liberian war

LIBERIA. Monrovia. June 25, 2003. One of the most influencial weapons in the rebel forces are the 12.7 belt-fed anti-aircraft guns, mounted onto the backs of pick-up trucks. LURD forces advance on the capital during the Siege of Monrovia (2003). Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003).

Photograph: Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos

August 4, 1917 - Liberia Declares War on Germany

Pictured - President Daniel E. Howard of Liberia. Imperial Germany’s ability to alienate seemingly every nation on the globe does not reflect well on its diplomatic skill.

In 1914 Europeans had colonized the entirety of Africa with the exception of Ethiopia (which had crushed an Italian invasion in 1896) and Liberia, which was settled by former American slaves. The little republic on the west coast of Africa maintained its liberty at some cost, however, because it was impoverished and dependent on European trade, especially with the Germans in their nearby colony of Kamerun.

Thus World War I struck like a hammer blow. It made trade impossible with the Germans after British and French forces invaded Kamerun in 1914 and swept German merchant men from the sea. It also left Liberia unable to pay off a 1.7 million dollar loan. So Liberia, like many other neutral countries, turned to the Entente for economic reasons.

President Daniel E. Howard allowed France to establish a radio station in Monrovia, the nation’s capital, and Howard asked his American counterpart Woodrow Wilson for a loan of 5 million dollars. Wilson refused, but Germany reacted anyway by sending a U-boat to shell Monrovia. This was about the full extent of Liberia’s war, but Germany’s infantile diplomacy did succeed in adding Liberia to its list of enemies on August 4, 1917.

Kylo Ren is the Raiden of Star Wars [ A crack comparison]

So I play Metal Gear, a popular Japanese video game that is considered one of the greatest franchises of all time. Its popularity in the West swelled in the early 2000′s and even though its creator, Hideo Kojima, has now left Konami to produce his own games, it will go down in history as a watershed game that pioneered its own style of combat, character interaction, fourth wall breaking, and stealth. 

I played moreso back then in High School when I didn’t work and did all my homework during school so I could focus on getting that Big Boss Emblem and infinite ammo and the tornado gun…anyway, I really enjoy the Metal Gear franchise (in the era of Kojima that is…imo, fuck Metal Gear Survive, TBH).

Now, my favorite character is Raiden. Like Kylo Ren, upon introduction of his character, he had to endure the same bullshit from the North American/Western criticism (and praise as well from the more intellectual audiences) until MGS4 when he turned into a cyborg Ninja, became built like a brick shithouse and became about 10 times cooler than Snake (who was in his slow, geriatric form so he was kinda…bleh). He even got his own spinoff game by Platinum Games, he was just that popular. I do believe that while Kylo Ren is still criticized by idiots, eventually he will come into his own as an iconic character in Star Wars (and he’s already considered one!). Let’s just look at the comparisons, shall we?

So Solid Snake ^^^^ (the main titular protagonist) is this incredibly badass super soldier who has to stop Metal Gear (all-terrain nuclear missile launcher) from destroying the whole world. He smokes like a chimney, is the complete alpha male, wears an eyepatch, great beard, and has awesome moves and a great backstory. Basically, he’s the OG. I’m gonna call him Han Solo, because he’s the one all the fanboys love.

Now, after the success of MGS1, a girl actually approached Kojima saying she didn’t want to play the video game as an old guy, to which Kojima retaliated by creating the prettiest, slightly-feminine, svelte-looking protagonist of MGS2 known as Jack (aka Raiden)

(He’s just Kylo with an inverted colour palette TBH).

Now Jack was also incredibly badass with a similar backstory to Kylo’s– he was a child soldier in Liberia, taken from his real parents at a young age and groomed to be a deadly weapon by his adoptive father (who was the one who took him from his parents) George Sears. Anyway, Jack was brainwashed to the point where after the Liberian Civil War ended, he didn’t know where the fuck to go and ended up working in New York where he met his girlfriend and baby-mama, Rosemary. He was skilled in blades and in-game, you can do endless cartwheels (which I took complete advantage of). In MGS2, there’s even a gratuitous scene where he has to escape his torture chamber naked. His hair is so beautiful there’s a whole scene devoted to him taking his mask off to reveal a flowing mane of beautiful blonde hair. Basically, he’s fan service. 

