Sititunga taken from the wild

“Buy my red deer?” Two young men approached as I passed on the street. The unfortunate Sititunga calf was hot, dehydrated, and nearly frightened to death. Doubly unfortunate, its mother was likely killed either by snare or gun, and this calf taken from the wild to be sold as a pet in Monrovia. I buy water for all, tell these men how sad the spirit of this animal has become, and ask that they take responsibility for finding this creature a proper home.

A Sititunga is a large antelope living in forests and swamps in Central West Africa with a small population left in West Africa, including Liberia. Males, larger than females, can weigh more than 280 pounds.

A Sititunga is a large antelope living in forests and swamps in Central West Africa with a small population left in West Africa, including Liberia. Males, larger than females, can weigh more than 280 pounds.

Red deer is a misnomer for this antelope. Many species in Liberia are named for animals they most closely resemble in America.

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beware the country devil

“Wen de devil come fron een de bush, yor wa ain een de Poro muh go eenside yo hus befo he kesh you!” (Cracking the Code). A country devil, allegedly from Nimba County, Liberia, passing on the street in Sinkor, Monrovia.

I excused myself from “Stop ‘n Shop”, leaving our shopping cart in the care of Lisa, heading out to see a country devil that was causing a small commotion in the street. The devil turned, swinging down toward Cheeseman Street, as I approached. He was soon made aware of white-man behind him, and turned to perform some acrobatics. I was swarmed by his drumming minders, who “encouraged” me to offer $5 for this confrontation. I say what! Way too much, I have $1. Another minder says $1 fine and holds a bag for their loot, to the dismay of the first spokesman.

Back in Stop ‘n Shop, we are checking out and Lisa asks me for $1. I say I don’t have, I gave it to the devil. Our cashier looks up, wide-eyes in disbelief: “you pay the devil?…”

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post Election, Liberia

After Election Day, Liberians get back to business. And sports.

Football in the streets of Monrovia.

Football in the streets of Monrovia.

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October 10, 2017, Election Day, Liberia.

Monrovians turn out to vote on a beautiful sunny morning. The capital city is quiet, other than polling stations set up in precinct schools, which have long lines by mid-morning. Voting remains open until 6pm.

Monrovians turn out to vote on a beautiful sunny morning. The capital city is quiet, other than the polling stations set up in precinct schools, which have long lines by mid-morning. Voting remains open until 6pm.

Families wait under shade for voters to return from the time-consuming process of casting their vote in their precinct school. Some voters will wait patiently for hours in long lines.

Families wait under shade for voters to return from the time-consuming process of casting their vote in their precinct school. Some voters will wait patiently for hours in long lines.

Voting at the Liberian National Bar Association Law Library on Ashmun Street in Monrovia. "My third time voting since the war and I say this place runs professional." Amey chose to vote mid-afternoon when the lines are shortest.

Voting at the Liberian National Bar Association Law Library on Ashmun Street in Monrovia. “My third time voting since the war and I say this place runs professional.” Amey chose to vote mid-afternoon when the lines are shortest.

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Residents of 7th precinct gather outside polling location in Monrovia.

Voting draws to a close as the 6pm hour passes. Residents of 7th precinct in Monrovia wait for the last of voters and volunteers to finish, and the start of the meticulous compilation of votes to be sorted.

Voting draws to a close as the 6pm hour passes. Residents of 7th precinct in Monrovia wait for the last of voters and volunteers to finish, and the start of the meticulous compilation of votes to be sorted.

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political rally, Monrovia, Liberia

Friday, October 6, 2017

Rain-soaked political rally in Monrovia brings together thousands of supporters for the CDC (Coalition for Democratic Change) Presidential candidate George Weah.

Rain-soaked political rally in Monrovia brings together thousands of supporters for the CDC (Coalition for Democratic Change) Presidential candidate George Weah.

Lynch Street fills with CDC supporters. Depending on source, this is the party of Congress for Democratic Change, or Coalition for Democratic Change.

Lynch Street fills with CDC (Coalition for Democratic Change) supporters.

"Don't sell my future". Weah (CDC) supporters paint their statement at a rally ahead of the october 10 elections.

“Don’t sell my future”. Weah (CDC) supporters paint their statement at a rally on Lynch Street ahead of the October 10 elections.

"So tell me sir, will America be choosing our next President?" Rain fails to deter the enthusiasm of Weah supporters at a rally leading up to the October elections. "Perhaps America needs to get its own elections in order before complicating other nations."

“So tell me sir, will America be choosing our next President?” Rain fails to deter the enthusiasm of Weah supporters at a rally leading up to the October elections. “Perhaps America needs to get its own elections in order before complicating other nations.”

Weah supporters arrive at a rally point on U.N. Drive in Monrovia.

Weah supporters arrive at a rally point on U.N. Drive in Monrovia.

As a non-voting foreign resident of Monrovia, I make no endorsements of candidates.

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election excitement, Monrovia, Liberia

With Presidential and Representative elections scheduled for Tuesday, October 10, enthusiasm fills the streets of Monrovia. Parades, rallies, leaflets, megaphones on motorbikes, all focus is on their candidate to elect.

A rally heads down Newport Street in Monrovia. Representative Aliou Varney Bah is running to represent District 7 in Monrovia.

A rally heads down Newport Street in Monrovia. Representative Aliou Varney Bah is running to represent District 7, Montserrado County, in Monrovia.

Political revelers mix with the local "waiter market" women on Newport Street, Monrovia.

