Monday, 11 February 2013


For a country adjacent to Sierra Leone the difference is striking. From Graham Greene’s ‘Journey Without Maps’, little appears to have changed outside of Monrovia. There are remote settlements frequently cut off in the rainy season and in the dense forests a real sense of  a more ancient Africa, a place where the spirit world is close and deep rooted secret societies hold sway.

The Poro and Sande societies exist across Sierra Leone and parts of Guinea as well, but here in remote forest clearings they feel all pervading, particularly when you see a fully enrobed 'devil' moving through a village as dusk falls.

Liberia has taken a battering from the civil war and  Elbola outbreak but with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the first female to lead the country, there is relative political stability.

Liberia is noted for dangerous rip tides. Once in the water the shore was suddenly very far away.  Rip tides are narrow currents so swimming parallel to the shore is the quickest way to get out of  the flow.  

Security has improved greatly, but the  infrastructure is still limited in Monrovia and minimal elsewhere.  The hinterland of Liberia is a journey into an Africa that much of the continent lost a long time ago.