Ceasefire Liberia In the News


*Photo on Flickr by gbaku

Here we are about to start a new year and I am sitting at my computer reflecting on how far the Ceasefire Liberia project and website have come over the last nine months.

Since we received the first small grant from Global Voices to start our website in April, we have had over 180 posts from Liberian bloggers around the world. We have forged partnerships with organizations, such as The Niapele Project, The New Liberian, World Policy Institute, The Mantle, and GroundReport, and are in discussions with other organizations to see how we can enhance each others’ work.

Penelope Chester from The Niapele Project, along with Semantics King and David Maass from The New Liberian, are working with Ceasefire Liberia on a journalism project around the 2011 elections in Liberia (please reach out to me if you want to be involved or know of ways to enhance our work in this area). The New Liberian and Ceasefire Liberia have also begun to cross-post each others’ articles on our blogs so please look for The New Liberian RSS feed on our home page. We are also partnering on a book drive to benefit reporters in Liberia.

Rachel Sterne from Ground Report has agreed to cross post our blogs on her site to expand our readership. And The World Policy Institute and The Mantle are using their platforms to tell the world about the work we are doing.

In addition to our partnerships I was interviewed on MediaBistro about the Ceasefire Liberia project, as well as interviewed for an article in Planet Africa that will be published in the spring. CUNY TV has also been out to Staten Island several times to tape a segment on our project.

On the good news front: Our blog manager, Nat Nyuan-Bayjay, got married recently and will be sharing some photos and musings from his wedding on our site in the near future.

As for our bloggers, they have been hard at work and I'd like to give a shout out to some of our best blogs from November and December: Leroy Sonpon III reported on more reactions to the TRC report. According to Sonpon, the Country Director for Action Aid Liberia, Ernest Gaie, is warning the Government of Liberia of the re-occurrence of another war, if the recommendations of the final unedited reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) are quashed. Peter Massaquoi reported on a disagreement between Jewel Taylor, ex-wife of warlord Charles Taylor, and Pres. Ellen Johnsons Sirleaf. Another important story from Massquoi is about how health workers are boycotting a yellow fever vaccine right in the midst of a health scare. Boima J.V. Boima wrote about why Cllr. Pearl Brown Bull, a strong ally and sympathizer of Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, has chosen to support opposition candidate Geraldine Doe-Sherif in the run-off of the Montserrado Senatorial by-election. Wellington Railey kept us up-to-date on a court case where a Liberian pastor was sentenced to prison after his lawyer, the Holy Spirit, failed to appear in court. Our staff reporter wrote about how Buchanan Renewable Energies (BRE), operating in Buchanan, has cut its workforce by 150 employees. M. Welemongai Ciapha, legal writer for FrontPageAfrica, covered the trial of the gruesome murder of  Keith K. Jubah. All ten suspects were denied bail. Armaa Johnson, a Ceasefire Liberia member living in Staten Island, posted a trailer for a film he is working on about the Liberian community in Park Hill, Staten Island. Wellington Railey wrote about the lack of reporting of rape cases in Liberia since the end of the war. And our staff reporter blogged about the disorganization of the senatorial elections, which may be a sign of things to come in the 2011 presidential election. There are many, many more blogs, but you will have to take a peek on the site to see what I missed!

I'll leave you with a quick roundup of news from around the Liberian blogosphere: Paul I. Adujie wrote an interesting piece on The New Liberian about how African-Americans and Africans are undercounted in the U.S. census. The UN News agency reported that the arms embargo against Liberia has been dropped, allowing the Liberian government and the UN peacekeeping mission to have certain weapons. Dennis Jah, who started the Ning site The Liberian Way, wrote a very insightful piece about how he's not ashamed of being a Liberian in the U.S. Somah Dahn wrote an article for The Bush Chicken about how corruption is devastating Liberia, while Harry Papa Mason writes about the difficulty of implementing the TRC report. There are many intereesting articles on Cafe L.I.B., but two that struck me are: “Beat Your Wife We'll See You in Court,” which is what Pres. Sirleaf told Liberians at the SKD Stadium on Dec. 17 as part of her strategy to get tougher on domestic violence and the news that The Chairman of the ruling Unity Party (UP), Dr. Charles Clark, said Pres. Sirleaf would seek a second term and that the Party has already started planning for the 2011 general and presidential elections.

Please visit us at www.ceasefireliberia.com and leave comments. We’d love to hear from you! And have a Happy New Year!

Ceasefire Liberia in the News (October)


By: Ruthie Ackerman

Photo on Flickr by woody1778a

Every month when I do my roundups of what happened on the Ceasefire blog that month I think to myself, “It can’t get much better than this!” And it always does.

October has proven to be our best month yet (so far). We have hit a new record with the sheer number of blog posts we have published on the site and we are being inundated with requests from bloggers to blog for us. This proves that Liberians want to interact more in the blogosphere and just needed a space to do so collectively. Many of our bloggers are now on Facebook as well so the social media contagion is really catching on.

