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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Liberia - the end of the first chapter

So here I sit, bleary-eyed, at Brussels Airport again. It is early morning, very early morning. I left Monrovia last night after an amazing stay in Liberia. I loved it. Yes, it has challenges, huge ones, but there is a really positive feel to the place which I just hadn’t anticipated. I was expecting it to be wrought with tension, the brutal civil war ended just a few years ago after all. But walking around the streets of the city, eating in cafes, going into shops, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. I am not na├»ve, I know that that doesn’t mean everything is fine and dandy. People are poor, unemployment levels are high, life is hard. Next year’s elections will be a real test of whether the peace can last but I have no reason to believe it won’t. People talk politics with a passion which, coming from the UK with our depressingly high levels of apathy, I think is fantastic. But I didn’t get any sense that their passion reflects or indeed is creating massive friction within communities. It really is amazing. You only have to look at Northern Ireland to appreciate just how amazing it is. Yes there has been a massive improvement in community relations in the 12 years since the Good Friday Agreement, but for many years the tension in many neighbourhoods was palpable, in a few it still is. So I am giving Liberians a gold star for looking forward and hope that they continue to do so. I hope I will get another chance before too long to see how they are doing.

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