“Liberia is good at history making,” says Saki Golafale in a recent interview with Rising Voices, citing the fact that his country was one of the first independent nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, was the birthplace of one of the greatest African football heroes, as well as was the country that elected the female president on the continent. However, Saki also strongly believes that the Liberian people continue to make their own history after years of civil war, and he wants the whole world to know it.
I want the world to also know how Liberians are helping to restore Liberia’s once lost identity during the over decade of civil carnage. In other words, how Liberians are contributing to building the national systems of order is what the world needs to know. Fighting corruption, bad governance, HIV/AIDS, malaria, climate change, and many other mounting global problems are Liberia’s major concerns these days.
Saki is one of these Liberians who are addressing some of these pressing issues. As one of the members of the Ceasefire Liberia blogging project, he was invited by Ruthie Ackerman to be part of the group, “(she) wrote me expressing interest in my blogging style, and she encouraged and has always been encouraging me to make my contributions.”
His contributions have come in the form of poems on the site Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings and blog posts about issues that face his community, something that the Ceasefire Liberia project has helped spread the word. Saki says,
I wanted for outsiders to hear Liberia through my voice, and the time has come – Ceasefire is doing just that. Ceasefire Liberia has made my experience grow every time I posted a story.
His blog postings appear on the Ceasefire Liberia site and his personal blog called Practice What You Preach. In particular, Saki has focused some of his stories on the rights and struggles of children in Liberia. In one of his recent posts, he writes about a young boy that he met on the streets of Monrovia:
Spencer, a 13 year old third grade student, caught my attention today when I first saw him quickly crossing a road with a wheelbarrow loaded with a bag of coal. He noticed that I had taken his photo and he asked about it, which prompted a short discussion between both of us as we walked slowly in the same direction. He is an example of the kids I usually call, “emerging bread winners.”
Spencer explained to me that his daily task after school is to sell cold water and use the proceeds to purchase a bag of coal for his mother, who then sells the coal in small quantities for little or no profit. This is sad. The expressions on his face showed how happy and committed he chose to be in performing his after-school-hour duties. When asked about his study time, he could not remember when was the last time he had the opportunity to study for just an hour.
Originally from Grand Cape Mount County in western Liberia, Saki and his family moved to the capital city Monrovia prior to the start of the Liberian Civil War. He was able to obtain his high school education during the fighting in the capital city, but had to flee the country because of the violence. He arrived as a refugee in Sierra Leone in the early 1990s. Saki wrote a recent post about his return to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, for the first time since his time there as a refugee.
After returning to Liberia, Saki began to study chemistry at the University of Liberia, and has plans to complete a Masters and Doctorate degree in environmental toxicology with an emphasis in public health. He currently lives in Paynesville, located to the north of Monrovia.
In addition to blogging and taking photographs, Saki has been passionate about the issue of climate change. He has led youth groups in his community to raise awareness to combat climate change. One of these activities was the Wood Camp Youth Versus Climate Change event in September 2009, which Saki helped organize and lead. He describes some of the activities on his personal blog:
The activities started on Thursday, September 24 and ended on Friday, September 25. On Thursday, the youths staged a community parade with awareness messages being said out loud on mega-phone. The parade went on for three hours with demonstrations from a youth drama group and distribution of green fruits to standing crowd and those who answered questions concerning climate change. The climax of the “Go Green” activities came to an end on Friday with tree planting in three different locations with in the Wood Camp community. This was followed by a football match which ended in a 3-3 draw.
So with his environmental awareness activities and his literary contributions through online media, Saki is truly one of these Liberians that is making history of which he referred to earlier. Despite some dark times in Liberia's history, “the lessons of history of must not be ignored, ” says Saki. However, there is much optimism because of many young Liberians like Saki, who concludes, “We are at the cross-roads of making the future of unborn generations bright. War never again, I believe!”