Category Archives: Headlines

The Daily Talk: Monkeys and baboons and politicians, oh my!

There is a common Liberian phrase that says, “Monkey works, Baboon draws.” The implication is that the larger and more powerful elites get rich on the backs of hardworking poor, who enjoy no returns for themselves. To mark the official start of campaigning for the fall general elections last Tuesday, President Sirleaf made a speech to highlight her achievements and mock her opponents, calling them baboons who continue to exploit working Liberians.

Despite ubiquitous signs around Monrovia urging candidates to focus on issues rather than personalities during their campaigns, the newspapers each day are filled with stories of insults flying back and forth between candidates. Last week, the New Democrat ran a story in which Senator Abel Massaley accused former rebel leader and current senator Prince Johnson of using witchcraft to assassinate him ahead of the election. And we thought Washington politics were brutal…

The following is the Daily Talk’s take on the start of the election:


Ellen: “Let monkey wait small, baboon still working”

Monkey (1) vs. Baboon (0)

Pres. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Tuesday, July 5, 2011, threw talks at her party headquarters in Congotown during her “da my area” speech when she made the statement above. “wise political zoes [leaders of Liberia’s traditional secret societies]” strongly believe that troublemaker Sirleaf is referring to troublemaker [Charles] Taylor who once said, “No monkey work…”


Other Headlines:

  • IMF completes sixth review of Lib.’s economic performance under Extended Credit Facility (ECF).
  • Man, 34, businessman Charles Holder, hang himself to death out of frustration on Bushrod Island, Monrovia.
  • CDC [Congress for Democratic Change] Tubman: “We will defeat UP [the ruling Unity Party] flat in first round.”
  • Gov’t set to enforce public smoking law, passed in Sept. last year.
  • “Veteran bill” approved at Capitol Building, ex-rebel generals left in the cold.
  • Citizens of Todee District, Montserrado County sent out SOS call for one ambulance.
  • Senegal Pres. Abdoulaye Wad betrayed AU? Held talks with rebels in Benghazi to unseat Pres. Gadafi.
  • NEC [National Elections Commission] finally blows whistle for 2011 campaigns.
  • Gov’t seized 600,000 bags of rice being smuggled into Guinea, says Commerce Minister.
  • 36 Ivorian rebels arrested in R/Gee [River Gee County] for arms to face court action.

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The Daily Talk: Power of the press

For forty-five minutes this afternoon, Alfred argued with a graphic designer over the layout for The Daily Talk’s new brochure. I was content to sit in the hangar-like room, watching as women prowled the aisles selling mayonnaise and condensed milk sandwiches and plantain chips from buckets on their heads. But all of a sudden, mid-debate, Alfred received a call from the Ministry of Finance, and after a few quick words to the designer, we took off for the Ministry.

It was a call Alfred had been awaiting for weeks. Above The Daily Talk’s newsboard is a sign urging citizens to “Show your love for Mama Liberia, pay taxes as and when due!” Alfred erected the sign as an advertisement for the Ministry of Finance two years ago, for a fee of US $100 per month. The problem is, Alfred never received payment, and the Ministry owes him $2400.

He needs the Ministry’s money to buy new equipment, and after a month of unreturned phone calls, Alfred was done waiting. So, he turned to the media. Today’s big, bold Daily Talk headline reads, “System corrupt? Finance Ministry refusing to pay Daily Talk for publicity of programs. Details coming…” Upper-level officials in the Ministry called Nathaniel Konjay, the Director of Budget and Finance, questioning why the Ministry had been humiliated before the people. Konjay quickly called Alfred in for a meeting.

Once at the Ministry, the debate turned to formalities. Konjay didn’t dispute that the Ministry owes The Daily Talk, but apparently the two parties never arrived at a final contract with both signatures, which the Ministry needs to make an official payment. Konjay left the issue of the Ministry’s prior unresponsiveness unaddressed. Still, he was eager to resolve the matter. While writing a note reminding himself to secure a signed contract, Konjay explained, “The problem has already happened. Embarrassment has already happened for the Ministry. Big embarrassment. I’ll work on this, and worst case scenario, you will have the money by next Tuesday.”

