The Real Planet of the Apes (Documentary)

This is an interesting short documentary about the incredible story of a place called “Monkey Island” in Liberia, where over 60 chimpanzees were released after being infected with contagious diseases, such as hepatitis, as part of medical research conducted by a team of US virologists at the now defunct Liberia Institute for Biomedical Research during the 1980s. 

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Breaking The Chains Of Poverty One Child At A Time: Young Liberian Seeks To Kindle A Groundswell Movement To Educate Poor Children In His Post-War Nation

By Moco McCaulay

When Robert D. Garguah Jr. first returned to his native Liberia in 2010 after fleeing the country during its brutal civil war some fourteen years earlier, his goal was to visit the most underprivileged communities to find the neediest children who could benefit from his organization’s education scholarships. And, with 76% of Liberia’s population living on less than a dollar a day, there’s no shortage of such communities, one of which is the eponymous Rock Hill, where poor families toil in its notorious rock quarries to eke out a living.

On his visit to Rock Hill, located on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital city, Robert watched as the nondescript sunbaked figures of laborers, scattered among the mounds of crushed rocks that pockmarked the quarry, went about their backbreaking tasks. It was a scene poignantly reminiscent of images of Nelson Mandela and his fellow African National Congress political prisoners crushing rocks on Robben Island—except, these were not prisoners and many were children.

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ANOTHER AMERICA: The Story Of Liberia And The Former Slaves Who Ruled It – A Book Review

By Moco McCaulay

When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, 2009 as the 44th US President, the historical significance of that moment was not lost on anyone. After three centuries and upwards of suffering racial subjugation since the first Africans were brought as slaves to Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, an African-American had finally risen to the highest office in the land. But, long before Barack Obama, African-Americans had already risen to the highest office in “Another America,” as author James Ciment figuratively refers to Liberia in his incisive book about that nation’s history.

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The first of those African-Americans was Joseph Jenkins Roberts. Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1809, Roberts emigrated with his family in 1829 to Liberia, a fledgling colony on the West Coast of Africa which had been founded only nine years earlier by the American Colonization Society as an abode for free blacks and former slaves from the US. And, when Liberia declared itself an independent republic on July 26, 1847, Roberts became its first president.

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Pleading For Liberia’s War Dead: Liberian Hip Hop Artist Join Others To Ignite A Movement To Heal The Wounds Of A People Still Reeling From A Brutal Civil War

By Moco McCaulay

Imagine the US had no memorials to commemorate the lives of those lost during its Civil War. Imagine there was no National World War II Memorial and no Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall to honor those who died in service to their nation. Better yet, imagine that not a single holocaust monument had ever been erected to commemorate the lives of those who perished under Hitler’s Nazi pogrom.

Surely, if that were the case, people in those nations would be gagging over with utter revulsion that such an atrocious opprobrium was being shown to the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their nation.

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But, in Liberia, despite 14-years of a bloodcurdling civil war marked by marauding drug-incensed child soldiers and trigger-happy combatants with a license to kill, resulting in an apocalyptic bloodletting frenzy where massacres, summary executions, cannibalism, rape, and torture were common occurrences, not a single national memorial has been erected to commemorate the lives of the quarter of a million victims who perished during that nation’s macabre civil conflict.

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Eat Well, Work Hard, Live Strong: Young Liberian Fitness Coach Rises From The Crucible Of A Brutal War And Hard Knocks Past Ready To Help Others Live A Healthy Lifestyle

By Moco McCaulay

The clock of finitude has run its course on 2013, and the countdown to a new year has now commenced. For many of us, last year was one mixed with personal accomplishments as well as disappointments, but with the New Year, each of us is once again presented with a chance to set new goals and start afresh. And, for many of us, one of those goals may well be to live an active and healthy lifestyle in 2014.

If you happen to be such a person, Lassana “AK” Moore, a 28-year-old Liberian fitness coach, might just be the linchpin you need to provide you with support and motivation to help you accomplish your fitness goals this year.

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Fitness should be a lifestyle not just a New Year’s resolution. You should be able to do some kind of activity every day; you don’t necessarily need to go to the gym. Don’t sleep on your goals,” exhorted Lassana in a recent posting on his Strong Minded Fitness Facebook page.

