Liberia: Chaos, Control, Contradictions, and Commerce

Monrovia's downtown market

David Vineyard and Gordon Barker have kept reflecting on the Liberian experience and I’ll use their thoughts from time to time to keep this beautiful and perplexing country in front of us.  What they have written will give you a window to see their people, their dilemmas, and hope for their future.

From David…

Boy Selling Dried Fish at a Soccer Game

Business start-ups…It seems as if everyone is trying to sell something!   With such a high unemployment rate one really does wonder where those who are buying find their money with which they are able to make their purchases.  There are seeming contradictions in the economy.  The daily wage rate is very low there; yet some things are comparable in cost to similar items in the US.  We were not able to comprehend how some people were able make it financially.

David @ a Liberian Convenience StorePeople were everywhere!  Several days we left on road trips before the sun was up.  People were beginning to stir and heading to the marketplace.  By 8 am the market areas were fairly active, and by later in the morning they were downright crowded!   At times it seemed as if every sidewalk was turned into a marketplace. When it rained (we were there during their rainy season) most people seemed to disappear.   Shortly after the daily downpour was done they reappeared.

From Gordon….

Yes...selling dead animals on the street

The market areas of Monrovia can best be described as controlled chaos.  There are no traffic lights and very few traffic signs.  People walk anywhere and everywhere they want, including all over the street.  Street vendors, wheelbarrow haulers and taxis are everywhere, motorcycle taxis weaving in and out of traffic. Live and dead animals are sold on the street.  It is the same after dark.  Pictures cannot do justice to the scene.  To the outsider it is complete chaos, to the locals it appears to be controlled chaos.

~ by Greg Lee on September 16, 2010.

One Response to “Liberia: Chaos, Control, Contradictions, and Commerce”

  1. I see the similarities between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. It is pretty much the same here with the market place a chaos and them selling everything from shoes and car parts to beef and vegetables, mostly right across the street from each other! I love these posts, please keep them up!

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