Liberia: Candy From Strangers

Photo: Laura McClure

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Editors’ Note: Laura McClure is traveling in Liberia this month on an IRP Gatekeeper Editors trip organized by the International Reporting Project (IRP).

Well, it’s either a minor West African miracle or a Potemkin village conspiracy. So far not one Liberian child has asked me for pens, money, candy, stamps, my photo, their photo, a plane ticket, a tenfold price increase on a tourist item, or any address in the US.

I’ve traveled through 7 West African countries and never been this…not harassed. Good on you, Liberia! I imagine this attitudinal shift could make international funding for local fair-trade coffee projects, rainforest eco-lodge construction, and wandering-Australian-friendly surf camps a little easier to come by. Perhaps your neighbors could learn from this beautiful, baffling development. (Togo, I’m looking at you.)

MoJo Facebook fans: I’ve got your notes; thanks for your thoughtful questions. Answers coming this week after I track down the appropriate people here in Liberia. In the meantime, if you want to read a book about West Africa that will make you actually laugh out loud, here it is: Blue Clay People, William Powers‘ hilarious/excruciating account of life here as an NGO official focused on forest conservation. I’m reading it now; I’m at the end of Chapter 3 if you want to join me in an impromptu mini book club this week. (Spoiler alert: His guinea pig breeding experiment may run into a snag or two.)

Stay tuned for more Africa dispatches. Next post: Meet the women peace activists who ended Charles Taylor’s bloody war. [PHOTOS AND AUDIO, GODS AND WIFI WILLING]

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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