I have also been reading a lot about the trend (which I hope is here to stay) in hyperlocal news. Rachel Sterne’s GroundReport is a great example of the possibilities in this arena. I hope that the funding world catches on so that more blogs like ours pop up around the world. I’m also glad to see that geniuses like David Cohn are thinking up potentially sustainable business models in this realm. We need more of that.

On the good news front: Saki Golafale, one of our star bloggers, led the youth of Wood Camp (in the Paynesville section of Monrovia) in a day of climate action. We are so proud of his committment and are even more proud to let our readers know that his hard work paid off: Saki was recognized by the blog 350.org. In other Saki news, Saki created this amazing photo essay documenting the Red Light Market in Paynesville, Monrovia and wrote an especially breathtaking story on Spencer and Massa, two young Liberians with very different after school lives.

In more good news, which you will hear more about as it develops, is that two different television shows have asked to do small segments on the Ceasefire Liberia project. I will be sure to keep you updated as that progresses.

And the icing on the cake is that Ceasefire Liberia is teaming up with The Niapele Project and New Liberian to do even more work around media justice and citizen journalism in Liberia. An exciting component of this partnership is that Ceasefire Liberia and New Liberian have agreed to cross-post each other’s articles so that our readers can benefit from double the reading pleasure. While Ceasefire Liberia has had fewer posts from the Liberian diaspora, New Liberian has had the opposite challenge: finding consistent bloggers in Liberia. By working together we can bridge those challenges and provide better content for our readers. A little about New Liberian: New Liberian is run by the infamous Semantics King Jr.,  who started The Vision, a newspaper created by Semantics and fellow journalist Jos Garneo Cephas in 2004 while they were living in Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. He eventually received asylum to live in the United States and since has started New Liberian, which recently received 501(c)3 status with the help of The Niapele Project and David Maas, an amazing journalist in his own right.

And I’ll leave you with a quick roundup of news across the Liberian blogosphere (but mostly from our very own Ceasefireblog!): I am most proud of our coverage of the Guinean Massacre this month and what it will mean for Liberia and the West African region. Three of our bloggers wrote about Guinea: Saliho Donzo, Boima J.V. Boima, who took the interesting perspective of how the instability is affecting Liberian businesses, and one anonymous blogger. Another big story was that Firestone was found guilty of pollution at its rubber plantation in Liberia, a story that we even beat the BBC to covering. Boima J.V. Boima wrote a great story about the rift between Liberians over support for Charles Julu, a former general for Samuel Doe who has been accused of numerous murders including burying children alive in wells. Boima also covered the story of Nicholas Buigar, the Liberian who won first runnerup on MTN’s Project Fame West Africa. Saliho Donzo covered the Obama/Nobel Peace Prize controversy, our Monrovia blog manager, Nat Nyuan-Bayjay, covered the plight of Guthrie’s school teachers, Wellington Railey wrote about Liberia’s upcoming presidential elections, and from the diaspora Wynfred Russell wrote about the lack of visionary leadership in Minnesota and Stephen Johnson got a lot of attention for his piece about Liberian youth. There were many more stories, but you’ll have to discover them for yourself by taking a peek around the site!

New Liberian blogger Laura A. Young covered “A House with Two Rooms,” the final report of Liberia’s TRC Diaspora project; Bill Jarkloh covered the Liberty Party’s Darius Dillon’s primary win; Dennis Jah writes about fragmentation among Liberian organizations; Dennis also started a Ning site, called The Liberian Way, which has many blog posts and allows Liberians to connect (way to go Dennis!); Stanford Peabody, the publisher of The Bush Chicken, left for Monrovia and is taking requests for questions readers wants answered or photos you want taken so take part in this interactive news-gathering process; Cafe L.I.B, another blog/Ning site where Liberians can connect, has a very interesting series by Kimmie Weeks of Youth Action International in Liberia, who left the comfort and stability of the US to start his charitable foundation. Another story on Cafe LIB is about Obama’s praise for President Sirleaf  for leading a discussion on job creating at the UN and for her leadership and concern about the violence in Guinea.

Please visit us at www.ceasefireliberia.com and leave comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Ceasefire Liberia In The News


Photo by Seyon Nyanwleh, the executive director of A-Mon-Nue Sports & Social Association

September has been a good month for the Ceasefire Liberia project. Not only have we had dozens of new blog posts from our writers — and several fantastic videos — but we are getting noticed too. Both Feministing and the Women’s Refugee Commission have mentioned our blog on their sites, widening our audience and ensuring that those who do not usually read about the Liberian community now know where to go for updates. We have also recruited some top new bloggers: Ronald M. Mulbah is our new sports blogger, with weekly updates on the fascinating and fast-paced world of Liberian soccer; Boima JV Boima has written several blogs, one about a youth who was slapped with a guilty verdict for attempted murder as well as a story about the Muslim community in Liberia. And our hardworking blog manager Nat Nyuan-Bayjay continues to impress with his local stories about issues important to Liberia: His most recent work includes a story about the reconstruction of the Monrovia-Buchanan highway and the trial for the murder of 13-year-old Angel Tokpa who was found strangled and hung over the bathroom rod of her guardians’ house. Both of these stories were not reported in the media so thank you Nat for keeping us informed.