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Coalition for Justice In Liberia Maintains That Justice for War Crimes Is Critical To Acheiving Reconciliation in Liberia

By LovettaTugbeh, Interim Executive Director, CJL     

The Coalition for Justice in Liberia (CJL), believes that Liberia’s future lies in establishing a solid foundation for justice. As we look towards 2014 and the years to come, let us make pursuing justice an integral component of peace and reconciliation.

The year 2013 witnessed many significant developments, but it will forever be remembered as the year the world lost one of its greatest icons in human history, in the person of the revered “Madiba” Nelson Mandela. His legacy on the arc of history will leave a lasting footprint for generations to come.

There are three great lessons of Mandela’s legacy. First, that freedom is an inherent right of all people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, class, religion, sexuality, or nationality. Second, that mankind can only learn, grow, develop, and prosper in an environment of peace, harmony, and democracy. Third and most importantly, mankind has a responsibility to sustain peace by building a solid foundation of justice, as peace and justice are intertwined and one cannot exists in the absence of the other.

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The Peppered Moth Kingdom: A Tale About A Land So Polluted By The Soot of Corruption, It’s People Are Perishing In A Genocide Of Poverty

By Moco McCaulay

The images of desperate African migrants laden to the brim of rickety boats streaming across the Mediterranean Sea to reach the shores of Europe, coupled with pictures of the iridescent blue sea blotted with the lifeless black bodies of those unfortunate ones who end up drowning on this benighted journey to ‘greener pastures’ is such a common news fodder that it stirs nary more than a tingling of our emotions, if at all.

But, watching the news a little over a month ago, I was horror-stricken as the bodies of hundreds of Africans migrants were pulled from the sea off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Over 300 Africans had been swallowed up by the ravenous sea and their nameless bodies were collected in body bags to be buried in unmarked graves.

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The media described most of these Africans willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to reach the shores of Europe as ‘economic refugees’ because they were not fleeing war but rather seeking to escape poverty in their own lands.

But, are we really to believe that these people are sacrificing their lives just to escape ‘poverty’? Is it really that simple? If so, then how come other poor people around the world are not engaged in such a mass sacrificial exodus to flee poverty in their own lands?

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Running With Eyes On The Prize: US-based Liberian Track Athlete Embarks On A Race To Improve The Lives of Underprivileged Children In His Post-war Nation

By Moco McCaulay

During the turbulent years of the American Civil Rights Movement, when protesters took to the streets to demand an end to racial injustices against African Americans and they were bludgeoned with batons, knocked off their feet with high-pressure water hoses and tear-gassed, they persevered reassured by the words of the old Negro spiritual, Eyes on the Prize, that if they remained steadfast and kept their hands on the “freedom plow” they would surely overcome.

And, inasmuch as this song may have inspired a movement of people to keep on trudging on to overcome the adversities that marked their struggle to attain civil justice, when one looks at the life of Bill Rogers, it is like peering into a humanoid crystal ball to witness the personification of what it truly means to persevere and keep one’s eyes on the prize to transcend seemingly insurmountable personal challenges and realize one’s dreams.

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Liberia War Crimes Advocacy Group Pays Homage To 5 American Nuns Killed In Liberia’s Civil War

By Lovetta G. Tugbeh, Interim Director, CJL

They called themselves freedom fighters, but they killed innocent people; we pray for those liars.” These were the words of the late Roman Catholic Archbishop, Michael Kpakala Francis, expressing his remorse and antipathy surrounding the horrific killing of five catholic nuns at the evil hands of war criminals who maimed, raped, and murdered more than 250,000 innocent Liberians and foreign nationals during Liberia’s 14-year civil war.

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Charles Taylor’s Crimes Have Come Home To Roost With A Resounding 50-yr Jail Smackdown…And Deservedly So

By Moco McCaulay

When US Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said: “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice,” he must have been referring to such a moment as the one that transpired in the Hague on September 26, 2013, when the Special Court for Sierra Leone upheld Charles Taylor’s war crimes conviction and 50-year jail sentence.

Taylor, a former president of Liberia, had appealed his April 26, 2012 conviction for “aiding and abetting” the commission of war crimes in Sierra Leone through his support for the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), an armed group which orchestrated “a campaign of terror against civilians as a primary modus operandi” including its sadistic practice of amputating the limps of civilians—even babies and children, harkening back to the barbarism of Medieval times.