And the dudebros HAAAAATED him.

“Who is this girly man and why is he stealing Solid Snake’s part? Ugh he’s like a fairy UGH”. They overlooked the fact that this guy, at the age of six, was so terrifying that the American soldiers in Liberia called him “The White Devil” because of his kill count. SIX. Kylo was a teenager during the Jedi Massacre. THIS LITTLE TATER TOT WAS SIX YEARS OLD. Raiden’s complete 180 of Snake’s overall aesthetic was so radical to these dudebros that they outright rejected him and everything he did. He was too pretty, too mouthy, actually talked and reacted like a normal human being to a lot of things. He made mistakes. And he’s afraid of lots of things.

He’s also incredibly whiny, complains like a Skywalker, and bickers with Rosemary constantly and sometimes it does get annoying but overall he’s a lot more three-dimensional than Snake. Which is not to say Snake is a flat character, but with Raiden, Kojima touched on a facet of masculinity that most people wouldn’t dare impress on their male protagonists who represent the franchise, especially with a pre-existing male-dominant demographic– emotion.

Raiden was emotional. For a super soldier, he was as human as it gets. He hated himself for what he’d done when he was younger. And he still feels like he’s not himself and living a lie in a VR simulation. He hates talking to Rose about his past and to her frustration, he would never allow her to sleep over at his apartment because he would have terrible nightmares. When he finally tells her that he was a child soldier who killed so many people, Rose freaks the fuck out and can’t handle it (eventually they make up and have a baby together)

He had his moments of realistic, human reaction and yeah, a lot of female players at the time ate it up like candy (I know I did) and critics applauded Raiden’s creation. But again, a loooot of guys were annoyed that their bearded alpha King Solid Snake was usurped by some cartwheeling Elf-looking emotion-ridden sad boy. 

Remind you of anyone?

Originally posted by driverdaily

I do believe Kylo has to come into his own and find a path to take– he’s not quite evil enough to be a Villain (and I mean look at the poor puppy! He already has one foot out the First Order’s blast doors). And he’s still in the grey with his redemption because, while there are so many potential motivational factors (Rey, Leia, realizing that Patricide is not all it’s cracked up to be) he has not acted yet on those revelations. We do see in the trailer a slight slip of the character Ben Solo pretends to be (aka Kylo Ren) but it’s obvious he’s still putting up a facade (though becoming increasingly frustrated by it).

Originally posted by the-imagines-awaken

If Kylo is redeemed, I do believe he’ll be even more powerful than he is now. I do firmly believe that Kylo Ren seeing the light (even if he’s not completely brought to the extreme end of the Light Side) will pave the way for his Force powers to be used at their full potential (I think it would be a great metaphor if he becomes more powerful the farther away he is from the Dark side). 

I think when he finally chooses the path he needs to take, then perhaps people will finally also make sense of him. I think a lot of people–because his alignment is so ambiguous–have a hard time understanding him and unless they’re very well-read or understand human psychology, I can see why they can misconstrue his words and facial expressions. Of course, us Reylos can see past all that and I think the general public is slowly catching up. A lot of men don’t like seeing emotion in male characters because they don’t want to face their own emotions in a fantasy movie (but it’s also Star Wars, so it’s a family drama, what do you want).

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that just because a character is emotional, flawed, not portrayed the way people typically want him to be,doesn’t mean they’re not important enough, or cool enough, or well-written enough. You’ll always have assholes trying to fuck with a well-written character. A good character has a dynamic arc, and like Raiden, Kylo will mature and go through a lot of changes. And until then, I guess we must endure the annoying blubbering banter of less-informed individuals who need to see people in boxes to make sense of them at all.

