the surf. We return to the city, visit the Centennial Pavilion which has images of all presidents of Liberia, and where new presidents are inaugurated; we also see the tomb of William VS Tubman, former president of Liberia. Just around the corner, we find the National Museum, where I get a small tour. The ground floor is mostly about the rich tribal diversity of the country, shown most notably by the impressive masks and cloths, while the next level shows pictures of Liberia. The top floor has an exhibition with harrowing paintings of the ebola period. Some of them take me directly by the throat.

Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): One of the golden beaches of Monrovia

We walk Broad Street, and walk towards the coast, past the prison, and on more quiet streets past the enormous US Embassy and to the Masonic Church which stands just below the JJ Roberts monument and the Ducor Palace Hotel where we started the day. Young men are using the sloping road as a running exercise. One of the more pleasant parts of the city: quiet, there is a pleasant breeze, there are nice views. The next day, we walk all the way from the city hall and the university campus, past Capitol Hill where parliament and ministries are located, to enter the beach and walk further west. It looks so pretty, but since we are just below the parliament buildings, I wonder: is this the same beach where Samuel Doe sent the ministers of the government he had just ousted in 1980 to be cold-bloodedly executed by his soldiers? I can only hope that after decades of civil war and violence, and the ebola outbreak, Monrovia will finally find peace and more prosperity for all of its inhabitants.

Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Broad Street, with the Rivoli cinema on the left
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Monument in memory of the first president of Liberia, inaugurated in 1848: JJ Roberts
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): One of the typical masks of a tribe in Liberia on display in the National Museum
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Looking up the entrance of the First United Methodist Church, on Broad Street
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Entrance of Centennial Pavilion, Monrovia, where presidents are inaugurated
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Some harrowing art based on life in the times of Ebola
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Nigerian dugout canoe lying on a beach in West Point, the biggest slum of Monrovia
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): The main market of Monrovia is Duala Market in the north
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Gold teeth shop, also selling other things, in West Point
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): People walking a street at West Point, a shanty town of Monrovia
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Small fish market with big fish in West Point, the main shanty town of Monrovia
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): The Masonic Temple, under the Ducor Palace Hotel
Picture of Monrovia (Liberia): Colourful decorations on the wall of a beach club in Monrovia

Around the World in 80 Clicks

Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Monrovia (Liberia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Monrovia.
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