Government ministries here are notorious for failing to follow through with their promises, so whether Alfred will actually receive the money by Tuesday, or at all, is anybody’s guess. What is clear, though, is that the Ministry didn’t respond until Alfred took the issue to the media – even if it that medium was only a chalkboard.

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The Daily Talk: Investigative reporting?

The main story on the Daily Talk board for the next few days is more of a teaser. In the coming weeks, Sirleaf plans to report on a series of public figures in Liberia, uncovering their transgressions, as well as discussing their appropriate “areas.” The concept of an area, essentially the same as a field of expertise, comes from a popular Liberian song that encourages people to stay within the areas in which they had been trained. In Liberia, that notion has taken on meaning in politics, with critics calling on would-be leaders to stick to what they know.

Watch out

Starting this week, know their “areas” and alleged evils in societies as Daily Talk digs out the truth for unity!

Pres. Sirleaf

U.S. Pres.

Bush, Ellen [Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia]

VP Boakai [the Vice President of Liberia]

CDC Tubman [Winston Tubman, presidential candidate from the Congress for Democratic Change]

Chief Justice [Francis Korkpor]

Political Vampire: “Ah, ah!” [An unknown figure in politics who exerts influence from behind the scenes]

CDC: Their areas? Weah, Drogba [George Weah and Didier Drogba, both soccer players now involved in Liberian politics]

Varney Sherman: “Weah? No, I for you Pres. Sirleaf.” [Chairman of the ruling Unity Party, famous for switching allegiances from one candidate to another]

PYJ [Prince Johnson, a rebel leader during the civil war who is  currently a senator and presidential candidate]

UNMIL Boss [Ellen Loj, head of the UN Mission in Liberia]

Criminal: “Help me officer, they will kill me!”

UN Backed Ouattara and his rebels


  • Delta Airlines reduced VP Boakai at RIA [Robertsfield International Airport] on his way to the US through a security search.
  • Man in his 20’s, Junior Malbah, flogged to death in 15 Gate community in Careysburg Dist., Mont. Co., [Montserrado County] after murdering two children.
  • Lofa County education officer says poor education in Lofa is due to more funding being give tradition.
  • Deputy Minister for Revenue at Finance: “Cavalla Rubber Co. produces 78 Mil. USD yrly.”

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The Daily Talk: More than refugees coming from the Ivory Coast

With the violence following the November 2010 presidential elections in the Ivory Coast, refugees have been flooding into Liberia’s border counties. Until now, the main problems have been overstretched resources and some tensions between hosts and refugees. On Friday, the headlines in Liberia were all about a cache of weapons discovered in one province, linked to the conflict in the Ivory Coast. The Daily Talk is displaying this story for the next few days:

Evil plans thwarted! Bags of gunshot and guns discovered in Lib. – I/Coast border, UN backed Quattara [Ouattara] rebels and refugees linked.

The bags of ammunition and arm unearthed in Fish County last week by state security near Ivory Coast include one butter rice bag [butter rice is a type of rice known for coming in large bags] of ammunition, 48 AK-47’s, 1 GMG [grenade machine gun], and 5 PKMs [PK machine guns]. I/Coast rebels and refugees linked. Several arrested in R/Gee [River Gee] County in connection with arms and ammunition discovered by police.

Other Headlines:

  • Pres. Sirleaf keeping the promise. A new court in Wee District, G/Bassa [Grand Bassa County].
  • Jailbreak at Center St. police department in Monrovia, several criminals on the run.
  • CSA [Civil Servants Association] in Mon. disputed. Critics accuse UP [Unity Party, the current ruling party] gov’t of calculated plans. UP’s choice was defeated.
  • Defense Min. Samukai: “I’ve no intention to run for election.”
  • A bill on Capitol Hill seeking passage for the protection of children, called “Child Act,” suffers serious setback. “Billionaire’s club” at Senate? Unskilled workers make more than skilled workers, says media report.

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The Daily Talk: All about Libya

The Daily Talk has carried the following story on Libya for the past few days. When I stopped by the Libyan embassy compound today, the generator was still roaring and several official vehicles remained in the compound. One of the guards at the compound gate confirmed that Libyan officials were still present there, but that “as far as he knew” the embassy had been closed and the officials would leave soon.

The Libyan Embassy in Sinkor, Monrovia, was still occupied on Friday.