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A War Criminal Tried For The Wrong War? Liberia’s Charles Taylor Has Freedom In His Sight As He Awaits the Appeal Verdict of His War Crimes Conviction

By Moco McCaulay

September 26, 2013 portents to bear no greater consequence for another person as it probably does for Charles Taylor, the 65-year-old former president of Liberia, who will receive a judgment in his appeal against his conviction and 50-year jail sentence for war crimes by The Hague-based Special Court for Sierra Leone.

The question on everyone’s mind is: Does Taylor have any chance of winning his appeal and walking a free man?

If I were you, I wouldn’t answer with a resounding no and here’s why…

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Last April, when Richard Lussick, the court’s presiding judge, delivered the verdict against Taylor, who was on trial for fueling Sierra Leone’s atrocious civil war, I was in Liberia working as a news editor for one of the country’s leading newspapers, and like everyone else, after a trial lasting over three years, I eagerly anticipated the ruling.  

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Press Freedom Under Threat In Liberia: Sign Petition Urging Gov’t To Free Jailed Liberian Publisher

"If the imprisonment of Rodney Sieh was meant to send a message, it has: That we can never take a free press for granted.” - Free Rodney Sieh petition.
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Click link below to read more and sign petition:

Happy Independence Day To Africa’s Oldest Republic!!!

By Moco McCaulay

Today, July 26th, 2013 is Liberia’s 166 Independence Day celebration…

On this momentous day, in 1847, when Africans in America were still experiencing bondage under the dehumanizing yoke of slavery, where they were considered no more than chattel properties, Liberia was born as a nation to serve as a beacon of hope for people of African descent everywhere.

Founded by former slaves from America who had repatriated to the West Coast of Africa, it was surely not lost upon the founders of Liberia that an independent African nation would serve in no small way to affirm the humanity of peoples of African descent and at the same, send an unambiguous message that they had an inalienable right to determine their own destiny.

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Rape As A Weapon Of War: Young Liberian Filmmaker Produces Gripping Movie About A Woman Gang-Raped During His Nation’s Brutal Civil War

By Moco McCaulay                 

Every so often, when we are bombarded with the chilling statistics of victims from various conflicts around the world splattered across the pages of numerous reports, we are jolted with empathy, especially when it deals with acts of gross human brutalities. But even then, it is almost always with a tinge of clinical pity for “those poor victims.

And, once we close the pages of those reports, whatever pangs of empathy we may have felt quickly withers away as we turn our attention to the engrossing business of our daily lives while, in far too many instances, “those poor victims” are left all alone to endure the trauma of the tragedy they may have experienced.

This holds particularly true for many women who were raped during Liberia’s atrocious 14-year civil war. And that rape and other forms of sexual violence was endemic and practiced by fighters from all the warring factions is hardly a fact to belabor, but capturing an accurate statistical scale of the victims has proven problematic because many victims have not come forward for fear of being ostracized.

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That notwithstanding, based on analysis of findings from a 2004 study conducted by the United Nations Development Program, Amnesty International estimated that 60-70% of all women were victims of sexual violence during Liberia’s civil war in which over 250,000 persons lost their lives. (See report here)

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Creating A Paradigm Shift One Reel At A Time: Liberia’s First Female Movie Producer Aims To Rewrite the Script in A Male-dominated African Movie Scene

By Moco McCaulay

In a nation that boasts Africa’s first democratically-elected female president, it probably wouldn’t be such a stretch if one were to assume that women had already traversed the pinnacle of every profession, and that the Presidency was after all, that final prize that had eluded them until Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected President of Liberia in 2005.

But that apparently is not the case. At least, not in the fledgling Liberian movie landscape that is emerging as Liberians now try to make an imprint in the pulsating African movie kaleidoscope that is beaming across the continent and the world, after their country’s devastating 14-year civil war.

With Nollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is known, now the second largest film industry in the world in terms of number of films produced annually, filmmaking has evolved as a viable medium for Africans to tell their own stories and share them with the world.

Sadly, during Nollywood’s exponential growth in the 1990s, for the most part, the only portrayal of Liberia on film was consigned to mesmeric war documentaries and newsreels showing drugged up child soldiers with AK-47’s almost the length of their bodies, decaying bodies littered on the streets for dogs to feast on, and clips of rebel fighters boasting about their sadistic acts of cannibalism.

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But the tragic story of the Liberian Civil War is most certainly not the only one that Liberians want to be known for enacting on film. Therefore, notwithstanding being left behind as Nigerian and other African filmmakers made headways in the film industry, up-and-coming Liberian film producers are determined to carve a place for themselves on Africa’s pulsating film stage.

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