Political revelers mix with the local “waiter market” women on Newport Street, Monrovia.

Voter registration, which took place in February, 2017, issued voter cards to more than 2 million Liberians. Voter turnout for the 19 Presidential candidates and numerous Representatives should be stellar, as Liberia declares next Tuesday, Election Day, a National holiday.

Excitement on Broad Street, Monrovia, in support of Madam Kebbeh Forkpa Collins, running for Representative, 7th District, Montserrado County, Monrovia.

Excitement on Broad Street, Monrovia, in support of Madam Kebbeh Forkpa Collins, running for Representative, 7th District, Montserrado County, Monrovia.

Political fever on Broad Street, Monrovia.

Political fever on Broad Street, Monrovia.

As a non-voting foreign resident of Monrovia, I make no endorsements of candidates.

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beach tumbling

Bustin’ up the beach in New Kru Town, Monrovia, Liberia. Bird-man carves a flight path above Florida Beach.

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Redemption Beach football

RdmptnBchFtbll0571_dkortephotoIn for the point. Football at Redemption Beach in Monrovia, Liberia.

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New Kru Town, Bushrod Island, Monrovia

NewKru_1104_dkortephotoJUMP! Kids tumble from a sand bank on Florida Beach in New Kru Town, a borough of estimated 75,000 on the northwest corner of Bushrod Island, Monrovia, Liberia.

NewKru_1146_dkortephotoSchool’s out for summer break in New Kru Town. The summer rains leave limited time for outdoor activities. Between storms, kids gather for pick-up games of football on the basketball court of D. Tweh Memorial High School, one of few locations in the community where kids can run and play.

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D. Tweh Memorial High School sits perilously close to the Atlantic surf. As a public property, the school is receiving aid to protect the grounds from erosion by sea. A high tide will engulf the first line of rockpile defense. A high tide with storm surge spells trouble for the school. The houses in New Kru Town bordering the Atlantic are in similar peril, but have few resources available to reduce the impact of the rising sea.

NewKru_1137_dkortephoto“The sea is coming for my house” laments a woman facing imminent destruction of her home as storm surge and tides wash away the beach and nearby homes built on the sands of Popo Beach. “Where will I go? What can I do?”  No answer is easy.

NewKru_1169_dkortephotoA fisherman wraps towlines to a new net in anticipation of another day at sea in the Popo Beach community of New Kru Town. The coastal community faces the Atlantic Ocean with no elevation to spare. It is now and will continue to be gravely impacted by rising sea levels and severe storm surges.

NewKru_1170_dkortephotoA woman packages pounded and dried cassava powder at her home in New Kru Town.  She will likely be selling her products, called gari, at the nearby Duala Market, one of Liberia’s largest outdoor markets, on Bushrod Island.

NewKru_1185_dkortephotoTwo girls wait for fishermen to return from a day fishing off the coast of Monrovia. New Kru Town’s Popo Beach is a fishing community, bringing fresh and smoked fish to markets across Liberia.

buildingCollapse_dkortephotoHouses undermined by a disappearing beach, some barely habitable before the next storm sweeps them into the sea. They face an encroaching surf along Popo Beach offering no hope of a truce with Mother Nature.

buildingShell_dkortephotoHouses in the path of destruction are stripped of reusable materials to be carried inland and reconstructed in an already overcrowded and desperate community.

New Kru Town community has been meeting with the Liberian government in search of a solution to mitigate the rising sea level destruction. Like most business in the government, the address of these problems moves slowly. With presidential elections now in the spotlight, action on this unfolding disaster is not likely until after the October election. It is doubtful that Liberia has the time and resources to avert this looming environmental catastrophe.

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West Point, Monrovia, Liberia

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Kru Beach, West Point, Monrovia.

This peninsula community in the heart of Monrovia lies between Mamba Point and the Mesurado River on the inland side, and the Atlantic Ocean. The sand peninsula encompasses approximately 4 square kilometers and is home to 75,000 people. Many parts of West Point lie less than a meter above the water table. Rising sea levels and storm surges are carving into the coastline, sweeping away sections of access roads, homes and businesses along the oceanfront.

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Fishermen heading to sea, West Point.

Sanitation is a constant problem for West Point. The challenge of providing a flushable sewer system and fresh potable water for 75,000 residents creates a serious health risk. Every day is a struggle for this community living at the mercy of the sea.

Trash and open defecation has turned the Mesurado River into an open sewer. West Point’s strategic location at the mouth of this river suffers especially during high tide when trash and sewage accumulate along the beaches.

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Fante Beach, West Point.

An economy based on fishing supplies Monrovia with fresh fish. Smoked fish finds its way to markets throughout Liberia.

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Fante Beach. Families wait for fishing boats returning from the sea, to help process the catch.

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Butter pear woman, West Point.

Many residents of West Point work in neighboring Waterside Market, Liberia’s largest market, leaving West Point unusually calm during market days. This “waiter market” woman sells avocados, called butter pears in Liberia, on the main street through West Point.

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A quiet afternoon in West Point, Monrovia.

The main street is eroded, in some places washed away completely, making access to the peninsula challenging for all but kek-keks and motorbikes. Larger delivery trucks often block the narrow lanes, creating congestion and frustration among taxis, private cars, and pedestrians.

Plans to relocate the residents of West Point to a stable, healthier environment have stalled in the government. With elections coming in October 2017, it appears nothing will happen until after, and then will likely need fresh negotiation. Meanwhile, the rising sea is deciding the fate of residents on the edge, one day at a time.

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