Raiden is now so popular in Japan that Hideo wanted Platinum to direct the spin-off (they’re the same people who made Bayonetta, so you best believe it was the most aesthetically orgasming shit you can play). I can’t wait until the day when the majority of the general public truly fall in love with the character of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, because it’s honestly the best feeling.

Throwback Thursday: Yours truly back when I was just a 21 year old, Devil Pup, standing post in our .50 cal machine gun position on the roof of the American Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia in 1996. Our battalion was tasked with reinforcing the embassy during the Liberian civil war. Before we arrived, the rebels thought it would be fun to take “pot shots” at the embassy. After a taste of Marine firepower, they learned very quickly not to do that again. Merica!

Los Angeles Times photographer Carolyn Cole took this terrifying photo during her assignment in Liberia. It shows the devastating effects of the Liberian Civil War.

Bullet casings cover entirely a street in Monrovia. The Liberian capital was the worst affected region, because it was the scene of heavy fighting between government soldiers and rebel forces.

Can we please talk about how amazing Broadway is right now

I mean we got:

Fun Home - The true story of lesbian cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her coming to terms with her sexuality alongside her gay father

Hamilton - A hip-hop musical about the life of Alexander Hamilton including a cast comprised of POC playing traditionally white characters

Deaf West Spring Awakening - The revival of Spring Awakening starring many deaf actors and the first wheelchair-bound Broadway actress

The Wiz Live - The NBC live broadcast of The Wiz starring an exclusively black cast

Allegiance - The true story of a Japanese war veterain starring many asian actors and actresses

Gigi - The short-lived revival of Gigi which just closed on Broadway starring Vannessa Hudgens (a Filipino actress) in a traditionally white role

Eclipsed - A play about the story of women during the Second Liberian Civil War starring amazing Black women

what a wonderful time to be a Broadway fan!!


Top left: abandoned hotel in Liberia. It was abandoned in 1989, just before the First Liberian Civil War. 

Top right: “Secret Manor,” located in California. Allegedly was once a brothel, located next to the railroads where there was plenty of business.

Center: Abandoned 13-mile long highway in Pennsylvania. It was blocked off in the 50’s after new bypasses were built, and has since remained unused. 

Bottom left: Nuclear plant in Cuba, an uncompleted project between Cuba and the Soviet Union that was dropped in 1992 after the Soviet Union collapsed.

Bottom right: Kayakoy, a Greek Orthodox village in Turkey that was abandoned in the 1920s during the Greco-Turkish War. Time has made the city look much older than it actually is.

Raiden vs public school

Raiden says he was six when he first picked up a gun, and the Liberian Civil War was 1989-1996. So if he started fighting at the very beginning of the war, and left right when it ended, he would have been around 13 when he was brought to the US.

This has some larger implications. 

In the US, most 13 year olds are finishing up middle school. Raiden would be coming from a 3rd world country, without any previous education, probably not even knowing how to read, and then attempting to catch up and prepare for highschool.

Oh my god… Highschool. Can you imagine imagine both the social structure of highschool and the college/test pressure, for someone that learned to read a year ago? (I see all these highschool fics, and they’re all shitty character transposition fics. Where as an actual, HS fic that takes into account the struggle and his problems contrasted with everyone else’s first world problems would be really interesting.) 

It also explains a lot why he’s in the army in the first place. Since first, he wouldnt have a family to save for college for him. And the other problem being that he’s probably too academically behind to do well on entrance exams. Like, imagine never being taught basic science, and then taking chemistry in highschool, or having never learned any math beyond simple addition, and having to complete a required calculus course. Or having learned to read 2 years ago, and then having to take the writing portion of the SAT. 

Besides getting a dead end job out of highschool, joining the military was probably his only chance at anything meaningful….. especially with the college program afterwards.