For those of you who don’t know, I traveled to Minnesota in July to visit the Liberian community there, which is one of the largest in the U.S., to interview Liberians for my book, but also to try and recruit a group of Liberian bloggers in Minneapolis. I had the opportunity to meet with Doris Parker, the executive director of the Liberian Women’s Initiative of Minnesota, which runs the College-Bound mentoring program, pairing junior and senior high school Liberian girls with professional Liberian women to mentor, guide, support and encourage college enrollment. Parker’s organization also has a girl’s soccer team, which I had the pleasure of watching practice before the big game the following day. Doris and I spoke about the possibility of teaching the girls’ in her group how to blog. I hope in a future incarnation of Ceasefire Liberia we are able to start blogging clubs and run workshops across the Liberian diaspora.

I also met with Seyon Nyanwleh, the executive director of A-Mon-Nue Sports & Social Association, and watched his team practice. I was very impressed with the number of young people Seyon had recruited for his program and the level of involvement of the parents. One father came and sat through his son’s soccer practice despite being awake since early the morning to go to work. The father told me that he was there because that was one of the only times he got to spend with his son.

I’d also like to point out several Liberian bloggers who have not blogged with Ceasefire Liberia, but who I have had the pleasure of meeting (or at least speaking to) during my trip to Minnesota. Semantics King runs several blogs on Liberian and community news affecting the Liberian community; Emmanuel Liu has an active blog and Twitter where he writes about everything from some harsh words between Kanye West and Obama to Patrick Swayze’s death to a haiku he wrote for his daughter; MinneAfrica is a site dedicated to all things African in Minnesota and I had the chance to catch up by phone with Yeamyah, a Liberian woman who keeps the community in Minnesota updated on Liberian news of importance such as the expiration of the temporary protected status and male circumcision and HIV. Another not-to-be-missed source for Liberian news is The Bush Chicken an online magazine for the Liberian community in Minnesota.

Any other bloggers I’m missing — let me know.

Hi everyone,

I wanted to introduce myself to the Rising Voices community. My name is Ruthie Ackerman and I am running the Ceasefire Liberia blog project. Ceasefire Liberia is a project that has grown out of my journalism work over the past several years with Liberian youth in both Liberia and in Staten Island, New York. It started off as one story about the reconstruction of Liberia after its 14-year civil war and has grown into an all-encompassing multimedia project, including a book, documentary filmwork, and now a blogging project. The blogging project is very exciting for me because it’s a way to hear directly from Liberians about their communities –no middlemen — just their voices about the things they care about. My hope is to connect Liberians living in the Diaspora with those who remained in Liberia during and after the war so they can learn about each others’ lives through blogging, video, and photography.

The idea is to create a dialogue between those Liberians who left and those who stayed and eventually to have a team of citizen journalists in Liberia and the Diaspora who find those under-reported stories in their own communities and post them onto the blog. I hope everyone who comes to the site can join us by writing an encouraging comment, reflecting on their own experiences, or telling us about their communities. The dream is that by communicating here the boundaries that keep us divided will disappear.

Please visit us at: www.ceasefireliberia.com

Introduction to Ceasefire Liberia

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Just west of Ivory Coast lies Liberia and its roughly 3.5 million inhabitants. Settled by free slaves from the United States in the early 19th century, Liberia fell into a 14-year dark period of civil war and lawlessness that concluded in late 2003 with the presence of ECOWAS and the United Nations. Today Liberia is slowly recovering despite inadequate infrastructure, unemployment at around 80%, and former combatants (many of them minors) who must be re-integrated into society. Many unemployed Liberians have put their hopes in friends and relatives living abroad in the United States. However, there is often a lack of communication and understanding between Liberians at home and those living in the diaspora. By partnering with African Refuge – a drop-in center for West African youth – and the Century Dance Complex in Park Hill, Staten Island (the largest Liberian community outside of Africa), and Amnesty International in Monrovia, freelance journalist Ruthie Ackerman aims to help foster a transatlantic Liberian blogging community.

Those Liberians who lived through the war — whether soldiers or not — experienced some type of trauma or displacement. By creating a community and sharing experiences with others, it has helped give these youth a purpose and vision that there is something larger than themselves. This will benefit the community (on both sides of the ocean) on many levels: Liberians, many of whom have difficulty adjusting to life in America, can reconnect with their families and dispel myths about what life is like in the U.S. There are also left-over tensions from the war, which may be able to be diffused through the dialogue created between the communities.