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Book Book Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Liberia: from the love of liberty to paradise lost
Author:Kraaij, Fred van derISNI
Year:2015
Issue:21
Pages:175
Language:English
Series:ASC occasional publications
City:Leiden
Publisher:Africa Studies Centre
ISBN:9789054481447
Geographic term:Liberia
Subjects:political conditions
political history
personal narratives (form)
Link:http://hdl.handle.net/1887/33835
Abstract:In the 1970s, as an enthusiastic young graduate in his twenties, the author left the Netherlands for the West-African country of Liberia. He lectured at the University of Liberia where his students included future ministers. One later emerged as a feared warlord, while one of his colleagues even became the country's president. During his many years in Liberia, the author travelled to every corner of the country, visited rubber plantations and iron ore mines, and spoke to managers and workers. In the capital, Monrovia, he met political activists, journalists, ministers, civil servants and academics, from whom he learned much about the country: Africa's first independent republic, founded in 1847 by freed slaves from the United States of America. Forty years later, in this personal account, the author looks back on the country he has grown to love. In 2012, he returned to Liberia and found a country in the process of recovering from two gruesome civil wars that cost the lives of an estimated 250,000 people and left an unknown large number of people wounded and traumatized. How could a country that was considered to be one of the most stable in Africa descend into such chaos and anarchy? What went wrong? And how is it to move forward? The author tries to answer these questions, based on his own observations. He focuses particular attention on Liberia's current president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president and joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, and her role in the country's new start after the forced resignation of warlord-president Charles Taylor. This new start aims at both national unification - made more difficult by the scars of the civil wars and the lack of attention for national reconciliation - and the country's economic development. To achieve the latter, president Sirleaf has revived Liberia's traditional 'Open Door Policy' - attracting foreign capital and knowhow in exchange for favourable business conditions - but these efforts were severely compromised in 2014 by the Ebola epidemic, which devastated Liberia's already weak public health system. [Book abstract]