Given the inevitable previous difficulty, it’s actually pretty sad when you look at MGS2 and how hard he tries to do well. He might not have done well in school, but man, he ran those VR trials until he got those scores perfect. He’s jsut so chipper about things, because every new challenge is chance to prove himself, to shine, and not be that one really old kid in remedial reading. 

And he followed directions perfectly, did his best, and did so well that they thought he could be the next snake…. the ultimate soldier…..

….but even the ultimate soldier was only human……but the patriots had an answer for that.

Leymah Gbowee: activist.

Amongst other things, she:

Was responsible for leading a women’s peace movement that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf , helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. 

In the spring of 2002, Gbowee was spending her days employed in trauma-healing work and her evenings as the unpaid leader of WIPNET (Women in Peacebuilding) in Liberia.

Working across religious and ethnic lines, Gbowee led thousands of Christian and Muslimwomen to gather in Monrovia for months. They prayed for peace, using Muslim and Christian prayers, and eventually held daily nonviolent demonstrations and sit-ins in defiance of orders from the tyrannical president at that time, Charles Taylor.

They staged protests that included the threat of a curse and a sex strike. Of the strike, Gbowee says, “The strike lasted, on and off, for a few months. It had little or no practical effect, but it was extremely valuable in getting us media attention." In a highly risky move, the women finally occupied a field that had been used for soccer; it was beside Tubman Boulevard, the route Charles Taylor traveled twice a day, to and from Capitol Hill. 
-From wikipedia

Lupita Nyong'o & Danai Gurira on making Broadway history with Eclipsed

A few weeks before the March 6 opening of Eclipsed on Broadway, playwright Danai Gurira and star Lupita Nyong’o took a break from rehearsals and sat down to chat with EW. The play – harrowing, heartbreaking, with glimmers of humor – tells the story of four captive “wives” of a rebel officer during the Liberian civil war. The longtime friends discussed the show – directed by Liesl Tommy and costarring Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, and Zainab Jah – and the power of trust and sisterhood.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you get the idea for Eclipsed?

DANAI GURIRA: I read a newspaper article in 2003 about Black Diamond, a revered rebel soldier. I found her fascinating. I grew up in southern Africa, but I had never seen a depiction of an African woman like her—that began the journey.

LUPITA NYONG’O: What I love about Danai’s play is that it invites you in. So you may not have known anything [about Liberia or its civil war] when it begins, but the play welcomes you into this compound. You learn something very deep. You’re shocked, your mind is open, and your heart is broken. Where you may have known facts, now you have feelings.

When did you two first meet?

NYONG’O: At the Obie Awards in 2007. She’s an African artist so I was aware of her and had seen her work in The Visitor.

GURIRA: Yale and Tisch were fighting over her [for their graduate programs], and Tisch had assigned me the job to –

NYONG’O: Woo me!

GURIRA: [Laughs] To encourage her to make the right choice. But we knew we were in trouble, and Yale won.

NYONG’O: And then the first role I was assigned when I got to Yale was as an understudy in Eclipsed. One of the things I had been coming to terms with in choosing which school I would go to was the fact that I would be doing a lot of Eurocentric work. Then I arrive from Kenya and I get this incredible, groundbreaking Liberian play. It was manna from heaven! I made a promise to myself: I have to do this play one day.

So how did the 2015 run at the Public Theater come together?

GURIRA: Lupita emailed me and said, “Let’s do this.” I was like, “Uh, of course!”

NYONG’O: Every time I saw her I’d say, “I want to do Eclipsed!” I was hungry to be back in a rehearsal room and to create a story with a group of artists.

GURIRA: I saw that she mentioned it in her first Vogue cover story, and I thought, Oh, she really does want to do it!

How has the play evolved as it’s moved from Off Broadway?

NYONG’O: Because we’re the same ensemble, there’s a level of trust and ease in which we work together. This is like a mountain to climb every night. But we know the mountain and it’s allowed us to find new natural and surprising things.

GURIRA: I feel a great comfort hearing that. The playwright has to step away – you want to see it fly on its own. I can’t always be in the room with them.