Liberia, Libya’s investment killed? Ellen cuts off friendship with Libya, recalls staff back home as America, Britain lobby to support rebels to unseat Gadafi.

US Pres. Obama: “Gadafi must leave Libya now.”

Pres. Gadafi: “Not leaving Libya. Da my oil you want. Ellen [Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian president] with you.”

Pres. Sirleaf: “A hard to talk to Gadafi, da big town-trap for me. I don’t want your friendship again. I am taking my staff from you country. Ina betrayed u and A.U. [African Union].” Alleged statement.

The news: Fresh report reaching this newspaper says the Liberian leader Pres. Sirleaf after holding  talks in UK with leaders has broken friendship with Libya as US and Britain lobby for rebels.


Other Headlines: 

  • CDC [Congress for Democratic Change, a Liberian political party] George Weah tears as his Sec. Gen. Ugean Nagbah heads Pres. Sirleaf’s campaign for her 2nd term.
  • America fears China taking over Africa as US sec. state warns leaders.
  • Nurses in Todee District, Mont. [Montserrado] county appeal for ambulance. LP Brumskine: I will develop Todee Dist. if elected president.


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The Daily Talk: Presidential Candidate Caught in Sex Scandal!

The following is the main news article on The Daily Talk for today and tomorrow. It was reported based off of a testimony Cynteah, the woman involved, gave to reporters. The words in brackets are translations of local slang – some are obvious, but I needed Sirleaf to translate some of them for me. Sirleaf wrote the article as a dialogue, something he was especially excited about, as none of the newspapers constructed the story that way. He believes that creative and engaging style, as well as the use of vernacular words, helps readers understand and appreciate his articles more. This article drew lots of readers and lots of lively debates – some readers suspect that the story was concocted by Cynteah as part of a smear campaign. Stay tuned for part II of the story, when Freeman goes to court.

Arrested and Detained: “Hopojoe” [prostitute] Demands Pay from MPC [Movement for Progressive Change, a Liberian political party] Presidential Aspirant Seimon Freeman for “Shorttime”/Sex [a quickie]

Sex Drama Part I

Freeman phone ringing: “You caming [coming]?”

Hopojoe Cynteah: “Yes I caming. But it is after 11 P.M. Let me make it next time.

Freeman: “I want ‘eat something’ [have sex] then u say next time. Look take pan-pan [a type of motorcycle, named for a type of motor they had several years ago that made a pan-pan sound when turned on] and come here to my house. I’ll be in the front of the house with a flashlight. Look ka her, da thing. U get behind U den U say I morn [must] wait for tomorrow with cold coming like this.

One hour later, pan-pan arrives.

Freeman in boxer only, laughing: “Baby, baby! U looking fresh and ready. Cam inside my house. But we will sleep here.

Cynteah: “No, da shorttime.”

Freeman, rushing, takes off his eye glasses: “Take off your cloth.”

Hopojoe Cynteah: “But wait now, you are a ‘big-man’, your bill is 250 USD. And besides that, I am not like the girls. I get my own place. I want a man who will help me to roof my apartment and help me in life.”

Freeman: “Let me eat first. I’ll do it for you.”

Cynteah: “Where is the money?”

Freeman: “Look baby, don’t worry. U don’t know I am the next president of Lib. [Liberia]. I get name in Lib.

Cynteah: “I know Mon. [Monrovian] men. When they finished, den da co-co story [then the flattery starts]. No. Bring condom first before I agree.”

Show over.

Freeman: “I’ll take care of you tomorrow. Take good care, bye.”

After several days with no positive impact, the Movement for Progressive Change standardbearer dragged to Zone 5 police depot and questioned.

Freeman: “Officer, this woman is lying on me. She want spoil my good name in Lib. Look officer, I think u know me. I’m the standardbearer for MPC.”

LNP [Liberian National Police] Officer: “I hear you, but please sit on the prisoner bench. We will prepare your paper and send you to court.

Story continues…

NOTE: Mr. Freeman has denied all claims made

Other headlines of the day:

  • Fighting still rages in Libya
  • President Sirleaf out of Lib., in London on state visit
  • President Sirleaf keeping the promise
  • 9 jacks stolen from Waterside bridge construction; engineers say will delay work

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