NYONG’O: You did the foundational work, and we always have that. So you’re always in the room.

GURIRA: That’s so sweet, Lupita. I appreciate that.

NYONG’O: It’s true – this has been a godsend of a production because of the level of love and respect in the room. We genuinely like each other, which helps. This is the kind of play where you need a sisterhood.

GURIRA: Oh, for sure. Like the scene where Lupita gets her ass kicked? [Laughs] There’s an insane amount of trust involved because it really is like flying without a net. That’s because there’s such a sisterhood.

This is the first time that a Broadway production has had a female playwright, a female director, and an all-female cast.

GURIRA: It’s crazy, right? It shouldn’t be an event. We should have far more of this scenario on Broadway. But it is an event, so we should make it clear that this should be celebrated and happen more.

Lupita, now that you are actually playing this part, is it everything you thought it would be?

NYONG’O: I can confess now that though I always told people I wanted to do Eclipsed, I did not pick up the script again until it was actually happening. In our first read-through before the Public run I thought, What did I do? [Laughs]

GURIRA: I remember that – you were like, Whoa.

NYONG’O: What I love about my work as an actor is that there’s always that moment of panic before you step into something. Because you’re stepping into the unknown. So to have this opportunity and to do this with women I deeply respect has been invaluable. I feel full. Challenged. Oooh, do I feel challenged [laughs] every day…. But it’s a joyful toll. It’s wonderful.
Lupita Nyong’o and Trevor Noah, and Their Meaningful Roles
The actress and the “Daily Show” host talk about the challenges of diversity, childhoods lived under oppressive governments and #OscarsSoWhite.
By Philip Galanes

The most intriguing stars seem to appear from out of nowhere.

Take Lupita Nyong’o, the Mexican-Kenyan actress who had not even graduated from Yale School of Drama before landing her star-making role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave,” for which she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2014.

Or Trevor Noah, the comedian from Johannesburg, who had appeared on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central a scant three times before being named Jon Stewart’s successor last March.

Ms. Nyong’o, 32, has since appeared in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and lent her voice to “The Jungle Book,” which will open in April. She has also acted on stage in an Off Broadway production of “Eclipsed,” about the struggles of a group of women during the Liberian Civil War. (“Eclipsed” will open on Broadway next month.) Ms. Nyong’o quickly became a fashion darling, too, as the first black face of Lancôme. She has appeared on the cover of Vogue twice.

Before taking the reins of “The Daily Show” in September, Mr. Noah, also 32, had hosted a number of television and radio programs in South Africa, starred in several comedy specials and toured widely as a stand-up comedian. He was the first South African comic to appear on “The Tonight Show” (2012) and “Late Show With David Letterman” (2013).

The pair met recently for brunch at the Dutch in SoHo. Over beet salad and a cheese omelet (for Ms. Nyong’o) and a bagel with smoked salmon (for Mr. Noah), they discussed the subtler challenges of diversity, childhoods lived under oppressive governments and a new spin on “The Ugly Ducking.”

Read More

SW: I’m glad they discussed the “gatekeepers” (agents and managers) and other walls preventing and making it difficult for diversity to be present 

LIBERIA. Monrovia. June 25, 2003. After walking for four hours, the advancing LURD army is attacked by government forces. A casualty of that encounter lies dead below the comfort of a 12.7 anti aircraft gun. Siege of Monrovia (2003), Second Liberian Civil War (1999-2003).

Photograph: Tim Hetherington/Magnum Photos

Throwback Thursday: Devil Pup in Liberia

Yours truly back when I was just a 21 year old, Devil Pup, standing post in our .50 cal machine gun position on the roof of the American Embassy in Monrovia, Liberia in 1996. Our battalion was tasked with reinforcing the embassy during the Liberian civil war. Before we arrived, the rebels thought it would be fun to take “pot shots” at the embassy. After they got a taste of Marine firepower, they learned very quickly not to do that again. haha!